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How To Choose Smartphones With Senior-Friendly Features

While many seniors can use a basic smartphone with minimal to no difficulty, others may find additional features beneficial.

Almost 97 percent of Americans have a mobile device, and nine in ten own a smartphone. That’s a notable increase from the 35 percent recorded in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership in 2011.

Although seniors are less likely than the younger generation to own a smartphone, the same survey indicates that 16 percent of adults aged 65 and above rely on this mobile device. Meanwhile, 14 percent of those between 50 and 64 depend on them as well.

Smartphones are helpful for this demographic, especially for their health and safety. For instance, they enable seniors to call for help or contact healthcare providers during emergencies.

Many smartphones are available on the market. But finding one that’s best for seniors can be tricky, mainly if you’re not accustomed to this technology. Here, we’ll walk you through essential features to look for when choosing smartphones for seniors.

Large display options

A smartphone with a large display ensures seniors can see everything on the screen. Otherwise, they might struggle to read messages and receive calls. Thankfully, many smartphones have a zoom feature that enables users to modify the text size on the screen.

Meanwhile, a bigger screen featuring larger icons and text will improve visibility and make it easier to use. It also lowers the risk of unintentional presses and enhances touchscreen accuracy. This feature can contribute to a more seamless user experience.

Voice commands

Voice commands enable seniors to interact with the device hands-free and intuitively. This feature is beneficial, especially for those struggling with fine motor skills. Using voice commands to operate the smartphone can benefit seniors with visual impairments.

With voice commands, seniors can quickly call emergency support lines if unable to dial manually. They can also use it to perform routine tasks, such as scheduling appointments. Some smartphones allow users to dictate complete message responses and have the device read incoming texts aloud.

Using voice commands to operate the smartphone can benefit seniors with visual impairments. Pictured, Google Assitant (right) and Apple Siri (left). PHOTO: Marques Brownlee / YouTube Channel
Using voice commands to operate the smartphone can benefit seniors with visual impairments. Pictured, Google Assitant (right) and Apple Siri (left). PHOTO: Marques Brownlee / YouTube Channel

Hearing aid compatibility

Seniors with hearing impairments will need a smartphone compatible with their hearing aids. Hearing aids with Bluetooth compatibility can connect to most smartphones. Still, check if the device is compatible with your loved one’s hearing aid.

Moreover, the accessibility features in smartphones offer high-definition voice, enhancing clarity during phone calls, multimedia playback, and video calls. It’s essential to consider this so seniors can access important information and remain connected with loved ones without struggling to hear.

Intuitive navigation

Seniors may struggle to navigate a complex interface. When looking for a smartphone for seniors, find a simple interface and an easy-to-navigate screen. This feature makes it easier for them to call or locate the apps they need.

Remember, intuitive navigation is as essential as easy readability. You can use a launcher to make the phone more senior-friendly. It can customize the phone’s interface with a look, layout, and features that better suit the needs of seniors.

Health app support

Finding a smartphone that supports various health apps, from checking blood sugar levels to keeping up with nutrition, is vital. Ensure the device can sync with the specific apps that can help your senior loved one monitor health.

For instance, some apps will provide medical alert reminders. They will make the phone vibrate or beep to inform the senior it’s time to take medication.

More elements to consider;

When selecting smartphones for seniors, considerations go beyond the newest features and sleek designs. The good news is that numerous options are available to accommodate this demographic’s wide range of needs.

Below are more elements to consider when searching for senior-friendly features in a smartphone. They can make a notable impact on the usability of a smartphone for a senior.

Entertainment options

It’s common for seniors to feel both isolated and bored. For this reason, a smartphone with several entertainment options can be a valuable feature.

Whether listening to music, watching videos, or playing games, these activities can help make seniors feel happier and less lonely. It can provide an instant remedy for their boredom as well as an avenue for social connection and mental stimulation.

Camera capabilities

The smartphone’s camera capabilities are necessary, too. A high-resolution camera can be useful, especially for seniors who enjoy taking pictures of grandchildren, friends, and places they visit. Besides capturing special moments, it lets them stay connected with loved ones through video calls.

Battery life

Seniors may rely on their smartphones for communication, entertainment, and safety. Hence, considering the battery life of these devices is imperative.

Ensure the phone’s battery doesn’t run out too often, so seniors don’t have to worry about charging all the time. Remember, they may not always have access to charging stations. Some may have mobility issues, making it harder to charge their phones frequently.

This makes smartphones with a reliable battery life crucial. It guarantees uninterrupted usage, allowing seniors to enjoy their favorite activities and access emergency services when needed.

Scam protection

Equally important is a scam protection feature. These days, numerous scams are targeting vulnerable seniors. They may become victims of government impersonation, tech support, romance, or lottery scams.

Look for a phone with call-blocking features. It’s also wise to consider phone carriers that provide services to help seniors ward off robocalls and scammers. Still, educate your senior loved ones about not sharing personal details with strangers.


Make an excellent choice for your senior loved one

While many seniors can use a basic smartphone with minimal to no difficulty, others may find additional features beneficial. However, the needs of each individual are different. So take the time to assess what your loved one needs and prefers before you begin shopping for them.

Consider checking out brands specifically designed for seniors. Due to increasing demand, many companies are centering their business model around seniors. These brands are starting to produce senior-friendly phones with assistive technology, so you have more options.

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