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South Texas Living

Top three smartphones for seniors

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Jim Miller
June 15, 2016 | 1,214 views | Post a comment

Dear Savvy Senior,

Can you recommend some smartphones that are specifically designed for seniors? My 75-year-old mother is interested in upgrading from a basic cellphone to a smartphone, but will need one that’s very easy to operate.

Inquiring Daughter

Dear Inquiring,

Here are my three top options.

•Doro 824 SmartEasy: Offered by Consumer Cellular, this is one of the best, simplified smartphones available today. It starts with a bright, 5-inch high-resolution touch screen display that offers large icons and text, and customizable volume settings. Its simplified design provides uncluttered, easy access to key contacts and frequently used features right from the home screen. And, it provides help as you go along.

It also offers a unique pre-installed app that can also be downloaded by family. This app provides a number of tutorials showing your mom how to enjoy her phone, and gives her trusted contacts the remote ability to help manage and adjust her smartphone no matter where they are.

And for added safety, the Doro 824 provides three physical buttons on the front of the phone for quick, one-touch access to the home screen, recently used applications, and a back button that returns to the previous screen. And an “Emergency Alert” button on the back of the phone that will automatically dial one, predetermined contact in the event of an emergency.

This model is sold online, or at any Target or Sears store for $200 with no contract.

•Jitterbug Smart: Offered by GreatCall wireless, the new 4th generation is much bigger than previous smartphones.

It has a 5.5-inch high-definition touch screen, and a simple single-list menu on the home page that provides access to frequently used features, along with one-touch access to contacts.

It also provides convenient voice typing, and offers a variety of health and safety features, like MedCoach, that sends medication and prescription refill reminders, Urgent Care, which provides unlimited access to registered nurses and doctors to answer health questions, and a 5Star medical-alert service that lets you speak to a live emergency-alert agent around the clock. These trained agents will confirm your mom’s location via GPS tracking technology and dispatch help as needed.

Available online, or at Best Buy, Rite Aid, Sears and Walmart stores for $150 with a onetime $35 activation fee and no contract.

•Samsung Galaxy Note5: While this smartphone isn’t designed specifically for seniors, its large size (5.7-inch screen) and unique “Easy” mode that boosts the icon and font sizes and simplifies the home-screen layout, makes it a good option.

With the Easy mode turned on, the Note5’s home screen will display only the time, date and local weather, and six frequently used functions. To access your 12 most important contacts, you would simply swipe the home screen to the right. And to access your 12 favorites apps, swipe to the left.

The Note5 is available from the major carriers and some smaller carriers at prices ranging between $615 and $840 without a contract.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit

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