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Jason Kennedy

Do You Really Need A Smartphone?

The smartphone revolution is all the rage for tweens through the baby boomer generation. It’s hard to find a person that doesn’t have a smart phone these days. But senior citizens often seem to be left in the dark when it comes to smartphones. Many of the most senior or senior citizens have almost or no experience with touch screen technology. With that being the case, most smartphones require a specific type of touch that older people just don’t have. But does this mean that there is no room whatsoever for senior citizens in the smartphone industry?

Apple iPhone in the hands of a power user

There’s no doubt that most smartphones are not catered to those very unfamiliar to technology. But the benefits that come with having a mobile phone are extensive indeed. For those older people that leave the house during the day or wish to travel, a mobile phone really is a great asset. As a safety feature in the event of a car breakdown, or a medical emergency when away from a land line phone, the mobile phone can be a lifesaver.

There are some smartphones on the market that keep seniors and others that are more technologically challenged in mind. More and more manufacturers realize that there are a lot of benefits of smartphones that an older demographic can and would utilize. Social networking has proven to be increasingly popular with many older people simply as a means to keep in touch with family and friends that live at a distance. Seeing and sending pictures and videos has become very easy with smartphone devices.

But a smartphone is essentially just a computer that can make calls. For many senior citizens, there is a fear of computers and perhaps more, a fear of what may go wrong. The idea that perhaps this expensive piece of equipment could be irreversibly destroyed by a random mistake frightens many older people.

Laughing man using a smart phone

Smartphones and other devices that utilize touch screen technology can be confusing to people that are unfamiliar. The accidental touch of an icon can lead to somewhere completely unwanted with no clue how to get back. Indeed, the functionality and options that most younger people want is nothing more than an annoyance to many seniors. It’s true that many senior citizens just want to be able to make a phone call. For those, a smartphone is definitely not necessary.

One benefit of having a phone that is essentially a computer, is the social interaction you will have. Think of it this way, your kids and grandkids are likely used to texting to communicate. Depending on how you look at it, if you want to spend more time interacting with your grandchildren, you will want a phone that can keep up. Who knows, before long you might be using SnapChat to send messages to your family. Oh my, how the times have changed since we were kids huh?

We have reviewed several of the most popular phones on the market, and we have looked at these through the eyes of an over 50 year old user. Here are the basics of each phone, cost, and what to expect from a user standpoint:

Smartphone Comparison

PhonePrice Without ContractFeatures That Might Interest You
Apple iPhone 5s$600.00Popular among all age groups this phone is the flagship of Apple Computer. Sports a great operating system in iOS 7 and has excellent integration between hardware and software since Apple makes it all. Also, the App Store has something for everyone. Are you a senior who want to be on the cutting edge? This phone is for you.
Apple iPhone 5c$525.00The cheaper younger brother/sister to the iPhone 5s. Made of a lightweight plastic as opposed to metal that the 5s is made of. Has the same great software as the 5s but this model is cheaper. The processor isn't as good as the 5s but for most seniors this would make a fine phone. Oh yeah, this one comes in colors too!
Motorola Moto X$570.00If you like your items "made in America" then this phone fits that bill. Made in Ft. Worth Texas this phone has some good features but we preferred the Apple operating system. You won't go wrong with this phone but you won't be blown away either.
Samsung Galaxy S4$620.00This is a good phone that has a multitude of uses. We actually enjoyed the operating system and we also felt that the voice calls sounded crisp and clear. Remember when phones were actually made to hear someones voice on? Yeah, we do too - that's why we give this phone high marks.
HTC One$599.00The screen on this phone is much closer to the iPhone in size and clarity. The camera is only 4 megapixels which is the lowest of any phone reviewed here. However, the rest of the phone is what we would classify as "OK." We are not jumping up and down to run out and buy this.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3$699.00If you like the thought of a large easy to read screen then you will like this Samsung smartphone. Giant screen makes it easy on the eyes and the 13 megapixel camera takes beautiful shots as well. Nice choice for an elderly person with the need for a big screen.
Google Nexus 5$349.00Oh Google, what else do you have your hands in? Yes, Google makes a phone that runs their Android operating system. This was the lowest price of the phones we looked and and well, we felt the price was justified. The phone left us with a feeling of "blah." Not horrible by any means but there are better choices out there for sure.

So it really comes down to the needs, desire and technological comfort level of each individual person. While the mobile phone industry is progressing more and more toward smartphones only, it appears that the senior citizen market will not be forgotten. Smartphones with more limited features and considered user friendly for this audience will be more and more available.

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