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What is the best mobile phone for pensioners?

From new simple phones like the Doro 6880, Doro 8100 and emporia SUPEReasy to great value smartphones, we cover a range of options
Senior with mobile phone

Whether you're after a straightforward, easy to use device to stay in touch, or would prefer the wider range of features of a smartphone, you're spoiled for choice in today's mobile phone market.

The most basic simple phones focus on the essentials, but brands like Doro and emporia also offer devices with large touchscreens, incorporating a range of unique features.

And if you do prefer the flexibility of a wide range of apps, a more powerful device that's snappier to use, and better cameras, many recent smartphones offer great value for money.

Read on for our hands-on tests of new simple phones, plus our pick of some more advanced models.

Interested in buying a simple phone for yourself or a relative? Look at our simple phone reviews.

What is a simple phone?

Simple phones are designed for basic mobile phone tasks such as making calls and sending text messages, with some going further and offering internet access via wi-fi or a 4G connection.

There are different designs to choose from. The most basic simple phones have clamshell or brick design with solid buttons, but they might still have modern features such as a camera. 

There are some simple phones that look more like smartphones with a large touchscreen. These more advanced 'simple smart phones' fill the gap between cheaper smartphones and basic simple models. They have a simplified interface that should make them easier to navigate, and include smartphone perks such as more advanced cameras and faster processors.

Some simple phones have assistance buttons and accessibility features, and are compatible with hearing aids. We've tried out recent releases from Doro and emporia to find out how good these features are.

Doro 6880, £99 - a clamshell phone with big buttons

The Doro 6880 has a clamshell design with a screen that's 2.8 inches when open, and has 320 x 240 resolution. When the phone is shut, there's a small external display to show the date, time and any notifications. It has an emergency assistance button that automatically texts or calls pre-selected contacts when pressed. The phone is hearing-aid compatible (T4/M4) and includes features useful to those with dexterity issues, such as a phone holder, large buttons and adjustable font size. Other features are basic on this phone - for example there's a 2Mp camera for photos and videos. 

We tried it out ourselves, so read our Doro 6880 first look to see what we thought of it.

Doro 8100, £175 - with remote control for carers

The Doro 8100 has been made with accessibility and safety front of mind. It's hearing-aid compatible (T3/M3) and has an emergency assistance button you can set up to alert chosen responders or Doro's own support service. Responders can also take full control of the phone remotely via TeamViewer with the owner's permission. Smartphones generally have a home screen full of apps, which can be overwhelming. The Doro 8100's home screen displays commands instead of apps, to make the experience more intuitive. For example, if you select the command 'send', it takes you to a page where you can choose to send a message, email, picture or your location. The phone has a 6.1-inch HD+ touchscreen with 1,560 x 720 resolution, and three camera lenses on the back, making it look like a smartphone. 

Read our full first look of the Doro 8100 to find out more. 

emporia SUPEReasy, £160 - the first 'swipe free' smartphone

If you struggle with the swipe motion required to answer calls on most smartphones, the emporia SUPEReasy might suit you as it has physical buttons for answering and ending calls. The smartphone features are otherwise basic, with a 5-inch HD screen, 4G connection and one rear camera. The phone has an emergency button, large icons and a simple interface. It's also hearing-aid compatible (M4/T4). 

Think it might be for you? Read our emporia SUPEReasy first look to find out.

Find more information and expert buying advice in our guide to buying a simple mobile phone.

Should you buy a smartphone instead?

Most smartphones are more expensive than the priciest simple phones, but offer different benefits. 

Screens and processors will generally be more powerful, you'll often get 5G, and cameras will be versatile and produce better results. However, you won't get specialised accessibility features such as emergency assistance buttons that quickly alert pre-selected responders.

Smartphones can take time to get the hang of if you're not used to them, with lots of apps and busier menus.

Below are three great-value smartphones for less than £300, or check out all our smartphone reviews

Samsung Galaxy A33 5G, £299

Samsung Galaxy A33 5G mobile phone

The Samsung Galaxy A33 5G might suit you if you're used to navigating a Samsung or Android phone. The 6.4-inch AMOLED display has a good resolution and the phone has 128GB of storage, which you can expand on using the micro-SD card slot. It has four camera lenses on the rear of the phone plus a selfie camera, and it can even take 4K videos. 

Check out our full Samsung Galaxy A33 5G review for more details.

Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE, £249

As its name suggests, this is a thin and lightweight phone with a 6.55-inch OLED display and 2,400 x 1,080 resolution. It's powered by a Snapdragon 778G chipset with a large 8GB Ram to run lots of different apps at the same time. The triple camera system on the back of the phone has lots of functions to improve the quality of pictures and videos. This phone used to retail at £399, but Xiaomi has reduced the price for a great deal. 

Find out more about how this phone performs in our Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE review

Samsung Galaxy M22, £199

Samsung Galaxy M22 mobile phone

The Samsung Galaxy M22 has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, albeit with a low resolution (1,600 x 720), but this shouldn't bother you if you're primarily using the phone for simple tasks. It's fuelled by a Mediatek Helio G80 processor with 4GB of Ram, which is more powerful than on simple phones. There are four lenses on the back of the phone and the camera system has lots of modes to enhance pictures in different environments. It's been out since October 2021, so you might get a good deal if you shop around. 

The Samsung M series prioritises battery life and the large 5,000mAh battery should make the phone last a long time, but read our Samsung Galaxy M22 review for the full Which? verdict. 

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