Mobile phones are now officially in everyones hands, well, not far off. Research from 2020 shows, maybe unsurprisingly, that more than half of those aged over 65 now use the internet on their mobile phone. And in the last decade internet usage in this age band has grown to over 80%.
If you’re considering investing in your first smartphone, or are helping an elderly relative/friend to choose one, there is lots to consider to ensure the one you get is convenient and simple to use. Here are our recommendations to help find appropriate mobile phones for the elderly.
Best Flip Phones for the Elderly
Flip phones can offer the best of both worlds for older people. Anyone who is unfamiliar with touchscreens, and want a simple phone with a reasonable-sized screen, might find that a flip phone is the solution.
We have picked out below 3 of the best flip-phones on the market for the elderly.
1. Doro 6620
The Doro 6620 is a simple flip phone, suitable for elderly people who want to be able to make calls and send texts easily.
The Doro 6620 has an outstanding battery life of up to 380 hours, and can be charged using a charging cradle; meaning an older person doesn’t have to fiddle about getting the charging wire into the hole.
Users of the Doro 6620 also benefit from Doro’s dedicated assistance button, which allows a user to contact the Doro Alarm Receiving Centre – that can automatically connect them to a 24/7-available response team (for an additional monthly cost).
Weight – 370g
2. Doro 7080
This flip-phone with external display display showing a caller’s name and number right away. Widely separated, high contrast keys make calling and texting easier, and HD Voice enables clearer conversation at both ends of the line.
It is 4G enabled, meaning that it is suitable for an older person hwho wants to be able to communicate using Whatsapp, Facebook and other online means.
The Doro 7080 has a better camera, more storage and is more suited to using the internet than the Doro 6620, so this could be a good choice for an older person who wants to do more with their phone than just the basics.
Weight – 130g
Response Premium by Doro is an extra, paid service which can connect a Doro phone user to Doro's Emergency Alarm Receiving Centre. This gives Response Premium users access to 24-hour instantaneous support, which could be useful if an elderly person has a fall or other emergency and needs support. It does come with an additional monthly cost (on top of any normal contract) but you don't have to buy this add on to use the phone normally.
Best Smartphones for the Elderly
If your parent is more tech-savvy, they might enjoy a smartphone with their greater range of functions than standard mobile phones: you can watch videos, video-call, and play music and games. Age Space has also compiled a list of the best apps for the elderly.
If looking for a smartphone for older people considerations may include how intuitive it is, and also screen size. We have picked our choice of the best smartphones for the elderly below.
1. Doro 8050
The Doro 8050 is probably the easiest smartphone on the market. Doro specialise in making phones for seniors — meaning this is a smartphone built with seniors in mind. It is extremely intuitive and easy to get-to-grips-with.
This phone offers loud and clear sound, as well as an impressive visual experience and it boasts an impressive 13MP easy-to-use camera for taking and sharing photos with friends and family.
This phone is also a good choice if you want a phone that can act as an emergency alarm. Like the other Doro phones for the elderly on this list, it is Doro Response Premium compatible.
Weight – 165g
2. Apple iPhone SE 2020
Although the Apple iPhone SE 2020 is a top-of-the-range product, with all the functionality that people of most ages require, it is still a user-friendly device.
As one of the most popular phones, there are an abundance of guides on how to use them, and it is likely that a person the elderly user knows will be able to give them a hand in setting it up and getting to grips with their iPhone.
We marked the iPhone down on usability because there are a lot of excess features that might be overwhelming to someone new to this type of technology. However, the Apple iPhone SE is easy to get used to when doing the simple things. It is also the cheapest iPhone option, while keeping all the features that make it so great. If the person you’re thinking of buying for is not going to use all of these features however, they might be better off with another phone on this list.
Weight – 148g
ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. Having a contact either marked ICE in their contact name, or within a nominated ICE section of a phone, let's people know which of a person's contacts to call in case of an emergency.
Looking for something even simpler than a mobile phone?
Komp from No Isolation might be the device for you. Specifically designed with older people with limited or no experience with technology, Komp aims to make connecting with loved ones as simple as possible. Family members can make video calls that can be answered with no action required by the older person at the other end of the line. By using a companion app, any technical responsibility is taken over by those who know how – and even the app is as simple as can be! Find out more about this one-button computer by clicking the button below.
Best Simple & Easy To Use Mobile Phones for the Elderly
Some older people are certain that they do not need many of the new features that smartphones and touchscreen phones bring with them. They may just want a phone that does the most important basics well: making phone calls.
Below, you can find out more about the simplest mobile phones for the elderly in the UK.
1. Doro 780X
Doro, the specialists in phones for older people, describe the 780X as their “easiest-to-use” mobile phone. This should give you an indication of its simplicity! It is designed with maximum safety, and can be used by people who struggle with technology.
The Doro 780X only lets you call 3 people you rely on most, using the three large buttons which each have a name label. This can make it a good phone for someone with dementia.
It is water resistant, and assistance button for sending an alarm with GPS position if you need help. It is also compatible with Doro’s Response Premium service.
Weight – 300g
2. Alcatel 10.66
The Alcatel 10.66 is almost as basic as a phone gets. It’s great for someone who isn’t going to use it for anything more than phones and calling, although it does have 4G for internet access.
To some extent you pay for what you get which is big, user friendly buttons, a fit-in-your-pocket design, a useable screen and a poor camera.
You will probably have to buy a small micro SD card to increase the memory (which are cheap), and the phone is not currently available on a contract. This means you will have to buy the phone outright and then pay to top up the allowance for internet, call and texts. All in all a really simple phone that will get the job done!
Weight – 63g
Not many new phones come with buttons these days, but many older people find a button-based system to be more familiar than touchscreens. For people that struggle with their dexterity in particular, big buttons can make using a phone much easier.
Take a look at our guide to the best big button phones for seniors.
How to persuade an elderly parent to buy a mobile phone
Older people can be confident with all the new technology as there is so much choice of mobile phones available. With the rapid digital roll-out of everyday tasks such as banking, online shopping and booking a GP appointment, to name but a few, getting people connected with a smartphone is increasingly a necessity, not just a nice to have.
Health and age-related issues such as arthritis, memory loss and poor eyesight can make it trickier to navigate a smartphone.
But mobile technology has many other benefits that older people are beginning to embrace. Whether it be extra confidence to go out alone, safe in the knowledge that a loved one is just a phone call away, or the ability to connect to distant family by sharing photos and messages, there are many opportunities – beyond daily necessities – that smartphone ownership opens up to improve the well-being of older people.
Advantages of getting a mobile phone for older people
If you are struggling to convince them that a mobile phone would be helpful, here are some of the main advantages that you can pass on to them.
In case of emergency
In an emergency situation, having a mobile phone makes it much easier for an older person to call for help.
If a person were to have a fall, for example, having a mobile phone with quick access to an emergency contact or 111 can be extremely valuable.
Having a mobile phone allows relatives to send text reminders. This could be a reminder to take medication, or that someone is coming to visit.
This can be particularly helpful for older people with dementia.
Having a mobile phone can help your elderly relative to stay sociable! It makes it easier for them to call and text relatives and friends. Texting in particular is often the easiest way of staying in touch with grandchildren.
Mobile phones can be a source of fun for the elderly! Smartphones are packed with games and platforms for streaming music, TV and podcasts.
Even standard phones tend to have a couple of games included, and the ability to listen to music or radio.
There are smartphone apps now for mobile banking, online shopping and sorting out medical appointments, to name a few.
Contract or Pay-as-you-go for older phone users?
Whether to go for a Pay-As-You-Go phone deal or a fully-blown contract is one of the decisions you will have to make when buying a mobile phone for an older person.
This will depend on how much they plan to use it, how important a phone will be in an emergency, and how much they are happy to spend.
The most important thing is that the bill payer feels comfortable with the costs and understands fully what they can do. Read more about the differences below.
Pay As You Go
Pay As You Go means that you fill up the SIM card with a certain amount of 'credit' and you just top-up as and when is needed. Calls, texts and using the internet take different chunks out of your credit. So an older person who only uses their phone occasionally, and more for texting and calling instead of internet, might be better suited to a Pay As You Go SIM.
With Pay As You Go deals you won't get the phone as part of the deal like you might in a contract, and you may miss out on better rates for texts, calls and internet. As a general rule, if you find that you're topping up more than once a month then either you need to top up more or a contract might be a cheaper and better option.
If you want to get the full benefits of messaging friends and family all day, a low-price contract with a good number of free texts and calls is probably the best bet. Most contracts these days come with unlimited texts and calls for a good price - which is what we recommend for maximum reassurance.
The last thing that you want it your elderly relative to run out of credit when they need it most. For example, if the senior's phone is needed in case of emergency or a fall, then having a contract can ensure your relative is never in a position where they need to make a call urgently and are unable to due to not having topped up.
Another advantage of a contract is that you can set it all up for you relative, and help them with the bills. Some contracts allow you to pay towards the phone and for calls, texts and internet, instead of paying for the phone outright and then a monthly contract on top of that. This might lock your phone into just using a certain carrier (Vodafone, O2 etc) so just bear in mind that another SIM won't work in the phone (this is what "locked" and "unlocked" phones refer to).
Many phone contracts now are not particularly expensive – at least in regard to the amount of call minutes and texts included. The higher-cost phone contracts tend to offer large amounts of data, which most elderly mobile phone users will not necessarily need.
Dealing with the phone sales team
When you look to buy a phone, the phone company’s team will look to ‘up-sell’ you, and convince you that you need features that may not be essential.
It is a good idea to go into the conversation with the sales team with a clear idea of what you’re looking for from your phone deal. Write down what it is that you need and use this list as the basis for conversation about what phone and what package is best.
This could include, for example:
- Large screen
- Emergency button
- Hearing-aid compatible
But you may know your relative does not need a camera or access to Facebook or Whatsapp.
Our Tips On Choosing The Best Mobile Phone for Elderly Relatives
What is the best phone for someone who is hard of hearing?
If someone is hard of hearing, you should look for a mobile phone that is Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC). If you are looking for a phone that is suitable for people with poor hearing – but who do not use a hearing aid – then you should look for a phone with high-decibel ringtone and voice, such as the iPhone SE.
Can elderly people use touchscreens?
This depends on the individual and how much experience they have with touchscreens, or how quickly they can get used to them. The Doro touchscreen is designed with older people in mind, with larger touchscreen keys.
As touchscreens have been around for longer, a greater number of older people are finding themselves comfortable using touchscreens.
What is the best mobile phone for someone with dementia?
A mobile phone for somebody with dementia should be really intuitive, and make it as easy as possible to both call and receive calls from loved ones.
A mobile phone for somebody with dementia should also have a long battery life in case the user forgets to charge it.
Are mobile phones for the elderly hearing aid compatible?
Most new mobile phones from major companies are hearing aid compatible. All of the mobile phones for the elderly listed on this page are hearing aid compatible, except the Alcatel 10.66.
Are landline or mobile phones better for seniors?
Landline phones have fallen out of favour somewhat, due to the range of uses of mobile phones. People like to be able to stay in touch wherever they go.
However, if an older person often forgets to charge their mobile, landlines can be better as they are always on. Combining a mobile phone with a landline can be the best way of ensuring that an older person is contactable wherever they are, and whatever status their mobile is in.
How heavy should a mobile phone for the elderly be?
If an elderly person isn’t experienced with carrying a phone, they might struggle with anything too bulky or heavy. Modern phones are much lighter than they were two decades ago, so finding a lightweight phone shouldn’t be too hard.
However, you should keep in mind that features like bigger screens and buttons could cause a phone for the elderly to be heavy or bulky.
Will my mobile work abroad?
Yes, but it might be expensive. Your SIM Carrier will have additional charges for using your mobile abroad and they can be pretty extortionate especially if you're calling/texting back to the UK or using internet. If you do plan to travel with your phone either look for a SIM contract with a good deal on 'roaming' and international charges, or buy yourself a different SIM when you get to the foreign country. Free EU roaming has been one of the potential losses of Brexit, so check what your carrier's stance is.
How do you determine star rating?
Our rating system is designed with older people in mind - so the highly rated phones on this page are best for older people, but might not be the best phones for all. Ratings for each category are scored out of five and are decided based on a mixture technical specification research and customer reviews.