When you’re trying to educate people of a particular age and generation about technology, they’re often pretty resistant to today’s incredible enhancements. They don’t want to know about multi-touch gestures, app marketplaces or social media. Accessibility enhancements help, but they still don’t take away all the bells and whistles. Don’t forget, it wasn’t long ago that cell phones weren’t anything more than actual mobile phones: devices to place calls and do little else.
It turns out that despite the amazing growth of smartphones, basic phones still suit a number of people who just need quick wireless access to a few contacts and/or emergency services. A number of great cell phones exist today for dirt cheap that provide large buttons, emergency dialing and easy speed dial especially geared toward senior citizens. It’s worth checking our top picks out because they can really come in handy during times of trouble.
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1. GreatCall Jitterbug5
The Jitterbug is arguably the most well-known cell phone geared toward senior citizens thanks largely to the huge marketing push a few years back. Now that the device has aged a bit, it’s priced very reasonably: just $74.99 on Amazon for either blue or red.
The Jitterbug5 is a flip phone that comes with large buttons and large on-screen text to make navigation very easy for those with poor vision. It’s stripped to the core mainly just featuring calling and texting, plus access to 5Star medical service if needed. Many of the reviews indicate its plenty loud to accommodate those hard of hearing as well.
Jitterbug5 comes with its own GreatCall plans which start affordably at $14.99 per month for 200 minutes with optional bigger plans for higher prices. The only real downside is that GreatCall service appears to only work in America, a bummer for international users.
2. Emporia Essence Plus
My family recently had to get my grandmother a very easy-to-use cell phone after she moved into assisted living. The landline bill was ridiculously high and we knew we could get something for much cheaper. This Emporia Essence Plus is working out extremely well for her.
For a cell phone, the buttons are gigantic as is the on-screen text. It doesn’t flip open like the Jitterbug so it’s a very familiar form factor to her, plus it even comes with its own dock like a cordless landline phone would. It’s unlikely the phone will ever die since when you’re done using it you can just place it back on the dock to charge. The Emporia Essence Plus also has a very loud ringer and up to five slots for speed dial.
It has a 3.5-star rating on Amazon which is fairly good, but you really can’t beat it for the price. The Emporia Plus comes unlocked for only $39.99 and works with GSM carriers. We added my grandmother to our T-Mobile plan for only $10 per month, which means the total cost of this phone is $40 plus $10 per month for unlimited minutes. I challenge you to find a better deal than that.
Tip: GSM is the global standard for wireless networks, but double check with your carrier of choice to make sure it uses GSM. Verizon and Sprint in the United States, for example, are CDMA networks and, therefore, aren’t supported by the Emporia Plus.
3. Snapfon ezTWO
The Snapfon ezTWO is the last on our list. It’s a durable cell phone with a simple candy bar design for seniors. It has big, easy-to-read buttons plus a large red emergency button on the back to contact emergency services at any time. The device works with any GSM carrier as well as the SnapMobile service with plans that start for as little as $9.95 per month.
Reviews on Amazon are pretty solid: 4 out of 5 stars on average. Though this doesn’t come with its own dock like the Emporia Essence Plus so you’ll have to monitor the battery, which only squeezes out three to five hours of talk time.
The Snapfon ezTWO sells for $79.99 unlocked on Amazon. That makes it the most expensive option on our list and double the price of the Essence Plus, but it also has slightly higher ratings.