The Best Cell Phones for Seniors–with 9/12/14 update

I just got my new cell  phone, and it’s one that I  can understand, outsmart, and know how to operate!!!  I got it at the Verizon Cell Phone for Seniors store at the mall!” (an email forwarded to me by a friend in 2011. Although I found several Verizon Senior Stores through Google and Yahoo in 2011, they no longer exist.)

What is the best cell phone for aging parents? I thought PC magazine might have the answer.  Its three-page article, The Top Simple Cell Phones,” (Feb. 2011) offers excellent information, plus ratings and a slide show of seven phones. I knew Jitterbug (third page) was senior-user-friendly, but had little knowledge about the other cell phones.

CNET reviewed “best basic phones” (Sept. 2014), if you read the comments, you probably won’t buy any of them…so you might want to check what not to buy. Instead click this PC Magazine link, read content below the phone and check comparison chart which features older (seemingly preferred) cell phones for seniors, Just 5 J509as well as  Snapfon ez ONE-c-unlocked, written about in the 11/29/12 piece below.  Worth reading if doing comparisons for a non-techsavvy senior phone.

That said, 9/12/14 CNBC news commented on Great Call’s Touch 3 (Samsung). Although a smartphone, from the video it seems simple enough for non-techsavvy seniors; and their children might love the “being able to check up” feature. On the other hand, for seniors who continue to be/feel independent, some features could be considered intrusive.

Most recently, 1/1/15, a relatively young guy, G.E. Miller, reviewed and reinforced Tracfone’s simplicity and value on his blog, 20Something Finance, In fact, he’s now using it. The Tracfone was far and away the most popular based on the many comments below, going back to 2011. Always heartening to know when a product has staying power.

Cell phones today are  invaluable–for different reasons for different age groups. Clearly a simple, user-friendly cell phone is a necessity as we try to help parents and older people age well. Gaining the confidence to use it encourages connections (a key to aging well) and is obviously helpful in emergencies.

And what was this cell phone that she could understand, outsmart, and operate? Comment from Fran, below, much more helpful than the writer’s, so I’m going with Fran and her thoughtful research. Note: Comments are found below social media icons, below “Related” They’re called “Thoughts”–at the very bottom of post.

Because there’s so much interest in the SVC (Samsung T115) I’m including 2 UTube links about it. The first–short, simple, but bounces around:   The second–longer and more detailed, showing seemingly every feature (including textured sides for a nice grip) and updated 10/11:

11/25/11 The new Snapfon ez ONE-c (Unlocked) has been selected as PC Magazine’s new “Editor’s Choice” for simple cell phones (,2817,2396826,00.aspby Alex Colon. He  also wrote PC Magazine’s “Top Simple Cell Phones” 2/2011 review (second paragraph above). The Nov. 2011 issue elevated the new ezONE-c (unlocked) model above the Snapfon ez ONE’s  3.5-star rating.

11/29/12 Alex Colon (PC magazine) writes–page 2, near bottom: “As far as simple phones go, our favorite is still the Jitterbug Plus, which is a straightforward flip phone with a good keypad, an easy-to-navigate interface, solid call quality, and good battery life. The Just5 J509 and Snapfon ez One-c are also good options, and are even more basic than the Jitterbug Plus, if you’re looking for Zen-like simplicity.”

2/20/13 For those with disabilities (vision, hearing) states offer programs that distribute free telephones. Check out my recent post:

5/20/13  There  are 2 Simple Smartphones on the market. Some parents may love the simplicity and features. Check May 7th post ” Smartphones for Seniors” 

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus some practical stuff–to help parents age well.


23 thoughts on “The Best Cell Phones for Seniors–with 9/12/14 update

  1. Just found your blog and thought you would like an update. My mother has a difficult time seeing with only one that partially has vision. I needed to find her a phone with large buttons and number read out. I found the Cenior for $59.95 at . She doesn’t use her phone often, just for emergencies while she’s out. I got her the H2O minute plan for $100 for one year. That works out to $8.33 a month. It’s perfect for her. The phone is unlocked and you can use any GSM carrier you choose.

  2. I had not realized that trackphone made a phone tailored for the elderly. Kudos!

    It’s well known that they offer solid coverage nearly everywhere but market a basic phone for elders is brilliant and the no-contact, no-bill deal is especially worthwhile for those on fixed incomes. Good job!

    • Thats right Marty. I first had TracFone for myself and got my Dad set up on SVC when I first heard about them and how they’re TracFone. My Dad was having problems with even “dumb” phones because they weren’t designed specifically with seniors in mind. Plus like others said, I am much more comfortable knowing he can always call for help with a phone he can use easily.

  3. I am looking for unlocked phones for my husband and myself. My husband is almost totally blind and we both are a little deaf. We are on my son’s family plan so we need unlocked phones. We have phones now that are so old and not serviceable .Would the svc Samsung t115 be right for us.

  4. I agree 100% with Jane! SVC is the way to go if you’re looking for an economical phone that is simple for your grandmother to use. For $7 a month they get enough minutes to last the month.

  5. After many trial and errors, we decided to try out SVC phone for my elderly grandmother. We needed to give her a phone for when she goes to the mall in case of emergency! So we found this one that is relatively cheap and easy to use. The only thing I’m still confused about is how the hearing aid compatibility works. Anyone have a clue?

    • Got a SVC phone for my grandma a few weeks ago after she had to use a pay phone at the supermarket when her car died. SVC is cheap enough where i can pay to have the peace of mind that she will have a life line

      • As they say, everyone should be able to enjoy the safety and security of owning a cell phone, and that includes the elderly. There are a few options available, but what’s great about the SVC is not only is there no contract, but there are no activation fees or other kinds of fees like with some of those other options. Kudos to you for making sure your grandma enjoys that security!

    • Jane, I’m wondering if your grandmother’s hearing aid has a Telecoil and am pasting information from which may be helpful. Note: the Tracfone SVC is the Samsung T155G. It is hearing aid compatible M3/T3, which is good. Now the paste: “T-Ratings and Compatibility with Hearing Aids with Telecoils. ” A telecoil is a small device that is built into some hearing aids for use with the telephone as well as assistive listening devices. Not all hearing aids have telecoils. Phones with a T-Rating of T3 or T4 meet FCC requirements and are more likely to work well for people who use hearing aids with telecoils with telephones. T4 is the better/higher of the two ratings.”

  6. Getting rid of a landline makes sense and from what I’m seeing here, the SVC phone is a good choice. Might be a little low tech for some but I don’t want or need a fancy phone. Thanks!

  7. Agreed…differnt folks…different needs. I was also torn between he Jitterbug and the SVC for my grandma but ultimately went with the lower cost SVC. Grannny, although 65, is still at the top of her game. Her memory is impeccalbe so I know that giving her a cell phone, it will always be charged and ready to go. As frugal as she is, I knew she’d prefer a reliable service at a bargain. Plus, I l,ike the fact that even if you run out of min. with the SVC (which will not happen in her case as she’s not much of a chatter), she can always dial 911.

    • I totally agree…its the peace of mind is why i got the SVC. Its a huge benefit to have the 911 feature engaged at all times

  8. Everyone has different needs. That’s a given Based on what I’ve seen, the SVC phone is certainly not for everyone. I, for one, need something a bit more modern, so I prefer an iphone. My mother, on the other hand, needs something super-simple. Even though can can afford a nicer phone, she wants a simple, basic device that’s low priced. Hence the SVC phone would fit the bill.

    But for those with special needs or people needing a more sophisticated phone, they may want to look elsewhere.

    • Thanks, Mark, for confirming that when people like your mother want a “super-simple phone,” the SVC “fits the bill”–and is low priced.

  9. A wonderful thing about the SVC is that you don’t have to be a senior to own one. My sister has poor eyesight and finds the big buttons and screen so user friendly plus it only cost her $15

  10. I’m thinking about getting the SVC for my grandma. She lives alone and I want to make sure everything is ok with her all the time. I know that this cell is cheap (it’s like $7 per month right?) but my real question is how high is the volume on the ring? My grandma has very bad hearing.

    • My mom who is in her eighties has this phone and she finds it really easy to use. The sound and volume aren’t adjusted to the full and she still hears it

  11. Senior Value Cellphone is what I have been thinking about getting for my parents. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  12. So I’ve been looking for a good cell phone for my grandparents forever. I read about the SVC– senior value cell. I’m not too sure how well it works, though. I like that it is hearing aid compatible and is only $7/month, but prepaid still makes me a bit nervous. Anyone use it?

  13. Wow! @Fran, seems like you did your research! We have been looking around a bit too and came to similar conclusions with regards to handset prices. The Doro, Just5 & Jitterbug devices are all expensive, especially knowing that you can get smartphones for less than that! The Tracfone does seem like the better deal out the box but what really matters more to me is reliability. I think the SVC phone is carried on AT&T’s network but can anyone confirm this? What about the others?
    If we look purely at network quality, call quality etc – which is the better option?

  14. What is the best cell phone for aging parents? I don’t think there is only one answer to this question. I was asking around recently myself, and it seems there are a variety of good options out there. The big question should first be “what are your priorities”

    Most of the phones for seniors that I looked at (and there are a couple out there), offered similar features; big, lit up buttons, large text, hearing aid compatible, easy navigation menu and some form of emergency assist. I think the two I saw mentioned the most were Jitterbug and Tracfone’s Senior Value Cellphone.

    At this point, the question of priorities steps in. While Jitterbug offers extras like medication reminders, check in calls and other applications, they all come at an added monthly cost-$10 for the meds reminder. Wonderful apps if price is not an issue. The SVC doesn’t offer these, but their benefits are low monthly costs-connectivity for under $10/month, no activation fee (which Jitterbug does have) and their phone only costs $15 (Jitterbug costs $99). SVC also offers international calls at the same rate as local calls, something that was important for my dad, as his sister lives abroad.

    The point is, just 2 different phones and plans, both with their benefits, but to decide on one, you need to know exactly what you’re wanting out of a phone. In our case, it was affordability…he had help with the other add-ons you could pay for in other phones if you were more dependent on the phone for day to day help. Do your research (as you’ve suggested here) before rushing out and buying the first senior phone you read about…there are so many to choose from!

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