Smartphones for Seniors: Choosing the Right Phone and Plan

More and more seniors are choosing Smartphones so they can stay connected on the go. Over the past year, people ages 50 and older are the highest growing population to invest in a Smartphone. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 74% of Americans ages 50-64 are a Smartphone owner. However, not all Smartphones or phone plans cater to a senior’s needs.

Some phones and plans offer better options than others for older adults, but it can be hard to know what to look for. Here are some of the best options currently available for a plugged-in senior looking for a Smartphone.

iPhones and Accessibility Settings

iPhones are some of the most popular Smartphones available, but by default, they may not offer a very user-friendly experience for seniors. Thankfully, there are extensive accessibility settings which allow you to adapt your iPhone to almost any specific need or preference.

In the Settings menu, under General, you’ll find Accessibility. There, you can adjust the text size on the iPhone, making everything larger and bolder. There is also an option for “button shapes,” which makes many buttons more prominent and easier to see. Another feature, Display Zoom (under Display & Brightness), can also make things a little bigger on screen.

For those with hearing and visual impairments, iOS offers a variety of settings to accommodate those needs as well. For people who are visually impaired, iOS has a feature called VoiceOver which works on all aspects of your phone, including built in apps. This feature is a gesture-based screen reader that will speak a description of where you are on your phone or let you know what is going on with your phone, such as reading texts, telling the time, who’s calling you, what your battery level is. You can also increase font size and use a magnifier to increase the font size of things not on your phone. For the hearing impaired Apple has worked with manufacturers to create hearing aids specifically for iPhones or iPads. Custom vibration alerts can be set as well to allow the user to know who is contacting them and when.

Samsung Galaxy and Easy mode

The Samsung Galaxy series of phones comes with a feature called Easy Mode, which automatically enlarges app icons and most text and numbers. The feature also simplifies the controls in a lot of core apps, making things like the camera app easier to use.

To activate Easy Mode, find the main Settings menu. And if you ever want to go back to all your original configuration, just turn off Easy Mode and it will remember your old settings.

Phone Plans for Seniors

If you need data and have someone to share a plan with, a shared data plan is your best option because they can save money and help you maximize your data without paying for more than the data that you’re using.

If you don’t have anyone to share your cell phone plan with or if you’d prefer to have your own plan, then an individual line or a pre-paid cell phone plan may be the right choice.

If you are looking for a Smartphone, you will likely want data, but perhaps you don’t need very much data for everyday use. If you’re not sure how much data you need, you can use a data usage estimator to  figure out what your data needs will be.

A 500 MB prepaid plan can be an inexpensive way to get data, talk and text without being on contract. And if you find you need more data, an upgrade to 3GB is just $10 more. However, if you prefer to sign a contract for your plan, you can save money on your device by getting an individual line plan with unlimited talk and text and plenty of data. A little research will reveal that there are lots of data plan options available to suit your needs.

Many seniors avoid buying a smartphone because they feel intimidated by the unfamiliar technology, but with a little preparation and research you can find the right phone and plan to suit your needs.