The typical baby boomer was around 43 years old when cellphones became commonplace. It's no wonder that our parents and grandparents don't always know how to use a sleek new touch-screen.
Landline phones are quickly becoming obsolete. The smartphone is the new standard, but it can be difficult for older users to understand how they work. The responsibility to prep your older relatives for the age of Wi-Fi can be daunting, but picking a phone for them shouldn't be.
Aside from everyday calls and emergencies, smartphones give grandparents the ability to check email and use Skype and Google Hangouts to video chat with relatives. Weather apps might also come in handy for them and a good camera can capture family moments.
The ideal phone for grandparents should be simple to use, easy to understand and relatively inexpensive. We've kept those things in mind when putting together our top picks.
While the iPhone 6 isn't the cheapest phone on the market, it is one of the most feature-rich and it's designed to be user friendly from the ground up. The iPhone will provide your grandparent with apps that simpler phones won't have. Siri is also great for the less technologically inclined and can help make the transition to a smartphone much easier. With special pricing plans, iPhones can be a pretty affordable option.
When it comes to simplicity, Apple is the clear winner. If you're willing to invest the time teaching your grandparents the ins and outs of smartphone technology, this may be the best phone to do it with.
Motorola's Android smartphone is the best cheap phone on the market. With a 5-inch screen and a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, the phone offers a great bang for your buck. While Android can be daunting for senior citizens, Motorola has kept the OS clean and free from excessive bloatware that could confuse a first-time user. It's also waterproof!
The Moto G provides all of the capability that your grandparents could need at a lower price point than most other smartphones. The only drawback is the complexity. If your grandparents are a little tech savvy, then Android should be no problem. Otherwise, you may want to find a simpler phone.
The Moto E is a very inexpensive smartphone. It boasts an impressive battery life, a 4.5-inch screen and full LTE capability. It also has a streamlined Android OS, without much bloatware or clutter. It is cheaper than the similarly priced Moto G and sacrifices only a small amount of quality to do so.
If you're looking to buy your grandparents a well-constructed smartphone without spending too much, this is a great option. The major drawback is the screen size — with a 960 x 540 resolution, this may not be the best phone for seniors with poor eyesight.
Microsoft's budget smartphone offering is the cheapest smartphone on this list and a worthy contender for your grandparent's first device. It has a 4-inch screen, a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor and 4 GB of internal memory. It should be able to meet all of your grandparent's needs — and at a very low price point.
Windows phones are also very user friendly and intuitive and can be a great entry-point for an older user. However, the Lumia lacks a front camera, so if video calls are a priority you'll want to find something a little more capable.
Designed specifically for seniors with little cellphone experience, the Jitterbug 5 flip phone is a great pick for your grandparents. While it lacks apps and video-call capability, it makes up for it with ease of use — the buttons are large and easy to read, and the phone uses a simple yes-or-no navigation system. The screen displays larger-than-average text and the volume ranges from low to super-high.
If your only requirements for a phone are to make and receive calls easily, this fits the bill. It can also provide quick access to medical help with an opt-in service, which could provide you with extra peace of mind.
A simple flip phone from Consumer Cellular, the Doro PhoneEasy has large buttons, hearing-aid compatibility and speed-dial capability. It's designed primarily for making and receiving calls and offers a quick-call button for a predesignated contact.
The PhoneEasy is a great, cheap option if all you need is a way for your grandparent to keep in contact with you and a few other people. It lacks features beyond the basics, but that can be a good thing for a technophobic grandparent.
The Snapfon offers big buttons and large text and is easy to read and operate. It also comes with a speaking keypad, a simplified menu system and an SOS Emergency Alert button on the back that alerts up to five responders through text or voice messages and also sets off a loud siren on the phone itself.
It's compact and simple, and the emergency button can help older users retain their independence without leaving them helpless.
Just5 offers a simple phone that has all the typical ease-of-use features and also provides an FM radio and a powerful LED flashlight, which works even if the battery is dead. The phone comes in a wide range of colors and has a nondescript monochrome screen.
Beyond making calls, the extra features help this phone stand out and could be a novel way to keep your grandparent connected.
The Kisa phone is billed as the ultimate senior's phone. Designed without a screen or a keypad, the phone instead features large, tactile buttons with personalized pre-set contact names — one push and you'll be connected. There are no confusing features at all and it even comes with an SOS button for emergency services and a space to list medical information.
It's perfect for seniors with visual impairments or other physical handicaps and can also be great for young children. While it's not customizable, the phone makes up for it with extreme simplicity.
Whatever your grandparent's level of comfort with new technology, there are plenty of great devices to suit their needs. Staying connected with your loved ones matters, and these phones can provide an easy first step.