The 8 Best Cell Phones for Seniors in 2021

Make sure your loved ones are always in touch

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Jitterbug Flip at Amazon
The Jitterbug Flip is, as its name suggests, a flip phone with a small outside screen for incoming calls and notifications.
Its 5Star service helps users speak with a doctor or nurse any time and even get prescriptions for common medications if needed.
5G connectivity and the Snapdragon 865 processor means seniors won't have to worry about sluggish performance.
This phone is powered by many of the same internals as the iPhone 11, but in a smaller, more affordable package.
Best Nokia:
Nokia 7.2 at Amazon
This phone lies somewhere in between the budget and midrange category, so it has a nice price tag.
Best Mid-Range 5G:
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G at Amazon
Samsung's Easy Mode comes along for the ride on this phone as well, and it looks great on the stunning screen.
The phone has a pretty good camera, with a 25MP main sensor and 8MP ultrawide camera.
A slow-performing processor usually means a well-performing battery, and this phone is no exception.

The best phones for seniors take into account all the needs of those who have reached their golden years. There are accessibility needs and some physical disability to take into account. But there's no reason seniors should be out of touch, which is why their cell phones should be just as easy to learn and as easy to use as those used by younger generations.

Most modern smartphones have "easy modes" or accessibility features that can be turned on. Generally, the best phones for seniors will have large buttons, a large bright display for easy viewing, wireless charging—meaning no fumbling with cables—and long battery life.

Another thing to consider is budget. Many of our seniors are living on a fixed income, so it's important to find options that will fit within those budgetary constraints. We've rounded up the best feature phones and smartphones on the market.

Best Overall: Jitterbug Flip

Jitterbug Flip
What We Like
  • Simple Yes/No navigation

  • Large buttons

  • Bright screen

  • Loud speaker

What We Don't Like
  • Low resolution camera

  • Locked to Greatcall carrier

Jitterbug is one of the big names in cell phones for seniors. That's because Jitterbug and its carrier Greatcall built their phones specifically for those long-lived folks who want to stay connected. The Jitterbug Flip is, as its name suggests, a flip phone with a small outside screen for incoming calls and notifications, and a large inside screen with a custom operating system designed around simple yes/no navigation. The large buttons and bright screens are perfect for seniors because they're so easy to use.  The loud speaker makes phone calls a snap even for those whose hearing could be better.

The camera on the phone isn't the best, which is not surprising considering the flip-phone form factor. The Jitterbug Flip is also exclusive to the Greatcall carrier, so if you're a customer on another carrier, this phone won't work. But Greatcall has no long-term contracts and uses Verizon's nationwide network, which is very extensive.

Screen Size: 1.44 and 3.2 inches | Resolution: N/A | Processor: 1.1 GHz | Camera: 2MP rear | Battery: Around 1 day

Best Simplified: Lively Jitterbug Smart2

GreatCall - GreatCall Jitterbug Smart2 Prepaid Smartphone for Seniors - Black
What We Like
  • Simple interface

  • Powerful suite of health and services

  • Brain games

What We Don't Like
  • Slow performance

  • Cameras are just OK

If you like the idea of Jitterbug, but you want a smartphone instead of a flip phone, the Jitterbug Smart2 might be for you. This is a 5.5 inch-smartphone powered by a heavily customized build of Android 9. As the name implies, this is a smartphone built with an easy-to-use interface with large buttons and clear text.

The camera is not impressive and the phone itself is a little underpowered, but we're assuming it won't be used for high-powered applications like gaming. Speaking of gaming, there are a number of what Jitterbug calls "brain games" that are designed to help the user keep their mind active and sharp.

The main reason to look at this phone comes in the form of the health and service packages available. Its 5Star service is available 24/7 and is staffed by IAED-certified agents who can help locate a user, evaluate the situation, and get help if needed. A user can also speak with a doctor or nurse any time and even get prescriptions for common medications if needed. In short, the phone itself is underwhelming, but the services that come along with it can be critical and life-saving.

Screen Size: 5.5 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 780 | Processor: 1.5 GHz | Camera: 13MP rear and 5MP front | Battery: Around 1 day

Best 5G: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

What We Like
  • 5G

  • Best value in Android

  • Great camera setup

  • Samsung's Easy mode

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Samsung's best 5G smartphone is easily the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. Released in late 2020, this phone cuts a lot of corners to meet a low price tag compared to its older S20 siblings. But Samsung perfectly cut every corner to come up with the best combination of price and features you can find in a flagship phone.

It's expensive for a fixed budget to be sure, but there's no reason our elders should be relegated to flip phones and low-end smartphones. This phone is powerful and still comes at a lower price tag that punches way above its class.

All Samsung Galaxy phones come with an Easy Mode that turns the phone's interface into large, easy-to-use and easy-to-read buttons. Plus this phone has a great camera setup, perfect for shooting photos of friends and family. 5G connectivity and the Snapdragon 865 processor means seniors won't have to worry about sluggish performance. This is really the best value you can find in Android today.

Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 | Camera: 12MP/8MP/12MP rear and 32MP front | Battery: Around 1.5 days

"It looks and feels just fine: It’s durable and not especially scratch-prone, plus there’s a wider array of backing colors compared to the standard Galaxy S20." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

S20 FE apps

 Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Apple: Apple iPhone SE (2020)

THe iPhone SE is our pick for best value iOS.
What We Like
  • Great performance

  • Good camera

  • Great price

  • Wireless charging

What We Don't Like
  • Weak battery

  • Small screen

In early 2020, Apple reintroduced the iPhone SE, which is a smaller, more affordable version of the iPhone. This phone is powered by many of the same internals as the iPhone 11, but in a smaller package with a TouchID fingerprint sensor rather than Apple's more popular FaceID. You get the same A13 bionic chip with its great performance, the 12MP camera sensor, and wireless charging, and you get it for less than $400, which is awesome.

This phone is smaller than your average smartphone, and with that comes a smaller battery. The wireless charging is great for setting your phone down and not having to worry about cables, so that helps. The phone screen is also quite small, so if you have trouble seeing small things, you might want to try a different phone. But if you're looking for a lot of power and performance with an easy-to-use operating system on a budget, this is one of the best deals in town.

Screen Size: 4.7 inches | Resolution: 1334 x 750 | Processor: Apple A13 Bionic | Camera: 12MP rear and 7MP front | Battery: Around 1 day

"Power users should probably pass, but anyone else who wants a powerful iPhone without stretching their wallet might love this updated throwback." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Nokia: Nokia 7.2 Phone

What We Like
  • Large, crisp screen

  • Lots of storage and microSD expansion

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Inconsistent cameras

  • Just OK video recording

Nokia used to be one of the biggest names in mobile and it's making a comeback of late under new ownership. One of the best values Nokia has to offer is the Nokia 7.2. This phone lies somewhere in between the budget and midrange category, so it has a nice price tag.

You get a large screen that is very clear and easy to read. Even its base model starts with 128GB of storage and is expandable via microSD card. The cameras on this phone are inconsistent along with video recording that's not super great, so maybe you won't need to extend the memory. But for those shutterbugs, the addition of expandable storage is nice. Plus, camera lovers might be able to squeeze more out of this camera than the average user.

All the same, this is a great value in the smartphone world, and should fit into the budget for a lot of people.

Screen Size: 6.3 inches | Resolution: 2280 x 1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660| Camera: 48MP/8MP/5MP rear and 20MP front | Battery: Around 1 day

"Getting around the interface is smooth and speedy, although I hit occasional sluggish hitches here and there." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Nokia 7.2

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

Best Mid-Range 5G: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G

 Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
What We Like
  • 5G

  • 64MP main camera

  • Samsung easy mode

  • Vibrant screen

What We Don't Like
  • Durability question marks

  • No IP rating

A solid entry in the midrange class, the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G should get consideration. Samsung's Easy Mode comes along for the ride on this phone as well, and it looks great on the stunning screen. You also get a respectable 64MP camera that's good in a lot of lighting situations and, of course, 5G capability for future-proofing. 

The build quality on the phone itself is a bit suspect. There's no IP rating, so you'll want to keep it away from water. Moreover, the phone has plastic backing while its screen sports Gorilla Glass 3, which isn't bad, but it's several generations out of date. There are stronger options available out there, but as long as you take care of your phone, this phone will serve you for a long time to come.

Screen Size: 6.7 inches | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G | Camera: 64MP/12MP/5MP/5MP rear and 32MP front | Battery: Around 1.5 days

"The Galaxy A71 5G feels smooth and responsive the vast majority of the time, with only occasional hints of sluggishness here and there."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy A50

What We Like
  • Large, clear screen

  • Clean look

  • Good battery life

  • Good camera

What We Don't Like
  • Fingerprint reader isn't great

  • Some lag issues

Samsung's more budget-friendly lineup of phones includes the Samsung Galaxy A50, which continues the build tradition of the Galaxy family. By that we mean a large, mostly bezel-less screen, an in-screen fingerprint reader (which is a little inconsistent), and a nice overall aesthetic. The phone has a pretty good camera, with a 25MP main sensor and 8MP ultrawide camera. You can get some very respectable shots with that setup.

You'll also get great battery life. The Exynos 9610 isn't a top-tier performer and as such, the phone will stutter occasionally. The upside to that is the processor sips battery, so the phone is definitely an all-day phone. That's important when it comes to a full day of activities. You want a phone that can stay out as long as you can. Plus, this is one of Samsung's least expensive phones, so it's very easy on the wallet as well. 

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 | Processor: Exynos 9610 | Camera: 25MP/8MP/5MP rear and 25MP front | Battery: Around 1 day

"What’s impressive is how much of the Galaxy S experience remains intact on the Galaxy A50, which still looks like a high-end phone, has a very good triple-camera setup, and boasts an excellent screen." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Samsung Galaxy A50

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy A20

Samsung Galaxy A20
What We Like
  • Good battery life

  • Decent main camera

  • Slim build

What We Don't Like
  • Sluggish performance

  • Low-res display

At the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy line is the Galaxy A20, which comes in at under two C-notes. This is a budget-friendly option, which is to say that it's slow to perform. But a slow-performing processor usually means a well-performing battery, and this phone is no exception. Like all the other Galaxies, this phone also carries Samsung's Easy mode. Combined with the low-resolution screen, and you have a device that's friendly for the seniors.

Despite that screen, the phone has a great design that's consistent through the Galaxy family, and the main camera is a very decent 13MP. You'll get solid shots as long as there's good light. Overall, this phone is easy on the wallet, so it'll fit into most budgets and should last a long time.

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 1560 x 720 | Processor: Exynos 7884 | Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: Around 1 day

"Well-lit daytime shots turn out pretty well most of the time, with balanced colors and solid detail, but low-light photos suffer from noise and softness."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Samsung Galaxy A20

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Final Verdict

When it comes to keeping our elders connected, the Jitterbug Flip (view at Amazon) is our go-to pick. The large buttons and easy interface make using the phone simple, which in turn keeps their lives simple. The large screen and simple Yes/No navigation is one of the best ways to use the phone, and Jitterbugs have been specifically designed for this generation.

If you want something a little more advanced, but still simple enough, the Jitterbug Smart2 (view at Amazon) has a basic set of smartphone features. It also boasts an amazing set of safety features designed to help whenever necessary. That kind of support built into a smartphone is so powerful it's hard to recommend anything else.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's playing with the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. When not working, he's a cyclist, geocacher, and spends as much time outside as he can.

Andrew Hayward has been reviewing tech and games since 2006. He's previously been published by TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, Macworld, and was an editor for Mac|Life. He reviewed a big chunk of the phones on this roundup due to his specialty in smartphones and other mobile devices.

FAQs

What is Greatcall?
Greatcall is a mobile network virtual operator (MVNO) that uses Verizon's network to deliver its own mobile service. Beyond that, Greatcall adds on services that are great for seniors including doctors, nurses, and associates who are there to assist seniors whenever they are needed.

How do you activate Samsung's Easy Mode?
Go to Settings, and search for "Easy Mode." It's typically located under the display settings. Easy Mode organizes your apps into three columns of buttons that are large and easy to see.

Can you still get a phone on a contract?
That usually depends on the carrier. Most phone carriers won't have "contracts," but they will have multi-year payment plans, which is similar to the contracts we used to have with cellular service. Check your carrier to see if contracts are in place, or avoid the contract and buy an unlocked phone that can work with any carrier.

Galaxy S20 FE Back

 Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

What to Look For in a Cell Phone For a Senior Citizen

Price

Living on a fixed income in your later years can put a burden on your pocketbook when it comes time to buy a smartphone. In many cases, a lower price doesn't necessarily mean a bad experience. It's important to find the right balance of features and price when smartphone shopping.

Screen Size

Screen size is very important when it comes to phones for seniors. If eyesight has started to go, or if glasses are required, larger screens can accommodate larger icons and text, which will make the phone easier to use.

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Cameras

A smartphone is a multi-use tool, and most seniors love capturing photos. A smartphone with a good camera can capture a lot of great memories, and it's important to have as good a camera as your budget allows. Higher megapixel counts are generally better, but software processing has a lot to say about it too. Check reviews of phones and look for photo samples.

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