Well, seniors need big phones; they can’t use small phones. The buttons are too small, and they’d be too visually impaired to use it. That sucks! But with the latest technologies showcased by the students from MIT, there might not be a need for buttoned phones anymore: one can simply call any number, by simply thinking about it.
I might write about that in another post; but before that technology become consumer available, seniors will have to resort to big button phones; and these are some of the best big-button phones I have found on the internet, after carefully ciphering their button dimensions, relative usability and compatibility with existing telephone infrastructure.
Firstly, let’s review the longstanding big telephone makers. They do not seem to market any big-button phones specifically toward visually or finger-impaired seniors: they probably don’t even care about seniors, pushing a product line of phones, tablets and IoT peripherals geared toward the tech-savvy, internet-dependent and heavy-spending American youth and middle age.
American Telephone and Telegraph provides a line of legacy home telephones with standard sized buttons. However, it should be noted that, American Telephone and Telegraph made their telephone buttons, or had ordered their home phone buttons to be relatively large sized in comparison to some of its tiny counterparts from Verizon or Sprint. This, I believe, is because American Telephone and Telegraph company had established itself at an earlier time in American history, when everything was bigger: cars, houses, and phone buttons. ATT had somehow retained this legacy American tradition to the present day.
This phone definitely has sizable buttons, at least for the numbers; the functional buttons, however, are too many, too small and inscribed with texts that are just TOO SMALL.
All of the ATT telephones suffer the same pitfalls: they had made their number buttons large and big, but the functional buttons as tiny as a Nokia’s cell phone’s call button. Well, get ATT if you love ATT, just know that your beloved senior will probably never be able be able to use the answering machine or hit the voicemail button.
Well, this one is just WOW! You can see the big numbers from the preview. 123 456 789 *0#. Even though the functional buttons are still smaller than the numbers, the functional buttons are still bigger than the numbers on ATT phones. The big buttons would enable even the most visually impaired seniors to dial accurately. Hell, I could dial this phone blindfolded, taking tactile clues from the relative position of the numbers. It’s definitely the phone to get, if size is what matters the most. However, as it is specifically geared toward seniors, much of the surface area is devoted to the big buttons, leaving no rooms for various novel and legacy functional buttons, which I myself never use and have a hard time believing anybody would use.
Then, it lacked a cordless design or a cordless companion phone: perhaps a simplified design? But cordless would be nice… but nobody makes huge button cordless phones yet…
At the price point of above-$100, PANASONIC’s Link2Cell has big buttons, although not as big as the aforementioned huge-button phone. This phone also has two companion phones, with medium sized yet relatively large buttons, enabled with crisp clear digitized Bluetooth voice-transmission and equipped with a sophisticated embedded Answering Machine System. The phone’s buttons are slightly larger than ATT’s, and rectangular. All these attributes make this phone a good choice for seniors, if size is not the only thing that matters: I certainly expect the sound quality to matter, if the senior’s hearing has deteriorated as well as my grandmother’s hearing once had. An upgrade to digital signal from analog signal would certainly improve the conversation quality and feasibility of phone conversations.
ATT also makes a medium-sized button cordless phone system with relatively robust features, as robust as the twice-as-expensive PANOSONIC, atlhough it uses analog radio, not digital Bluetooth. Bluetooth is probably better because it’s digital, less susceptible to signal loss and radio disruptions, and also more secure. Yet Bluetooth’s advantages probably do not justify $100 markup, unless, of course, you’re all rich and business with business secrets that you have to digitally protect when you pick up your cordless phone so none of your neighbors would opportunistically or intentionally construct a radio receiver to overhear or eavesdrop on all of your conversations.
That sums up my prospective on the internetly available phones for seniors. I have certainly failed to include certain not-widely-marketed phones that might have even larger buttons than the aforementioned huge-button phones, or the other potentialities: such as spin dial phones, which had born and died before my time.