Telecoms > Guides

Choosing a mobile phone and network deal when you’re elderly

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jan 10, 2017

Advice for the elderly on mobiles and contracts tends to assume two things.

That you don’t know much about tech and that all ‘elderly’ people are the same.

That’s wrong on both counts.

In our experience, there are as many under 20s who are clueless about tech as there are over 80s.

OK, nearly as many then.

You get the idea.

Even so, if you are on the older side, there are a few tips and tricks that are useful to think about when choosing a phone contract and how you’re going to pay for services, especially if it's your first time.


Thinking about a phone

For many elderly people, perhaps with declining eyesight, many new phones have displays that are just too small and fussy to be ideal.

How well you can call a number is also important. Perhaps, then, you require a simple keypad with large letters and numbers that are all easy to see and press.

A phone that can be worn around the neck might also be useful to avoid mislaying it.

You may also prefer a phone that is not cluttered with apps and many other features.

The bottom line is that the bit of modern mobile phones that actually makes a phone call or sends a text is pretty much the same whether you have the latest, top-of-the-range iPhone or Samsung or whether you’ve bought a bog-standard one from Tesco. 

If you don’t need or want bells and whistles, then don’t opt for an expensive phone.

The point to remember is that people use mobiles for so much more than making calls now. In fact, many young people barely ever use their phone to speak to anyone on! 

But if you’re old school and want to actually talk to people and send the odd text, get something simple.


What we recommend

Doro PhoneEasy is a model designed especially with the elderly in mind and although we think at prices starting around £35 it’s a bit on the expensive side for what it does, it is well thought out for the older user.

Otherwise, just buy a simple phone from a decent brand.

If you’re not bothered about apps, don’t get a smart phone, it’s a waste of money, plus a simple, ‘dumb’ phone will have far, far better battery life.

If you can afford to, buy a phone outright as paying for one on a contract will cost you more.


So much for phones, what about paying for services?

In the long run, this is where you will pay most money.

What you should opt for depends entirely on what kind of user you are.

There was a time when low users were almost always best off having a simple pay-as-you-go deal.

This works out as much more expensive per text and call, but OVERALL you’ll pay less than having a monthly allowance of minutes for speaking, texting and data because you only use the phone occasionally.

But these days there are some very cheap deals that give you a monthly package.

If you’re a TalkTalk customer, for example, you can get a reasonable mobile package included with your broadband rental for no extra cost.

But, generally, there is no way round the fact that you’re going to have to go online and use a comparison tool.

But only choose what package to sign up for after you’ve have thought about what kind of user you are.

There might be fantastic deal of, say, unlimited calls, texts and data for, let’s say £15 a month. But if you don’t use data, only make a couple of calls of a few minutes a week, and don’t text, why pay more than a fiver or so?

Anything more and you’re wasting your money.


Make sure you can cancel easily

Of most importance, though, is to opt for a deal you can cancel easily.

That’s why it’s best to buy your phone outright, if you can, and then go for a SIM-only deal. This way, you can sign up for a package that has a simple no minimum contract option.

Why is this important?

Because, if you are thinking of getting a mobile for the first time, the way you think you might use it might not match how you actually use it. So, you need to be able to switch and change if your habits change.

Many older people still prefer a landline, and if you spend most of your time at home, a landline may well be the most economic way of making calls – or you might just prefer it.

Even so, a mobile does offer huge flexibility and they are getting cheaper than ever to use.

Many elderly people find that once they get into the habit of having a mobile to hand, they soon want to explore the many features beyond making calls that are on offer. You could well be one of those users.

So, in a nutshell:

* If it’s a first mobile, choose a simple phone and don’t spend much money – you can upgrade later.
* Buy outright, if you can.
* Choose a good design of phone for your use.
* Shop around using our comparison tool and choose a SIM-only package that offers you only what you think you’ll need. Don’t spend more just because it’s a great deal
* Don’t sign up to any lengthy contract unless you’re sure it’s a really good deal and it suits your use.
* Ignore all the above if you’re elderly but love having your hands on the latest model with the best camera and all the gizmos! Just go for it!