Usable Mobile Phones for Seniors

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, March 08, 2007 at 09:39 AM with 0 comments

Recently I bought my aunt a new mobile phone. When I had asked her if she used her previous phone, she said no, as it was too bulky and the buttons were not the most intuitive to her. My aunt can be considered a senior citizen – she may not be tech savvy, but she is extremely worldly and knows the value of a mobile phone, she just had problems using it.

The phone I selected for her was a Motorola model that was a clamshell phone with large buttons. I gave her the new phone already programmed with every number she would need in it. She liked the smaller size and larger buttons. Though she has it mostly for emergencies, she now carries and uses this phone.

You don’t have to do too many Web searches to find content on devices of all ilk that are unusable. For phones, at least in the US, the emphasis seems to be on "cool and hip" rather than more intuitive, robust functionality. Sure, I am pushing 40, but look around the world and see what they’re using in Europe and Asia. And don’t even ask me the difference between a RAZR and KRZR!

Two new phones have emerged – one in the US and one in Europe – that meet the needs of the growing older population using mobile phones. GreatCall has come out with two models of their Jitterbug phone, one with large number buttons, and another without numbers, but has text buttons for making emergency calls. Each phone is US$147.00, however you have to buy their mobile service plan, as they share the short-sidedness of other phone manufacturers and don’t sell the phone unlocked.

Another phone is coming from Austria’s Emporia Telecom. Its EmporiaLife model has a large screen and just 4 buttons on the surface with a full number pad that can slide out. They are not being sold yet, but my guess is that I will be able to get an unlocked version when they do.

Thanks to John Wall of The M Show for clueing me into the Emporia, which led me to the Jitterbug. He refers to them as a "geezer phone" in his latest edition... and the term geezer is one that could easily fit him or I!

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