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Savvy Senior: The top-rated cellphones for older people

Updated March 29, 2024 - 8:21 am

Dear Savvy Senior: Can you recommend some good cellphones for seniors? My 79-year-old mother needs to get a new mobile phone and has asked me to help her find one. — Searching Daughter

Dear Searching Daughter: For older people, choosing a cellphone is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some seniors love the latest high-tech smartphones with high-megapixel cameras, while others prioritize simple phones with basic functions. So, the best cellphone for your mom will depend on her comfort with technology, priorities and budget.

Best cellphones

To help identify the best cellphones for older adults, I consulted Wirecutter, a product testing and recommendation service from The New York Times that recently tested 18 cellphone models.

Their testing focus was on three areas, including best phones for older adults who are comfortable with technology and want to upgrade to a full-featured smartphone with robust accessibility settings; best cellphones for seniors who are not tech-inclined or who prefer a smartphone with fewer features, as well as those who are experiencing vision, hearing or dexterity issues; and best cellphones for elderly seniors who need specific accessibility features because of physical or cognitive issues. Here are their top choices.

Apple iPhone 15 Plus: This is a great choice if your mom is comfortable with technology and willing to spend more for a top-tier smartphone with a range of accessibility, health and safety features. The 15 Plus has an easy-to-read, large (6.7-inch) screen and the most robust health and safety features, including an off-grid SOS, a personal safety check, and plenty of customizable accessibility options that help seniors with vision and hearing loss, as well as with speaking or dexterity problems. $899, apple.com

Google Pixel 8: If your mom has been using an Android device and is more comfortable with this operating system, the Pixel 8 is a high-end, reasonably priced smartphone that tops their list for older adults. It also has a sharp, large (6.7-inch) screen with an excellent camera and many health, safety and accessibility features that can help seniors with vision impairment, hearing loss, hand tremors and more. And it costs significantly less than the new Samsung Galaxy and iPhone models. $699, store.google.com

Lively Jitterbug Smart4: If your mom wants a simplified smartphone that’s very affordable, she might prefer this model. Like the Apple 15 Plus and Google Pixel 8, the Jitterbug Smart4 also has a 6.7-inch screen, but this phone comes with a list-based menu (no icons) that provides easy navigation. It also offers voice-command capabilities, and a number of health and safety services, including a 24/7 emergency monitoring service. This phone would also work well for people with memory or vision issues. $150, lively.com

RAZ Mobility Memory Phone: This phone is specifically designed for seniors with memory issues or more advanced cognitive decline. Its uncluttered, simple functionality allows users to stay in touch with family and friends while reducing common problems such as unnecessary calls to emergency services, spam and fraud. It also has a dedicated SOS link on the screen that can alert up to three contacts, has GPS tracking capabilities, provides caregiver controls and more. $349, razmobility.com

Snapfon ez4G: This is a non-smartphone if your mom doesn’t want or need all the functionality of a full-featured smartphone. This simple cellphone provides large buttons, big screen type and an SOS emergency button on the back of the phone that will alert up to five preselected contacts by call and text. $100, snapfon.com

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

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