5 best phones for older people

ByKim Staples
Older man on phone

Mobile phones aren’t just for busy professionals and teenagers - they’re valuable gadgets for folks of all ages - including older people.

We've searched far and wide and found the best ones for anyone who's elderly, having sight or hearing problems now they're older, or just unfamiliar with the world of smartphones. These are phones that:

  • are easy to use
  • have accessibility features built in
  • are durable enough to withstand a drop or two.

Whether you're after a simple handset for making calls, or something a bit more snazzy, we have a few suggestions.

1. Doro PhoneEasy 612

Doro PhoneEasy 612

Doro designs its phones with accessibility in mind. Its PhoneEasy 612 is a clamshell-style feature phone that may take you back to the late 2000s, but suits an elderly person perfectly. Large widely-spaced buttons, an extra loud speaker, and shortcut keys that basically function as speed dial all make it super useable. It comes with a charging dock too so you won't need to fiddle around with wires. There's no internet, and no apps - but as a basic phone to call and text on, it'll do the job no problem.

2. Nokia 108

Nokia 108

No one's done feature phones quite like Nokia. The 108, released in 2013, has everything the company's older models were known for: amazing durability, low cost, and really long battery life - up to 31 days on standby, in this case.

Unlike Doro's handsets, this one isn't made with the elderly in mind, but the basic functionality is nice and simple to navigate. Plus, this baby isn't just for calling and texting - you'll also get a torch, a calculator, a calendar, and so on. And yes, you can play Snake on it. It's still missing things like a camera and internet connectivity, but for some people that won't really matter.

3. Microsoft Lumia 550

Microsoft Lumia 550

The Lumia 550 is a great choice for anyone who wants to enter into the world of smartphones. It's cheap, for a start; and the battery will last a couple of days with light usage.

Being a Windows Phone, it's very useable. The 'live tiles' of the home screen are easy to see, and being able to pin important contacts to the Start screen is a nice touch, as is the large size of the keyboard. Plus, Windows Mobile is packed with accessibility features. You can make fonts bigger, increase contrast, magnify the screen, and use a text narrator. 

4. iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s

Another good choice for a smartphone newbie is an iPhone, thanks to Apple's intuitive software and an interface that doesn't take long to master. We recommend the 5s in particular because of its sturdy build, low price, and good basic specs. With a four-inch screen it's also the perfect size.

For accessibility, iOS is wonderful. Siri is one of the best pieces of voice-to-text software around, for a start, but as well as that there are a wealth of settings to help anyone with impaired vision, hearing, and mobility. There are options for bigger text, altered colours, mono audio, subtitles and closed captions, and tons more - including AssistiveTouch and Switch Control to make the touchscreen easier to use. You can even get hearing aids that are designed to work seamlessly with iPhones.

5. Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Not everyone wants a simple feature phone in their old age - what about the techie folks?

With the Xperia XA Ultra, you don't just get a phone - you get a ruddy good one, with a nice big 6-inch display. At that size it may be difficult to hold, but if mobility isn't an issue, this is a fantastic choice.

That screen is big, bright, and easy to see, even outside in sunlight. The Android interface is smooth and straightforward too - though Sony has also put in a 'Sensory Assist' mode, which makes its phones far easier to use for anyone with accessibility issues. It gives you text with larger fonts, spoken feedback and audio descriptions, an easier-to-use keyboard, and more.

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