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Choosing the Best Cell Phone for Seniors

Updated on April 10, 2011

Senior citizens may purchase cell phones to stay in touch with family and friends more easily, or their main reason for having one may be even more practical. They may just want a cell phone for peace of mind in the event of an emergency or in case they need to call for help quickly. Understanding the primary driver for the purchase of a cell phone will help to clarify which product is best tailored to meet their needs.

Aside from the underlying reason for purchasing the cell phone, there are some unique considerations to account for with the senior consumer population. For example, the cell phone display should be both large and bright enough to make it easy to see and read. The keypad buttons should likewise be easy to read and manipulate. In addition, the cell phone should be equipped with speakers that make it easy to hear and understand any information being shared via the phone clearly.

Cost considerations may also factor into the equation, because many seniors are on limited incomes. This reality not only influences the initial purchase of the cell phone, but it also affects the choice of service plans. Seniors may prefer not to be locked down in a contract for a defined or potentially extended period of time, opting instead for either a phone with no contract or one with prepaid options -- especially ones without any credit card exposure. Of course, the network supporting the service should also be reliable and reputable, offering a variety of plans and options for diverse budgets.

Beyond the concerns about cost, display screens, keypad layout and functionality, and speaker quality, the overall design of the phone could also be a key consideration. Flip phones may offer several advantages over other designs. They can be set to answer calls when flipped open and end calls when flipped closed. This could help protect against errant charges from misdials or roaming fees. By providing a barrier between the cell phone antenna and the mouthpiece, the flip phone may also be a safer option for use.

If the primary purpose of the phone is for use in case of emergencies, then exploring cell phones with emergency buttons may be especially appealing. AARP members can learn more about such phones and special offers or discounts by contacting the organization directly or logging on to the AARP Web site.

Additional applications, such as camera, email, and text, may not be necessary or desirable for seniors who want a cell phone. The same may be true for games, tv, and other features that typically attract younger cell phone users.

Choosing the best cell phone for seniors should account for all these factors. With a little research and a clear sense of the customer's needs, it should be fairly easy to match the right cell phone to any senior citizen.


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