The best cellphones for seniors in 2023
Everyone needs a cellphone, but not everyone has the same cellphone needs. Many seniors, in particular, want a lifeline to loved ones and emergency services, to say nothing of apps for health, safety, social media and more. Their phone should also be ultra easy to use, with a large, bright screen, a straightforward user experience, a simple interface and ideally some accessibility features for users with physical challenges (such as eyesight or motor-skill impairments). With that criteria in mind, I've identified six models that I consider the best cellphones for seniors in 2023.
- Best overall phone for seniors
Lively Jitterbug Smart3 Smartphone for Seniors
- Best flip phone for seniors
Consumer Cellular Link II
- Best affordable Android phone
Samsung Galaxy A23 5G
- Best affordable iPhone
Apple iPhone SE 3rd Generation (Verizon)
- Best big-screen iPhone
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (Verizon)
- Best smartphone that's also a tablet
GrandPad Tablet for Seniors
Read more: If you're not seeking a senior-specific solution, here's our roundup of the best cellphones, period.
Best phone for seniors: Android, iPhone or something else?
Below you'll find two iPhones, two specialized phones, one Android phone and one tablet. Although the Android-versus-iPhone debate has been raging for years, the truth is that neither operating system is especially senior-friendly. One exception: Samsung's Galaxy A23 offers something called Easy Mode. When activated, the functionality makes the user interface (text, icons, onscreen keyboard, etc.) larger and simplifies the home screen. When you swipe to the left-most screen, for example, you'll see it's now populated with one-tap icons to call "favorited" contacts.
That's a great option, one that's available on all Samsung Galaxy phones (not just the A23). However, the Android operating system on the whole — navigation, settings, etc. — can be a little complicated. Overall, I find iPhones a bit easier to learn and use, and they offer an unrivaled selection of accessibility features and assistive technology. For example, users who suffer from low vision can enable "Speak Screen," which verbalizes the contents of whatever's currently showing. Those with hearing impairments can toggle the rear LED (normally used by the camera) to flash repeatedly when a call, text or other alert comes in. A triple-click of the side button can activate a camera-powered magnifier, and so on.
Newer iPhones also offer medical-alert-style safety features like crash detection and, when paired with a newer Apple Watch, fall detection. In the unfortunate event of a driving incident or a tumble, these helpers can notify family members and even contact on-call emergency services. (Worth noting: Google Pixel phones offer crash detection as well, and fall detection is coming to Google's Pixel Watch.)
Phones for seniors: Costs and other considerations
As with any basic phone you buy, there's the cost of the phone itself and the cost of service. Thankfully, while the hardware can range from a few hundred dollars to nearly $1,000 (or more!), you can often take advantage of zero-interest financing to make them more affordable. The iPhone SE below, for example, can be paid off over three years for just $5 per month. The Samsung A23 runs about $8.33 per month when financed through Samsung.
As for service, consider whether you really need an unlimited data plan. If you spend much of your time at home, connected to Wi-Fi, then you probably don't. By choosing an unlocked phone, you can get service from whichever carrier offers the best plan to meet your connectivity needs and budget. Consumer Cellular, for example, is widely regarded as the "senior-friendly" carrier, with excellent customer service and plans starting at $20 per month. Mint Mobile is another popular option, with plans as low as $15 (amortized) with a prepaid option for a year at a time.
Whatever phone and carrier you end up with, I strongly recommend buying a high-quality case as well. Although every day phone durability has improved over the years, with screens that promise to withstand minor bumps and scratches, gravity is not your friend — and a cracked screen is no fun.
Speaking of accessories, consider keeping a mobile charger close at hand. Depending on how you use it, your phone's battery life might last a couple of days on a charge or it might expire by dinnertime. If you're near an outlet you can always plug it in, but a power bank like this one from Anker can help when you're out and about.
Now let's take a look at the best cellphones for seniors.