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Old People Phones

Updated on June 5, 2011

Old People Need Phones, Too

Cell phones operate in a consistent fashion regardless of who holds them, but senior citizens (a much more politically correct moniker than "old people") often require features than may not be available on popular phone models.

Young people often warm to technology much easier than their grandparents. A high school kid typically selects a new cell phone based on:

  • Color,
  • Accessories,
  • Peer Pressure, and
  • Cost subsidy provided by parental units.

Senior citizens (sometimes referred to as 'old people' or 'older people') may be slightly more financially stable than teenagers, but they still want to save a buck while at the same time obtaining all the functionality and ease of use that makes a wireless telephone such a wonderful convenience item.

Old People Need Ease of Use

Ergonomics, or ease of use, matters less to young people than to old people. A teenager is hardly likely to read the paper manual tucked into the phone packaging, but she will tinker with the device until she masters the features that she knows she needs. She may never quite figure out how to download contact information from the SIM card to an Excel worksheet, but she will master the contacts list and the 3-way calling technology in very short order.

On the other hand, another segment of our population might need a phone that presents as less complicated. A senior citizen might understand the need to place and receive voice calls, but might care very little about sending text messages or changing the background on the main menu. To that end, some phone vendors have developed senior citizen-specific devices. These gizmos actually offer fewer services than cutting-edge products that appeal to other age groups.

Old People Need Big Buttons

Modern cell phones trends toward smaller packaging. As the package shrinks, the screen gets smaller and the buttons virtually vanish. Phone keypads cram more buttons into a smaller 2 dimensional space in order to increase functionality. A minimal configuration is 12 buttons: that's sufficient to provide basic voice-dialing functionality. Texting can also be executed with only 12 buttons, but throughput slows drastically. Cell phone texting addicts prefer a full keyboard or some semblance thereof in order to create more imaginative and efficient messages.

A smaller button is more difficult to accurately select with uncertain fingers. As the keyboard area shrinks and the number of buttons increases, the frustration level of senior citizen users may tend to increase. To that end, a slightly larger keyboard with fewer keys decreases potential confusion in the mind of the user and also reduces the chances for a misaddressed key.

Senior Citizens Need Bigger Screens

Tiny screens can be problematic for older people with older sets of eyes. Larger characters on larger screens increase cell phone ease of use for the elderly segment of the population. Unfortunately, a larger screen demands larger packaging, which is not the trend of modern cell phone design.

Cell phone packaging engineers develop their products with an eye toward eagle-eyed consumers in high school and college. Older people with less visual acuity may feel marginalized on their next trip to the phone store at the mall.

Old Faithful Senior Citizen Cell Phone. Large Buttons

This unit provides minimal cell phone functionality built for uncertain fingers and less than perfect eyesight. It's not cutting-edge technology. You won't win any texting contests unless you're competing against folks saddled with the same big buttons. On the other hand, visibility is drastically enhanced for both the buttons and the screen. Older people tend to prefer a simpler and larger display. Compared to popular cell phone models, this screen makes visual verification of the currently dialed number much easier. No one wants to dial the dreaded 'wrong number', especially knowing that our number will appear on the called ID of the mistaken recipient. Digital embarrassment can be avoided.

Old People Need an SOS Button?

"Save Our Ship" may not be semantically correct these days, given that cell phones typically don't work on the high seas, but an SOS button may be a lifesaver for a cell phone owner. An SOS button can be programmed to automatically dial an emergency number with a single press. The button may be on the back of the unit for quick and easy identification and differentiation from all the other buttons.

Old People Need Phones that Talk?

All phones have something to say, else phone calls would be decidedly one-sided. Another very useful talking feature available on some senior citizen phones is audio confirmation of button pushes. Instead of an unidentifiable 'beep', each key announces its' corresponding digit. Uncertain seniors can literally listen to the number they are attempting to dial. They have the opportunity abort the transaction should they mistakenly punch the wrong number. Such a feature might be eminently useful for any citizen wishing to dial while driving.

Unlocked Senior Elderly Phone GSM Quad Bands SOS Big Keypad FM Radio AT&T T-Mobile

This extremely useful phone provides an easy to identify SOS button on the back, away from all the other buttons. Finding the SOS button in the dark or under duress should be relatively easy for most seniors.


Old people phones offer convenience of use and accessibility for folks who might be somewhat limited in vision or confidence. Senior citizens need not be hesitant to jump into the modern age of technology. Phoning up the grandchildren is easy and safe.


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    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

      It is a good thing that numbers of mobile brands are redesigning their device for the seniors. Great hub Nicomp, may I suggest adding to your list Just5 Mobile. Just5 was tailored for senior citizen with all the needed features to compensate age related impairment; the big buttons, highly audible speaker, and more simple to use interface. They do offer their latest mobile plan worth $29.99 for a month of unlimited texting and calling. Here’s the link for the details; [redacted]

      Thanks for this hub Nicomp. Well done. Cheers.

    • Didge profile image

      Didge 5 years ago from Southern England

      fantastic! So creative :)

    • profile image

      Mac 7 years ago

      The availability of simple phones in the market is really a big thing for elderly. Without simple phone, I won’t be able to convince my Dad to use one so I can easily connect with him. He’s using the Just5 cell phone and he really appreciates its very basic and practical features. He feels more secured with the phone’s PERS features as well. Much more, he doesn’t hurt his purse for this phone. he only spends $3.33 a month for the cheapest minute plan.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Van : That's a great story about old people phones. If you want to repost it without the backlink on my hub about old people phones, feel free.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      great information!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      Verizon keeps reminding me I'm eligible to get a free new phone. I like the one I have. When it breaks, I'll get the one with larger buttons - I saw one in their store a few years ago.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Considering Boomers entering (or already in) the "Golden Age" are a huge segment of consumers, it defies logic that the major carriers (Verizon, ATT to name two) don't offer cell phones specifically for that age group. If they did, I'd probably get a cell for road trips. I gave up trying to find a phone just to make calls. Texting? Forget it. That's what computers and emails are for.

      btw, it's not just the older generation that prefers cells without the bells and whistles that teens and under-30s can't live without. A friend who has MS isn't yet 50 but has shaky hands and impaired vision. She absolutely won't leave the house alone without her cell, but would prefer one with a bigger screen and buttons. Has no idea how to use the other functions. The other night, we had to have the pizza delivery guy show us where to find the camera button (not that either of us has a clue how to send pix anywhere). I'll mention the phones you feature here to her. Thanks.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      I really get peeved when I hear myself referred to as a senior citizen when I really know I’m just an old fart, and I’m not in my golden years, I’m over the hill. If I was really in my golden years where is the bullion (bullion=bullpucky).: D

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I think I need one with big numbers lately. Have to fumble for the glasses to make a call. Great hub.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'm in the throes of finding a cellphone that I can see, hear and make use of available features. I'm not having much success despite several trips to the Verizon store in my neighborhood. Why is it that you understand the needs of senior citizens but Verizon doesn't? I might add that all the people who work at the Verizon store in my neighborhood, nicomp, are young with agile fingers, excellent vision and hearing and a lot less patience than an older person would have. I have all but given up hope of obtaining a cellphone that works. Fifty years ago I had very little trouble making or receiving telephone calls -- even the bill was a lot cheaper. Thumbs up!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Tom Whitworth: I had to censor you: my hubs are PG. I hope you're willing to delete that one word and resubmit, OK?