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Luckily, basic phones still exist in 2021, even though they’ve become a niche product group. And within that group are phones that are made specifically for the elderly, with large buttons, strong volume and even SOS buttons for emergencies, in some cases.
One important thing to look for when choosing a phone for your elderly relative is carrier compatibility. Since these phones are usually quite cheap, they’re often only compatible with one or two of the major carriers. Retailers’ listings usually include that information, but with some models being years old you can’t be sure if something hasn’t changed. It’s a good to check with your preferred carrier before purchasing, or better yet, get a phone directly from a carrier so you’re sure it will work.
Major carriers have quite a limited selection of phones suitable for seniors, but there are still some that fit the bill. So, let’s start with them first!
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Best phones for seniors, a summarized list:
- Kazuna eTalk — Verizon
- Alcatel Go Flip 3 — T-Mobile
- Cingular Flip 4 — AT&T
- Nokia 3310 — unlocked, 3G
- ZTE Cymbal Z-320 — unlocked, flip phone, 4G
- Alcatel GO FLIP 4044 — big buttons, flip phone, 4G
Best Verizon phone for seniors
The Kazuna eTalk is a classic flip phone like the one we used to have 20 years ago. It’s not the simplest phone to use ever, but it’s pretty much as simple as you can get from Verizon. It has the easily recognizable green and red buttons to answer and end calls, and you can save contacts for speed dials straight from the key pad. The battery will last for days and when closed, it should be able to survive plenty of drops.The eTalk supports voice over LTE, which is what guarantees you it will keep working even after older networks are phased out.
Best T-Mobile phone for seniors
Alcatel Go Flip 3
The situation over at T-Mobile is quite similar but team Magenta goes for a brand you’ve probably heard of – Alcatel. This phone has a similar layout but the buttons are slightly larger, making them more convenient for use by people with sight problems.
Best AT&T phone for seniors
Cingular Flip 4
AT&T has its own big-button flip phone ready for the needs of those who shun smartphones. Although the Cingular Flip 4’s primarily function will most likely be to make/take calls and send text messages, it’s actually smarter than it looks.
Best unlocked phones for seniors
Before we go further down the list, there’s something worth mentioning. Generally, popular manufacturers don’t go out of their way to make phones meant for seniors and the elderly. Which mostly leaves us with a selection of phones with quality that may raise suspicion. That’s why here we have to set our bar lower than we usually do for our compilations of best phones.
Everyone knows about the iconic Nokia 3310 if not from using one, then from all the memes about how indestructible it was. Well, this modern reincarnation of the Nokia 3310 is not quite as tough but it has the familiar design and is among the best-looking feature phones. The buttons aren’t big but it’s still easy to operate and there’s no need to flip it open, which might be difficult for some elderly people.
It will work with T-Mobile and AT&T as well as any MVNOs that use their networks. The downside is that it doesn’t support LTE, so call quality might be worse, as well as future support.
ZTE Cymbal Z-320
ZTE is a known brand in the phone world and its Cymbal Z-320 is an unlocked flip phone that supports 4G. It’s not designed with seniors in mind per se, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some elderly might actually prefer a more classic-looking flip phone like this.
Overall, the Z-320 is a pretty standard feature phone. It has FM radio, long stand-by and call time and a 1-inch OLED display on the outside.
Alcatel GO FLIP 4044
Lastly, we have another Alcatel GO FLIP phone, which combines the best of both worlds: big buttons and a clam-shell design.
Be sure to check if the network you’re planning to use it with is compatible, as listed in the Amazon description.