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  • Lisa Jevens

Senior Phone Update 2013

So-called “senior phones” are simplified cellphones that are designed for ease of use by older folks or the non-tech savvy. However, phone makers have added features such as cameras, texting and emergency call services so senior phones can do more and more. Costs tend to be pretty reasonable, with no-contract plans.

(The phones and service plans featured here are sold by the companies that make the phones.)

Here are today’s top senior phone models. And yes, there is even a senior smartphone now.

Jitterbug Plus

Greatcall was the first to capture the senior market with its Jitterbug phones, and it’s still the leader. The Jitterbug Plus is a palm-sized flip phone that has large, easy-to-see lighted buttons and an extra-large readout on the color display screen. It has a simple menu interface, where you answer yes or no to all questions, such as when you are changing settings.

The speaker is extra powerful and cups around your ear. It’s also hearing-aid compatible. Though the Jitterbug is considered a basic phone, it also comes with Bluetooth technology, caller ID, speakerphone, text message capabilities, a camera, wireless photo sharing, and a 25-day standby battery. Cost: $99 with plans starting at $14.99 per month. Greatcall’s 5Star security service can be activated and used as a personal emergency call button and health help line, for an additional monthly fee. Visit or call 800- 918-8543.

Jitterbug Touch

This may be the world’s first smartphone built with seniors in mind. The compact 4.1- inch touchscreen phone has a slide out keyboard with big buttons. The home screen was inspired by the original Jitterbug for ease of use, and uses the Android operating system with access to Google Play store apps. It does everything smartphones are known for, including email, texting, Internet browsing, book reading, games, etc. Includes a 3.2 megapixel camera for photos and video. It has voice-activated dialing and is hearing-aid compatible. Cost: $149. Visit or call 800-918-8543.

Doro PhoneEasy 618

The Doro PhoneEasy 618 is a full-featured flip phone with large buttons, large fonts and a bright color display. It has a 3.2 megapixel camera complete with auto focus, zoom and flash. The phone supports 3G service and Bluetooth, and is hearing-aid compatible. It has seven volume settings, including incoming call amplification, and many more features including an emergency call button on the back. Cost: $60. Visit or call 888-345-5509 for more information.

Clarity Pal

Clarity makes communication products for those who don’t hear well. The Clarity Palisa basic phone that has amplified sound with adjustable tone control, and a color screen on the 2- inch LCD display. There is also an SOS emergency button that calls for help. Other features include an illuminated dial pad, Bluetooth technology, an extra-loud ringer, and GSM dual-band technology. Cost: $99. Visit or call 800-426- 3738.


Just5 phones are designed with five basic features in mind: ease of operation, big buttons, amplified sound (up to 100dB), a long-lasting battery, and an emergency button. There are two models, the J509 ($89.99) and the J510 ($159.99). The J510 is a quad band world phone, operating across the four most used frequencies across the globe. The Just5s also have a speaking keypad that repeats the number when you press it, and a flashlight. Visit or call 800-709-0509.

Originally published in Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section on July 11, 2013.

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