Whether you're a tech-savvy senior looking for a powerful device or someone seeking a user-friendly phone with essential features, there's a perfect match waiting for you. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Staying connected with loved ones is crucial at any age, but it can become even more important for seniors who might face isolation or specific health needs.

While the smartphone industry hasn't always catered specifically to this demographic, there exist some senior-friendly smartphones to bridge the gap, keeping loved ones connected, independent, and in control. These phones boast clear, uncluttered interfaces with big, bold buttons. They offer features that make life easier, from built-in SOS buttons for emergencies to crystal-clear audio for conversations with loved ones.

Whether you're a tech-savvy senior looking for a powerful device or someone seeking a user-friendly phone with essential features, there's a perfect match waiting for you. We explore the top contenders that prioritise clarity, ease of use, and features that enhance your golden years in the UAE. We also spoke with Samuel George, a software engineer and tech expert, for expert recommendations. Our curated list is based on his advice and top-rated reviews.

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1. Best Overall: Doro 8080


  • Easy-to-use interface with large buttons and clear menus
  • Hearing aid compatibility
  • Built-in assistance button for emergencies
  • Long battery life


  • Slower performance
  • On the pricey side

With the 8080, Doro fits senior-friendly mobile technology into a sleek smartphone. The 8080's aluminum-plastic build is the perfect blend of lightweight comfort and reassuring sturdiness, explains George. It feels solid in your hand, not slippery – ideal for confident handling. It boasts a clear and large display, as the icons and text are larger than usual, making them easy to see and navigate. Don't worry about complicated menus: The Doro 8080 features a straightforward menu system that allows seniors to access features and functions quickly and easily. Moreover, if you use a hearing aid, the Doro 8080 ensures clear and comfortable audio during calls. For a little peace of mind, there's a dedicated assistance button on the back of the phone. Pressing this button automatically dials pre-programmed emergency contacts and sends an SMS with your location. The Doro 8080 also integrates GPS functionality, which allows family members or caregivers to see your location in case of an emergency, providing additional peace of mind. The audio is crisp and clear: Doro 8080 features high-quality audio with a boost function, ensuring clear conversations, even in noisy environments. The phone also comes with essential apps like Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, allowing you to stay connected with loved ones, navigate your surroundings, and enjoy online entertainment. The camera isn't spectacular according to reviews, but it gets the job done. Overall, the Doro 8080 is an excellent choice for seniors in the UAE who want a user-friendly phone with features that enhance their safety, security, and ability to stay connected. It's a tad pricey, though, so you might want to keep that in mind.

Bonus: Buy with zero percent installments and pay Dh208.25 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh142, one-year accidental damage protection of Dhs238 and two year-warranty for Dh303.

2. Best Premium: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max


  • Simple interface
  • Safety features
  • Powerful camera
  • Excellent audio quality


  • Large size, might be difficult for some
  • High price point

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max is a large device, boasting a cutting-edge camera system, a brilliant display, and a powerful A16 Bionic chip. Its simple and intuitive interface wins many brownie points, as the large, clear icons and a straightforward layout make navigation easy, even for those unfamiliar with smartphones, adds George. Owing to its expansive display, there's a showcase of photos, videos and text in stunning detail. This is particularly helpful for seniors who might have trouble seeing smaller screens. It is also equipped with an Emergency SOS that lets you send a distress call with your location to emergency services by pressing a button five times. That's not just it, though, the Fall Detection feature can automatically call emergency services if you take a hard fall. When it comes to features, the camera is a sure win, allowing you to document life's moments with ease. The phone does come with its set of liabilities, including the fact that it is rather large, which might be cumbersome for seniors with smaller hands or those who prefer a more compact device for easier handling. Moreover, while its iOS is user-friendly, the sheer number of features on the iPhone 14 Pro Max could be overwhelming for some seniors. Mastering all of its capabilities might require assistance. Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers undeniable power and functionality. However, it's important to weigh the pros and cons against your specific needs and comfort level with technology. If you're a tech-savvy senior who values a high-quality camera, a large display, and advanced features, the iPhone 14 Pro Max could be a great choice. However, if you prioritise simplicity, affordability, and a more compact size, other options might be a better fit.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh74.08 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh199, one-year accidental damage protection of Dh332 and two year-warranty for Dh424. 

3. Best Value: Emporia Smart.5


  • Easy-to-read font
  • SOS button
  • Essential apps pre-installed


  • Slower processing
  • Fewer apps

The Emporia Smart.5 bridges the gap between a basic phone and a full-fledged smartphone, making it a compelling option for seniors. It prioritises clarity with large icons, a straightforward menu system, and easy-to-read fonts. It eliminates the frustration of complex features, making it ideal for seniors who are new to smartphones. A dedicated SOS button on the back provides instant security. Pressing it automatically dials pre-programmed emergency contacts and sends an SMS with your location, offering a sense of security when you're out and about. Staying connected with loved ones isn't a hassle either. That's why the Emporia Smart.5 comes pre-loaded with all the essentials – WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail – all ready to go at your fingertips. No confusing downloads, just an instant connection to your family and friends. Moreover, you can bid goodbye to charging woes, as one of its most convenient advantages is that it has a long-lasting battery, minimising the need for frequent charging. This is a plus for seniors, who might not want to be tethered to a charger constantly. It is also equipped with a convenient charging cradle, eliminating the need for fiddling with cables and ensuring a reliable charging solution. You'll get to snap photos too: The Emporia Smart.5 features a 13MP camera, allowing you to capture life's moments and share them with family and friends. While it might not rival high-end phones, it's perfect for basic photo needs.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh92.79 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh86, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh143 and two years for Dh182.

4. Best for Utility: Samsung Galaxy A13


  • Easy on the wallet
  • Big buttons
  • Expandable storage
  • Clear display


  • Potential bloatware
  • Limited performance

The Samsung Galaxy A13 is an attractive choice for budget-minded users, says George. The biggest selling point of this phone is its price tag. It makes it a great option for seniors who aren't looking to spend a fortune on their first smartphone. You'll be satisfied with the display, as the phone boasts a spacious and bright screen, making it easier to see text, photos, and videos. This is a major benefit for seniors who might have trouble with smaller screens. You'll also be pleased with its buttons. While the physical buttons on the phone might not be huge, the on-screen icons within the Android interface can be enlarged for easier navigation. And another good point? The A13 allows you to add extra storage with a microSD card. This is useful for storing photos, videos, or downloaded apps without running out of space. However, one of its downsides is that it might come pre-loaded with some unnecessary apps that can clutter the interface and take up storage space. These might require removal or organisation for a more streamlined experience. The camera is decent and captures good photos with good lighting, however, it isn't ideal for low-light situations. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A13 is an affordable option with a large display and expandable storage, making it potentially appealing for seniors. However, the potential for a learning curve, limited performance, and a basic camera are important factors to consider.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh74.89 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty:  Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh57, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh95 and two years for Dh121.

5. Best Budget: Nokia G21


  • Budget-friendly
  • Large display
  • Long battery life
  • Bloatware-free


  • No water resistance

You get what you pay for, and the Nokia G21 offers you the basics at a price that won't singe your wallet. It demands minimum upkeep and is fairly easy to use. You can use it for your everyday tasks easily, which include calls and texts, and the large display makes it a good viewing experience. After its affordable price, the best aspect of this phone is its battery, so you can enjoy extended use throughout the day without needing to constantly search for a charger. The Nokia G21 includes a built-in FM radio, a feature some seniors might appreciate if they enjoy listening to their favourite stations. It doesn't suffer from bloatware, and offers a more streamlined interface that might be easier to navigate compared to phones with additional pre-loaded apps. However, be warned, the phone has a rather slow processor that might struggle with multitasking or complex apps. This could result in an occasional lag or slowdowns, especially when switching between apps. It also lacks water-resistant features, so extra care is needed to avoid accidental water damage. Ultimately, the Nokia G21 offers affordability but might require some technical know-how. For a truly user-friendly phone with senior-focused features, other options might be a better fit.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh48 and two years for Dh61.

What you need to look for when buying a senior-friendly smartphone

Efficient smartphones with user-friendly video calling and texting apps like WhatsApp and Botim help seniors, allowing them to connect with family face-to-face, fostering a sense of closeness and combating loneliness. So as George explains, phones with crucial features, such as medication reminders, GPS navigation, and built-in SOS buttons can help them to manage their daily lives independently. In case of emergencies, a single press of the SOS button can send an alert with location details to pre-programmed contacts, providing peace of mind for both seniors and their families.

Moreover, George explains: "Smartphones offer a wealth of information and services at their fingertips. Seniors can access health information, online banking, grocery delivery apps, and even schedule doctor's appointments – all from the convenience of their phone. This not only simplifies daily tasks but can also help them manage their health and well-being more proactively." It helps them stay connected, simplifies their tasks and provides them access to learning and entertainment.

So keeping these factors in mind, here's what you need to look for when you're buying a phone for yourself or for a senior:

Ease of use

Simple interface: Look for a phone with a clean, uncluttered interface, with large, clear icons and easy-to-read fonts. Avoid complex menus and features that might be overwhelming.

Large buttons: Physical buttons on the phone, if present, should be large and easy to press. For touchscreen phones, ensure the interface allows for enlarged icons and text size adjustments.

Minimal learning curve: Opt for a phone with an intuitive operating system that requires minimal learning. Consider pre-loaded apps that are specifically useful for seniors, like medication reminders or video calling apps for staying connected with family.

Accessibility features

Hearing aid compatibility: Ensure the phone is compatible with most hearing aids to avoid any audio issues during calls. Some phones might offer adjustable volume levels or dedicated settings for hearing aids.

Vision assistance: Look for features like adjustable text size, screen brightness controls, and a magnification option for zooming in on text and images.

Emergency SOS: A dedicated SOS button or feature can be a lifesaver. Pressing this button should ideally send an emergency message with location details to pre-programmed contacts.

George also advises that you could also consider battery life, camera, durability, and the cost of technical support. "Let the senior try out the phone: If possible, let the senior you're buying the phone for hold it, navigate the interface, and try out the features to see if it feels comfortable and user-friendly," he says.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.