10 February 2021

The ultimate guide to buying a phone for older people
6.5 Minutes BY The Three Team

These days, it’s more important than ever that we all stay connected. In particular, we need to make sure that elderly people aren’t isolated, and that technology helps them keep in touch with relatives and friends.

Technology like video calls really took off in 2020 and are now the norm for many of us. But for those who are unfamiliar with that technology, it can all seem a bit intimidating. That’s why we’ve created this easy guide for anyone who is buying a phone for an older relative.

What to look for in a phone for an older relative

When you start shopping around for a phone that suits an older user, you need to look for more than just a basic phone with big buttons.

Older phone users are like every other customer, with different, individual needs. So first, decide what the person using the phone will mostly be using it for, and how things like video calls can be made easier and more accessible for them. Whatever type of phone you want, you can get here at Three, whether it’s the easiest phone to use or a smartphone for the elderly.

Simple Feature Phones

Regardless of age, some phone users simply want to talk & text with a phone that’s easy to use. If this is the person you’re shopping for, there are great phones on the market like the Doro 6520 and you’ll find more information on that below.


We’re seeing more and more people buying smartphones for older users. The reason is simple – they’re the best phones for anyone to use. Here are a few reasons why.

Easy Mode

Most Android smartphones today come with an “easy mode” option. As you might imagine, this simplifies how you use the phone and it makes the icons and text on screen much bigger. Buying a video phone for elderly relatives is a great way of staying connected while we all have to stay apart.

Some phones with an “easy mode” include:

  • Samsung (Easy Mode)
  • Huawei (Simple Mode)
  • OPPO (Simple Mode)

Practice makes smartphones perfect

Every new phone takes a bit of getting used to and while younger users want every app imaginable, most older users simply want a phone helps them connect with family and friends. 

Smartphones open up a world of opportunity when it comes to staying connected. All it takes is a little practice. A quick tip might be to get them something like a Google Nest Hub so you can call them with Google Duo.

A phone buying guide for older users

In this article, we’ll take you through all the options, from simply repurposing your old iPhone to buying a new phone - either a basic model or something more with more features.

Adapting an iPhone for an older user

If you’re an iPhone user and you’ve just picked out your new iPhone, your old phone might be the perfect way to connect with loved ones. iPhones don’t have an ‘Easy Mode’ feature, mainly because Apple believes their operating system is just easier to use. But there are steps you can take to make an iPhone more accessible for an older user. 

Tips for making an iPhone user friendly for older relatives

You’ll find a wide range of features in your iPhone Options to help make your phone easier to use

  • In Settings -> General -> Accessibility: Enable display zoom - great for someone with compromised eyesight.
  • In Settings -> Tap Your Name -> iCloud: Enable find my iPhone – really useful if the phone gets mislaid.
  • In Settings -> Sounds: You can enable ring when on Silent mode, so calls won’t be missed by accident
  • All iPhones support Emergency SOS. To activate this, hold down the side button and a volume button together - this calls the emergency services (e.g. 999)

There are plenty of other settings to help make an iPhone more suitable for an older person, so don’t rule out your old iPhone just because there’s no Easy Mode.

Tips: If you are due an iPhone upgrade or have already upgraded, you can adapt the settings on your old iPhone to make it more suitable for an older user.


Buying a new phone for an older user

This is our guide to some of the best mobile phones that are suitable for older people.

Doro 6520

The Doro 6520 is a dedicated feature phone for people who just want a phone that’s easy to use. For that reason, it’s very popular and a big seller.

Some of the features which make the Doro 6520 flip phone so popular are:

  • Larger buttons
  • Two Speed Dial buttons for family or friends
  • Phone call volume is far louder than on regular smartphones
  • Louder ring tones – they’re about five times louder than regular smartphones
  • Hearing aid compatibility with T-coils
  • SOS button
  • Auto Answer on opening the phone

These features, among others, make it an ideal phone for many older users. The Doro 6520 can also connect to the internet and has a 2MP camera for taking pictures.

However, if you need a  front-facing camera or apps like WhatsApp and video calls, then we recommend you look at Smartphones.

Tips: The Doro 6520 is an easy-to-use phone with really useful features that make it so popular. However, you cannot use apps like Whatsapp or make video calls on it.


Samsung Galaxy A20e

The Samsung Galaxy A20e is one of our most popular phones and is perfect for a parent or grandparent to have as their first smartphone. There are plenty of reasons why.

The A20e boasts a generous 5.8-inch screen. Weighing in at 140g, it is slightly on the smaller side for a smartphone, making it easier to hold. For radio fans, it even has an FM radio which works when a pair of headphones are plugged in.

The A20e has a front-facing 8MP camera which will allow you to have two-way video calls when used with apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

The most important feature to call out here is Samsung’s Easy Mode.

Samsung Easy Mode

Samsung Easy Mode makes the Galaxy A20e a much easier phone to use for older people or people with compromised eyesight. To turn this feature on:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap on Display 
  3. Scroll to Easy Mode 
  4. Turn this on

Your phone will quickly change layouts and is now in Easy Mode. To turn this off, follow the same steps and at Step 4, turn Simple Mode off.

Tips: The Samsung A20e is a neat size, a great-quality 5.8-inch screen and can use apps like WhatsApp and make video calls. Easy Mode customises it for older users.


Huawei P Smart 2021

The Huawei P smart 2021 is a great value smartphone and offers a big 6.67-inch screen which is particularly useful for a user with any visual impairments. It’s important to note that this phone doesn’t support the Google Play Store and instead uses Huawei App Gallery.

The P Smart 2021 also has an FM radio with a built-in antenna, so you don’t need to plug in headphones to tune in.

You can still install your favourite apps to keep connected with apps like WhatsApp and Messenger – and you’ll be video chatting in no time with the P Smart 2021’s 8MP front-facing camera.

To make it even easier to use, activate Huawei’s Simple Mode.

Huawei Simple Mode

Here’s how to enable Simple Mode on the Huawei P Smart 2021:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap on System and Updates
  3. Select Simple Mode
  4. Turn this on

Your Huawei P Smart 2021 will now be in Simple Mode with a simplified interface and bigger icons. To turn this off, follow the same steps and at Step 4, turn Simple Mode off.

Tips: A great value Smartphone, with a bigger screen, video call functions and Huawei’s Simple Mode.


OPPO Reno4 Pro

If you want to bit more money on a Smartphone with really great spec, the OPPO Reno4 Pro has loads to offer. Its 6.55-inch screen has amazing clarity and quality and the screen is anti-glare and scratchproof. Despite the screen size the phone still weighs just 169g and is slim and easy to hold.

The big plus for picking this phone is that the front-facing 32MP camera – a feature that is excellent for video calls. It has a good battery life and like the other Smartphones on our list, it also has Simple Mode that’s easy to set up.

OPPO Simple Mode

Here’s how to activate Simple Mode on the OPPO Reno4 Pro:

  1. Open settings
  2. Tap on Home Screen and Wallpaper
  3. Tap on Home Screen Mode
  4. Tap on Simple Mode
  5. Turn this on and apply.

Now you’ve got the perfect smartphone with an easy-to-follow interface.

Tips: The OPPO Reno4 Pro is a step up in quality, at a higher price. It boasts an excellent  screen, camera and battery life and is very comfortable to use.


Still have questions?

If you’re still not sure what the perfect phone is for your older relatives or friends, you can chat with our expert in-store staff from the comfort of your own home right now. They’ll discuss all of the options and help you select the right phone. It’s an important decision for you - and especially for the phone user - so we’ll help you make sure that you make the right choice.

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