Best Phone and Device Plans for Seniors
While seniors are still more likely to own landlines than younger generations, cell phone use is increasing among the silver-haired set. A cell phone for seniors makes plenty of sense, making it easier for them to stay in contact with friends and family while accessing apps that improve their entertainment options and quality of life.
Whether you’re a retiree buying your first cell phone, or a grandchild buying a phone for nana, knowing how to choose the right smartphone for seniors helps you make your purchase while getting the phone that fits your needs.
Why Consider a Cell Phone for Seniors?
Why would a senior want a cell phone anyway? The answers are as varied as seniors themselves. Some want to save money by cutting their landlines. Others want to text and video chat with their grandkids, while still others have health problems and like the security of a phone that’s always within easy reach in case of emergencies.
Depending on your interest and comfort with technology, you may want a simple cell phone for seniors that only makes phone calls, or the latest iPhone filled with apps, photos, music, and videos. The key to choosing a cell phone for seniors is knowing your senior’s needs and personality.
Cell Phone Options and Seniors
The latest models of smartphones are ultra-lightweight and thin, with touchscreens and small volume and power buttons. While these features are in demand among the general population, they may not be the best choices for seniors. Arthritis, dexterity issues, and sensory impairments become increasingly common as we age, and can make cell phone use difficult.
Factors to consider when purchasing smartphones for seniors include:
Accessibility: Keypads may be a better choice than a touchscreen for seniors with dexterity issues. Large volume and power buttons also make it easier to operate cell phones. Voice dialing and talk-to-text features can help seniors who want the features of a high-end phone but have dexterity issues.
Ease of Handling: Dexterity problems can make it difficult for seniors to hold thin, light smartphones. Bulkier phones may be easier to use, especially if protected by a gel case. A protective case and phone insurance are important when choosing cell phones for seniors who are prone to dropping items due to arthritis or other dexterity issues.
Hearing Accessibility: One in three seniors has some degree of hearing impairment. If the senior using the phone wears hearing aids, look for phones that are compatible with their hearing devices (the M4/T4 rating offers the highest level of hearing aid compatibility).
In addition to hearing aid compatibility, a cell phone for seniors may feature higher volume settings, vibrating alerts or flashing screens for calls and texts, and speakerphone options to reduce interference from hearing aids when holding the phone to the ear.
Emergency Buttons: Some smartphones for seniors come with physical emergency buttons. When pushed, the button auto dials a number you select. This feature is especially important for seniors who live alone.
Types of Smart Phones for Seniors
Which cell phones for seniors should you pick? After considering individual needs and technological know-how, most people make a choice from the following options:
Flip Phone: A simple cell phone for seniors who only want a phone to make phone calls, flip phones are designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind, and function in much the same manner as a landline phone.
Block Phone: Also known as a “candy bar” phone, a block phone is a larger phone that’s easy to grip, and includes a keypad and non-touchscreen. Used for phone calls and texting, block phones typically lack an internet connection.
Easy-to-Use Smartphones: Designed with simplified controls and home screens, this type of simple cell phone for seniors comes with an internet connection and supports apps, texting, and social media.
Regular Smartphones: Not every senior is unwilling to embrace new technology. If a senior’s comfortable using the most recent smartphones and doesn’t have any accessibility issues, the latest iPhone may be just the thing!
Senior Phone Plans
Generally, senior phone plans fall into four categories:
Pay-As-You-Go: A pay as you go phone plan doesn’t tie you to a service contract and is a good choice for simple phones like flip phones and block phones. Some pay-as-you-go senior phone plans have cheap monthly rates with a set number of minutes, while others charge a flat rate for each day the phone is used.
Flexible Plans: Flexible plans charge a base rate per month, with additional monthly rates for minutes, texts, and data usage. Most flexible plans charge by tiers, so you pay for the level of usage you reach at the end of each billing cycle. Flexible plans are good senior phone plans for seniors whose phone use may fluctuate from month-to-month.
Unlimited Plans: Unlimited plans have no cap on the amount of data used, and are good choices for seniors who like to use video chat, listen to streaming music, watch videos, or use apps.
Senior-Only Phone Plans: Some providers offer special senior phone plans, which offer discounts or special features, including health and medication reminder apps.
Not sure which cell phone is right for you? Drop by any GoWireless location and our staff will help you select the right smartphone for your needs.