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03 November 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 6620 and you’ll find more information on that below.

Smartphones

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 6220

The Doro 6620 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 6620 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 Assistance button
  • Auto Answer on opening the phone
  • Visual ring indication

These features, among others, make it an ideal phone for many older users. The Doro 6620 can also connect to the internet and has a 3MP 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 the smartphones coming up next.

Tip: The Doro 6620 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 A22

The Samsung Galaxy A22 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 Galaxy A22 boasts a very generous 6.6-inch screen. For radio fans, it even has an FM radio which works when a pair of headphones are plugged in. More good news is that the Galaxy A22 has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The big advantage smartphones have over the likes of the Doro is internet connectivity and cameras for capturing memories and joining family video calls. The Galaxy A22 has an 8MP front-facing camera which is great for two-way video calls when using apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. The phone also has an impressive 48MP primary camera.

The most important feature when buying for someone older is the oft-overlooked Samsung Easy Mode.

Samsung Easy Mode

Samsung Easy Mode makes the Galaxy A22 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 A22 is a bigger phone with some great features, including impressive cameras and a great-quality 6.6-inch screen. It opens a world of connectivity and can use apps like WhatsApp and make video calls. Easy Mode simplifies everything for older users.
 

Nokia G20

One thing that makes everyone’s life just that little bit easier when buying an elderly loved one a phone is keeping things familiar. There are few brands more familiar with phone users than Nokia. Nokia has made great quality phones for years and many older phone users take great solace from that familiar logo alone.

 

The Nokia G20 is a remarkable phone at an even more remarkable price. This is a great choice for someone who does enjoy taking pictures or shooting video with their phone, while also appreciating being able to keep things simple.

The Nokia G20 doesn’t feature a specific “easy mode” like Samsung does, but you can increase font sizes in accessibility settings to make it a little easier to use if the user has limited vision.

Check out the Nokia G20 today.

Tips: While the Nokia G20 is lacking a simple mode, don’t underestimate the power of that familiar logo. This is a great phone for elderly phone users who are still using older Nokia feature phones.
 

OPPO A16s

OPPO is quickly growing in popularity in Ireland since they launched here just a few years ago. For many, it’s the high specs and relatively low prices that makes OPPO the perfect choice, but there are plenty of features to make this an appealing phone for elderly users too.

The OPPO A16s is an inviting price, but still features a 6.52-inch screen, weighs just 190g and has high-quality front and rear facing cameras. But, just like Samsung, the OPPO A16s features a Simple Mode that makes it a great phone for older people to use. Here’s how you can set that up.

OPPO A16s Simple Mode

The benefits of activating Simple Mode on the OPPO A16s are plentiful for older users. Simple Mode removes distraction and makes the use of complex smartphones less frustrating. Here’s how to activate Simple Mode on the OPPO A16s:

  1. From the main menu, open the Settings App.
  2. In settings, select Home Screen.
  3. Next navigate to Lock Screen and Always-On Display.
  4. Here you’ll find Home Screen Mode. Select this.
  5. Tap Simple Mode, then select Apple and Switch from the pop-up that opens.

And that’s it! Simple mode is active. Once it’s done, you won’t need to do it again. But do take some time to organise the home screen and prioritise important apps and contact shortcuts.

Tips: The OPPO A16s is packed with features, but Simple Mode lets you keep the most important call functionality at the front so the phone can be used frustration-free.

 

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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