A Phone for Grandma

The Just5 J509 “grandma-friendly” phone handles calls and texts and does nothing else one would expect of a modern cell phone, addressing a growing demand for simple, no-frills handsets for the elderly.

The “five” in Just5 stands for five features that target older users: big buttons, easy operation, amplified sound, long-lasting battery and a personal emergency response system. When the SOS button on the back is pressed, it sets off a loud alarm, then texts “help me” to five contacts, and then calls them in order.

The slim device looks more like a calculator than a phone, with a minimum of buttons and simple numeric display. The oversized number keys are designed to be easy to see. The phone features an FM radio and a flash light, and is compatible with hearing aids. The screen shows the current time, call history, a phone book, a calculator and an alarm clock. If Grandma is feeling adventurous, the phone does support SMS, but cannot send photos or take them.

The phone is billed as “the antidote to overly complex cell phones” on the Just5 website.

Just5 is tapping into a market other phone companies are also trying to reach. The Doro PhoneEasy 345 has the same basic keys and features as Just5 plus a bright display, AT&T has a Senior Nation 200 phone plan that includes call minutes and no texting plan, and Verizon and Samsung launched the Haven last year specifically for seniors, with big buttons and a budget-friendly call plan.

According to the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of people age 65 or older own cell phones, compared to 90 percent of 18-to-49-year-olds.

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