Do Seniors Really Need Smartphones?

Smartphones for seniors has been a hot topic for a while now. My mom, a 78 year old smart lady, has always struggled with new technology and it took us a while to convince her on how important a smartphone would be for a senior like her. But now that she has one, she loves it.

Do seniors need smartphones? Yes, a simple smartphone can be very useful for seniors. Mainly because it helps them staying connected with their grandchildren by video chatting; controlling smart devices; using GPS to help navigate; monitoring health through apps; and many other features that can improve quality of their lives.

But for all these great features that can come in handy, your senior don’t really need a super fancy smartphone, just a basic one. Moreover, despite of what most of retail sites we find in Internet, a simple smartphone can supply all their needs.

Why do Seniors Need Smartphones?

These days we use our smartphones for nearly everything, but when choosing a phone to be used by seniors. So it’s helpful to narrow down your primary purpose.

Besides, figuring out what your seniors will use their phone for can help you pick a model and a voice and data plan. Thus here are the most common uses for seniors:

  • Making emergency phone calls
  • Texting with friends and family
  • Video chatting with friends and family
  • Looking at date and time
  • Controlling your smart devices (like a smart thermostat or smart lock)
  • Using GPS to help navigate when driving or walking
  • Checking the weather on the go
  • Monitoring health through apps
  • Accessing the internet

How Many Seniors Use Smartphones?

So nowadays the use of smartphones has spread out and it seems that everyone has one. In fact, Around 42% adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013.

Moreover, Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the internet, a huge increase in just under two decades, when this percentage was 12%.

What are the Top Features of Senior Smartphones?

There are quite a few cell phone features that are specifically designed to adapt to the special needs of seniors that can make operating the device much easier. So here are a few senior-friendly cell phone features:

  • Simple Menus
  • Full Keyboards
  • Internet Access
  • Larger Buttons and Screens
  • Higher Volume Options
  • Voice Typing and Voiceover Features
  • Magnifying Cameras
  • Alerts, Alarms and Timers
  • Emergency Button
  • GPS Location
  • Fitness and Health Tracking Tools

Pros of Having a Smartphone for Seniors

Besides making calls, texting, and taking videos and photos, smartphones have handy practical applications.

1. Smartphones can control other Smart Devices

If your senior lives alone, they may find it beneficial to install smart devices around their home.

These smart devices are typically controlled through specialized apps that the owner can access through their smartphone.

Furthermore, installing these smart devices can allow them to turn on and off their lights, their thermostat, or even their radio right from their smartphone.

2. Smartphones give a lot of possibility of entertainment

Smartphones can be a good device against boredom in seniors living alone, thanks to games, audiobooks, podcasts, and social media available right on their phones.

There are many free game apps available that may help keep them entertained.

In addition, audiobooks and podcasts may help seniors whose eyesight makes it hard for them to read from physical books and magazines.

Finally, seniors can use social media to connect with family and old friends through different apps such as Facebook or Instagram.

3. Smartphones have greater sharing capacity

Seniors who use smartphones may also feel more connected.

With a smartphone they can easily send and receive pictures and videos from loved ones and can enable video chatting as well.

Moreover, this can be especially helpful for seniors who live far away from their friends and grandchildren, more and more common these days.

4. Smartphones have a huge number of practical Apps available

Smartphones can provide seniors not only hours of entertainment, but they can also make life easier and more efficient.

In addition, seniors can use apps to ensure that they take their medication on time and to receive severe weather alerts, among other things.

Therefore, these apps can definitely help seniors live confidently and independently, specially the ones that live by themselves.

5. Smartphones can be a good device for brain stimulation

Seniors looking to sharpen their thinking can use brain-training apps that help improve memory and logical thinking.

Besides, these apps may help seniors slow the aging process and stay mentally fresh.

6. Smartphones usually come with Virtual Assistants

Most smartphones nowadays also come equipped with a virtual assistant that responds to voice commands and questions.

Thus, seniors may find these particularly useful, since they eliminate the need to type full sentences on the keypad and can help you navigate a new phone.

Cons of Owning a Smartphone for a Senior

1. Smartphones have a steep learning curve

One of the biggest struggles that many seniors face after getting a phone—especially smartphones—is learning how to operate them. Therefore, too many applications and varying set up options can be overwhelming even for experienced cell phone users.

Additionally, seniors who struggle with technical skills may find it difficult or frustrating to learn an entirely new set of skills at their age. Also, some may simply be unwilling to invest the time to acquaint themselves with a complicated new device. So for these seniors, it may be better just to skip the smartphone and opt for a basic phone.

2. Smartphones have too Many options and features seniors may not need

Thus, for seniors who only want to use a few features of their phone, having hundreds of options may feel overwhelming. In addition, these additional applications may make it harder to find and use the very basic features, like texting or finding the date and time.

3. Smartphones are much more expensive

While basic phones can be bought for as little as $15 and even entry-level smartphones start around $75, some of the higher end smartphones can cost more than a $1000. Thus, this means it may only be worth the money if your senior plan on using many of the features.

Additionally, some cell phone carriers lock customers into a long-term contract, so your senior will be paying a monthly fee for at least a year or more. Consequently, a smartphone plan will also require that them pay for data, or the internet that’s used to host their apps, in addition to basic calls and texting, making it more expensive than a basic phone plan.

4. Smartphones are very targeted by thieves

Unfortunately, a brand new smartphone can make seniors more susceptible to theft, since these devices are in such high demand.

5. With smartphones it’s easy to have some accidental spending without even noticing

In addition to the price of the phone itself, seniors will be faced with many opportunities to spend money on apps and online shopping.

So if your senior do opt for a smartphone, make sure they are careful when downloading apps. Even if some are free to download, they usually offer sneaky in-app purchases that may cause them to spend more while using the app, often without even realizing it.

6. Smartphones are harder to set up

So we can all agree that smartphones may be way more complicated to set up than basic phones.

Smartphones for Seniors Available on the Market:

Smartphones are great tools that give aging loved ones the freedom and independence to live at home—even alone—with a sense of safety and security while knowing the ones they love and emergency assistance is just a phone call away. So seniors will never feel lonely and will have an array of opportunities to stay engaged with the world through smartphone apps, video chatting and other features common to these devices.

Some examples of smartphones for seniors available on the market right now:

* I would like to emphasize this: If you are a senior who can easily get one or two things about technology, go ahead and try some different brands of smartphones to see what fits you best. There are too many awesome options to choose from. And the basic features are pretty easy to get once you start using it.

But if you don’t feel very tech-savvy and you are just afraid of not being able to use a regular smartphone, there are also some available on the market specially targeted to seniors. They are not the best products you can get but they might do the trick.

Although these smartphones do not have awesome reviews, they are all pretty straight-forward and easy-to-use for any senior who doesn’t have a clue about technology. I am sure any seniors struggling with technology will enjoy not being left out of the smartphone trend.

1. Jitterbug Smart2 Smartphone for Seniors by GreatCall

  • Display Size: 5.5 Inches
  • Camera: 13.0 Megapixel built-in camera with flash (has easy-to-use photo sharing)
  • Operating System: Android
  • Memory Storage: 32 GB
  • Coverage: Dependable Nationwide coverage.

The large touchscreen makes this cell phone even easier to read. A simple menu organized in a single list with large letters and icons makes it easy to navigate.

Easy-to-use smartphone with exclusive features that are only available on the GreatCall network. Activate with GreatCall by phone or on the GreatCall website. Affordable, flexible plans with data as low as $17.48 A month. No contracts or cancellation fees.

Award-winning, 100% U.S.-Based customer service and support. Turn your phone into a personal safety device with exclusive health and safety services.

Check this product on Amazon.

2. Artfone 3G Unlocked Senior Flip Phone

  • Display Size: 2.4 Inches
  • Camera: 2.0 Megapixel
  • Operating System: Linux
  • Memory Storage: Equipped with the 128MB RAM+64MB ROM storage (the external storage capacity can be expanded to 32GB).
  • Celular Technology: 3G
  • Coverage: Compatibility Nationwide on 2G/3G carriers(Select Prepaid SIM Card). Will NOT work with T-Mobile/MetroPCS, NO CDMA Carriers (Verizon, Sprint, Boost, PagePlus).

With a classic flip design, this cell phone can be unlocked easily by opening the cover. This is very user-friendly for the elderly. With large font and clear menu icon, for easy operation even in old age.

There is a large black emergency button on the back. You can set 5 SOS call numbers. When in emergency, press the SOS button for 3 seconds to dial emergency numbers and send text messages for immediate help from your family or friends. M1/M2 button supports quick dialing of the frequently used numbers. Flashlight button on the right side, just slide it upwards so you can see better in the dark.

Upgraded speakers ensure that every call is loud, clear, and simple. When using a hands-free call, the ear does not have to be close to the phone, but also can hear the loud sound, for the elderly hearing loss is very friendly. And it offers more ringtones to choose from, making it boring for the elderly. The voice and menu language support English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Polish, Arabic and Italian.

Charging: Equipped with a charging dock ,this phone is very convenient for the elderly to charge the phone. Supplied with an updated rechargeable lithium battery with 1000 mAh battery capacity for longer life, supports talking time up to 4-5 hours, standby time up to 200 hours, charge faster and more safely.

Check this product on Amazon.

3. Easyfone Prime A1 3G Unlocked Senior Flip Cell Phone

  • Display Size: 2.4 Inches (+1.44” External colorful screen)
  • Camera: 2.0 Megapixel
  • Operating System: –
  • Memory Storage:
  • Celular Technology: 3G
  • Coverage: Compatibility Nationwide on 2G/3G carriers like AT&T or any other carrier that use AT&T network(Select Prepaid SIM Card). Will NOT work with T-Mobile/MetroPCS, NO CDMA Carriers (Verizon, Sprint, Boost, PagePlus)

With a classic flip design, you just flip to answer calls; Big button for easy dialing, Big Volume for easy hearing and with simple operating system easy to use. Big Font & Big Icon for easy viewing; MMS/Tasks/FM/Flashlight/etc useful features. Special SOS button with ICE Manual; M1 and M2 Dedicated Direct dial keys and # Key 2-9 eight numbers can be set as Speed dial button. Cutting Edge M4/T4 Hearing Aid Compatibility(HAC), ideal for the customers with hearing aid devices.

Check this product on Amazon.

4. Ushining 3G Unlocked Flip Cell Phone for Senior

  • Display Size: 2.8 Inches
  • Camera: 2.0 Megapixel
  • Operating System: Android
  • Memory Storage: 32 GB
  • Celular Technology: 3G
  • Coverage: Work with prepaid sim card like AT&T 3G, T-Mobile 3G/2G or any carrier operates on these networks such as Simple Mobile, Straight Talk, Lycia (***NOT for AT&T or T-Mobile CONTRACT SIM CARD or CDMA network, such as Verizon and Sprint).

Ushining 3G flip cell phone, with Alarm clock, Calculator, MP3/MP4 Player, Bluetooth, FM Radio, Write Message, Camera. Unlocked Dual SIM Senior & Kids Phone.

Charging: Easy to Charge the Phone (charge by the Charging Dock Or Line Imediately). Standby Time 200 (hours) ,Voice talk time 300 (min).

Check this product on Amazon.

5. Easyfone Prime-A4 GPS Localisation Unlocked Smart Senior Cell Phone

  • Display Size: 2.31 Inches
  • Camera: 2.0 Megapixel
  • Operating System: Nucleus OS
  • Memory Storage:
  • Celular Technology: 2G
  • Coverage: Compatibility Nationwide on 2G/3G carriers like AT&T or any other carrier that use AT&T network(Select Prepaid SIM Card). Will NOT work with T-Mobile/MetroPCS, NO CDMA Carriers (Verizon, Sprint, Boost, PagePlus)

Unique design for elderly user. Big volume for easy hearing, Big font and big icon for easy viewing, Big button for easy dialing with PSD (photo speed dial) feature and simple operating system easy to use. 8 programmable direct dial button with photo.

Φ20 Box speaker w/ Hearing Aid Compatibility(HAC), High brightness Torch, GPS(Global Positioning System).

Charging: 1500Mah real capacity battery, Standby time up to 5-7 days w/ easy cradle charger.

Check this product on Amazon.

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  1. My mother hates her smartphone and wants to go back to her flip phone but was told that the flip phones will only work for a limited time because they use 4G. My dad purchased a new flip phone and hates it. Now wants to go back to old flip phone but was told the same thing. They are in their 80s and the more advanced the phone is, the less they like it. Are simple flip phones still available and will they work with 5G? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mona, thanks for reaching out. I totally understand your folks… Flip phones seem so much user-friendly – especially for older people. I did a quick search and unfortunately these phones from our list won’t work with 5G. There are some very new models that are bringing back the flip, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or the Motorola Razr but they are not really simple easy-to-use phones and they are quite expensive. If I were you, I would stick with a simple model. Hope it helps. Cheers!

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