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The best phone for seniors and those with hearing and visual impairments

If you are looking for a new phone for the senior citizen in your life, or if you're in the market for a phone for someone with low vision, a hearing impairment, or some other accessibility issue, you may feel frustrated or not know where to begin. Thankfully, there are many good options out there, and we've rounded up what we feel are the best phones for seniors and those with accessibility issues to help you get started. Our overall top choice is the Google Pixel 4a thanks to its balance of price, accessibility features, and software support, but there are several others you might want to consider as well.

Best Overall Phone for Seniors: Google Pixel 4a

Google's most affordable smartphone of 2020 is also the best option for senior citizens thanks to its unbeatable combination of hardware, software features and support, and of course, its price.

The Pixel 4a is priced at an entry-level to mid-tier phone but gives users near-flagship specs. Sure the processor isn't the top-of-the-line, but it is more than sufficient for regular use. You get Google's clean and easy-to-use version of Android, as well as regular security updates ad feature drops for three years.

One thing that really matters to seniors are memories, and the Pixel 4a is the perfect phone to capture, preserve, and share those memories. It has the same main camera as the flagship Pixel 5 and a big beautiful screen on which to view them. Sharing has never been easier thanks to Google Photos, which also surfaces memories within the app and through notifications.

Finally, the Google Action Blocks app is perfect for those with vision or memory problems. Friends or family members can set up quick, one-tap actions from their home screen, which can be sized for large touch targets. Also, the Google Assistant is a great way for seniors to access phone actions via voice without diving through menus and settings.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Great camera and photo-sharing capabilities
  • Software and security updates

Cons:

  • More pricey than some other options on this list
  • Fingerprint sensor on the back may pose problems for those with arthritis or mobility issues

Best Overall Phone for Seniors

Google Pixel 4a

A phone for all

The Google Pixel 4a is not only the perfect phone for seniors; it's a great option for the whole family.

Best Value Phone for Seniors: Jitterbug Smart2

Even though many Android phones have a dedicated "easy mode" or other shortcuts or widgets to make navigation easier, the standard-bearer for senior phones has long been the Jitterbug brand. You may be familiar with Jitterbug's flip phones with large buttons (one of which we'll cover later in this article), but did you know that the company also has a touchscreen smartphone version for seniors? Well, they do, and it's called the Jitterbug Smart2.

The Smart2 does away with traditional smartphone app-based navigation in favor of a simplified list view of the most important apps that a senior might need. This includes the phone/dialer, text messages, camera, internet, email, maps, and support. The phone supports voice typing, so those with manual dexterity issues don't have to worry about small keyboard touch targets, and it has a front-facing camera for video chatting. Best of all, there is an urgent response button right on the home screen that puts the senior in touch with a trained agent who can connect them with emergency services.

The service plans through GreatCall are affordable and, it's easy to connect with friends and family, whether they be on Android or iOS, through the GreatCall Link app. This app allows loved ones to receive alerts on their devices if/when the Smart2 user contacts GreatCall's urgent response network. It can also show device status, location, and the user's activities, similar to Amazon's new Alexa Care Hub.

Pros:

  • Simple and clean user interface
  • Very affordable
  • Emergency and support access from the home screen

Cons:

  • Camera is not flagship level
  • No real app support
  • No wireless charging or IP certification

Best Value Phone for Seniors

Jitterbug Smart2

Smart senior phone

The Jitterbug Smart2 provides a senior-centric smartphone experience free from unnecessary apps, menus, and settings.

Best Phone for Hearing Impaired Seniors: iPhone SE (2020)

I know this is an Android site, but just hear me out (no pun intended). Apple's iPhones and iOS have long been at the forefront of the accessibility discussion, with tons of features for all kinds of differently-abled people. Whether it's voice-to-text, low sight accommodations, or hearing aid integration, few phones work better for those with a variety of disabilities than the iPhone.

It's not just iPhones either; iPads work very well for those with hearing or vision impairments. In fact, our colleagues at iMore have written up an easy how-to guide to help get you started with this feature.

The iPhone SE is also a good choice for seniors who might have trouble holding their phones up properly every time to activate Face ID. In fact, seniors and younger phone users alike might feel more comfortable with the SE's classic iPhone design and Touch ID home button. If you don't think Face ID will be a problem and want a larger screen, the similarly priced iPhone XR might be a good alternative.

Apple's iPhones are built to last, with processors that are often years ahead of Qualcomm and others are putting out on even flagship Android devices, and most iPhones get four to five years of OS and security updates. Plus, Apple takes personal data security very seriously, so if this is something your senior is concerned about, an iPhone just might be a good solution.

Pros:

  • Tons of accessibility features
  • Easy to connect with most hearing aids
  • Security and OS updates for years to come

Cons:

  • No USB-C charging
  • Doesn't have an edge-to-edge screen
  • Only one rear camera

Best Phone for Hearing Impaired Seniors

iPhone SE (2020)

SE for SEniors

Going with an iPhone just might be a safe bet if you want the most accessibility options for your senior.

Best Basic Phone for Seniors: Jitterbug Lively Flip

Let's be honest, when you clicked on this article, this was the first phone you were imagining, wasn't it? Well, there's a good reason for that assumption. Jitterbug is a brand that is purpose-made for seniors, and this flip phone form factor is what it is best known for.

I just want to make one thing abundantly clear: this isn't your father's flip phone (it's your grandfather's). In all seriousness, the Jitterbug Lively Flip has some compelling features that elevate it above even the basic feature or flip phones that you can get at a carrier store or big box store. For starters, it has a vibrant full-color screen on the inside and a smaller display on the outside that shows the time, date, and notifications. On the inside of the phone, you have tactile, clicky buttons for dialing, an arrow pad for navigating the screen, and an emergency key at the bottom for calling for help.

Even though it's definitely not a smartphone, it does come with built-in Amazon Alexa support so that you can use your voice to send texts, make calls, set timers and reminders, and even control smart home devices. There is a usable 8MP camera as well as a magnifying glass and flashlight feature.

Pros:

  • Basic and familiar design
  • Quick button emergency access
  • Built-in Amazon Alexa
  • Long-lasting battery

Cons:

  • No touchscreen
  • No wireless charging or IP certification
  • The camera is not great

Best Basic Phone for Seniors

Jitterbug Lively Flip

Simple to use

The Jitterbug Lively Flip is just about the simplest phone for a senior to use, thanks to its big buttons and familiar form factor.

Easiest Android Phone for Seniors to use: Samsung Galaxy A51

Say what you will about the plethora of Samsung phones on the market, but the simple fact is that the company knows a thing or two about making quality hardware and pairing it with feature-rich software. Galaxy phones have dedicated kid-safe modes (something STILL not available on the iPhone). The company also has a really compelling feature that works well for seniors and those with vision problems called Easy Mode.

According to Samsung's help documentation:

Easy Mode lets you use a simpler Home Screen layout and bigger on-screen items. Any customizations you've made on the Home Screen (including themes) will be discarded, and the screen zoom will be set to the maximum.

Of course, you can activate Easy Mode on any Galaxy phone, but what we like about the Galaxy A51 for seniors is the price point. For under $400, you get a large 6.5-inch AMOLED screen, a very capable quad-camera setup, and features like Samsung Pay built right in. Plus, it works across all major carriers and OEMs. The only major downsides here are that it doesn't have an official water-resistance rating and doesn't support wireless charging.

Pros:

  • Samsung's Easy Mode is perfect for large touch targets
  • Beautiful large display
  • Affordable entry point to Galaxy lineup

Cons:

  • No official water-resistance
  • No wireless charging
  • In-display fingerprint sensor may be an issue for some

Easiest Android Phone for Seniors to use

Samsung Galaxy A51

Easy mode activated

Samsung's Easy Mode makes its Galaxy phones well-suited for seniors, and the A51 is one of the most affordable options.

Bottom line

There has never been a better time to find a phone well-suited for seniors or those with vision or hearing impairments. Our top overall choice is the Google Pixel 4a thanks to its low price point, fantastic camera, and strong support by Google to keep updating the phone's software and security for up to three years.

Jitterbug makes two phones purpose-built for seniors in the Smart2 and Lively Flip — one is perfect for those who want a simple smartphone experience, the other for those who just want a simple phone.

Finally, for those who are looking for more traditional smartphones that have tons of accessibility features, you can't go wrong with the iPhone SE on iOS, or the Galaxy A51 on Android.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jeramy Johnson is proud to help Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.



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