Latest Phones (2020)

Cheapest Phones for Seniors – Top 5 Best Budget Phones

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If you are looking for the cheapest phones for Seniors in 2020, you’ve come to the right place. Choosing a phone for a Senior is not a simple task because their needs vary. I made a list of the Top 5 budget phones that can help you.

But before we jump into the list, there are things that you need to consider before getting the cheapest phone for a Senior.

Things to Consider when Buying the Cheapest Phone for a Senior


Know the Senior’s ability to use phones


a. Can Only Use Simple Phones

There are Seniors who have not used a mobile phone in their life. Even if they have used one, generally because of old age, this Senior may have had a hard time learning how to use a complicated phone. It is very important that when choosing a smartphone for this Senior, the menus should be simple, the network and battery life are reliable, and the emergency contacts can be easily accessed.

There is a phone called “Jitterbug” that caters specifically to seniors living in the U.S. It is a great phone when it comes to user-friendliness for seniors. This phone costs $99.99 on Amazon. Also, this phone can only work with Great Call network.

Can this Senior use a cheaper phone that is not specifically designed for seniors?

Yes. You can customize a mobile phone to fit the needs of this Senior. I will discuss how to do this in the next section.

b. Not So Tech-savvy Senior

There are seniors who can use a complicated smartphone. They can learn how to use the phone but they are the type who will not explore too much. They will keep on asking their younger companions on how certain functionalities work. My mother is in this type. She’s currently 69 years old and she’s addicted to Facebook and the Smule app. She even has her own YouTube channel and I taught her how to upload her Smule videos.

What type of phones can they use?

They will definitely enjoy using fast but affordable smartphones. If their eyesight is not very sharp anymore like my mother, you have to adjust the text size. This configuration will also be discussed in the next section.

c. Tech-savvy Senior

There are seniors who are still very capable of using and exploring the complex functionalities of smartphones. Like the younger generation, they know how to change the settings of their smartphones on their own, monitor their home using a security webcam app, use Uber, Airbnb, and other latest technology apps out there. My aunt is one of them.

For these type of seniors, I have added smartphones that are almost as capable as the high-end phones but are still in the lower budget range. And if they also need a larger text size on their phone, refer to the next section.


How to customize phones to meet the needs of Seniors


Both smartphones and simple feature phones that are not designed for seniors can be customized to meet their needs. Let’s start with smartphones.

A. Smartphones

1. Adjusting the Text or Font Size

Cheaper smartphones usually run on Android OS. The Settings of these Android phones are basically the same.

From the home screen, press the Settings icon. At the Settings screen, depending on the smartphone brand, there could be slight differences in the path to adjust the Text Size so I highly recommend using the Search functionality. The latest Android versions have a search bar or search icon at the top. Enter “text” in the Search field as shown below. Press Text size or any equivalent description like Font size.

At the Text size screen, you can select from the different text sizes.

After selecting the appropriate Text size, all texts on the Senior’s phone will be adjusted according to your selection. You can see the difference between Medium and XXL text sizes below for Messaging.

2. Simplify the Home Screen

In order to simplify the smartphone’s home screen, you can simply install an App. I highly recommend two applications that you can download from the Google Play Store: (1) Simple Mode App and (2) Simple Launcher App. You can only choose one of these two.

a. Simple Mode App

With Simple Mode App, the smartphone will change its original home screen to simpler screens with large icons as shown below. The Essential Apps can be customized to the apps that the Senior needs. With just one swipe to the left, the Senior can also access the Emergency Contacts. There is also the Other Essential tools screen. If the Senior wants more apps to access like simple games, it can be added to the Other Apps screen.

b. Simple Launcher App

This app also has larger icons and it only has two screens. Screen 1 below can combine both Apps and specific Contact persons. It’s too simple that you can only add up to six icons in Screen 1. If the Senior wants the six icons in Screen 1 to be all Apps, you can add the emergency contacts in Screen 2 instead.

In Screen 2, you can also add both Apps and Contact persons by pressing Edit. At the bottom of Screen 2 is an SOS icon where you can add Emergency Contacts. But since you can already add a specific Contact in Screen 1 or Screen 2, the SOS button is just redundant. But sometimes, redundancy can be very useful.

B. Simple Phones (Not Smartphones)

Unlike smartphones, simple phones or feature phones are not Android phones. Since the menu and icons of this type of phone are already simple, you only need to adjust the text or font size and setup Speed Dials for emergency contacts.

The procedure of changing the text or font size in feature phones will vary per brand and model. You can find these procedures for each simple phone in the Top 5 Cheapest Phones for Seniors section below.


Hearing Aid Compatibility (Skip this section if the Senior is not using any hearing aid device)


Hearing aid is a device that improves the hearing of people with hearing loss. If the Senior has a hearing aid, you should only buy a phone with a Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) rating. There are two HAC ratings that you must check in the phone specs according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S.:

  • M1 to M4 rating – measures the ability of the phone to reduce interference with hearing aids operating in acoustic mode, with M4 being the best. Only buy a mobile phone with an M3 or M4 rating.
  • T1 to T4 rating – measures the ability of the phone to operate with hearing aids that contain a telecoil and operate in inductive coupling mode, with T4 being the best. Only buy a mobile phone with an M3 or M4 rating.

Not all mobile phones are hearing aid compatible. Currently, in the U.S., mobile phone manufacturers and service providers are only required to have at least 66% of their mobile phone models to be hearing aid compatible. This number will increase to 85% by October 4, 2021, for manufacturers and by April 4, 2022, for service providers.

Hearing aid compatible mobile phones must be explicitly labeled in its packaging and must include the HAC rating in the label or the product manual according to the FCC consumer guide. Also, the official website of the phone model must explicitly provide information about the HAC rating.

Therefore, as a buyer, if the phone’s official website does not contain any HAC rating, the phone is not hearing aid compatible. On my list below, I included information about the HAC rating of the phone model.

Top 5 Cheapest Phones for Seniors


Updated on: June 26, 2020


#1 – Alcatel MyFlip


For: Seniors who can only use Simple Phones
Type: Feature Phone (Simple Phone)
Can Enlarge Text: Yes
Speed Dial: Yes
Network Connectivity: 4G LTE
Battery Life: Up to 6.5 hours of talk time or 12 days of standby time
HAC Rating: M4/T4
Display: 2.8″ (colored)
Operating System: Proprietary, Not Android

Price:  USD 19.75 (Tracfone); USD 19.88 (Total Wireless); USD 24.99 (Simple Mobile); USD 25.99 (Net10)

Amazon Rating: 3.9/5 (815 ratings)

The Alcatel My Flip is a very affordable simple phone that is worth the price. The physical keypad has wide buttons with large text as shown below.

In order to enlarge the text on the screen, press Settings > Device > Accessibility > Large Text. You can also check Section 15.5.4 of the user manual here.

To set Speed Dials for emergency contacts, you can go to Settings in Contacts then go to Set speed dial contacts. Press the OK button to Set Speed dial contacts. You can also see Section 3.6 of the user manual.

This phone can can only connect with one network carrier, but you can choose from Tracfone, Total Wireless, Simple Mobile, or Net10 before you purchase it online.

For those with hearing aids, the Alcatel My Flip has the highest HAC Rating which is M4 and T4.


#2 – Nokia 3310 (3G Single SIM version)


For: Seniors who can only use Simple Phones
Type: Feature Phone (Simple Phone)
Can Enlarge Text: No
Speed Dial: Yes
Network Connectivity: 3G
Battery Life: Up to 6.5 hours of talk time or 27 days of standby time
HAC Rating: No Rating
Display: 2.4″ (colored)
Operating System: Proprietary, Not Android

Price:  USD 45.19 (AT&T/T-Mobile/MetroPCS/Cricket/Mint)

Amazon Rating: 3.6/5 (825 ratings)

The Nokia 3310 3G has a Speed Dial functionality for emergencies. To set the emergency contact for Speed Dial, you can go to Section 4 of the user manual here.

Note that the Nokia 3310 3G is not for Seniors who may have a hard time sending and reading text messages because there is no option to enlarge the text on the screen and the keypad has small characters.

This is excellent for Seniors who will only need the Call and Speed Dial functionality, especially for emergencies because it has a reputation for being very durable and has a very long battery life.


#3 – BLU Studio Mini (Released: Sept. 2019)


BLU Studio Mini 5.5"

For: (1) Seniors who can only use Simple Phones and (2) Not so tech-savvy Senior
Type:
 Smartphone
Can Enlarge Text: Yes
Speed Dial: Yes (Install Simple Mode App or Simple Launcher App)
Network Connectivity: 4G LTE
Battery: 3,000 mAh
HAC Rating: No Rating
Display:  5.5 inches
Operating System: Android 9.0 (Pie)

Price:  $69.99

Amazon Rating: 3.9/5 (601 ratings)

The BLU Studio Mini is a very affordable smartphone. For its price, the specs are really good.

It is great for the “not so tech-savvy” senior because it can install applications that they would enjoy like Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, Camera, Pokemon Go, and other games with moderate graphics.

For the Seniors who can only use simple phones, it has Android 9.0 OS which means you can adjust the text size and install the Simple Mode App or Simple Launcher as described in our section above to simplify the menu and buttons.

Note that it can only work with GSM networks like T-Mobile, AT&T, Cricket, Metro PCS, etc. It’s not compatible with CDMA carriers like Sprint or Verizon.


#4 – Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 (Released: Sept. 2019)


For: (1) Tech-savvy Senior, (2) Not so tech-savvy Senior, and (3) Seniors who can only use Simple Phones
Type: Smartphone 
Can Enlarge Text: Yes
Speed Dial: Yes (Install Simple Mode App or Simple Launcher App)
Network Connectivity: 4G LTE
Battery: 4,000 mAh
HAC Rating: No Rating
Display:  6.3 inches
Operating System: Android 9.0 (Pie)

Price: USD 169.99

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5 (5,202 ratings)

I highly recommend this for the tech-savvy senior because it has 4 GB of RAM, a powerful mid-range processor, and 64 GB of internal storage. With these specs, it can run a lot of applications and high-graphics games.

The battery capacity is really big and will last very long. The display sharpness (409 ppi) is very close to the phones that are worth around $800. On top of this, it has a great camera with 4 lenses (wide-angle lens, primary lens, depth lens, and macro lens). It also has a fingerprint sensor.

Note that it can only work with GSM networks like T-Mobile or AT&T. It’s not compatible with CDMA carriers like Sprint or Verizon Wireless. Since this phone runs on Android 9.0, you can simplify the menu and buttons if it will be used by a Senior who can only use simple phones.


#5 – Moto G7 Power (Released: Feb. 2019)


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Moto-G7-Power.png

For: (1) Tech-savvy Senior, (2) Not so tech-savvy Senior, and (3) Seniors who can only use Simple Phones
Type: Smartphone 
Can Enlarge Text: Yes
Speed Dial: Yes (Install Simple Mode App or Simple Launcher App)
Network Connectivity: 4G LTE
Battery: 5,000 mAh
HAC Rating: M4/T3 (Motorola current HAC models)
Display:  6.2 inches
Operating System: Android 9.0 (Pie)

Price: $175.50

Amazon Rating: 4.4/5 (867 ratings)

I included this on the list because it is one of the few affordable but powerful smartphones that have hearing aid compatibility. The battery life is very reliable. It has a whopping 5,000 mAh battery capacity. It’s the best feature of this phone.

When it comes to specs, it has 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage, and a mid-range processor that can run complex apps and games.

I recommend this the tech-savvy senior, not so tech-savvy senior, and for Seniors who can only use simple phones. Since this is an Android phone, you can simplify the menu and buttons using our procedures in the previous section.

Since this is an unlocked phone, it can work with various network carriers. You can check the U.S. network carrier compatibility here.

Summary


The needs of every Senior are different and you need to consider these needs when choosing the right smartphone. For some Seniors, choosing the right phone is very important because they may need it in case of an emergency.

For the Seniors who are very capable of handling the latest technology in smartphones, you can always choose the most expensive. But keep in mind, that there are also smartphones like the ones listed above that are very affordable and reliable and can closely compete with the processing power of expensive phones.

Also check out our posts about:

What do you think of these cheapest phones for Seniors? I would love to hear from you.

Just leave your comment in the comments section below. 😃

2 thoughts on “Cheapest Phones for Seniors – Top 5 Best Budget Phones

  1. When seniors need a new phone, they are usually uneasy about spending too much and getting a phone they can’t use.  Often you are helped at the sales site by a young tech-savvy young salesperson who lives on their phone.  I read somewhere a statement that senior users just needed to hold the new phone and play with it and get familiar with it.  

    I remember Grandmother wondering what in the world kids had to look at their phones all the time.  Didn’t if ring when someone called.  I can imagine what she would have thought had someone suggested she hold her phone and get familiar with it!  Many of the younger generation find it hard to realize that there is life off the phone!  

    Your article giving suggestions of phones that are inexpensive, and easy to use should help a senior make the jump to a newer phone, and still feel comfortable and learn to use the new tool.  Some really only want and need a phone without all the bells and whistles.  Thank you for your list and reasons you included the ones listed.

    1. Hey Sami, there are some Seniors who will find it hard to use phones except for the basic functionalities. But there are also some Seniors who can just hold the phone and be familiar with it just like you said. It depends on the capability of Senior.

      Cheaper phones are also ideal for people who have a lower budget or if the Senior just wants a basic phone just like you said. You are welcome! 🙂

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