How do we live without our smartphones? They are there to help us do everyday things, and they are always with us. In general, we are a little too dependent on them. The majority of the nation isn't quite so lucky to have the gift of a pocket elf to tell them when to take the next step. No, the majority of the nation has a feature or, dare I say, dumb phone.
So then I ask you this: Why do the elderly and completely computer illiterate have such hard to use devices.You may think that is a stupid question, but it really isn't. I'm sure you've been asked how to get to that silly, hidden voice-mail before. All you have to do is place those frequently visited apps right on the home screen so they know exactly where to look for them. Assuming they just use their phone for the basics, all of the apps will fit on one screen.
A lot of that phone's potential is being wasted by doing this so they can get away with a super budget phone so long as it's easily customized and easy to use. You could get them the iPhone 3Gs or and LG Optimus for under $50. You will most likely be forced to have a data plan, so opt for the smallest amount of data possible and set up some type of service they could use (such as weather or email) so they aren't throwing away the money on data. This plan obviously isn't for everyone, but if you can set up and show them how to use the phone, this could be a viable option. They might get to exploring, and learn how to use it a little more towards its potential.