back to article Ten phones for seniors

Whatever Philip Larkin may have said about your mum and dad, you probably want them to have a mobile phone they can use. If you think an iPhone is easy you need to reset your sights. There are plenty of people who find switching a phone on a challenge and entering phone numbers daunting. We all suffer reduced eyesight from …


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  1. Chris Miller

    Ageism much?

    Speaking as a 'senior', I think I'll stick with my Galaxy S3, thanks. What's your next review: "Ten... phones for black folks"?

    1. John H Woods

      Re: Ageism much?

      Yes I think "10 phones for the elderly" might have been better. 'senior" is just an age boundary - the one at which the previous generation could afford to stop working, whilst "elderly" is when one has to.

      Another couple of generations (max) and they'll be the same thing.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        Re: Ageism much?

        Senior? I should have known that when I became Senior Specialist at Nokia, when I was 39.....

        As to the 'phones, I like the first one. Ideal for Granny, if she was still alive. Clear keys - only slight complaint - actually with all of them - is the display is a bit small for us geriatrics. We've this fixation with being able to pop it in your shirt-pocket*. Who wears shirts with breast-pockets nowadays? Oh, old people. I get it...

        In my case (56 now) using a Nokia N8, and a Samsung fondleslab 8,9 (plus programming a website on a Raspberry PI - when it arrives!) isn't a challenge, Girlie (53) STILL can't turn her Nokia dumbfone on, insisting on pressing the torch on the top...I've shown her numerous times, but I still have to start the bugger for her. Plus, explain the charger plug for the N8 is a different size from her ancient thing....Maybe I should adopt the American naming convention...McCoatover (Snr.), Girlie (Jnr.)

        *Odd, about 12 years ago at Nokia we were a) bored to unconciousness by a Powerpoint presentation..then b) shown this really small phone the "Unique Selling Point" of which was it'll fit in that tiny pocket above your jeans' right-hand front trouser pocket.

        I ruined the entire presentation, when the presenter asked "Are there any questions"

        "Yeah, I have one - If I stuff it in that pocket to go out on a Friday night, where the hell am I gonna put my condoms???"

        Audience erupted with laughter, show 'stolen'.

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: Ageism much?

          A few of these comments are worthy of the Daily Mail. I'm pleased some people can see what's wrong with the automatic equation of age and disability in the headline, which spoiled an otherwise useful article for me; and those who can't are beyond help.

          How unfortunate Rosa Parks was that Facebook was unavailable in her day. Just think of all the helpful and intelligent comments she missed out on - "you're making a mountain out of a molehill"; "get over yourself, plonker"; "the back of the bus is the right place for you". I'll treat them with the same level of contempt I'm sure she would.

          1. Lord Voldemortgage

            @Chris Miller

            Give it a rest. My ageing fingers can only cope with so much downvoting.

            If you can't see (by which I mean [i]understand[/i] - I am not suggesting that all people who are stupidly determined to be offended are also sight impaired) that there's a general correlation between advancing age and reduced function in sight, hearing, and manual dexterity then you need to get out and meet more people.

            It happens. To most if not all of us. It may not have happened to you and it may never, in which case congratulations, you are a lucky exception; rejoice in your perpetual youthfulness.

            I found this set of mini-reviews very useful - it is nice to see that El Reg and a few manufacturers out there are thinking about people who might not get along as well with some aspects of the latest and greatest in technology.

            1. Lord Voldemortgage


              We do need an edit function on here. I am too old to cope with switching between BBCode and HTML all day!

          2. FutureShock999

            Re: Ageism much?

            At 49 years old, I am rather fit for my age, and technically still pretty sharp. But damned if last year one of my eyes just DIDN'T change it's prescription by almost two whole points, after both having been the same -3.75 for 20+ years. As if on cue...

            The degeneration of the human body with age isn't a stereotype - it happens 100% of the time, to everyone. That is a biological FACT, and cannot be disputed. It's schedule varies from person to person, and how it affects us exactly. But there is simply no getting around the fact that with age our bodies deteriorate, and the most common forms of that involve eyesight and hearing.

            Developing products that compensate for that is really the counter to ageism - they enable those that benefit to offset the deterioration, and continue on productively in society. A mobile phone that is useable by a person who's eyes have degenerated with age gives them the ability to be mobile and active, yet still be in touch, either to aide their productivity, or for safety.

            So then the next question - why bring age into it, why not just say they are for people that have limited sight, or limited hearing? Because these phones contain features that compensate for multiple ailments, such as eyesight, hearing, and manual dexterity. A 20 year old with ocular degeneration does not need hearing assistance, nor usually are they in need of manual ease. These phones are aimed at people that suffer from the common package of degeneration of multiple senses and abilities - and that IS age related in most people. Again, we might as well accept simple biology, and call a spade a spade.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ageism much?

      "Senior" as far as I'm concerned is 75+, chances are folks of that age aren't going to be reading El Reg, whilst younger folks like me who have to decide what phones to buy for 95 year old great aunts find this kind of article useful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ageism much?

        Speak for yourself, I read El Reg every day and I'm in the 75+ age group you seem to despise.

    3. Graham O'Brien

      Re: Ageism much?

      Completely agree, Chris. Until I read the opening couple of paragraphs on this report, I (naively, it now seems) was unaware that at the age of 55 I had one foot in the grave and the other on a bar of soap. Do I risk telling my 82-year-old dad that he's past it, IT-wise? Even though he was developing software in his 70s? That's if he can lift his head from his PC for long enough to listen.

      Kids of today ... <rolleyes>

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ageism much?

      And being a sensible individual with the wisdom that maturity gives, you have sensibly not chosen an overpriced and restricted 'i' device.

    5. casey99

      Re: Ageism much?

      Did you read this article or just the title? It clearly states that there are elderly people who are comfortable with smartphones, just not the majority.

      My own father just got a smartphone for his 76th birthday and he is quite happy with it.

      I am in my mid 50s and always found "feature phones" totally confusing to use, the menu structure was always different on differing makes and I never got the hang of texting. At least I can pick up any android phone and have a good idea where to find all the settings, apps etc. and can text on a full keyboard.

      Sent from my Sony Tablet S, one of the best android tablets (of it's time)

      Sherlock, because he looked before commenting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ageism much?

        The article took pains to point out that there are some physical conditions that many people develop as they age, which can hinder the use of a phone. Some people are lucky enough to retain a great deal of use in their hands, eyes and ears as they age, some people are less so. I don't know why catering to the needs of some people has been compared to racial stereotyping by the first poster. If anything, the designers have actively attempted to consider the requirements of people who are not like themselves- if that is not down the road of understanding and concern for their fellow human, I don't know what is.

        My old man has large hands, and though I suspect that he would be able to use an Android phone, he is very drawn to a Motorola clamshell phone which has large buttons, to match his fingers. Having a clear way of turning the phone off would be a bonus for him (and for those of us he might ring up and then not hang up on). Having the screen and keypad protected from scratches and dust would be good as well.

        Another old boy in the pub, a sharp and witty retired teacher, keeps enquiring as to how easy the keyboard on my Android phone is to use- he claims to have useless fingers, too. He often uses a laptop to keep in touch with his children and grandchildren, via skype or what not, but fancies an alternative device for when his home internet is playing silly buggers. I'm tempted to recommend him a 7" tablet rather than a smart phone- if needs be he can easily take it down the pub for the use of an alternate hotspot and free tech support.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ageism much? @Chris Miller

      'What's your next review: "Ten... phones for black folks"?'

      Bit of an overstatement don't you think? Or was it said to add a bit of drama.

      It's a legitimate article as there are older people who are not able to cope with technology especially smartphones, and speaking as someone who has cared for partially sighted people, the big numbers and screens are a godsend for some.

      This isn't about ageism at all, its about access. Plonker.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Ageism much? @Chris Miller

        Certainly there are some older people who have weakened eyesight or reduced dexterity, just as there are in the general population. But there are many who don't - and in this respect the article is simply playing to stereotypes. Try replacing 'seniors' with 'women' and read it again, mutatis mutandis. If it's unacceptable to stereotype by race or sex, it should equally be so on age.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: Ageism much? @Chris Miller

          Enjoy making mountains out of mole hills do ya?

          This was a sensible review of phones suitable for those 'senior' or 'elderly' people (or phone with impairments) who would not be comfortable with a current gen Smartphone. As specified in the article. Or was it TL;DR;?

          What's your problem with that? Stereotypes? WTF? This article couldn't more more clear about it intentions. There was no stereotyping. There are old people, many have problems with Smartphones. That is a fact. Not all of them, of course, but that was specifically pointed out. So how about we title the article "Ten Phones for Seniors/Elderly. Except for those who like Smartphones, Oh, and also those who don't like smartphones and want something simple".


  2. 7-zark-7
    Thumb Up

    Good shortlist Reg, thanks

    That is all.

  3. thomas k.
    Thumb Up

    why seniors?

    Why seniors? Not only are some of these are quite attractive - #s 1, 5 and, especially, 9 - but not all of us need or want a phone that does anything more than, well, makes phone calls.

    I have an extremely basic Samsung clamshell through Kajeet, a "kid-safe" service provider here in the USA. Although they offer many plans, including ones with texting, mine is the $5/month w/ 10 free mins, 10 cents a minute after that. I got it when I rode a motorcycle in case it broke down and I needed to summon aid and. also, to use to call my parents, since I don't have long distance on my landline. This phone is always turned off and only turned on when I want to make a call.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    WOW, Nokia 100 running Windows Phone 8.

    Exclusive pictures in this review...

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WOW, Nokia 100 running Windows Phone 8.

      symbian, actually

      1. Arctic fox
        Thumb Up

        Re: "symbian, actually"

        Indeed :-). However, I assume that he thought that he had just posted a brilliant satirical comment. It may eventually dawn on the poster concerned that effective satire requires a bit of intelligence rather than heavy handed sarcasm.

  5. Andrew Macrobie


    Had a couple of Emporia life handsets at my old workplace, terrible build quality, poorly thought out design and had a tendency to fall to bits at the slightest knock. Of course it's not just seniors (isn't that a US term for the elderly?) that occasionally have a need for big buttons and large, clear displays; the chap who used these handsets was partially sighted and frankly, from my experiences looking after mobile comms for that firm it's apparent that accessibility for mobile handsets / smartphones is still in its infancy. That's probably worthy of a reg article in itself...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Can we have more of this please

    Can we please have a review of phones for people who don't/can't carry theirs in a handbag/manpurse. I'm not about to take off my work-essential leather gloves just to fondle a slab, especially when I'm on a building site/on a rig/a boat/down at the meatpacking plant. And some people (my dad being one just have blacksmiths' hands. what phones are there for us types?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Can we have more of this please


      My dad has also 'blacksmith's hands' (AKA sausage fingers). Phones with decent sized keys have been hard to find for a while. However, the Motorola Gleam+ clamshell phone has lovely big buttons. Don't confuse it with the plain 'Gleam', since that has very flat buttons (in the laser-cut style of the old Motorola Razr phone).

      I have no idea what the rest of the phone is like, but the form-factor appears to be ideal.

      If any other readers can recommend handsets like this, please let us know!

  7. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Seems safe to presume...

    ...that, from the ratings, most phones in this sector are plain shite.

  8. Adam Trickett
    Thumb Up

    Why just for the "old"?

    I work at a computer all day and at home I have yet more computers. The only time I don't have at least one internet connected computer is when I'm out and then I don't want to be connected.

    If I were to pick a mobile phone I'd want a simple one with good battery life, some of these seem perfectly useful for being a mobile phone. As it happens work provides me with a mobile phone so I don't actually own my. However if I did, I don't want or need a fancy iDroid thing with a few nano seconds of battery life....

    I'm not old, or at least I don't think so...

    1. FutureShock999

      Re: Why just for the "old"?

      To be fair, I think that you would find that these phones make design trade offs that many people would not want in even a basic phone. The text is large, so SMS messaging is rather slow to both write and read. Emails (if even present) are a terrible pain. No camera at all. These are not just more limited than smartphones, they are more limited than even mid-level feature phones. But if you are OK with that, then yes, no reason not to use one...

  9. Blubster

    If it wasn't for us `oldies`.....

    ......none of this technology would be available in the first place - a point I'm forced to make to the grand-kids once in a while when they get stroppy.

  10. Giles Jones Gold badge

    I got a Binatone for my mum, but she broke the charger and it isn't a standard connector. I thought it was micro USB but it's not. The Bluechip phone I replaced it with has a standard micro USB port.

    So my advice is don't buy anything that doesn't have a micro USB charger port.

  11. Wokstation

    The young, sight-impaired?

    It's not just old people that get issues with their eyes. These phones would be handy for the visually-impaired teen, or the middle aged mother with premature arthritis. Give disabled folks a thought too!

    Handy list, duly tweeted.

  12. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    May I just say ..

    .. thank you?

    This review is an excellent list of what's out there, I'll bookmark it.

  13. Tom 35

    charging cradle

    The one thing my dad had problems with was getting the USB cable the right way up, and dropping the wire on the floor while trying to plug it in, mini USB at the time, but micro is even harder to see.

    It took some searching but I found a phone with a cradle so he could just drop the phone in and let it charge.

    That Panasonic looks like it would have been perfect for him.

    1. Wanda Lust

      Re: charging cradle

      Ease of charging is certainly something that should be considered. The Doro flip style can be supplemented with a cradle.

  14. Richard Scratcher



  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    useful for some

    One of my octogenarian relatives has installed an ics rom, another said "I know nothing about computers and have no inclination to change the situation". So this roundup is patronising - if you're overly sensitive and in denial about the perspective of a large number of people in your age bracket.

    none of these phones gets a particularly high rating - either there's no such thing as the perfect senior phone unless it says "operator" when you pick it up, or it's just too galling to rate these up there with the sg3 regardless of how perfect for seniors they are

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can I suggest that if you want some flexibility - look to a 7" tablet with 3G built in.

    You can make a keypad that's big enough for the blindest bat to use, and if you pump the audio over bluetooth you can get connectivity to route that into hearing aids. Voice control/dialling is easy.

    Although I don't know of anyone who's done it yet, a speech transcription on the fly is viable, which would help the nearly deaf get along.

    And Skype is also viable.

    And, of course, the tablet can be used for lots of other things as well.

    Better than these feature phone attempts - at acceptable prices

    1. HelenaHandcart

      Re: Tablets

      I'm struggling to understand how a tablet touchscreen keypad can work "or the blindest bat to use" but perhaps I have misunderstood you. A keypad with physical buttons can be operated by feel alone - there's a little raised dot on the '5' key so that you know where your fingers are. However, if you can't see the virtual buttons on a touchscreen then you have no way of knowing where they are.

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    My mum told me to look out for the elderly so I did, but I don't think I found one, and I wouldn't know what to do with an elderly if I had found one. Now you tell me there are seniors as well. This is just getting too confusing. What's the difference between them, and does anyone know what you're supposed to do with them?


    Anyone know where I can get a nice phone I can carry about with me?

  18. auburnman

    Missed the bit in the middle

    Okay, we've had android phones at about £200 and feature phones for people who want a reliable regular phone. What happened to the roundup of £100 androids? My mum needs a new phone and while I think she'd get the hang of using a touchscreen when I'm not there to help I don't fancy dropping 200 bar before knowing for certain (and of course she flat out refuses to let me get her a phone at that price.)

    Is there a review of the min-spec androids in the works from anyone at el reg?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Great Article.......Maybe

    Sadly, being 62 years old, I had difficulty reading it and could bearly hear the person who kindly offered to read it aloud for me.

    You should do an audio version of this stuff, but remember to speak very loud and very slowly for us "seniors".

    One of the great experiences of getting older is being patronised by people who think they know what is right for we "seniors".

    It isn't insulting or demeaning at all.

  20. FreeTard
    Thumb Up

    This is a great article.

    My 62 year old mother has/is on the lookout for very, very old style Nokia phones as they are the only ones she is comfortable with - her current one is held together with gaffer tape, and the calls drop often, but she still uses it.

    Same goes for my granny, I took her shopping for a new phone a few months back, and it was some struggle I'll tell you.

    More of this ageism stuff please!

  21. MPRG
    Thumb Up

    Excellent article

    Well done, that was an excellent article - I wish I had it when I researched a new phone for my 82 year old mother a few months ago. I bought her a Doro PhoneEasy 610 and she is delighted with it, especially the fact that she opens the phone to answer a call and closes it to end a call - no need to press buttons.

    Her biggest problem with mobile phones is that she holds the red "end call" button for a bit longer to make sure she hangs up properly; so sometimes the phone switches off, resulting me me being told that the phone is broken again.

    More articles like this please.

  22. Simon Rockman

    Anonymous please get in touch

    Would the person who said "No phone is simple unless it just says 'operator' please get in touch with me? I wrote the article and am working on just such a a thing.


    1. FlossyThePig

      Hearing impaired

      I didn't post as anonymous but do you wear hearing aids? I suspect not.

      Hearing aid compatible usually means they don't cause the aid to whistle or buzz. Most phones are "Hearing aid compatible" but I still have to remove an aid to use them. The phone on my desk at work has an external amplifier, between phone and handset, which means no one else can use it as it is TOO LOUD for them.

      I want to know what the phones are like to actually use with hearing aids, not what the spec says.

      1. Simon Rockman

        Re: Hearing impaired

        Here the ones with hearing aid support have T3/M3 (telecoil and microphone) inductive loop support,


  23. IrishRob

    Great article

    I bought my Mum the Doro clamshell phone a few months ago and she thinks it's great. Although my Mum is 75 she is perfectly sharp and in no way incapable, the thing is: She sees a phone as....... something for making telephone calls and so has no interest in all the extras. I think clamshell phones are the best option as, to someone who is not used to using a mobile, the concept of locking the keypad is a completely alien one.

    Interestingly enough: My Mum is from the generation who memorised phone numbers so she has little use for an address book as she can remember all the important numbers, something that the 'mobile generation' would most likely struggle with.

    As for the Doro - It really is great the way the extra features can be switched off. It still makes me laugh when you do the odd review of this type of advice and someone decries it for 'lacking bluetooth / wi-fi / media player etc'. For these devices, for lots of different people - less is more.

    Oh, and it would be nice to see the industry turn the same philosophy to digital cameras, every one that I look at..... too many buttons. Try explaining to someone, who doesn't use a computer, how 'convenient' it is to take a picture, connect it to a computer, download it, send it to the printer etc. Although at least there is now the option to print pictures in supermarkets, chemists etc.

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