How to senior proof an Android phone?

Learn how to make Android smartphones senior-friendly, and some simple tweaks you can do.

3 min read

Senior citizens often encounter challenges when using smartphones, either due to their limited familiarity with technology or the effects of aging. If your senior is new to smartphones, there are certain tweaks you can do to transform the Android smartphone into a senior-friendly device.

You can senior-proof an Android phone by using senior-friendly launchers like Elder Launcher and Simple Launcher that enlarge icons and fonts. You can increase the text size across the operating system, enlarge the keyboard buttons, and set up call shortcuts. You can also uninstall or disable apps that you no longer need to keep your home screen organized.

Here are various ways to make an Android phone easier to use for seniors:

User senior-friendly Android launchers

If your senior's phone has a complicated interface, you can switch to a launcher that simplifies the phone interface and enlarges icons and fonts. An example of a good launcher for seniors is the Elder Launcher, which allows users to add apps to the Home screen, and enlarges the icons and texts. It also allows users to add important contacts to the home screen for easy access. Other senior-friendly launchers you can install include Easy Mode (for Samsung phones), Simple Launcher, BaldPhone, and Big Launcher.

Increase font size

Seniors with declining eyesight have trouble reading small texts, and you can address this issue by increasing the size of screen text across the Android operating system. To increase the text size on your senior's Android phone, open the Settings app, scroll to Display, and then tap System Font (it could be font size, style, or Display size and text). Some phones allow you to tweak font size via Settings, Accessibility, then font size.

Enlarge the keyboard buttons

Once you increase the on-screen text size, you may want to enlarge the on-screen keyboard buttons. Most Android smartphones come with Gboard preloaded, which provides multiple options to adjust the height of the keyboard. To enlarge the keyboard buttons, open any app that uses the keyboard so that you can view the keyboard on the screen.

Find the Settings option (gear icon), go to Preferences, and tap Keyboard height. Choose between Mid-tall, Tall, or Extra-tall, depending on how large you want the icons to be. Select the checkmark box to save your new keyboard height. You can also tap the Undo button to go back to the normal height.

Tidy home screen

Android smartphones come with so many apps preinstalled, which can be overwhelming for elderly phone users. You can help your senior keep things simple on the home screen by organizing the apps so that only the most important apps remain. You can organize the apps by category on each home screen to make it easier to trace commonly used apps.

Android lets you arrange the home screen by dragging the icons around the screen and removing apps that you no longer need. On the home screen, tap and hold an app icon and drag it to the Uninstall/Remove option.

Uninstall or disable unused apps

Android smartphones come with many pre-installed apps, some of which are unnecessary. Identify the apps that your senior no longer needs and uninstall them from the phone. If an app is not being used but may be needed in the future, you can simply disable it so that it remains inactive but still installed on the phone.

To uninstall apps that are no longer needed, go to Settings, scroll to Apps, and tap Uninstall. Some Android phones may have different ways of uninstalling mobile apps, and you should find related terminologies

Set up call shortcuts

Seniors may not have the patience to scroll through the contact list every time they want to make a call. You can set up shortcuts on the home screen so that they can easily access the most important contacts they need.

If your senior has a Samsung phone, use the speed dial feature to add mostly used contacts. Scroll through the Phone app, open the Keypad tab, long-press any unassigned number, and choose the contact to save. Do this repeatedly to assign different numbers to different contacts. Once you have added several contacts, your senior will only need to long-press the assigned number to make a call.

For other Android smartphones, you can use the widget option to add call shortcuts. Tap and hold on to the home screen, tap Widgets, and scroll to contacts. Tap Direct Dial, and pick a contact that you want to add. You can place the contact shortcut anywhere on the home screen, and your senior can make a call by simply tapping the contact shortcut.

Set up custom ringtones for special callers

Android smartphones allow users to set up custom ringtones for special callers to help them distinguish the callers. You can set up custom ringtones to help your senior know when a family member, health care provider, or close friend is calling.

To set up custom ringtones, go to the Contacts app, and select the person you want to customize a ringtone for. Tap on the three dots in the top right corner, select Set Ringtone from the menu, and pick an easily identifiable ringtone from the list.

Add emergency information

Medical emergencies can happen to anyone at any time, and knowing medical information about a person can make all the difference to first responders. You can add your senior’s medical information, including their blood group, allergies, any health condition they have, and emergency contacts to call.

To add emergency information on Android, go to Settings, scroll to About Phone, and tap on Emergency Information to open. You can then enter your senior's medical information, set emergency contacts, and click Save.

Set up cloud storage

You can set up cloud storage to back up important information like photos and documents. Cloud storage lets you access the backup on various devices like a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If your senior's phone gets lost or stolen, they will still get access to their memories and backup data.


Once you have made tweaks to your senior's Android phone, you should make them aware of the changes. If you set up a new launcher and added shortcuts for important tasks and contacts, you should give your senior a quick tutorial to show them how it works. It also helps to practically show them how to quickly make calls via the shortcut options or speed dial. If you added emergency information, you should review the information together to make sure the information is accurate and timely.