Smart Phone hints needed for the elderly


Hi folks.

I’ve extensively googled this one yet come up with nix.
I’m worried about my parents, who are in their 70’s and 80’s.
They both have/had old 2G clam shell Nokia cell phones, but these phones are beginning to no longer work. One phone has already died so they can no longer call one another, and the remaining one has problems, hence they are forever calling me upon how to stop the problems - which often I can’t do as I can no longer remember the menu items or if I can, am unable to tell them which buttons to press to, for instance, Unmute the phone.

The problem is they are dead against touch screen smart phones. They utterly refuse to use them. They’re afraid they’ll either turn into zombies or they won’t understand the interface.
But what I am searching for is either a smart phone or an app, that will turn the smart phone’s screen into a series of simple blocks: Phone Numbers | Phone | Text | Emergency - with no possibility of screwing it up - idiot proof.

On some forums, people are saying to buy a second hand Android, (but won’t mention the model) and install apps like Wiser or Necta. The iPhone is just too complicated for them. Too expensive and too complex - even if I whittled it down and hid everything into one launcher, leaving only Phone and Messaging, it would be too complex.

The trouble with purchasing an Android and loading an app for seniors onto it, even if it works, they could well reject it. Then I’d be left with an Android to sell on, obviously for less.

What I need is a smart phone that is flat out, perfectly created for seniors, with a kindergarten simple interface which they can look at immediately and is under $500 new.

Anyone know of such a device?

Addit: Needs to be 3G/4G capable, plus LOUD with both ring and voice.


Nokia 3310?


Yes, I’ve looked at these button models.
The problem is that they don’t know how to use the phones they already have - (Nokia C2).
I originally assigned people’s phone numbers to each key, and they then stuck a list from 0 through 9 to remember which one-dial number buttons led to whom, yet they cannot understand things like - how to hang up or “don’t fuck with any of the icons”.

It’s a really difficult problem.
They are unaware that a smartphone would actually make things so much easier, or they refuse to believe it.

I was thinking of something like this for Android:

  • which I could customise, and there’d be no accidentally fiddling with the Settings/Apps.

They have no need for any app other than Phone and Text.

What would be a good smartphone under $500 that could run Android and be Jailbroken?




If they are so against using a touch screnn phone then why try and make them use one?

Just buy a phone they’ll be happy using, Telstra have several options.

Flip Phone 2 for $119 (which is a quad core LTE phone that has a physical keyboard).
Flip Phone 2

Easy Call 4 for $119 (Large buttons with audible button press tones and hearing aid compatible)
Telstra EasyCall 4

Telstra Lite for $29 (Traditional budget candy bar phone but Blue Tick certified)
Telstra Lite


As above - because they can’t use the pre-touch screen phones they already have, or, their usage is extremely limited. Making phone calls by mistake, shutting the phone down by accident, unable to make a call, going into the Apps/Settings folders and making major changes - and forgetting that they had done so.

It has to be idiot proof - ie: I set it up for 'em and there is no way they can alter them. No access to Settings or Apps folders.


To Geoff3DMN - like with the Telstra Lite, see that big square button in the middle and those two white dashed buttons on the left and right beneath the screen? They’ll play with those no end because they don’t know what they do and cannot remember not to touch them.


I don’t actually believe idiot proofing is possible… sorry.


I think the Moto G5 is the best cheap Android you can get.


“Hey Siri, call Clockwork…”


I bought a Moto G5+ dual SIM recently as a spare phone and stuck a long life pre-paid SIM in it, good value for money I agree.

Not sure they’ll meet the OPs criteria though…


My parents turn 71 this year. My mum has been using 2nd hand iPhones for about 5 years, and last year actually purchased herself a SE brand new.

My dad however, like your own experience, wont adapt to the new technology. He was using an old Nokia, but now begrudgingly uses the 3GS that was mum’s “first” iPhone. He knows how to use it to make / receive calls, and that’s all. It rarely however actually leaves the house with him.

My only suggestion would be to go with an iPhone, shove all the useless “can’t delete cos Apple wants to make add-on sales” apps into a folder together so they are out of the way, put the apps that are required (which I’d guess would be Phone and iMessage) into the dock, and turn magnification on so everything’s nice and big…


As an IT professional I get this question quite a lot and I’ve had to solve this a fair few times and have quite a few solutions that I recommend to clients.

Sounds like you’re looking for more of a mobile phone option but I’ll try and put as much of the solutions that I can find in here that I’ve used in the past.

Mobile Phone

The first one is pretty basic.

I’ll have to find the links for the other two mobile phone solutions.

VoIP/IP Phone

Tomorrow I’ll have a look for some of the other VoIP options I’ve used in the past as well as some options that allow you to connect standard telephones to a mobile phone network also some Bluetooth options.


+1 for the Kisaphone. Its fairly idiotproof.


I’ve just got my father to try a smartphone by loaning him my old 3GS , and so far he is handling the touch screen interface OK, and has overcome the initial reluctance to the new interface.

If he ends up taking to it, I’ll add him to the recycle path and he’ll have a 4S soonish, and an SE by the end of the year.


That’s a pity. My mum, who has bad arthritis in her hands, still manages to use an iPhone SE - like you, I’ve basically had to set it up for her with only a few basic icons on the front page, and hide everything else, locked down behind parental controls, in a folder. The fonts are made extra large.

The advantage is that she can get WhatsApp and Gmail now via her iPhone which keeps us all in touch.

She still has occasional issues, but it can be setup to be as “idiot-proof” as possible.


I hear the frustration at trying to get the older gen upskilled to modern phone level.

I’m flat out getting my father to take it with him when he leaves the house.
Probably because all his life you talk at home to a thing plugged into the wall. :grinning:

In my research I found a Xiamoi Note 4 Android with a stock built in app called, Lite Mode.
Switch it on and the phone reboots into what I call Grandpa mode. Dead simple, but not totally idiot proof.
Home screen and apps can be locked to avoid the “what did I press” issue.
See attached photos:

I test drove a truck load of various Grandpa apps from the Google app store and found the built in version to be “top of the deck”.
It can use a flip cover to take advantage of the phones Hall Sensor, so easy startup and stop as well.

Other phones may have a similar Lite Mode, but this one gets my thumbs up.
Personally tried and tested. :ok_hand: