Apple has always been a leader in technology, and when it comes to smartphones, the iPhone is still the king.
But what is the best iPhone for seniors in 2023?
The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is considered one of the best cell phone for seniors. It has many of the features that would be of benefit to the older population.
It has a larger screen of 6.7 inches, battery life of 28 hours, font size can be enlarged, includes features for the visual and hearing impaired. As an added bonus, it’s also water resistant.
The downside of the iPhone 13 is that it does not come with a headphone jack. This means you need to purchase an adapter.
In my opinion, the ease of use and screen size are two of the most important features that make this phone the best smartphone for older adults.
Comparing iPhone Max 13 to iPhone 11
Some will tell you that they consider the iPhone 11 to be the best choice for older adults but I chose the Max 13 because of its screen size.
As we all get older, it’s just easier to see on a larger screen.
But, here’s a comparison for you of these two iPhone models:
|Feature||iPhone 13 Pro Max||iPhone 11|
|Display||6.7 inches Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion (up to 120Hz refresh rate)||6.1 inches Liquid Retina HD LCD display|
|Weight||240 grams||194 grams|
|Battery life||Up to 28 hours of video playback||Up to 17 hours of video playback|
|Camera||Triple-lens rear camera system with 12MP wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses||Dual-lens rear camera system with 12MP wide and ultra-wide lenses|
|Price||Starting at $999||Starting at $699|
So, if you are looking to replace an older iPhone with a new iPhone, check the 13 Pro Max out.
Obviously, a large screen size can help greatly with anyone who may have some vision problems.
Although all these useful features are excellent for the older adult population – it doesn’t mean that using an Apple phone (or an Android phone either for that matter) will necessarily be easy for them.
My mother, mom-in-law, and father-in-law all struggled with learning how to use Apple and Android phones. Although I would not completely discount it at all.
Truthfully, it just depends on how much time and effort your parent or a senior loved one is able to do to learn these handy dandy devices.
Still, older adults are using smartphones more and more.
Seniors are increasingly using social media to stay connected with friends and family.
The iPhone 13 will make it easier for them to stay connected online, whether they’re looking for news, staying up-to-date on current events, or just keeping in touch with family members and other loved ones.
For those that want a phone that is just for making calls and texts, there are still plenty of basic phones on the market.
These tend to be more affordable and have larger buttons that can be easier to see and press.
The downside is that they don’t have all the bells and whistles that smartphones offer. For some, this is a good thing – for others, it’s a frustrating compromise.
Also, I think it’s a good idea to carry a smartphone simply for security reasons and in case of an emergency.
What Is The Easiest iPhone For Seniors To Use?
The iPhone 13 Pro Max (as I mentioned earlier) is a good choice for senior citizens.
It has a large screen that is perfect for seniors. It has a 6.7-inch screen size, making it the perfect size for those who need a little extra help seeing text messages, phone numbers, etc.
Additionally, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is extremely easy to use, thanks to its large and responsive touchscreen.
You can purchase iPhones directly from the Amazon store but you can save a little bit by purchasing refurbished ones for less like this one shown here.
Other features of this great iPhone are:
- It has touch id capabilities which make it so much easier for seniors to use. This eliminates the need to enter a password not only to turn the phone on but for multiple other programs like online banking, etc.
- It is water resistant up to a depth of a little over 1 yard for up to 30 minutes.
- The iPhone 13 Pro Max allows the user to increase (or decrease) font sizes which is a must-have for any senior.
- It’s easy to use once it’s set up. Yes, the setup process can be intimidating but the great thing about Apple products is the help that you can get for free at their Apple stores.
- The features that I would recommend setting up are
- Touch ID and Passcode – make it as easy as possible for the user to open the phone and use programs.
- Enable Voice Dial which allows the user to activate a phone call with their voice even if the phone is locked. This gives the phone a capability similar to a medical alert system.
- Turn on the “find my iPhone” feature. This allows the phone’s owner (or caregiver) to locate the phone by going to iCloud.com and entering the Apple ID.
- Set up the Medical ID card which is included in the Health app. This is great for anyone with allergies, drug reactions, who is diabetic or suffers from any number of medical conditions. You can enter your blood type, emergency contacts, medical notes, and much more. It’s also a great way to keep track of the medications the elderly phone owner is taking.
- I would also recommend removing any unnecessary apps from the phone. The fewer choices that are available, the easier it will be for your senior loved one to use.
- A disadvantage of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is that it is heavier than other iPhones because it’s larger.
- All iPhones can pair with hearing aids but only if the hearing aids were made for that purpose.
A Video On How To Pair An iPhone With Made For iPhone Hearing Aids
Features Of A Senior Friendly Cell Phone
Let’s face it, the best cell phone for anyone is one that they can use easily so look for the phone features that match their skills.
I would say that senior-friendly smartphones have the following:
- Screen Size – the size of the screen should be large enough for seniors to read the content comfortably.
- Weight – the phone should be comfortable to hold and carry.
- Phone Size – you should be able to hold the phone in the palm of your hand comfortably.
- Font Size – the phone should have the capability of increasing the font size for easy reading.
- Easy To Use – phones with an “easy mode” feature which simplifies it’s usability.
- Clear Speakers – no sense in having a phone that is difficult for seniors to hear others with or that they can’t hear the phone when it rings.
- Simple Navigation – a phone for seniors should be as easy as possible to use. Of course, depending on the skill level of the senior using it.
- Lots of Storage – many older adults love to take photos of their children, grandchildren, trips, etc. All those photos take up storage space, so the more the phone has, the better.
- Fingerprint Sensor – a fingerprint sensor on an iPhone is a security feature that allows you to unlock your phone with your fingerprint. This is a convenient way to secure your device, as it means that only you can access it.
- Facial Identification – aka Face ID is a very easy way to gain access to the phone without having to use passwords.
- Battery Life – the longer the battery life, the less likely the phone will go dead on it’s user.
- Damage Resistant – any phone that can be constructed to withstand drops and water as much as possible, is a good phone for seniors. However, I would recommend purchasing a screen protector and a protective case for extra protection.
- Some type of SOS Button – this is an important feature as it can be used in an emergency situation. It’s a good idea to program this button to contact a relative or friend who can then help the senior.
- Wireless charging – this can be extremely helpful for seniors as it eliminates the need to fumble with connecting a charging cord.
What Is The Easiest Smartphone To Use For Seniors?
There are basically three other excellent options when it comes to an “easy to use” smartphone.
- The Apple iPhone XR
- The Apple iPhone SE
- The Jitterbug Smart3
By far these three are the easiest smartphones for seniors. They all have good cameras which is a plus for many older people.
The iPhone XR has:
- a 6.1 inch display screen
- the display is very crisp and clear for easier viewing
- very long battery life (may last all day with heavy use)
- facial identification
- has 64 GB of storage space
- works with major carriers
- can make facetime calls
The iPhone SE has:
- a 4.7 inch screen
- loud speakers and clear audio
- is 5G capable
- fingerprint identification
- is water resistant
- comes in 64 GB or 128 GB or 256 GB storage
- works with major carriers
- can make Facetime calls
These 2 iPhones mentioned above come equipped with many accessibility features such as…
- Magnifier app – allowing you to use your phone as a magnifying glass
- Display and Text Size – not only can you change the size of the font but you can reduce the contrast, transparency, etc.
- Adjust the speed of voice – making it easier to understand for some.
The Jitterbug Smart3 has:
- a 6.2 inch display screen giving you a nice large display
- large buttons to make it easy to choose email, texting, phone calls, etc.
- is hearing aid compatible with a m4/t4 rating
- has a rear and front facing camera
- has 32 GB of storage space
- there’s no contract involved with the Jitterbug phones
- services plans are through the company GreatCall which offers multiple monthly plans depending on usage.
- emergency services are easily notified by pressing one button
- no service contract required
The Jitterbug phone is a great option for many older users simply because of its ease of use.
It doesn’t have the speed of other smartphones but if the other features in this very easy-to-use phone are more suitable for your elderly loved one then sacrificing a little speed may just be worth it.
For older adults who are used to a flip phone, consider the Jitterbug Flip2.
It’s an affordable phone that offers many of the features of a smartphone (such as a large touchscreen display, access to email and social media, and so on) but in a much simpler format.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is also easy to use, thanks to its user-friendly interface.
And if you need any help, GreatCall customer service is available 24/7.
Are Jitterbug Phones Any Good?
Although the Jitterbug phone won’t be able to compete with an Apple iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, it is a great choice for seniors who want a simplified cell phone.
The Jitterbug Flip2 phone has large buttons, a bright screen, and it’s easy to use.
It also comes with a built-in camera, making it perfect for capturing memories.
Is iPhone or Samsung Better For Elderly?
Samsung phones are Android phones. They have many features that are accessible for people who are elderly or have poor vision.
I chose an Android phone for myself because I found it to be easier to use – especially with the Easy Mode turned on.
Here’s a video about the Easy Mode on Samsung Galaxy S21 and how to set it up.
Another important consideration is price. iPhone is typically more expensive than Samsung, although there are deals to be found.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual and what they value most in a phone.
But, another option to look at is the Google Pixel 5. It’s also an Android phone.
It has a nice size display (6.34 inches). It has a good battery life so you can use it for 6 to 8 hours continuously before having to recharge it. And it has a great camera!
Google Pixel 5 Smartphone
Can Seniors Get Free Cell Phones?
Many seniors living on a fixed income don’t want to (or simply cannot) spend the money on a phone or the monthly service fee. But there are options.
In the USA, the Assurance Wireless program is available to seniors who qualify. To qualify…
- The senior’s income must be at or below 135% or 150% of the federal poverty guidelines OR
- They must be on Medicaid and/or
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8) and/or
- Home Energy Assistance Programs and/or
- On the Food Stamps / SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- They must provide proof of participation / qualification for any of these programs
- Only 1 phone per household is allowed
Another program in the USA is the Lifeline Assistance program which was developed during the Reagan Administration. Their list of qualifications include…
- A yearly income that is either at or below the Federal Poverty guidelines.
- Currently enrolled / participating in any of the following…
- Food Stamps program or SNAP
- Federal Public Housing (Section 8)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- National Free School Lunch Program
- Other state programs.
- Of course proof must be presented that you are participating in any one of these programs.
I put together a page of links to each state’s information concerning the Lifeline Assistance program. You can read it here.
Other Wireless Carriers
Of course, there are a variety of service providers with cell phone plans (some with discounts for seniors) available from the most popular wireless carriers in the USA which include:
- Verizon Wireless (their 55+ plan)
- TracFone Wireless, Inc.
- Sprint Corporation (their 55+ plan)
- MetroPCS Communication, Inc. (T-Mobile) (their 55+ plan)
Smartphone Tips For Seniors
No matter what kind of phone you end up using, there are a few things that you can do to make it easier for the senior user.
In the article Smartphone tips for seniors by Kathy Bunnell – tech expert Deb D’Amico talks about these 4 tips:
- Ask your service provider (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) to initially set up the phone for you. They can do things like setting up your contacts list, put icons like your calendar, voice messages, texting app, etc. on your “desktop” to make it easier to get to.
- Bluetooth earbuds or speakers can make it easier to hear for anyone who is hearing impaired in any way.
- Ask your service provider to set up the phone so that any text message you receive is in larger font to make it easier to read.
- Ask your service provider (or someone you trust) to set up a passcode on your phone and make sure it’s something that you can remember.
- Taking a class on using a new product (especially a smartphone, laptop or computer) is always a smart idea.
One recommendation I can make is to check with AARP – they do offer technology learning events across the country for older adults.
You could also check your local community colleges and community centers as well.
One thing I do want to say is that if the senior person finds using a smartphone too difficult, perhaps the very best phone for that person would be a mobile phone.
A mobile phone is a basic device that can make and receive calls. A smartphone is a more advanced device that has many of the same capabilities as a computer, such as internet access, email, and the ability to download apps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Verizon Offer Deals For Seniors?
If your senior loved one does not use the phone very much and does not use data or texting, the Verizon 55 Plus Plan may be a deal for them. It costs $60.00 / month for one line and $80.00 a month for 2 lines. It includes unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. More details here.
Does AARP Have Cell Phone Discounts?
For Doro cell phones (which use Consumer Cellular service), AARP offers two discount plans to its members. One is a $10.00 monthly plan with pay-as-you-go voice (at 24 cents per minute). The other is a $209.00 monthly plan that includes 300 voice minutes. There is a $35.00 activation fee for either plan.
Does Mint Mobile Have A Senior Plan?
Yes, according to their website, they do! For the low price of $15.00, the user gets unlimited data, nationwide talk and text, “…plus perks like free mobile hotspots and 5G speeds.”