Back in the early days of consumer technology and the internet, senior citizens were the folks least fascinated with or capable of understanding the concept behind the connected technologies and new devices those crazy kids were inventing. They were happy with their TVs and telephones — and, if they were really living life on the edge, electronic word processors. Fast forward 30 years, and many of those youthful visionaries — Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee, the late Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Lynda Weinman, and many more — are senior citizens themselves. The 65-year-olds of today are the inventors of consumer tech we now feel lost without.
Even before the current pandemic isolated many older people from friends and family, today's older generation gravitated toward tablets to help them connect with loved ones and track news through social networks and online publications. The best tablets for seniors have a lot of crossover with the best tablets for everyone and feature strong battery life, water resistance, solid high-resolution displays, great audio, and powerful specs. Both iOS and Android have technology built in to help older folks and to work with external devices like keyboards and styluses. Here are our picks for the best of the lot.
Apple iPad Air (5th generation)
- High-performance M1 processor
- Slim and light
- Software suitable for work or play
- Large, colorful, and sharp screen
- Wide array of quality accessories
- Center Stage works well
- 64GB storage isn't enough
- Battery life disappoints
The fifth-gen Apple iPad Air is one of the best tablets available, and it’s a great tablet for older users.
With its gorgeous 10.9-inch Liquid Retina Display with 2360 x 1640 resolution, the latest iPad Air is powered by Apple's M1 chip and Neural Engine. The 12MP rear camera is great for quick snapshots, while the 12MP selfie camera has Apple's Center Stage, keeping you in the center of the frame, even when you're moving around — great for video calls with friends and family.
It also has secure Touch ID for authentication and Apple Pay. Wide stereo audio makes music listening, movie watching, and TV viewing a pleasure, and it lasts up to 10 hours on a single battery charge.
Available accessories include Apple’s Magic Keyboard and a variety of third-party keyboards, plus the newest second-gen Apple Pencil and a variety of other styluses. A choice of colors includes Starlight, Space Gray, pink, purple and blue. Apple products are not cheap, but their quality is outstanding. Best of all, iPads tend to last a long time, with Apple’s support being particularly impressive.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet
- Large, sharp screen
- Low price
- Long battery life
- Smart screen capability in Show Mode
- Fire OS is laggy at times
- No Google services
The 2019 version of the 10.1-inch Amazon Fire HD tablet offers up a full HD 1080p display that sets the backdrop for anything older users are into. It comes with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, and those who like to keep all their documents handy can do so with an additional 512GB microSD card. Whether it’s work, play, or chat, the Fire HD Tablet facilitates it for up to 12 hours at a 30% faster speed than previous versions of this popular tablet. The hands-free Alexa personal assistant is also on call. App favorites are available through Amazon’s Appstore alongside picture-in-picture viewing with certain apps. It comes at a very reasonable price to boot.
Dragon Touch Notepad K10 Tablet
- Affordable price
- Eye-Care mode for comfortable viewing
- Expandable storage
- Outdated OS
The Dragon Touch NotePad K10 Tablet is a budget item that features a wide 800 x 1280 IPS display with vivid colors and distinctive image quality, powered by a 64-bit quad-core processor that speeds along at up to 1.3GHz and should deliver an overall smooth user experience. It features Android 9.0 Pie, which is outdated, but it does have access to the Google Play Store, so the older operating system shouldn’t be an issue. The tablet’s Eye-Care mode automatically adjusts and optimizes the backlight for more comfortable reading at any time of the day or night. Dual speakers provide a rich audio experience for music, videos, chats, and games, and the 32GB of storage can be supplemented with up to 128GB via a microSD card.
Apple iPad Mini 6
- Big enough to perform most tasks
- Compact enough to travel easily
- Powerful performance
- Loud speakers
- Screen is not bright enough
- Too small for content creation
- No headphone jack
The iPad Mini is an iPad — only smaller. The newest iPad Mini 6 features an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina Display with True Tone. Powered by Apple's A15 bionic chip and 4GB of RAM, it's powerful enough to handle any tasks with ease, with 64GB or 256GB of non-expandable storage.
For older users who may find larger tablets bulky and heavy to hold, this smaller, lighter iPad with its slim bezels is a must. You also get a 12MP rear camera and 12MP FaceTime HD front camera with loud stereo speakers, great for video calls with friends and family. There's Touch ID built into the power button, and up to a day and a half of battery life with average use. Yes, the iPad Mini isn't the cheapest option out there, but it will last for many years.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0
- Slim and lightweight
- Expandable storage
- Long battery life
- Performance can sometimes be sluggish
With its slim, comfortable body and minimized bezel, the extremely affordable Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 makes viewing any content easy and enjoyable. An 8-inch display allows full immersion with movies, TV shows, or shopping experiences, while dual speakers deliver surround sound. Users can store their favorite songs, photos, or videos with 32GB of built-in memory and expand storage by up to 512GB with a microSD card. You can even pick up a bundle from Amazon which includes a 32GB microSD card, for a few dollars more (though you'll likely get a better deal by purchasing your microSD card separately).
The tablet’s lightweight design sports a metallic finish to make it easy to tote around the house or around town. Everything is accomplished for up to 13 hours on a single full charge.
- Intuitive interface
- Large buttons
- Comes with a protective case, stylus, and charging cradle
- Preloaded with user preferences and contacts
- Includes senior-oriented apps
- Expensive monthly subscription
The GrandPad is designed for the over-75 market in that it seeks to simplify the operations necessary to connect the elderly with their loved ones. It features an intuitive interface with large buttons for video chatting. The tablet accompanies a comprehensive subscription service which starts from $68 per month (paid annually) that includes the device, a protective case, charging cradle, and stylus. User preferences and contacts are preloaded in the tablet, so it's immediately ready to use.
The GrandPad tablet comes with 4G connectivity, great for those who may not have access to Wi-Fi, senior-oriented apps for video chatting or easy calling, and a wide variety of preprogrammed games. The subscription comes with a private family network so family members can update phone numbers, change options, and create new contacts for users from the companion app or web portal. Seniors can also share photos, send voice emails, and listen to music.
GrandPad also comes with 24-hour personalized support. The red "help" button on the tablet connects users directly to highly-trained customer support members for assistance.
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