The 9 Best Cell Phones for Seniors in 2021

Make sure your loved ones are always in touch

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The Rundown
"Featuring 5Star, which turns the Flip into a personal safety device that's customized specifically for an older audience."
Best Simplified:
Jitterbug Smart2 at Amazon
"Providing the benefits of up-to-date technology on a device that’s also easy to use."
"For blazing fast 5G connectivity and powerful performance, the S20 FE is a great value proposition for people who want new technology."
"For its affordable price and useful accessibility features, the iPhone SE (2020) is one of the best options for seniors."
"The reasonably priced Galaxy A51 packed in speedy 5G connectivity with a long-lasting battery, and big, bright display."
Best Nokia:
Nokia 7.2 at Amazon
"The Nokia 7.2 is a solid mid-range phone that can get you most of the key features without paying a flagship price."
Best Mid-Range 5G:
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G at Amazon
"If you want the speedy 5G connectivity without paying the price of a flagship, the A71 can keep you connected."
"The Galaxy A50 is a phone with attractive design flourishes, solid specs, and a reasonable price."
"Despite being on the older side, the A20 gets you a large OLED screen, good battery, and sleek design."
in this article

The best cell phones for seniors should be geared toward their special accessibility needs. Because seniors may have physical disabilities, visual issues, or hearing loss, it's important for the phone you pick to provide accommodations for these issues. Most modern smartphones regardless of if they're Android or iOS have built-in accessibility features that can be turned on through Settings. These features let you simplify menu options to easier use, increase or decrease touchscreen sensitivity, enable voice-to-text, increase text size, and invert colors for easier visibility.

Aside from the software end, there are several key physical features you want to have in a cell phone oriented toward seniors. It should have a big, bright display with easy visibility and a long-lasting battery to avoid frequent recharging (wireless charging is an added bonus to avoid fumbling for cables). Since not all seniors may be comfortable using a smartphone, a feature phone may be a good alternative. Greatcall is a carrier that provides phones for seniors. They come with physical buttons, clear navigation menus, assisted reading managers, and even an emergency alert service in case of falls and accidents.

Another good option for seniors is our roundup of the best phones under $300. If you're on a tight budget these devices can provide great value and easy usage. Here, read on to see the best cell phones for seniors.

Best Overall: Jitterbug Flip

Jitterbug Flip
What We Like
  • Bright, easy to read display

  • Simple menus and setup

  • Doubles as a personal safety device

What We Don't Like
  • Requires the GreatCall carrier service

Jitterbug’s large presence on this list shows their dedication to the senior community and the Jitterbug Flip is no exception. The 4.7-ounce device offers an exterior 1.44-inch 128 x 128 display that has basic information such as incoming call notifications and date and time. Inside the device, you’ll find a 3.2-inch 480 x 320 display that’s bright, but still offers exceptional outdoor visibility. The text is large and easy to read and there's a simple, organized menu that’s navigated through the directional arrows alongside “yes” and “no” selection buttons.

The addition of 5Star turns the Flip into a personal safety device that’s customized specifically for an older audience. With one-button touch for emergencies and agents standing by 24/7, there’s plenty of peace of mind for the phone owner, as well as their families and friends. Additionally, the LED flashlight on the exterior of the device doubles as a reading magnifier for assisting with small print reading in dimly lit areas. The included GreatCall Link app assists family with staying up-to-date with your health and safety while not intruding on your independence.

Screen Size: 1.44 and 3.2 inches | Resolution: N/A | Processor: N/A | Camera: 2MP rear | Battery: N/A

Best Simplified: Jitterbug Smart2

GreatCall - GreatCall Jitterbug Smart2 Prepaid Smartphone for Seniors - Black
What We Like
  • Good app access

  • Large accessible buttons

  • Great voice-to-text support

What We Don't Like
  • Occasional lag switching between apps

The Jitterbug Smart2 is an easy-to-use phone with some updated features that make it a great choice for more than just texting and calling. The phone’s 5.5-inch screen makes everything easy to read, and the simple home screen menu has large buttons for basic functions like making phone calls, accessing the phone’s camera, and sending emails. You can also download additional apps, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, in the Google Play store. The phone comes with 16GB of built-in storage with the ability to expand to 32GB using an SD card.

The Smart2 also has a voice typing feature that makes texting simpler. All users have to do is press a button and speak their text message instead of having to type it out. Additionally, this phone offers 5Star service as a safety precaution — with a press of a button on the phone’s home screen, users can access immediate emergency assistance. The phone is also hearing-aid compatible and comes with the GreatCall Link app that updates family members about your health and safety.

The bottom line is that the Jitterbug Smart2 is specifically engineered with seniors’ needs in mind. And with a large screen, access to apps, and voice typing, they can enjoy the benefits of up-to-date technology on a device that’s also easy to use.

Screen Size: 5.5 inches | Resolution: 1280x780 | Processor: MediaTek MT6738 | Camera: 13MP rear and 5MP front | Battery: 3,000mAh

Best 5G: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

S20 FE apps
What We Like
  • Large 120Hz screen

  • Excellent cameras

  • Speedy performance

  • Beefy battery

  • 5G support

What We Don't Like
  • Under-powered charger included

  • No mmWave 5G in unlocked version

The Galaxy S20 FE is a 5G phone that gives seniors a nice, reasonably priced option for a modern phone that doesn't make big sacrifices in performance. In most regards, it compares favorably to the flagship Galaxy S20 it's based on. When it comes to specs, you get a nicely-sized 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display. It's 1080p, supports HDR10+ for better contrast and colors, and boasts a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth animations. The higher refresh panel can be easier on the eyes and make the phone feel less janky, which has value even if you're not much of a gamer.

Other specs look great. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 865 processor which matches the S20, it has 6GB/8GB RAM configurations, and 128GB and 256GB storage options. Camera capabilities are potent, with a 12MP main sensor, 8MP telephoto sensor, and 12MP ultrawide. The selfie camera is a 32MP sensor. The 4,500mAh battery is big enough to last a full day, and the phone has all the other bells and whistles like fast charging, fast wireless charging, and IP68 water and dust resistance.

Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Resolution: 2400x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 | Camera: 12MP/8MP/12MP rear and 32MP front | Battery: 4,500mAh

"With the same nearly-top-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor found in the other Galaxy S20 models, you’ll have no shortage of power on hand in the S20 FE 5G."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Apple: Apple iPhone SE (2020)

iPhone SE
What We Like
  • Affordable price

  • Crisp screen

  • Packed with accessibility features

  • Compact design easy to hold

What We Don't Like
  • Screen is on the smaller side

  • No Face ID

The iPhone SE (2020) is one of the best phones for seniors due to its mix of affordable price and accessibility features. Since the SE (2020) is essentially an iPhone 8 with new guts, it's not as large and unwieldy as the hefty iPhone 11 Pro (or Max), nor as expensive. The screen is decently-sized at 4.7 inches and with a 1334 x 750 resolution and 326ppi density, text, and graphics appear crisp. It includes a True Tone display that can adjust the color temperature of the screen according to your surroundings in order to be easier on your eyes.

The phone itself is fast, with an A13 Bionic processor and it has a solid 12MP camera for clear snaps. The phone supports a fingerprint sensor in the home button, but not Face ID, which might make it difficult for those with arthritic hands to unlock. However, the iPhone has a number of accessibility features that let you simplify the home screen, increase the size of text, adds voice-over, and make touch controls more sensitive.

Screen Size: 4.7 inches | Resolution: 1334x750 | Processor: A13 Bionic | Camera: 12MP rear and 7MP front | Battery: 1,821mAh

Best Battery: Samsung Galaxy A51 5G

What We Like
  • Stellar screen

  • Solid performance

  • Speedy 5G support

  • Long-lasting battery

  • Great value for the price

What We Don't Like
  • Unlocked won't work on Verizon/AT&T 5G

  • Crummy speaker

  • No water resistance

Samsung’s Galaxy A51 5G is a great option for anyone looking for a modestly-priced 5G-capable smartphone. While the Galaxy A51 5G lacks some of the design flourishes of pricier Samsung phones, it doesn’t feel all that far removed from flagship handsets thanks to its great screen, aluminum frame, and long-lasting battery life. In fact, it has advantages over the new Galaxy S21 flagship models in terms of a headphone port and microSD card slot.

Solid performance means sluggish spurts are thankfully rare, and while the “unlocked” version of the phone is a bit misleading—it doesn’t work on Verizon’s or AT&T’s 5G networks—it delivered a nice upgrade over LTE speeds when we tested on T-Mobile’s network. The speaker here is poor and Google’s Pixel 4a 5G has the more consistent cameras, but if you want a $500 phone with a great screen, solid performance, 5G support, and a resilient battery, the Galaxy A51 5G delivers.

Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Resolution: 2400x1080 | Processor: Exynos 9611 | Camera: 48MP/12MP/5MP/5MP rear and 32MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"At the end of most days, I’d end up with a solid 40-50 percent of battery life left in the tank. Lighter users could potentially get two full days of use out of the A51 5G."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester



Best Nokia: Nokia 7.2 Phone

What We Like
  • Attractive, standout design

  • Large, crisp 6.3-inch screen

  • 128GB storage+microSD support

  • Solid battery life

  • Good value for the price

What We Don't Like
  • Cameras can be inconsistent

  • Middling video recording

  • Mediocre speaker

The Nokia 7.2 is a slightly updated sibling to the Nokia 7.1 and it ticks most of the same boxes as its predecessor. You get a big 6.3-inch screen that's a crisp 1080p and bright enough to be easily visible. It supports HDR10, for improved color saturation and dynamic range, and has plenty of space to view content and media. The processor is mid-range, with a Snapdragon 660 chip and 4GB of RAM, but it's good enough that you won't have trouble with most regular multitasking or even games.

Sound quality leaves something to be desired, but camera and video quality is solid, with a 48MP main sensor, an 8MP ultrawide, and 5MP depth sensor. The 3,500mAh battery is good enough to last most of a day, though you won't get wireless charging or features like waterproofing.

Screen Size: 6.3 inches | Resolution: 2280x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660| Camera: 48MP/8MP/5MP rear and 20MP front | Battery: 3,500mAh

"The Nokia 7.2 is a strong sub-$400 smartphone, with eye-catching design and a great screen, along with solid power and battery life." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

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

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
What We Like
  • Big, bright display

  • Sizable battery

  • Capable processor and cameras

  • Fast 5G capability

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

  • No wireless charging

For a 5G phone that won't run you as much as much as devices like the Note20 or new iPhone 12, the Samsung Galaxy A71 offers a solution. It checks all the boxes for a phone to suit seniors. It has a large 6.7-inch edge-to-edge AMOLED display, a 1080p resolution, and a large 4,500mAh battery that should let it last a full day without any trouble.

It's also a modern phone that doesn't make huge compromises to performance or features to hit a reasonable price point. It's poweres by a Snapdragon 730 processor, has 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Camera capabilities are solid, with a 64MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera, 5MP macro sensor, and 5MP depth sensor on the rear. The front camera is a 32MP sensor. Last, but not least, it supports 5G giving you fast connectivity no matter where you are.

Screen Size: 6.7 inches | Resolution: 2400x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 | Camera: 64MP/12MP/5MP/5MP rear and 32MP front | Battery: 4,500mAh

Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung Galaxy A50
What We Like
  • Large and vibrant screen

  • Sleek aesthetic

  • Strong battery life

  • Takes solid photos

  • Great value for the price

What We Don't Like
  • Spotty in-display fingerprint sensor

  • Some performance hitches

  • So-so sound quality

When it comes to specs, you get a 6.4-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display. Pixel density is crisp, colors are bright and saturated, and the screen quality compares favorably with flagship devices like the Note10 despite the lower resolution. Performance is decent with the Exynos 9610 chip and 4GB of RAM. It should be enough for browsing and apps, though don't except to do intensive multitasking. Surprisingly, it can handle games reasonably well. Camera quality is decent, with three rear cameras including 5MP for depth, 8MP for ultra-wide zoom, and a 25MP main sensor. The 4,000mAh battery under the hood also lets the phone last for a full day of use.

The Samsung Galaxy A50 hits all the key points for a senior-friendly cell phone: it has solid specs, a big, bright screen, and it won't break the bank. The A50 has a tall-and-narrow design that's become more popular among newer phone models, though it still retains a bit of a chin and some bezel, along with a centrally placed cutout for the selfie camera. The design is plastic rather than glass, but that might be a selling point since you're less likely to shatter it when dropped. The in-display fingerprint sensor can be a bit finicky, but it also has facial recognition as an alternative.

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 2340x1080 | Processor: Exynos 9610| Camera: 25MP/8MP/5MP rear and 25MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"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

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy A20

Samsung Galaxy A20
What We Like
  • Good battery life

  • Decent main camera

  • Large OLED screen

  • Slim and sleek

What We Don't Like
  • Sluggish performance

  • Low-res display

  • Scratch-prone backing

The Galaxy A20 is one of Samsung’s lower-end, budget-conscious smartphones, delivering a decent Android experience without premium polish or perks. The plastic build is slim and sleek, but also scratch-prone, while the large 6.4-inch OLED screen is a bit fuzzy and lacks peak brightness settings. As is typical for low-cost phones, the Galaxy A20’s performance is also lacking, with everyday use proving sluggish and occasionally unresponsive.

All that said, the Galaxy A20 has a long-lasting all-day battery and a decent main camera, and it can be found at a big discount these days. I wouldn’t recommend paying the full $250 price from Samsung for this two-year-old handset in 2021, but found for much less, it can be a decent no-frills budget option.

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 1560x720 | Processor: Exynos 7884| Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"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


Final Verdict

The best traditional cell phone for most seniors is the Jitterbug Flip (view on Amazon). It has an old-school clamshell design, easy-to-use keyboard, a big, high contrast LCD, and emergency services that can be summoned at the press of a button. For a smarter take, we like the Jitterbug Smart2 (view on Amazon). It's a simplified smartphone with menus that are easy to navigate and a 5.5-inch display. It also has built-in safety features in case of accidents.

About Our Trusted Experts

David Beren has been covering tech for over a decade now, and is an expert in smartphone and mobile technology. He's managed content for major carriers/retailers like T-Mobile, Sprint, and Tracfone Wireless.

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.

Ajay Kumar has been covering consumer electronics and mobile devices for nearly a decade. Ajay has previously been published at PCMag where he reviewed hundreds of phones, tablets, and other devices, and before that he covered the tech beat at Newsweek.

FAQs

What is the best cell phone plan for seniors?
The best cell phone plan for seniors will vary according to the needs of the individual senior. For peace and mind, and making sure a senior is always connected, it may be advisable to get a plan from a mainstream carrier like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. All of them have good and consistent coverage in most parts of the US, and they come with a variety of data plans that allow for unlimited talk and text. For seniors who aren't likely to use much data, there are some cellular plans geared toward their needs from lower-cost carriers like MetroPCS, Visible, Tracfone, Republic Wireless, and others. With these services, you only need to pay for what you use in terms of voice, text, and data which has the potential to save you quite a bit of money.

What is the best cell phone carrier for seniors?
There are some special carriers geared toward seniors like Consumer Cellular and Greatcall's Jitterbug service. Plans on these carriers tend to be lower cost, don't require a contract, and can be tweaked to pick the data, voice, and text bucket that suits your needs. They also have good customer support and partner with the AARP to help seniors set up their phone and phone plan. AARP members additionally get extra perks, discounts, and extended warranties.

Should seniors get flip phones?
A flip phone might be a good option for seniors because they have physical buttons (like the Jitterbug Flip) which is easier for seniors to use. However, if you decide to buy a flip phone, you want to make sure it has 4G LTE connectivity at the very minimum. This is because 2G and 3G networks are being shut down and getting a flip phone that only offers 2G and 3G connectivity may leave you with a useless brick.

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

Display - For seniors who have an app for everything, a large screen is a must. Around 5 inches, measured diagonally, should do the trick. A good resolution, around 1280 x 720 or higher, will make viewing media a pleasure. But if apps and media streaming take a back seat to texting and calling, a smaller display with a lower resolution will be just fine. This will also save you some money and earn you a better battery life.

Keyboard - If texting is a top priority, spring for a cell phone that has a convenient keyboard. That might be a subjective quality, but for most, it means a digital QWERTY keyboard with no physical buttons. Basic phones generally have a keypad that doubles as a keyboard, but that might slow you down.

Camera - No need to pull school photos of grandkids out of your wallet anymore; a cell phone with a great camera can act as a whole photo album. The best phones have rear-facing cameras around 13 megapixels and some even feature a front-facing camera for selfies. Say cheese!

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