So after collapsing on the sofa post-Christmas dinner, full to burst after accepting that last piece of fruit cake with obligatory brandy cream, I swiftly glanced at my phone to check if any more well-wishers had bid me a ‘Merry Christmas’.
The conversation quickly turned to complaints on behalf of my mother regarding “young people being glued to their mobile phones”. My Auntie revealed her adversity to modern technology, admitting that she turns her own mobile off until there’s an emergency (she brushed off my suggestion that someone might want to get hold of her in this supposed emergency). My uncle went on to complain that modern smartphones just don’t cater to the older generation, widening the gap between the generation of whizz-kids and the more senior technophobes in society.
This got me to thinking; surely there are phones out there that are great for those who need a slightly larger screen to see small details, like my mum, or a larger keypad to cater for less than dexterous fingers, like my uncle. Here is my compilation of some of the best phones for the over-50s.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was my first choice when I thought about phones that are great for the older generation.
First off, it is quite large with a whopping 5.5 inch screen, which makes it really easy to hold in your hand. Although recent trends seem to be leading to ultra-slim and light-weight handsets, many people prefer to have a device that feels a bit more substantial in your hand.
The screen also sports a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution, meaning that the visual quality of the phone is excellent; images and text really jump out to you on the screen. The fact that the display measures 5.5 inches also reduces the need to zoom in to read or select icons, which is a useful feature.
With regards to using the Note 2, Samsung’s design with a long screen allows the user to send text messages and emails with great ease; the touch-screen keypad is large enough for the largest of fingers to manoeuvre around without tapping out lines of gobbledegook like on some smaller smartphones.
A unique feature on the Galaxy Note 2 is its S-Pen. This is a removable pen which sits comfortably inside the handset. The thin nib means that it is even easier to select icons and applications than jabbing with your fingertip, and the handwriting-to-text tool even allows you to write emails, messages or documents using the S-Pen which then converts your handwriting to text right in front of your eyes. This is a particularly great feature, as it makes typing much quicker, and so much simpler.
The HTC One X is another great phone either for people’s first transition to a smartphone. Although the handset is somewhat more petite than the Note 2, the One X’s 4.7 inch screen really isn’t small.
Although the Taiwanese manufacturer’s One series boasts a sleek, slim line design, the One X is that bit larger to hold than its lower-spec brother, the One S, which gives the handset a bit more substance when you hold it.
One feature which I liked about the One X is that although its touchscreen keypad again isn’t as large as the Note 2 (very few are!) it was really easy to type messages due to the light vibrations that resonate when you press each key.
One thing that I have heard various family members say about their own mobile phone is that the only use they have for it is to make phone calls and send odd texts. However, after showing my step-dad some of the additional features on the HTC he couldn’t get enough, and I found myself without a phone for the rest of the evening. The Driving Mode is a great application pre-installed on the One X which makes your handset double-up as a sat-nav. Not only can you navigate around town just like using your Tom-Tom, you can also make calls safely and easily by pressing one single (and large) icon on the main screen, which automatically converts the call to loudspeaker. Perfect for ferrying the kids around when you are on duty in ‘Dad’s Taxi’.
The BlackBerry is a phone for those of you who want to resist joining the touchscreen bandwagon. Although its keypad is quite small, many people prefer to have a physical keyboard to make it easier to send messages and emails.
BlackBerry is launching a new handset early next year which is speculated to resemble every other smartphone on the market. However, I find that the 9320 model is great as a first-time smartphone as it more closely replicates the features and style of an older mobile, whilst boasting all of the same features that are included in the latest smartphones.
The BlackBerry 9320 is a perfect option for you to make the transition into the world of smartphones without breaking the bank for the latest technological advances that you may not want or need. From £109.99 pay as you go, the BlackBerry is much cheaper than a lot of other models which can cost up to £500 for the handset.
Now I couldn’t feature a list of ‘best phones for…’ without mentioning the Samsung Galaxy S3. Slightly smaller than the Note 2, the S3 is aimed at the general day-to-day phone user. Its screen is slightly bigger than that of the HTC One X at 4.8 inches, which makes selecting apps, browsing the internet or viewing messages really clear and sharp. Again, whilst the design of the Galaxy range is sleek and thin, the handset, being that bit larger than other smartphones, feels big enough to get a hold of.
The Samsung range, along with most Android phones (to find out more about Android, see our article, what is Android?) is ultimately really user-friendly. The operating system works by displaying pages of all of your applications which you can simply select, drag or delete across the phone’s seven home screens. There is no need to go through menu after menu to open your messages or to change your ringtone settings, which is an additional bonus. The Galaxy S3 is particularly easy to navigate around because it has both a return button, which allows you to go back to the previous screen that you viewed, as well as a physical Home button, which makes you return to the main screen with just one press of a key.
So there you have it- just a few suggestions of the best phones for the over-50s. Whether it's a physical keyboard, a large screen, or just a phone that fulfills more than just the basic functions, there's no reason for you not to be a part of the latest smartphone trend.
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel