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A review of the best mobile phones for the elderly

| Health and Lifestyle

If you’re thinking of buying your first mobile phone or are helping an elderly friend to pick one, take a look at Age Co’s recommendations.

It was found in 2020 that 65% of over 65s are using smartphones, an increase of 26% since 2016[1]. But while more people are using smartphones, over 65s are still the least likely age group to have one.

It’s true that younger people find it easier to adjust to new technologies because they have grown up using them. This has put older generations at a disadvantage and for some who suffer from health problems, such as arthritis, poor eye-sight and memory loss, can find navigating a smartphone much trickier.

No matter the reasons for someone to feel uncertain about getting a smartphone, there are lots of benefits to mobile technology, as well as options that could make them easier to use.

Around 3.6 million older people live alone in the UK, and access to a mobile phone could make living independently that little bit easier and, should they occur, help alleviate feelings of loneliness or isolation. Whether it’s the confidence to go out, knowing that you can contact a loved one at any time, or the ability to feel generally more connected to others via social media, photos, videos or calls, smart phones offer plenty of opportunity for bringing people together.

If you’re thinking of buying your first smartphone, or are helping a friend or relative to pick one out, then there are a few things to think about to ensure you choose a phone that’s going to meet your needs. Take a look at some of our recommendations below to help you find the right phone.

The mobile phone and tariff recommendations mentioned throughout this article were sourced in July 2021. New models and deals are regularly released so be sure to do your research to find the best deal at the time of purchase.

Big button mobile phones

Not many phones come with buttons anymore, but some people find them simpler to use than touchscreens. That being said, phones with small buttons can still be tricky to manage and some people prefer the larger icons on touch screens once they get the hang of them. We’d recommend trying out a variety of different style keyboards to find one that the user is comfortable with.

Examples of phones with big buttons*

Doro 1370
TTfone Mercury 2 TT200
Nokia 130

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Phones with big screens

If you do opt for a phone with buttons then be aware that it could possibly mean compromising on screen size. Small screens can cause problems for unfamiliar users, particularly if you’re buying a phone for someone with poor eyesight, and so you might want to go for the largest screen you can. Flip phones offer the best of both worlds with a large keypad and screen that snap shut together.

Examples of phones for big screens*

Doro 2404
Nokia 2720 V Flip
TTFone Meteor TT500

Lightweight mobile phones

If someone isn’t used to carrying a phone, they might be put off by anything too bulky or heavy that won’t fit neatly into a bag or pocket. Phones are much lighter now than they were 20 years ago, so it should be easier to find one that won’t weigh their pocket down. Keep in the back of your mind that choices such as a bigger screen or buttons might tip a phone from something easy to slip into your pocket to an inconvenience that gets left at home.

Examples of phones for lightweight portability*

Samsung Galaxy A5 - 123g
iPhone SE 2020 - 148g
LG V40 ThinQ - 169g
Motorola moto e7 - 180g

Mobile phones with a long battery life

We no longer use our mobile phones to just call and text – they’re sat-navs, music players, cameras, to-do lists, notepads and much more. This means that we need them to have a long battery life that will allow us to do all of these things without the phone running out of charge.

Even people who use their phone more casually want one that can hold its charge for some time, so that it's ready to use when they need it. In fact, when it comes to battery life, a survey by Android Authority revealed that 57% of people said daily battery life was one of their biggest concerns when purchasing a new mobile phone [2] (information correct as of 2020).

When looking for a new mobile phone, look out for models with long battery life, consider getting a charging dock, and here are some long-life options.

Examples of phones with long battery life*

Nokia G20 - 30 hours+
Motorola moto g9 plus - 28 hours
OnePlus 8 - 26 hours
Samsung Galaxy A12 - 26 hours
Huawei Mate40 Pro - 24 hours

Easy-to-use mobile phones

Most mobile phones use similar processes and designs so that you can easily switch from one to another with few issues, but for someone unfamiliar with smartphones, these processes can take some time to get used to. That being said, there are adjustments you can make to any phone to make it easier to use, such as increasing the font size, using a voiceover that will read text aloud or simply organising the apps so that the most-used ones are easily accessed from the home screen.

If you’re buying for an inexperienced user or someone with poor memory, then you may want to look for a phone with a simple interface that is easy to learn.

Examples of phones for ease of use*

Doro 8080
Nokia G20
iPhone SE 2020
Google Pixel 4a

Durable mobile phones

For those worried about getting used to a new smartphone, the last thing they want to do is switch devices or models every couple of years. It seems much more sensible to invest in a durable phone that can go the distance and won’t fall apart if it is accidently dropped. When looking for durable mobile phones, be wary of obsolete or outdated models and read reviews to make sure they won’t stop working after a year or two. With Apple recently admitting to deliberately slowing the performance of older iPhone models, you’d be surprised at what information comes to light after a little research into other users’ experiences.

Examples of phones for durability*

iPhone SE
Nokia 105
HTC U11 life
Motorola Defy

Mobile phones with good reception

We’ve all experienced the frustration of finding yourself somewhere with poor reception, but for casual phone users and those who don’t really bother using the Wi-Fi or internet on their phones, good reception is much more important.

Good or bad signal isn’t necessarily affected by the model of phone that you choose, but it’s based on where the recipient lives and who the network provider is. Before purchasing a mobile phone and signing up to a specific network, it may be a good idea to look at this mobile phone coverage map from Ofcom.

Fairly priced phones

For a person that will only use their phone occasionally, there’s likely no need to splash out on an expensive new contract. What might seem like a good deal to someone who uses their phone a lot could be an unnecessary expense to a casual phone user. So, it’s important to narrow down the features that are realistically going to be used and compromise on the ones that aren’t needed.

For example, if the phone is needed to make occasional phone calls or send text messages, a pay-as-you-go phone may be ideal. This means that, instead of signing up to a contract, you top up your phone with credit. On the other hand, if they want to make the most of texting friends and family throughout the day, then a low price contract with unlimited calls and texts could avoid any concerns about running out of credit or racking up expensive bills. The most important thing is to find a deal that the bill payer is comfortable with and understands fully.

Cheap mobile phones

The following prices reflect the cost of the mobile phone itself if you wanted to select a pay-as-you-go option. These mobile phone and tariff recommendations were sourced in July 2021. New models and deals are regularly released so be sure to do your research to find the best deal at the time of purchase.

Nokia C01 Plus 4G - £74.99
Doro 6620 - £79.99
Motorola moto e7 - £99.99
Samsung Galaxy A02s - £139.99

Best value SIM card deals for low usage

ASDA mobile: 4p per text and per minute for calls, 4p per MB of data
THREE: 10p per text and per minute for calls, 5p per MB of data

Alternatively, you can sign up to a pay-as-you-go bundle. This means you still have no contract but you can pay for your texts and calls as a monthly package.

giffgaff: unlimited minutes and texts and 500MB of data for £6 credit
O2: unlimited minutes and texts and 7GB of data for £10 credit
Vodafone: unlimited minutes and texts and 5GB of data for £10 credit

We hope that this guide can help you to find the most suitable mobile phone for you, or an older friend or relative.

If you’ve introduced more devices and gadgets to your household recently then don’t forget to update your home and contents insurance to ensure you’re covered. Age Co over 50s home insurance is designed to protect the items you value, with no admin or cancellation fees.

You could win £1,000 by entering our Spring Prize Draw†

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*Recommendations updated July 2021. New models and deals are regularly released so be sure to do your research to find the best deal at the time of purchase.


† There is no obligation to complete the renewal date section, you will just need to complete your contact details and provide us with an email address. See the Prize Draw Terms and Conditions.


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