Phones are both a complicated and expensive thing to look into. It’s easy to end up spending far too much money on a phone you won’t use much, or spending too little on a phone when you’d like to get more out of it.
In this article, we’re putting all of your phone buying woes to rest if you’re a senior or pensioner. Buying a phone shouldn’t be complicated — here are our tips for finding the best devices for older Australians.
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What should I consider when choosing a phone?
Phones are generally a pretty hefty investment, so it is important to do some research before making a purchase decision. Here are some factors that you should consider:
Deciding how much you’re willing to spend is an important decision for anyone looking to buy a phone. High-functioning phones are generally going to cost more and cheap phones sometimes sacrifice features for affordability. If you’ve got a maximum dollar amount in mind, then you can work backwards from there when doing your research before buying a phone.
If you’re looking at iPhones, which can be easier to navigate if you’re new to smartphones, then you can generally expect to pay more in comparison to most Android phones. Android phones, however, offer devices at a range of price points – with a wide variety of brands and styles to choose from and are still a great option in terms of smartphones.
Of course, the main purpose of a phone is usually to make and receive phone calls. However, there are varying degrees of tech available on smartphones that are also available to be used. For example, phones can be used for taking and storing photos, playing games, accessing social media or even video calling. If these are activities that you’re interested in, it may be worth finding a phone that meets all of your criteria. If you’re someone that enjoys taking photos or playing games, you’re going to need a little bit more storage available on your phone than someone who is using the phone purely for calls and texts.
In line with this, another thing that you may want to consider is the camera quality. If taking photos is important to you, then you might want to make sure the camera on the phone you’re looking to buy is going to be up to the task. It is also important that the camera is easy to use and therefore could be helpful to go and test a couple of different models in-store to see which is easiest to handle. Otherwise, you may want to go with a simpler device without the flashy camera features.
This is another crucial point for anybody looking for a phone. Of course the main purpose of a phone is to make calls, but beyond that it’s probably worth not neglecting all the little things you might use a phone for, like taking photos, playing games, accessing emails, social media and even video calling. Most phones should be able to all of these to their own separate degrees, which makes shopping around important.
Make sure the storage capacity is enough for your needs, and that the camera is a good enough quality for what you want to do. Smartphone storage is measured in gigabytes (GB), and storage capacity can vary by phone. If you’re not one for downloading games and apps, you’ll have plenty of room with 32GB or even 16GB of storage. But if you enjoy trying out new apps, downloading games, and taking photos and videos, you may benefit from 64GB, 128GB or even 256GB of storage — but keep in mind that the more storage included on a phone, the more expensive it will be.
Camera-wise, it could pay to test out different phones in-store to see which models are easiest to operate and have the best range of camera features. Almost all models offer front and back cameras, some with multiple lenses to capture pics in a variety of conditions. If having a good quality camera is important to you, you may want to spend a little more time shopping around; otherwise, you may want to go with a simpler device without all the camera phone bells and whistles.
Accessibility with phones
The right-sized screen, tactile-responsive buttons, and easy-to-read text are all important to the accessibility of a handset. Simply put, if you can’t use the phone comfortably, then it’s not worth the money. If you’re looking to get a phone with accessibility in mind, look out for these things:
- If the phone has an SOS button
- If the phone is hearing-aid capable
- If the phone has a big enough screen, with easy to read text
- How customisable the phone’s user interface is
- How easy it is to use the phone
- What accessibility apps you can install on the device
Keeping an eye out for these points will ensure the phone is up to scratch for use — it may be worth spending a little bit extra to get the accessibility features you’ll need. Just below we’ll run through several phones that are built for seniors with accessibility concerns in mind, some of which are a little more pricey for the technology included.
Best mobile phones for seniors
There’s some great phones out there that aren’t that technical, but would be quite easy to use for seniors. Here’s some of those.
The Swissvoice C50s
Aussie mobile provider Southern Phone offers an easy-to-use mobile phone ideal for seniors or users with accessibility needs. Almost a mix between a landline and a smartphone, the Swissvoice C50 comes with a docking station that also acts as a speakerphone. It’s hearing-aid compatible, comes with an SOS button, and includes an 8-megapixel camera, which is great for general use. This phone starts at $648 outright from Southern Phone, or from $27 per month on a 24-month plan.
The Olitech EasyFlip 2 4G
The Olitech EasyFlip 4G plays off being a flip phone from the early 2000s. Its familiar aesthetic is accompanied by easy-to-use buttons, along with hearing aid compatibility, loud speakers so calls aren’t missed, and voice reminders. If you prefer physical buttons and a compact design, this phone should be a great pick for you. The EasyFlip 4G starts at RRP $199.
Opel EasySmart 2 4G
Designed with popping, easy to tap icons, and a simplified Android operating system, the Opel EasySmart 2 is a cheap and easy to use phone with assignable icons for contacts, and tonnes of accessibility tools (such as larger fonts, icons and SOS buttons). The EasySmart 2 also comes with a camera on the back (8MP) and one on the front (5MP) which are great for basic use. With a $199 RRP price tag, it’s a great option if you don’t need fast internet access. You can pick up the Opel EasySmart at JB Hi-Fi, Mobile Citi or Australia Post.
The central design of the KISA is that it’s not complex, and features large, tactile buttons for one-touch calling. The KISA is in no way a ‘smartphone’, given it’s a made-to-order device that features a maximum of 10 contacts, each with their own programmed mechanical button, plus a large SOS button for emergencies. There’s no screen, which makes the written names or icons important, but you’ll get GPS tracking, a long battery life, and simple charging. This phone starts at RRP $214 when you purchase through KISA directly, plus plan costs.
Specifically designed for seniors who sometimes struggle with technology, the BigPurplePhone operates on a “secure family and friends network” that is controlled via an app on another person’s smartphone. This means that only trusted contacts that have been added by family and friends can call the phone, meaning scammers and other unwanted callers can’t. In order to maintain the closed network, the phone doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi, only using the data included in the plan. It also has an emergency call button that dials 000 as well as notifying families of an emergency situation. However, it is on the pricier side around $600-$700.
Best smartphones for seniors
These next phones take the more modern approach to phone design. Instead of stripping away features to be more simplistic and easy to use, the smartphones below are typical iPhone and Android releases.
One of the benefits of these is that they can be easy to understand for a wide range of users because they’re so common, but they’re typically more expensive and more advanced. If the phone is going to be used for a lot more than just calls, then these devices are worth looking into.
Below is an example table showing plans for the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, a mid-range Android phone, so you can get an idea of what prices to expect. The A54 5G offers a range of great features without the big price tag, and would be ideal for a senior after an easy solution, while also wanting all the extras of a smartphone.
The following table shows selected published 24-month Samsung Galaxy A53 5G plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile plan comparison tool to see plans for seniors from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The 2022 iPhone SE is the ‘affordable’ phone from Apple, which you can get for $719 outright. It’s a small unit that looks like an iPhone from five years ago, and still has a home button on the bottom. The great thing about Apple phones is they’re designed around an intuitive user experience, and even smartphone newbies should find the SE fairly easy to navigate. The battery life is good, you’ll get a great camera, and a fast performance when using apps.
24-month Telstra iPhone SE plans
The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.
24-month Vodafone iPhone SE plans
The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Vodafone plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.
24-month Optus iPhone SE plans
The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Optus plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.
OPPO A78 5G
OPPO came out of left field some years back with a super affordable line of phones and the brilliant Colour OS interface, mixing the user-friendliness of Apple with the price point of Android phones. The OPPO A78 5G is no exception — it’s a well-priced and capable mid-range phone, with an RRP of $359. With plenty of features and a decent general-use camera, this phone would be great for somebody who’s comfortable with tech, but also wants a no-nonsense handset. The OPPO A78 is only available to buy outright from retailers.
TCL released its 30 series lineup in 2022 and while the TCL 30+ is on the more expensive side of the range, there are some pretty cool features on offer for a reasonable price. It offers a 6.7 inch display with NXTVISION technology to reduce blue light and enhance eye comfort, it’s fairly lightweight, and has a price tag of $399 RRP.
Phone plans for seniors
A reasonable expectation for phone plans now is the inclusion of unlimited calls and SMS, with some data in the mix for basics like social media or email across both prepaid plans and postpaid phone plan options. If this is all you want, you shouldn’t expect to spend any higher than $30 per month. We’ve included a table below for you to check out, or alternatively, you can have a look at our deep dive into phone plans for seniors.
Prepaid Plans Under $20
Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by standard data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see a wider range of prepaid plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.
Postpaid Plans Under $20
Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by standard data allowance, largest to smallest. Compare postpaid mobile plans from a wider range of providers using our comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.