Savvy Senior: Best cell phones for seniors

Dear Savvy Senior,

Can you recommend some good cell phones for seniors? My 79-year-old mother needs to get a new mobile phone and has asked me to help her find one that she would like.

Searching Daughter

Dear Searching,

For older adults, choosing a cell phone is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some seniors love the latest high-tech smartphones with high-megapixel cameras, while others prioritize simple phones with basic functions. So, the best cell phone for your mom will depend on her comfort with technology, priorities and budget. 

Best Cell Phones

To help identify the best cell phones for older adults, I consulted Wirecutter, a product testing and recommendation service from The New York Times who recently tested 18 cell phone models.

Their testing focus was on three different areas, including best phones for older adults who are comfortable with technology and want to upgrade to a full-featured smartphone with robust accessibility settings; best cell phones for seniors who are not tech-inclined or who prefer a smartphone with fewer features, as well as those who are experiencing vision, hearing, or dexterity issues; and best cell phones for elderly seniors who need specific accessibility features due to physical or cognitive issues. Here are their top choices based on their tests.

Apple iPhone 15 Plus: This is a great choice if your mom is comfortable with technology and willing to spend more for a top-tier smartphone with a range of accessibility, health, and safety features. The 15 Plus has an easy-to-read, large (6.7-inch) screen and the most robust health and safety features, including an off-grid SOS, a personal-safety check, and plenty of customizable accessibility options that help seniors with vision and hearing loss, as well as with speaking and/or dexterity problems. ($899,

Google Pixel 8: If your mom has been using an Android device and is more comfortable with this operating system, the Pixel 8 is a high-end, reasonably priced smartphone that tops their list for older adults. It too has a sharp, large (6.7-inch) screen with an excellent camara and many health, safety, and accessibility features that can help seniors with vision impairment, hearing loss, hand tremors and more. And it costs significantly less than the new Samsung Galaxy and iPhone models. ($699,

Lively Jitterbug Smart4: If your mom wants a simplified smartphone that’s very affordable, she might prefer this model. Like the Apple 15 Plus and Google Pixel 8, the Jitterbug Smart4 also has a 6.7-inch screen, but this phone comes with a list-based menu (no icons) that provides easy navigation. It also offers voice commands capabilities, and a number of health and safety services including a 24/7 emergency monitoring service. This phone would also work well for people with memory or vision issues. ($150,

RAZ Mobility Memory Cell Phone: This phone is specifically designed for seniors with memory issues or more-advanced cognitive decline. Its uncluttered, simple functionality allows users to stay in touch with family and friends while also reducing common problems such as unnecessary calls to emergency services, spam, and fraud. It also has a dedicated SOS link on the screen that can alert up to three contacts; has GPS tracking capabilities; provides caregiver controls and more. ($349,

Snapfon ez4G: This is a non-smartphone if your mom doesn’t want or need all the functionality of a full-featured smartphone. This simple cell phone provides large buttons, big screen type and an SOS emergency button on the back of the phone that will alert up to five preselected contacts by call and text. ($100,

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.