Best iPhone for seniors

At 85, I use a variety of Apple devices. iPhone 14Pro is current phone. Love the Face ID, saves lots of time and memory of Passwords. Speaking of those, this is the real nightmare for me. I have never been able to memorize well, even as a child. So, Finger ID and Face ID and password managers and Keychain all help. But, setting up a device and having to figure out how to do that is sometimes really hard these days for me. But then, I’ve had a computer of some kind for 40 years now and “back in the day” it was easier to set things up! :grinning:


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More power to you, Charles! My mom is currently 89, and she and I have been communicating via email and video chatting via Duo/Meet for two years now. At first she was very hesitant, and could hardly do anything on her Android phone, or on her Amazon Fire tablet. However, I kept patiently prodding her along, and now she just loves to video chat with me, and we pass dozens of emails back and forth each month. She has learned so much for her age.


Do you live near an Apple Store? If so, it might be nice to take your mum to the Store and let her try out some of the features on both phones, and be involved in the decision.

Then take her out for a nice lunch. :D


I got you beat, Charles. I started data processing stuff with punch cards in 1954 in college. I designed systems with punch cards in the Army a couple of years after college and then back to Palo Alto to become a programmer in 1961. Over the years I wrote a few million lines of code - mainly working on COBOL compilers - and had lots of computers. I still have my TRS 80 from the early days. My first Mac was in 1985. I had to use PCs as well (working for Tandem, Compaq, HP) and have to because I am project editor of the ISO COBOL standard. The editor is FrameMaker for the 1200 page document. I have the usual stuff - iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, iMac. Trying to figure out new stuff is a bit hard for me, too. Especially when they “upgrade”. the systems and “improve” stuff. It certainly was easier in olden times.


Mum does not - in fact there is no Apple Store in Tasmania. And I don’t live in the same state - so this makes it a little tricky. Thankfully, I have a tech savvy nephew who lives near her and is very helpful.

Hi - a quick update on this. I got myself a 15Pro to see what faceID was like - loved it. So I decided to get Mum a 15 and she loves it and finds it much easier. She is busy getting her cards into the Apple Wallet (and Stocard) and creating strong passwords in Keychain, so she can get rid of pages of written passwords which were driving her crazy (as well as the rest of the family). A great outcome, and proud of my Mum for giving it a go!


@g.d.h - Thanks for sharing the update and conclusion! One thing I really appreciate about the TidBITS community is how often people follow-up with how they resolved their questions/issues. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and successful 2024!


MUCH better is to use a password manager. Everyone has their favorite, I use Dashlane (which comes with pretty good VPN product). This is a typical password it comes up with for you:


Thanks paulc. I’ll do some research on why you think this is the case (Keychain has served me well so far). I’m sure TidBITS has an article on this. All the best for '24!

Gerald, to give you a small jump-start on your research of password managers versus Keychain, a few primary reasons to go with a manager are 1) needing to utilize passwords etc. on a mix of platforms, 2) flexibility to store a wider variety of data types beyond passwords and codes, and 3) needing to share passwords.

If all your devices are from Apple and you don’t need or care to store things like library card barcodes, software license activation codes, financial account details etc. then Keychain can serve you well with no added expense and an excellent level of security.

FWIW, passwords can be shared with iCloud Keychain, using either Airdrop or family sharing.

Another benefit of password managers is that a password manager usually uses a different password from the device passcode to unlock the passwords. That said, it may also be a drawback - it’s one more password to memorize, and it should be long for minimal security.

Probably for most people iCloud Keychain is good enough and better than relying on creating your own passwords.

All those can be securely saved without 3rd party software too.

Keychain offers secure notes. Notes itself offers encrypted notes that share just fine over iCloud. And those notes can contain graphics like barcodes etc. IMHO the virtually only reason you’d really be forced to use a 3rd party password manager is if you have to go beyond Apple devices because, obviously, iCloud only syncs among Apple kit.

But regardless of Apple or 3rd party, the most important thing is to use one. You absolutely shouldn’t be without these days. We use far too many services and devices to reasonably be able to do this in our heads alone.

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It’s possible in Apple Keychain to add keychains with their own passwords (Utilities/Keychain Access => File => New Keychain) that appear under “Custom Keychains” in the main Keychain window. This allows a user to have a keychain for passwords and Secure Notes, separate from the keychains macOS sets up, that can’t be accessed with the user’s macOS login password.

I also think it’s worth noting that any passwords stored using the Passwords panel in macOS, iOS, and iPadOS are protected by TouchID or FaceID in addition to the user’s login password.

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Assuming you’re at home, in addition to either Keychain or a password manager, I’d get an actual paper notebook and write the critical ones down (along with the recovery key, security questions, etc). That saves you if your computer goes blooey and allows you to consolidate things that the manager might not (like security questions).

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Forgot to mention it, but I use multiple devices and multiple OSes (i.e. Mac n Winblowz) so Keychain is a non-starter.

I believe that we’re talking about iCloud Keychain, a subset of the system Keychain on macOS and the sourse of settings / passwords on iOS and iPadOS as well as within Safari on macOS. The system Keychain on macOS as far as I know cannot be synced to non-Mac devices.

That’s a wise practice in any case.

I haven’t tried it yet myself, but note that iCloud Passwords now supports Windows computers:

Set up iCloud Passwords on your Windows computer - Apple Support

Now that she’s changed her passwords and locked them away in Keychain, how will anyone be able to take over her medical, financial, legal, and other services when she needs help?

A deficiency of Keychain vis a vis several password managers is that Keychain has no way to grant a trusted person access to passwords in the event of an emergency (or after death—no, Keychains are NOT shared with Legacy Contacts).

This, for example, is how Emergency Access works on LastPass:

Perhaps your mother can mitigate Keychain’s lack of a feature like Emergency Access by sharing the passwords to keystone accounts like her email and voicemail (which are often used as ways to validate password reset requests) with a trusted person via a iCloud Keychain shared group: