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7 best cell phones for seniors and the elderly

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Phones come in all shapes and sizes or at least they used to. These days, smartphones dominate the landscape, offering displays with various aspect ratios with a glass or plastic back. And while smartphones are more capable than ever, there are people that either don’t care about them or can’t be bothered to learn how to operate one.

Of course, we’re talking about seniors. Kids these days can use a phone or a tablet even before they can speak but many elderly don’t see the appeal of smartphones and would rather have a device that simply lets them call their loved ones with a push of a button.

Luckily, basic phones still exist even though they’ve become a niche product group. And within that group are phones that are made specifically for the oldest in our society, with large buttons, strong volume and even SOS buttons for emergencies.

One important thing to look for when choosing a phone for your elderly relative is carrier compatibility. Since these phones are usually quite cheap, they’re often only compatible with one or two of the major carriers. Retailers’ listings usually include that information but with some models being years old you can’t be sure if something hasn’t changed. It’s a good to check with your preferred carrier before purchasing, or better yet, get a phone directly from a carrier so you’re sure it will work. 

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Major carriers understandably have quite a limited selection of phones suitable for seniors, but there are still some that fit the bill. So, let’s start with them first!

Best phones for seniors, a summarized list:

  • Kazuna eTalk — Verizon
  • Alcatel Go Flip 3 — T-Mobile
  • Cingular Flip 4 — AT&T
  • Nokia 3310 — unlocked, 3G
  • ISHEEP D210 — unlocked, big buttons, 4G
  • ZTE Cymbal Z-320 — unlocked, flip phone, 4G
  • CPR CS900 — unlocked, big buttons, flip phone

Best Verizon phone for seniors

Kazuna eTalk

The Kazuna eTalk is a classic flip phone like the one we used to have 20 years ago. It’s not the simplest phone to use ever, but it’s pretty much as simple as you can get from Verizon. It has the easily recognizable green and red buttons to answer calls and hang up and you can save contacts for speed dials straight from the key pad. The battery will last for days and when closed, it should be able to survive plenty of drops.

The eTalk supports voice over LTE, which is what guarantees you it will keep working even after older networks are phased out.

Best T-Mobile phone for seniors

Alcatel Go Flip 3

The situation over at T-Mobile is quite similar but team Magenta goes for a brand you’ve probably heard of — Alcatel. This phone has a similar layout but the buttons are slightly larger, making them more convenient for use by people with sight problems. The phone is also more capable, having a hotspot feature and even Google Assistant. Maybe your grandma will be more willing to give her phone voice commands rather than scroll through menus, you never know.

Best AT&T phone for seniors

Cingular Flip 4

AT&T has its own big-buttoned flip phone ready for the needs of those who shun smartphones. The Cingular Flip 4 is what the proposed flip phone is called and although its primarily function will most likely be to make/take calls and send text messages, it’s actually smarter than it looks. You can not only use Google Assistant, but Google Maps as well and even YouTube. Granted, your elderly relatives probably won’t care about that but it’s always better to have features than not. Batter life should be plentiful despite those smartphone extras, as the display is still quite small and the battery is 1,450mAh.

Best unlocked phones for seniors

Before we go further down the list, there’s something worth mentioning. Generally, popular manufacturers don’t go out of their way to make phones meant for seniors and elderly. Which mostly leaves us with a selection of phones with quality that may raise suspicion. That’s why, we have to set our bar lower than we usually do for our compilations of best phones.

Nokia 3310

Everyone knows about the iconic Nokia 3310 if not from using one, then from all the memes about how indestructible it was. Well, this reincarnation of the Nokia 3310 is not quite as tough but it has the familiar design and is among the best-looking feature phones. Yes, the buttons aren’t big but it’s still easy to operate and there’s no need to flip it open which might be difficult for some elderly people. It will work with T-Mobile and AT&T as well as any MVNOs that use their networks. The downside is that it doesn’t support LTE, so call quality might be worse, as well as future support.

ISHEEP D210

Yes, yes, we know, the name is terrible. We’ll wait until you stop laughing. Done? Good. Let’s be real, the user of this phone won’t care what brand it is. And despite the ridiculous name, we had to include this phone because it’s one of the very few big-buttoned elderly-focused phones that supports 4G LTE, which is essential for the phone’s longevity. What’s also nice about this phone is that it comes with a charging base, which saves seniors the hassle of having to look for charging cables and plugging them in.

This phone will also only work with AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, so keep that in mind.

ZTE Cymbal Z-320

ZTE is a known brand in the phone world and its Cymbal Z-320 is an unlocked flip-phone that supports 4G. It’s not designed with seniors in mind per se, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some elderly people might be offended if you buy them a phone with huge buttons.

Overall, the Z-320 is a pretty standard feature phone. It has FM radio, long stand-by time and call time and a 1-inch OLED display on the outside. That will surely be the feature that sells it (not really).

CPR CS900

Lastly, we have the CS900, a phone that combines the best of both worlds: big buttons and clam-shell design. It just screams “old people phone” with the retro-style buttons but perhaps that’s just what you’re looking for. It has two additional buttons to save numbers to and a dedicated “Block now” button that your elderly relative can mash with satisfaction when they get a spam call. To top things off, there’s an SOS button on the back which automatically sends a text message to up to five emergency contacts of your choice.

The downside is that the phone doesn’t support 4G so its days of usefulness could be numbered.

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