There are actually several manufacturers who are now making simplified smartphones designed primarily for older users who have limited experience with modern gadgetry. Here’s a rundown of what’s currently and soon-to-be available.
One of the best age-friendly smartphones on the market today is the Pantech Flex (see pantechusa.com/phones/flex), sold through AT&T for only $1 with a two-year contract.
This Android-powered touch screen phone has a big, bright 4.3-inch screen, with a fast 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 8 megapixel camera. But what makes this phone ideal for seniors is its Easy Experience option which provides a simple, clean home screen with large fonts, clearly marked icons, and quick access to the phone’s most essential features – your phone, camera, messages, menu, Web, contacts, along with shortcuts to your favorite apps.
It also offers convenient extras like voice dialing and voice commands, and SwiftKey technology that predict the next word you want to type to make texting faster and easier.
AT&T mobile share plans for the Pantech Flex start at $85 per month for unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of data.
Another option to consider is the new Jitterbug Touch offered by GreatCall Wireless, the same company that makes the popular Jitterbug big-button cell phone.
The Touch is a Kyocera Milano smartphone that’s been rebranded and loaded with GreatCall’s simplified user interface. It offers a 3-inch touch screen, and a full slide-out keyboard with raised, backlit buttons that makes it easier to type messages and browse the Internet. And when you turn the phone on, you get a simple menu list with large fonts that let you access often-used features like the phone, camera, messages and pictures, along with your contacts and apps.
This smartphone also offers voice dialing, a 3.2 megapixel camera, and optional features like medication reminders, 5Star personal security service, a live nurse service to answer your health questions, and more.
Available at greatcall.com or 800-733-6632, the Touch sells for $149 with a one-time $35 activation fee, no-contract, and calling plans that cost $15 per month for 50 minutes, up to $80 per month for unlimited minutes, text messages, operator assistance, and voicemail. And their data plans run between $2.50 per month for 10 MB up to $25/month for 500 MB.
If you don’t mind waiting, the Doro PhoneEasy 740 is another excellent option aimed at seniors who want something in between an easy-to-use cell phone and a more advanced smartphone. Currently available in Europe, it’s scheduled for introduction in the United States later this year.
The PhoneEasy 740, which is expected to cost around $99, is an Android-powered slider phone that has a 3.2-inch touch screen and a numerical keypad for easy operation. It also offers a simple large-text, clearly labeled menu to frequently used features like the phone, email, messages, Internet, photos, games and apps that you can easily load.
This device also includes a 5 megapixel camera on the back, which can double as a magnifying glass, and an emergency call button that will dial and text five preprogrammed numbers when pressed. To learn more, visit dorousa.us/experience.
If a bigger screen is the most desired feature, you should also consider the Samsung Galaxy Note II (see samsung.com/galaxynoteII). While this phone isn’t designed specifically for seniors, it does offer huge 5.5-inch touch screen display and can be used with a stylus, which makes it easier to see and maneuver.
Editor’s Note: Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.