Finding a simple and reliable cell phone for a senior can be a tricky task, especially given the popularity of much more complicated smartphones.
And with 91% of the U.S. carrying cell phones, according to wireless industry trade group CTIA, it can be difficult to find an easy-to-use device for beginners or no-frills phone users.
You can sort through new phones online by specific features listed on a cell phone carrier’s Web site, but unfortunately you can’t sort by simplicity. Luckily, some of the simplest phones are often the cheapest.
Beyond those offered by mainstream carriers, there are cell phones and plans made specifically for seniors, who don’t need the numerous applications that are available for iPhones (Stock Quote: AAPL) or Blackberries (Stock Quote: RIMM).
Here are some of MainStreet’s favorite easy-to-use cell phones with senior-friendly features.
Today’s Jitterbug phone isn’t as simple as its widely-advertised first-generation version, which could be programmed only to call the operator, home or 911, but it’s still straightforward and easy to use.
Senior-friendly features: The Jitterbug has large number keys for easy dialing, powerful speakers, a dial tone like that of a landline and 24-hour customer service with live operators by dialing “0.”
Price: $147 for the phone and monthly plans starting at $14.99 with Jitterbug wireless; AAA members can get the Jitterbug phone with GreatCall wireless service plans at a 5% discount, the wireless carrier says.
The Motorola W259 (Stock Quote: MOT) is a basic clamshell-style flip phone that’s easy to use and its battery lasts for up to nine hours of talk time or 18 days of standby time, according to carrier Consumer Cellular.
Senior-friendly features: The phone is hearing aid compatible, and has a speakerphone for hands-free use. Plus, there are no early termination fees or long-term contracts.
Price: Free after an instant rebate for AARP members from Consumer Cellular, with plans that start at $9.50 a month, plus a $35 activation fee.
Wireless carrier MetroPCS promises that the Kyocera Domino’s “straightforward functionality means the features that matter most won’t ever get lost in the shuffle.”
Senior-friendly features: The Domino wins with its large keypad, display and texting fonts. Plus, depending on your cell phone service plan, you can use premium directory assistance, which lets you contact a live operator and even get driving directions.
Price: $4 after a $25 mail-in offer. Unlimited plans start at $40 and premium directory assistance comes free with the $45 and $50 per month plans.
For those who want simplicity and an easy way to take pictures or video of their grandkids or while they’re traveling in retirement, the clamshell Nokia 2760 (Stock Quote: NOK) could be just the right phone.
Senior-friendly features: This phone boasts a large color display and hearing aid compatibility, plus there are no early termination fees or long-term contracts.
Tracphone Wireless offers the LG 420G with no activation fees, contracts, monthly bills or credit checks, according to the company’s Web site.
Senior-friendly features: The phone features a simple interface with basic telephone buttons, hearing aid compatibility, a hands-free speaker and a display that shows how many minutes you’ve used to avoid overage costs.
Price: $19.99 for the phone and service plans starting at $9.99.
For those who want a phone that won’t make accidental calls but don’t like the look of the clamshell design, this Nokia phone is a slide-to-open version.
Senior-friendly features: It’s ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand, and it has a large color display. If you’re answering a call, there’s no need to slide it open. Plus, there are no early termination fees or long-term contracts.
Price: $20 after an instant rebate for AARP members from Consumer Cellular, with plans that start at $9.50 a month, plus a $35 activation fee.
This may be best option for seniors who want an easy-to-use phone that has a few more features than the most basic mobile phones. It boasts crystal clear sound quality and even the ability to listen to your favorite local radio station.
Senior-friendly features: CrystalTalk technology amplifies voices and filters out background noises, and the phone also has a large and bright screen, hearing aid compatibility and no early termination fees or long-term contracts.
Price: $40 after an instant rebate for AARP members from Consumer Cellular, with plans that start at $9.50 a month, plus a $35 activation fee.