technology, communication age and people concept - close up of happy senior woman with smartphone texting message at home

Not every senior wants or needs a smartphone, and last week we told you about a clever new way to access smartphone apps from a landline. Your loved one may have dismissed suggestions that she get a mobile phone in the past, despite urging from the rest of the family. But as carriers begin to phase out landlines, as technology gets simpler, and as Mom gets older, a mobile phone looks smarter and smarter. What caregiver doesn’t want to feel more secure about active and independent loved ones when they have a cellphone as a life tool?

This week, we want to share three great mobile phone options for seniors that offer both accessible technology and customizable pricing plans. There’s something out there for every skill level, and every budget. (Bear in mind that phone models change all the time, and pricing can vary too, especially around the holidays.)

  1. The iPhone 6 Plus: iPhone software is based on icons, and is both easy to use and intuitive to learn, even for those who’ve never had a smartphone before. If you can read the language of symbols, you can use an iPhone. The 6 Plus has the largest screen of all the iPhone models at 5 ½”, a fingerprint reader for passwords, and the ability to increase the text size to make everything easier to read. Voice typing is part of the iPhone software, making texting easier, but let Mom know to beware of auto-correct! This phone isn’t designed specifically for seniors, but since the iPhone is nearly ubiquitous, getting help from friends, family and even strangers will be easy.
    1. How much: Depends on the carrier and the plan. But, every carrier carries the iPhone. The price of a 6 Plus with 16GB memory varies, and depends on whether you choose to buy outright, or buy on installment from the carrier. The 6 Plus comes in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB memory – 16GB is more than enough for a senior who will use relatively few apps, and who will store relatively few emails, songs and photos directly on the phone.
  2. Doro 824 SmartEasy: this phone from Consumer Cellular is designed specifically for seniors. It has a simplified design, a 5” screen, large icons and text, and custom volume settings. The features are reduced for simplicity, and the most common, such as phone, camera, texting and the Internet, are set on the home screen. There are pre-installed tutorials, and an app that allows trusted contacts to access and manage the phone from their own smartphones. Finally, there’s an emergency alert button on the back of the phone for, well, emergencies.

    1. How much: $200 at Target, Sears, or online at ConsumerCellular.com.
    2. Service: Consumer Cellular’s plans are a la carte, and come in many flavors, but the top of the line options for regular use are:
      1. Unlimited Talk Minutes: $50
      2. Unlimited Texts plus 3GB of web data: $30
  3. Jitterbug Smart: This simplified smartphone from GreatCall has a 5 ½” screen, a simplified menu, and voice typing for email and texts. GreatCall also offers optional medical features, like medication reminders, a direct connection to doctors and nurses, and a 24/7 emergency operator.

    1. How much: $150 at Walmart, Target, Sears or Best Buy, or online at GreatCall.com
    2. Service: A one-time $35 activation fee with no contract
      1. Unlimited Talk & Text: $49.99
      2. Add a maximum of 2.5GB of web data: $30
      3. Add some or all of GreatCall’s health and safety services for another $19.99 to $34.99 a month, and get a discount on minutes.

Smartphones are a wonderful tool for connection, information, and safety that seniors can use to their benefit as well as any of us. The secret for caregivers is to avoid technology overload by finding a phone that loved ones will use with ease. This month, we’ve shown you three smartphone options for seniors that want to use all the features, all month long. Next month, we’ll bring you the best pay-as-you-go phone plans for those who needs a mobile phone rarely, and want to pay accordingly.