Best mobile plans and cell phones for seniors who just want to stay in touch

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Best smartphones and plans for tech-savvy grandparents

Grandparents who know smartphones and don’t want to deal with prepaid devices will find themselves in a similar situation to most other people who want the latest-and-greatest phones. We recently broke down the plans offered by Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to give people a better understanding of what’s available to them. Each of the big four offer plans with unlimited data, text, and talk time. If you’re a grandparent that chews through data, one of those plans is what you want.

But that’s only one aspect of this — the other is finding the right phone to go with it. And depending on what you want, you may be stuck with one or two carrier options.

iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and LG

galaxy s9 and S9 Plus hands-on review both chair

If you want an iPhone, be it the iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone SE, you can go to any of the major U.S. carriers, which have them for varying prices. The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S8, and the LG G6 and V30. Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy phones are some of the most popular devices in the world, so it’d be odd if you couldn’t get them anywhere.

The iPhone may be particularly tempting to get if you already have an iPad, or have some familiarity with one, since the iPad and iPhone share the same operating system and general layout. Plus, its accessibility options allow you to tweak a number of vision, hearing, and speech settings to suit your needs. There’s also a Hearing Aid Mode designed to improve audio quality. Samsung Galaxy smartphones have their advantages in ease of use as well. The apt-titled Easy Mode alters the layout of the home screen, so there are fewer app pages to swipe through and bigger icons.

Moto Z2 Force and Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

If you’re in the market for something that doesn’t have as much brand recognition in the mobile market but is still just as good as what Apple and Samsung are putting out, look into the Moto Z2 Force from Motorola and the Google Pixel 2. The Pixel 2 is made and designed by Google, and it can certainly hold its own against the competition, with super-smooth performance and a camera that’s capable of almost replacing a dedicated camera. What sets the Moto Z2 — both the Play and Force models — apart from other phones are the variety of Moto Mods people can buy to augment their phones and enhance their capabilities. These include everything from the JBL SoundBoost Speaker, to the Insta-Share Projector, to the Hasselblad True Zoom camera lens.

Best monthly contract options

Sometimes paying a set price every month is just easier. Here are some of the best deals that you can set and forget.

Price Talk/Text Data
AT&T (Unlimited Choice) $65/month Unlimited Unlimited
Sprint (Unlimited Freedom Plan) $60/month Unlimited Unlimited
T-Mobile (One Unlimited 55+ Plan) $50/month (AutoPay) Unlimited Unlimited
Verizon (Unlimited) $75/month Unlimited Unlimited

Special senior citizen plans and offers

While the above are our own picks for phones you should look at, AT&T and Verizon have plans specifically made with seniors in mind. However, you may be better off going with one of the above phones, or one of the alternative options we detail below. Verizon’s Nationwide 65 Plus Plans, for example, has a lot of overage charges applied to talk, text, and data. Phones used as part of AT&T’s Senior Nation Plan are not capable of receiving texts. At $30 a month, the simple act of receiving texts seems like something that should be included, unless you just want a phone to talk to people and have no interest in typing. It also should be noted that AT&T’s Senior Nation Plan requires the account owner to be older than 65. T-Mobile’s One Unlimited 55+ plan is the exception to the rule, having no real restrictions for the price.

Sprint doesn’t have plans dedicated to seniors but does offer a pair of phones made for those that have sight, speech, hearing, or mobility impairments. The Kyocera Verve is a slider-style phone compatible with a wide range of hearing aids, with In Case of Emergency and 911 shortcuts. The Alcatel OneTouch Retro is a flip phone that also supports hearing aids, and can verbally describe the web browser and user interface, and read aloud menus, text messages, and notifications.

Veteran offers

Each of the big four carriers also offers discounts to military veterans — and in AT&T’s case, the spouses of veterans. Verizon offers a 15 percent discount on your monthly service; AT&T gives you up to 15-percent off the monthly service charge on qualified plans; Sprint has a tiered system of discounts; and T-Mobile, if you’re part of its Advantage Program, also has discounts ready for veterans.

At the end of it all though, whether you’re shopping for a grandparent or you are a grandparent, there are plenty of phones out there for you. If you want something basic that won’t break the bank or empty your wallet, prepaid phones are better than ever, and places such as Greatcall and Seniors Wireless provide even more pay-as-you-go options. But if you’re someone who knows your way around 21st-century tech, at least as well as the average person, there are definitely enough devices to satisfy your technology-heavy lifestyle and needs.

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