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How to Make Android SmartPhones Friendly for Older Users



Interested in using a smartphone because you want to check email, see grandchildren’s pictures, and reconnect with friends on Facebook? Annoyed at the fact that everyone’s expecting you to need nothing more than a Jitterbug cellphone?

There are a number of Android options and apps that make Android smartphones accessible to older users.

The Android and Droid smartphones may not be ready to use right out of the box, but with several tweaks and app additions you can make most Android smartphones easier to use.

If you are unfamiliar with the Android platform, you may need help to get your Android device ready to go, but the step by step instructions should help most users get set up on their own.

Phone Selection

When you go to pick out an Android smartphone, it is important to try out several options to find the device that best fits your needs. Unlike the iPhone, there are many different sizes and options available. It will come down to personal preference, but older users may enjoy devices with bigger, high-resolution screens or physical keyboards. Here are a few options to consider

  • Samsung Infuse 4G – Large 4.5″ display and fast download speeds.
  • Motorola Droid 3 – 4″ display and a physical keyboard.
  • HTC ThunderBolt – 4.3″ display and a kickstand for keeping the phone upright without holding on to it and fast 4G download speeds.
  • Motorola Droid X 2 – high-resolution 4.3″ display that is easy to read outdoors

These are only a few of the Android phones available. You can visit individual Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile stores; or head to Best Buy to get a look at phones from several carriers at the same time. Keep in mind that you may be able to get a better deal on new phones by ordering from

How To Customize Android for Older Users

Android Screen Options

How to change display settings.

The following settings and apps should work on virtually any Android device available at major cell phone companies. As you test out devices in the store, you should be able to test these settings and apps out. Don’t expect the salesperson to know how to make all of these changes, so you may want to print this out if you don’t already have a smartphone to look this up on at the store.

Screen Changes

The following changes are made in the Display menu area. To get there, press Menu, Settings and then Display. Each of these settings can be found in this area.

Brightness – Most of the time Android devices are set to automatic brightness to conserve battery life. If you need your phone to be brighter or dimmer, you can uncheck automatic brightness and drag the slider to the level you want. The higher it is, the less battery life you will have.

Auto Rotation – If your phone is always rotating when you want to do something, you can turn off auto rotate by tapping on Auto-rotate screen to remove the checkbox.

Screen Timeout – If you constantly find the phone screen turning off while you are using it, you can tap on Screen timeout and choose the time you want to use to keep the screen active. Longer time periods will result in lower battery life.

Android Font Size

Make Android Text Bigger

How to Change Font Sizes on Android

You can set the font sizes for many of the common apps you will use, but you cannot set them for the entire system on most Android devices.

Gmail Font SizeLaunch Gmail, Press Menu, More, Settings. Tap the account you want to change, choose Message text size, and then pick a size you want. This will change the size of the font in your messages, but not on the actual subject information in your inbox.

Browser Font SizeOpen your Browser — Press Menu, More, Settings. Tap Set Text size and choose the size you want.

Kindle and eReaders – You can adjust the font size of Kindle and other ebook readers. To do this in Kindle, Open the Kindle app, then open a book and tap Menu. Tap on View Options and choose your font size.

How to Turn On Accessibility Options in Android

TalkBack – TalkBack is a free app which allows your Android smartphone to read text to you. You can see an example of this in the video below. We recommend testing this app out on a phone you want before you buy to make sure it performs well on your device.

KickBack – Works with TalkBack to provide additional haptic(vibration) feedback when using your Android smartphone.

SoundBack – Adds sounds to some places where TalkBack doesn’t have sound available.


These apps, tweaks and changes may make Android a viable option for older users who want to stay connected as they age. Android may not be for everyone, so look for a guide on how to make the iPhone more friendly for older users soon.



  1. Anonymous

    08/02/2011 at 4:28 pm

    I just paid $23.86 for an iPhone and my girlfriend loves her Dell laptop that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 42 inch LED TV to my boss for $665 which only cost me $62,81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  2. GTaylor

    08/04/2011 at 7:42 pm

    Josh, concentrate on the tip of your right index finger. That throbbing is the pulse of two big demographics. The older ones you mentioned who want to be connected with text, pictures, and email. And the younger demographic that is trying to assist the older one.
    But the mobile bill for a smartphone connection might smart a bit too much. There are phones which do not use the more expensive plans. Sprint, for example, charges for the basic plan while allowing pics, text, and access to email such as google. My older lotus phone (still available on ebay and from Sprint if you say please) gives me these services and more for under $50 a month.

  3. donna

    06/18/2012 at 6:23 am

    Please, In my middle fifties, why should I do all that, isnt there SOME phone like besides the samsung charge that has larger everything on it

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