For many people, today’s smartphones are as efficient as desktop computers. With a device small enough to put on your hip, in your pocket or in a purse, consumers can send and receive emails, texts and tweets, shop online, post photos on a Facebook page, buy music or check baseball scores. And that’s just the basic stuff.
However, taking advantage of all a smartphone has to offer does require a learning curve, and at least a minimal knowledge of today’s technology. Whether they’re computer savvy or not, many senior citizens either refuse to purchase a smartphone or ignore advanced features available to them because they are intimidated by the thought of learning something new.
Nothing to Fear
With ease of use a key goal of each smartphone operating system, seniors who give smartphones a try often find them easier to use than computers and their old model phones. A smartphone can be an amazing communication tool, but it also can be a useful piece of equipment for people who are interested in completing certain tasks with as little aggravation as possible.
A large screen is a benefit for senior citizens. Clearer images and text are excellent confidence builders, and it also makes sense to be able to see those pictures of the grandkids more easily. Smartphones that sport the most sizable screens on the market include:
- The Galaxy Note, at a massive 5.3 inches high;
- LG’s 5-inch Optimus Vu;
- The Galaxy S III, from Samsung, at 4.8 inches;
- The HTC Titan II, which boasts a 4.7-inch display;
- The Galaxy Nexus, from Samsung, at 4.65 inches;
- The LG Optimus L9, at 4.5 inches.
Durability also is a factor for senior citizens. You can buy a protective case for any smartphone, but, if a phone isn’t well-built and rugged to begin with, a case isn’t going to do all that much to protect it if it falls off a table or slips out of your hand onto a concrete sidewalk. According to bluebugle.org, Samsung and Sony phones are not as solid as those built by Apple, HTC, Motorola and Nokia. The website rates the following as the five hardiest smartphones:
- The Nokia Lumia 920;
- The Apple iPhone 5;
- The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD;
- The HTC Windows Phone 8X;
- The LG Optimus G and Google Nexus 4.
Software and Support Drive the Experience
For brand-new smartphone users, Apple’s iOS has an edge on Android’s operating system for its usability and consistency. Although it is less customizable (a drawback for programmers), the iOS interface is clean and easy to understand, even for seniors. It’s also consistent across the Apple ecosystem (iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone), whereas different Android devices have different looks.
Finally, Apple’s customer support is second-to-none. If there is an Apple Store in your area, they even offer free classes to teach customers how to take advantage of their devices’ capabilities. Conversely, customer support for Android devices can be difficult to acquire, so without a friend or family member to help, they may not be the best choice.
Keep the Keyboard Separate
Separate keyboards are another feature favored by senior citizens because the letters are larger and easier to see and manipulate. iPhones don’t offer this option; you can buy a case that features a “keyboard,” but if keyboards are a priority, the following phones are a better bet:
- The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide;
- The Motorola Cliq 2;
- The Motorola XPRT;
- The HTC EVO Shift 4G;
- The Motorola Droid 4;
- The Research In Motion Blackberry Bold 9930;
- The HTC Status;
- The HTC Arrive;
- The RIM Blackberry Torch 9810;
- The Samsung Replenish.
Lighter is Better
For most senior citizens, lighter is better. They certainly don’t want to lug around a heavy, bulky phone, and some might even be willing to sacrifice a little bit of screen size to keep a phone as portable as possible. Among six of the most popular smartphones, Apple’s iPhone 5 is the lightest, according to gizmag.com. Here’s how they rank:
- The Apple iPhone 5 – 112 grams;
- The Galaxy S III – 133 grams;
- The One X+ – 135 grams;
- The Nexus 4 – 139 grams;
- The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD – 157 grams;
- The Lumia 920 – 185 grams.
Specifically for Seniors
Though most smartphone manufacturers aim at the widest audience possible, some make phones specifically for senior citizens. They include:
- The Pantech Flex, sold through AT&T;
- The Jitterbug Touch, offered by GreatCall Wireless;
- The Samsung Galaxy Note II, available from AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and
- U.S. Cellular;
- The Doro PhoneEasy 740.
Purchasing a smartphone can be a daunting task, even for a person young enough to have no memory of a world without computers. Thus, it can be even more difficult for people who remember rotary phones and black-and-white television. But if seniors do the necessary homework, they’ll be able to come up with a smartphone that fits their needs and lifestyle.
Author Bio:- Norman Fong is the Co-Founder and President of BuyVia, an online shopping service that finds the best deals on smartphones and other great products.