It used to be that smartphones like the iPhone were primarily for techies and younger people who embraced the latest technology. But as smartphones matured, now virtually every person has one. Still, there are holdouts–like some senior citizens who still may have never owned one. And if they are just getting their first, which iPhone is best for them?
iPhones Are Practical For People Of Any Age
When you think of an iPhone user you most likely think of someone who is younger, more technologically literate, and loves posting on social media. And while many smartphone commercials may portray users as such, the fact of the matter is an iPhone is a god device at any age.
That’s because, no matter the age of someone, there is always something a person finds incredibly useful in an iPhone. Younger people, for example, may find the iPhone’s advanced cameras a big important feature, because they love posting to social media like TikTok.
However, older people might find an iPhone useful for different reasons. Many senior citizens find iPhones so compelling because they are a great way to keep in touch with their children and grandchildren. I’ve yet to meet a senior citizen who doesn’t love FaceTime, for example.
Also, there are still some senior citizens who find traditional computers, like laptops, too confusing to use. The mouse point-and-click system just doesn’t click for them. Yet, for them, the touchscreen on an iPhone is completely intuitive because you simply use your finger to tap on whatever you want to interact with.
But if a senior citizen has never had an iPhone before, which one should they get?
Avoid Used iPhones
It might be compelling to buy a used iPhone for a senior citizen or just give them your old hand-me-down. However, while this is a good idea for younger kids who want an iPhone, it’s best to avoid doing this with senior citizens.
Why? Because used iPhones are older in nature. The older a device is, the fewer years of critical software updates it has left–not to mention older devices break down at faster rates than newer devices.
Outdated software or wonky-working older iPhones will only cause someone who may not be technically literate frustration. If the senior citizen has never used an iPhone before, get them the newest (not necessarily the most expensive) one possible. You’ll save them a bunch of frustration by doing so.
Opt For Face ID Over Touch ID
While there are plenty of iPhone fans out there who still prefer Touch ID, I’ve found that older people generally have a harder time using and understanding Touch ID versus Face ID. That’s because the Touch ID button is layered and complicated. It’s only available on the iPhone SE (2020) anymore, but still, its a capacitive touch button (it doesn’t move) that provides haptic feedback when pressed (it vibrates) but sometimes required you not to press it but only lay your finger on it (when it needs to authenticate the user for unlocking or an in-app purchase.
It’s this last interaction–placing the finger on the Touch ID sensor but NOT pressing it) that tends to confuse older people. I’ve seen this first hand with my oldest relatives. That’s why I recommend getting a senior citizen an iPhone with Face ID. They don’t need to worry about touching the home button differently depending on what they are trying to do. Face ID just works without them doing a thing.
A Bigger Screen Might Be Best
Finally, think about getting a senior citizen an iPhone with a big screen. Why? For two reasons.
First, some senior citizens have poor eyesight. The larger screen makes things easier to read for them–especially if you engage the system fonts.
Second, the iPhone is their only computer, they’ll probably just appreciate the bigger screen more. It gives them more room for emails and reading web pages–not to mention it means FaceTime video calls are larger.
iPhone 12 Or iPhone XR Is The Way To Go
All the above being taken into consideration, I think the iPhone XR or the iPhone 12 is the way to go. Both have large screens–6.1 inches–and both have Face ID. But if the cost isn’t an option, go for the iPhone 12 over the iPhone XR. Why? Its technology will last longer.
The iPhone 12 has 5G support, dual-lens cameras, and an OLED display. The iPhone XR has an LCD display, only supports up to 4G, and has a single-lens camera. Given the length of time a senior will probably keep their phone, it’s best to get them one with the latest tech available to it stays technologically-relevant for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the easiest iPhone for seniors?
Generally speaking, the easiest iPhones are the ones with the biggest screens. This is because the system font on the iPhone can be increased, which makes things appear bigger on the iPhone’s display–making it easier for the senior to see.
Q: Is iPhone or Android better for seniors?
It depends if they’ve ever used a smartphone before. If they haven’t, it’s best to opt for an iPhone. That’s because they generally last longer than Android phones, get more software updates, and have the easier user interface to master.
Q: How do you simplify iPhone for seniors?
Try the following to simplify iPhones for seniors:
- Remove any apps you know they will not use. This means there are fewer things for them to get confused by.
- Set up their favorite contacts in the Contacts app and also the Messages, FaceTime, and Phone apps.
- turn on automatic software updates so their iPhone always has the latest software and bug fixes.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.