Smart Cell Phone Shopping For Seniors

Shopping for a cell phone these days can feel overwhelming. We've identified the 7 key questions to ask before you make a purchase. Let's dive in!
Smiling older woman sits on couch holding cell phone

Models, brands, payment plans, functionality, applications, protection – when did deciding on a cell phone or smartphone become this complicated?

Many older adults I speak with find the whole process a little daunting. So, after listening to my friends, family and neighbors’ concerns, I started jotting down the questions I heard most often.

Here are the 7 most common ones about purchasing a senior-friendly cell phone. I hope it helps you or someone you know to make a wise choice. Have no doubt, you can find the cell phone that is right for you.

1. Should I get a basic phone or smartphone?

It depends on what you want to do. If you’re only texting and calling, get a basic flip phone. If you love using apps, get a smartphone. They have more functionality, a full keyboard and impressive features you won’t find on a flip phone.

2. What’s the learning curve?

A flip phone, designed for older adults, has almost zero learning curve.

A smartphone might take a bit more getting used to. Once you familiarize yourself with the layout, buttons, apps and features, most people find it easy and intuitive to use.

3. What’s the best way to share photos with my grandkids?

A smart phone has apps that make it easy to share photos and videos. If staying connected with your children and grandchildren is important to you, a smartphone is likely to be the way to go.

Talk with your kids and grandkids to find out the apps they like to use. You’ll find a whole new world of delight waiting for you.

Cheerful senior black man speaks on cell phone

4. Can I try before I buy?

Some phone companies will let you test their phones before buying. Others offer a money-back guarantee for a limited time. Trying phones out is a great idea. Look for ease of use: a readable screen, big enough buttons and good sound quality.

5. What type of plan is best?

It depends on your preferences. Popular plans for seniors are based on appealing features such as price, ease-of-canceling, usage, special benefits and flexibility. Here are the 5 key types of plans for seniors:

Pay As You Go

As the name says, you pay for what you use, rather than signing a contract. These are usually easier to cancel than regular plans.


These often have a small base rate to start. Additional calls and texts add extra costs. If you want a phone but don’t plan on using it often, this might work for you.


This enables you to call and text as much as you like. If you don’t want limits and price isn’t a major issue, this may be appealing.


Some phone plans offer senior-specific benefits. This may be discounts off regular plans, medication alerts or reminders for medical check-ups.


Older adults on fixed income and/or eligible for government programs may benefit from low-cost cell phone plans.

Mature man looks at cell phone while shopping in grocery store

6. Should I get a protection plan/cases?

Flip phones tend to be more durable, so you may not need one. Protection plans and cases smartphones are often recommended. The pricier models can cost a lot to repair. Cases, including waterproof cases, can be a smart choice for smartphones.

7. Isn’t there a free phone plan for seniors?

The federal program called “Lifeline” was created to provide a discount on monthly phone services. It is the FCC’s program to help make communication services more affordable for eligible consumers.

Lifeline is set up to provide either cell phones or home phone service for low-income consumers. It is intended to help people connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

To apply for Lifeline, and learn more about eligibility requirements, visit:

Assistance Club Summary

Yes, there are a lot of things to consider when getting a cell phone! Hopefully, you’ve gotten many of your questions answered.

The #1 thing to keep in mind is: Staying Connected is Important.

It’s important to you, for contacting friends and family. It’s rewarding to stay engaged with people you care about. It’s essential if you have a medical emergency.

Having a cell phone or smart phone puts you in touch with your loved ones. If you’re thinking about getting a cell phone, get your questions answered so you can move forward.

Now, aren’t you’re ready to go shop? It’s time to get your new phone!