Assistive technology at home
Accessible mobile phones and digital apps
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Discover the top simple mobile phones we recommend, plus advice on how to choose the right one for you.
We've put the latest specialist simple mobile phones through our tough Which? lab tests, to uncover the best easy-to-use models with reliable battery life and clear sound.
You may just be looking for something that's easy to use, but many specialist simple mobile phones also come with valuable extras, such as an SOS or emergency function that calls pre-programmed numbers at the touch of a button, hearing-aid compatibility or a neck strap.
We've listed our top-rated specialist simple mobile phones below. Which? members can log in now to unlock the table and view full results.
|Cheapest simple mobile phones under £50|
|Brand||Price||Things we love about this phone||General ease of use||Call sound quality||Battery life||Speed-dial buttons||Score|
This is an excellent specialist simple phone. It doesn't come with many advanced features, but would be perfect for someone who prefers a simple layout, well-sized text, and buttons that are easy to see and press.
It has extra features such as an SOS button and hearing aid compatibility. You can also choose for the phone to display extra-large text if the normal size is too small for you.
There's not much wrong with this phone, and it gets a Best Buy rating from us.
This is a fantastic simple phone and a clear Best Buy. It has all the basic features you need from your phone, plus a few extras such as a camera with flash.
There's also limited internet access, which will allow you to access Facebook and Twitter from your phone. A lovely large screen with good-sized buttons and long battery life make this phone stand out from others at this price.
It also has colour-coded accept and reject call buttons as well as large, clear menu icons.
This is a really good option if you find modern phones tricky to use. Its large buttons are easy to press and the menu is simple to navigate. The phone has a clear menu, and you can hide unwanted features to make things even simpler.
The large keys make it easy to enter numbers or text messages and, because they're backlit, you'll still be able to read them in poor light. It also has two shortcut buttons for speed-dialling contacts. It is pretty basic but has a few more features than the cheapest specialist phones, such as Bluetooth connectivity and an FM radio.
This is a great specialist simple phone.
The well-sized and labelled number and handset keys makes dialling and navigating menus much easier, and accessibility features like the SOS button and talking number keys (they say the number out loud as you dial) are great for ease of use.
The screen could be bigger, but overall this doesn't take away too much from the positives, making this phone a Best Buy
If you find modern mobile phones too complicated and their tiny buttons hard to press, this simple-to-use clamshell could be for you.
The phone is very basic compared with a smartphone. However, it has a few more features than the cheapest specialist phones, such as a music player, FM radio and camera.
It has large, well-spaced keys that announce the number as you press them, helping to prevent mis-dialling, and it has predictive text so you won't have to repeatedly tap buttons to choose the right letter.
All of these models come with an SOS (emergency) button.
You can find our more about how we test simple mobile phones.
Other innovative and simple mobile phones
Although we haven't tested them, two other innovative and simple mobile phones are worth a mention, as they have with features that might particularly suit the needs of people with dementia.
The Ownfone Mobile 2 (£75) is lightweight and easy to use. It has a customisable front panel - for example, with names, photos or words such as 'taxi' - and is great for someone who doesn't want a smartphone and may have found mobile phones difficult to use.
But it doesn't have extras such as a screen, camera or GPS, and once the front panel has been designed, you'd have to pay a fee to have it reprinted.
The pay-as-you-go plans (Vodaphone only) also put a time limit on when credit must be used by.
The DoroSecure 580 (£130) has a simplified keypad that allows up to four contacts to be called. It has GPs, an SOS button for fast-dialling in an emergency, call-blocking (via an approved-caller list) and can be managed remotely using the internet.
It's well designed and hearing-aid compatible. You can find your relative's location via the GPS or by text message.
However, the keypad unlock sequence could be tricky for someone with dementia, and it's only really useful for people who don't want to call more than four people.
Smartphone memory and health apps
If you already have a smartphone or tablet, you may already make use of the helpful accessibility features that are often available, such as text magnification. Below we list some additional apps that you may find useful.
Apps as memory aids and locator devices
If you suffer from memory lapses, there are dozens of apps designed to help you remember to take specific medication. Most of these give you an audible or visual reminder once you've set the dosage times and the names of the medication.
However, there are obvious limitations in relying on a smartphone app in this way – if you mislay your phone, or your phone battery or signal isn't working, then neither will the memory aid.
Read our reviews of key assistive technology products including memory aids for dementia.
Most people who own a smartphone are aware of the GPS (global positioning system) maps from Google and Apple, which can help you navigate your way when out and about. What's less well known is that, through GPS technology, smartphones and other gadgets can also act as locator devices and even summon help if someone falls.
We asked experts to review telecare and GPS tracking devices that may help someone with dementia - or who is prone to falling - to enjoy a full life for longer.
Apps for better communication
The apps Skype and Viber enable you to make free video and voice calls to people all over the world, using a wi-fi internet connection.
Landline phones with call-blocker services
If you or a relative rely mainly on your landline for telephone communication but are worried about getting nuisance or bogus calls, you may be interested in BT TrueCall Care (recently changed to BT TrueCall Secure).
This is a call-blocker service that's particularly good for vulnerable people. It can block unwanted callers while letting trusted callers through.