Best smartphones for older people to buy in 2021 – Radio Times


For many of us, mobile phones have become a fundamental part of our daily lives. Beyond helping us keep in touch with family and friends, smartphones help us do everything from giving us directions in unfamiliar areas to connecting to social media and even monitoring our daily exercise.

But, they aren’t always the most user-friendly. The sheer quantity of options and apps now available on most smartphones means that their interfaces can be crowded and difficult to navigate.

To help you find a device that suits your needs, we have put together a list of the best smartphones detailing their pros, cons and key features.

Before that, we have also included advice on what to look out for when it comes to smartphones for older people, including big, high-resolution screens, simple interfaces and any accessibility settings that may be helpful to get the most from your new device.

Here is our pick of the best smartphones for older people to buy in 2021.

For more smartphone recommendations, read our best budget smartphone and best camera phone guides.

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How to choose the best smartphone for older people

Everyone’s priorities will be a little bit different when it comes to choosing a smartphone. Which phone you end up choosing will depend on what you want to use it for, how often you’ll be using it and what you’re willing to spend.

However, there are some overarching features that are worth being aware of when looking for a smartphone for older people. These include a large display that’s sharp and vibrant, a user-friendly interface and a good range of accessibility settings.

Big screen

There’s no denying that smartphones have steadily got bigger and bigger over the last decade. While this means that most smartphones have outgrown our pockets, it does mean larger and higher resolution screens.

The hope is to get a nice balance between the two. To get the largest and best quality display possible without the smartphone being so cumbersome, it becomes an inconvenience to carry around with you.

Screen sizes on smartphones can now vary anywhere between 4.7-inches and 6.7-inches.

User-friendly interface

With more and more tech crammed into our smartphones, an easy-to-navigate home-screen and simple interface is essential. If an interface is easy to use, it should only take you a matter of moments to find the apps to make a call, add a new contact or search the internet.

The two main interfaces you’re likely to find are iOS (Apple) and Android. Apple’s iOS is specifically designed for iPhones. Generally, a well-laid-out interface, key apps for iPhone users such as those for calls, Safari (Apple’s internet browser) and iMessages are found across the bottom of the screen. However, these can be swapped out if there’s an app you feel you use more.

Android is the most commonly-used interface and can be found in phones from brands such as Google, Samsung, Nokia and Oppo. This does not mean the home-screen will look identical across these brands as each will fiddle to add their own unique look, but the basics will be the same. For example, all Android phones will have Google Play from which you can download new apps.

Accessibility settings

Most modern-day smartphones should now have basic accessibility settings, but exactly what is available will vary from brand to brand. Most will allow you to adjust the size of the font to make reading easier, have hearing aid support and speech-to-text functions.

There are also specialist brands such as Doro that create mobile phones for older people in mind. These tend to have the most comprehensive functions. In the case of the Doro 8050, it comes with extra-large icons for those with visual impairments, hearing aid compatibility and a ‘Response’ button that will immediately alert designated ‘responders’ when pressed.

All these features won’t be necessary for everyone, but they do vary between brands, so it is worth considering what, if any, additional settings you may like before making a purchase.

Best smartphones for older people at a glance

Best budget option: Nokia 3.4
Best for simple interface: Google Pixel 4a
Best for iPhone users: iPhone SE
Best for sharp display: Oppo A54 5G
Best budget 5G option: Moto G50
Best for Samsung fans: Samsung Galaxy A32
Bets for big screen: Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Best for fast charging: Realme 8 Pro
Best for battery life: Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G
Best for accessibility features: Doro 8050

Best smartphones for older people to buy in 2021

Nokia 3.4

Best budget option

Key features:

  • 39-inch 1560 x 720 IPS LCD screen
  • 161 x 76 x 8.7 mm
  • 180g
  • Android 10
  • 13/5/2MP rear cameras
  • 8-megapixel selfie camera
  • Snapdragon 460 CPU
  • 32GB storage
  • 3GB RAM
  • 4000mAh battery



  • Slow performance
  • Limited storage
  • Uninspiring camera quality

Nokia has made a name for itself by making simple yet reliable phones at budget prices. And that’s exactly what the Nokia 3.4 is.

Features include a 6.39-inch 720p LCD display, a rear fingerprint sensor and a front punch hole camera that is tucked away in the top left corner of the screen. Plus, it also has a wired headphone jack.

As with any smartphone under £100, there are a few caveats. The main one is that the cameras don’t quite offer the 108MP of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it’s also £800 cheaper.

Read the full Nokia 3.4 review.

Buy the Nokia 3.4 SIM-free at: 

Google Pixel 4a 5G

Best for simple interface

Key features:

  • 6.2-inch 2340 x 1080 pixel 60Hz OLED screen
  • 128GB storage
  • Snapdragon 765G CPU
  • Android 11
  • 12/16MP rear cameras
  • 8MP front camera
  • 3885mAh battery


  • Excellent main camera, day or night
  • Uncluttered software
  • Guaranteed quick Android updates


  • Just OK battery life
  • Plastic casing

The Google Pixel 4a 5G has one of the easiest interfaces to navigate. The home screen is clutter-free, and apps are alphabetically ordered in the pull-up menu.

Beyond this, the best-selling point of the Google Pixel 4a is the camera. The rear set-up features a 12-megapixel primary camera and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide, which produce sharp imagery even in low light. This is accompanied by an 8MP front camera that is tucked into the top corner of the phone’s 6.1-inch display.

Read the full Google Pixel 4a 5G review.

Like the look of this phone? Keep an eye out for the Google Pixel 6 release date to see how the brand’s new phone compares.

Buy the Google Pixel 4a 5G SIM-free at: 

iPhone SE

Best for iPhone users

Key features:

  • Glass and aluminium design
  • 4.7-inch retina display
  • A13 Bionic chip
  • 12MP wide camera
  • Portrait Mode and depth control on camera
  • 4K video
  • QuickTake – which means you can start recording by just holding down on the shutter
  • 1,821mAh battery
  • Touch ID
  • Water-resistant up to 1 metre for 30 mins
  • Apple Pay


  • Lightweight
  • Access the App store to plunder
  • iOS experience is seamless
  • Camera results excellent


  • Fairly short battery life
  • Uses some old screen tech
  • Portrait mode doesn’t work on pets and objects

Marketed as the ‘affordable’ iPhone, the iPhone SE is smaller than the likes of the iPhone 12. Featuring a 4.7-inch display, the iPhone SE doesn’t quite come with all the bells and whistles of the flagship, but that doesn’t mean it should be discounted either.

Powered by the same A13 Bionic chip as in the iPhone 11 Pro, the user experience is still brilliant, and you get access to the same Apple-only apps such as iMessage and FaceTime.

Read the full iPhone SE review.

Buy the iPhone SE SIM-free at: 

Oppo A54 5G

Best for sharp display

Key features:

  • Snapdragon 480 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • 6.5in 1080p 90Hz screen
  • 162.9 x 74.7 x 8.4 mm
  • 190g
  • 48/8/2/2MP rear cameras
  • 16MP selfie camera
  • 5000mAh battery


  • Low price for a 5G phone
  • Nice sharp screen
  • Long battery life
  • Solid primary camera


  • Plastic build – typical in this class
  • Weak secondary cameras
  • Mono speaker

The Oppo A54 5G’s battery will easily last a full day of errands and have some charge to spare. This makes the A54 a great option if you’d rather not have to top-up during the day or just have a habit of forgetting to plug in your phone before bed.

The HD screen is a decent 6.5-inches, too. The phone has a total of five cameras, but the main 48MP camera is the one worth talking about. The camera is extremely quick to respond with no delayed focusing or lag when you press the shutter button.

The design is a little plastic-y, but that is fairly typical of a 5G phone at this price point and does mean that it’s less likely to scratch or wear badly than a glass or metallic finish.

Read the full Oppo A54 5G review.

Buy the Oppo A54 5G SIM-free at:

Moto G50

Best budget 5G option

Key features:

  • 6.5-inch
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G CPU
  • 5G mobile internet
  • Android 11
  • 64GB storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 48/5/2MP rear cameras
  • 13MP front camera
  • 164.9 x 74.9 x 9 mm
  • 192g


  • Low price for 5G
  • Excellent battery life
  • Decent, if mono, speaker


  • Low-resolution screen
  • Basic camera array
  • It’s not a gaming powerhouse

The Motorola Moto G50 is an affordable smartphone that does the basics well. None of the features is ground-breaking, but it promises reliability and ease.

Featuring a 6.5-inch screen, the phone is plenty big enough to use for video calls or watch TV on, and you get a basic, clear silicone case included. This is also another smartphone with a battery that easily lasts a full day (and a bit). Our reviewer found that he often had 40% of his battery life still remaining at the end of the day.

Read the full Motorola Moto G50 review.

Buy the Motorola Moto G50 SIM-free at: 

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Best for Samsung fans

Key features:

  • 5G
  • 6.5-inch LCD display
  • 48/8MP rear camera
  • 13MP front camera
  • 4K video
  • 64GB storage
  • MicroSD card for expandable storage
  • 5000mAh battery
  • Headphone port


  • 3.5mm headphone port
  • Large display
  • Big battery
  • 5G ready


  • Could be a little big for some

If you already have Samsung devices like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, you might want to consider a Samsung Galaxy phone. It should make getting to grips with it a little easier as you’re already used to the software Samsung uses, and there will often be overlap when it comes to layout or design features.

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is from the brand’s more affordable A-series and features a 6.5-inch LCD display, can shoot 4K video and a huge 5000mAh battery.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G SIM-free at: 

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G deals

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

Best for big screen

Key features:

  • Curved toughened glass back panel
  • 6.67in 120Hz OLED screen
  • Snapdragon 732G CPU
  • 128GB storage
  • 108MP/8/5/2MP rear cameras
  • 16MP selfie camera


  • Lovely and large OLED screen
  • Glass back lends the design a touch of class
  • Unusually fun macro camera
  • Good primary camera
  • Long battery life


  • No 5G
  • May be a little large for some

There are three main talking points when it comes to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro; its massive OLED screen, its quad-camera set-up and its battery that can easily be stretched across two days. All of which is still available for a surprisingly affordable £269.

The 6.67-inch display makes it a great device for watching videos or making video calls on, but it does mean the smartphone is a little on the larger side. This won’t suit everyone, but there’s no doubt the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is a brilliant budget smartphone.

Read the full Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review.

Buy the Xiaomi Readmi Note 10 Pro SIM-free at: 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro deals

Realme 8 Pro

Best for fast charging

Key features:

  • Four rear cameras, including a 108MP sensor
  • Mid-size 6.4-inch OLED screen
  • 4500mAh battery with ultra-fast 50W charging
  • Has a headphone jack


  • Primary camera takes good photos
  • Fairly long battery life
  • Competitively priced
  • Bright display


  • Plus-size rear slogan won’t suit all tastes
  • Three of the four rear cameras are weak
  • Mostly plastic build

Another smartphone with the basics done right. The Realme 8 Pro costs less than £300 and contains some features that are often found in smartphones twice the price. These include; a full HD OLED screen and a quad-camera array that features a 108MP rear camera.

Our expert was particularly fond of how bright the 6.4-inch screen was and that it charged from flat in under an hour. The latter is particularly brilliant if you’re in a hurry before leaving the house or don’t always remember to stick the phone on charge at the end of the day.

The only thing that might not be to everyone’s taste? The big ‘dare to leap’ slogan on the back of the phone.

Read the full Realme 8 Pro review.

Buy the Realme 8 Pro SIM-free at: 

Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G

Best for battery life

Key features:

  • Future-proofed with 5G connectivity
  • 161.81mm x 75.34mm x 8.92mm
  • 6.5-inch FHD+ LCD display (2400 x 1080)
  • 90Hz screen refresh rate
  • MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset
  • 5,000 mAh battery
  • 48 MP main camera, 8MP selfie camera
  • Side fingerprint sensor & face unlock
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • 3.5mm headphone jack on top


  • Great value for money
  • 5G connectivity
  • Smooth 90 Hz display
  • Long-lasting battery
  • UI is nice once tidied up


  • Large logo on the back
  • Too much pre-installed software
  • Battery takes a long time to charge
  • Glossy back is a fingerprint magnet

Poco may not be as prominent in the UK market as the likes of Google, Nokia and Samsung, but the M3 Pro 5G has some good features to its name.

Firstly, it’s another smartphone with decent battery life. The phone can easily be in use all day and still have 50% charge left the following morning. If you’re looking for that assurance that the phone won’t die on you during the day, the Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro is a solid choice.

Second is the big 6.5-inch Full HD display. The Poco M3 Pro also comes with a ‘reading mode’ that adjusts colours to warmer hues while reducing the blue light. A good option for the evenings when you may be after more subdued lighting.

Read the full Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G review.

Buy the Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G SIM-free at: 

Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G deals

Doro 8050

Best for accessibility features

Key features:

  • 5.5-inch screen
  • Android
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 5MP front camera
  • Dedicated home button
  • Assistance button to call friends/family quickly
  • 16GB storage
  • MicroSD card slot


  • Big battery life
  • Easy to navigate
  • Built-in screen protection


  • A bit bulky compared to others
  • Lacking camera quality

Doro specialises in making mobile phones for older people who may have additional accessibility needs.

Along with a ‘Response’ button that alerts designated ‘responders’ when pressed, the phone also has built-in screen protection so it can survive a few knocks and falls.

Depending on the use, the Doro 8050 can also last up to 330 hours (or 13 days) when not in active use. This makes it a good option as an emergency device, or if you know that it’s not going to get much use beyond the occasional call or trip out. It can be simply left for almost two weeks and still be ready to use.

The screen of the Doro 8050 is a little smaller at 5.5-inches, and it doesn’t have the same camera specs as most of the others on this list, but it is hearing aid compatible, and the interface is one of the simplest and easiest to navigate.

Buy the Doro 8050 SIM-free at:

For more guides and product reviews, head to the Technology section. Looking for a new contract? Try our pick of the best SIM-only deals. 


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