Telephoning with a handicap – these devices help

Tiny keys, low-contrast display, countless apps – people with weak eyes, ears or fingers are often overwhelmed by conventional cell phones. So-called cell phones for seniors are supposed to provide a remedy. But handicaps can also affect young people, so the term is problematic. We use it anyway because many providers call their special cell phones that.

If vision, hearing or motor skills are limited, special cell phones help people stay connected to the world. Stiftung Warentest tested 15 cell phones and smartphones for seniors, including devices from Doro and Emporia. Only two smartphones help with all three handicaps. None of them is a high-flyer, but at least four models just managed the grade “good”.

Telephoning with a handicap

Cell phones for seniors with or without Internet access.

We reviewed three types of specialty phones:

  • Basic phones with no apps and no Internet access,
  • hybrid phones that offer Internet and a few pre-installed apps, such as the messenger WhatsApp
  • special smartphones that differ from conventional smartphones only in that they are easier to use, for example with large icons and simple menus.

This is what the Stiftung Warentest senior citizens’ cell phone test has to offer

Test results. The table shows ratings for 15 cell phones and smartphones for seniors, including models from Panasonic, Tiptel and Bea-Fon. We tested voice quality, handling and durability, among other things. Test comments rank the individual products.

Buying advice. We present different variants of senior-friendly cell phones, list their advantages and disadvantages, and tell you how corresponding devices performed in our test of cell phones for seniors.

Tips. We explain how the emergency call button on senior phones works and what to look out for.

Issue article. If you unlock the topic, you can access the PDF for the current test report from test 3/2021 as well as the predecessor study from test 1/2017 (some of the devices tested at that time are still available).

Adapt classic smartphone

If you can live with updates and do not need an emergency call function, you can simply adapt your conventional smartphone. The visually impaired can set the display to a higher contrast and the icons to a larger size in the settings menu. If you are hard of hearing, an earpiece could help, even with a cable. A stylus from the electronics store or voice input can help with shaky hands. And if you like it bigger, you can use a tablet. At least at home, the high weight is hardly a problem. Phone calls are also possible – with messenger apps like WhatsApp, Telegram or Threema.


( 3 assessment, average 5 from 5 )