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How to help elderly relatives keep intouch with video calls

My Grandparents live in a remote little village and don't have the Internet at their house. A little while ago whilst my Auntie and Uncle were visiting, they rang me and my children on WhatsApp - and my grandparents loved seeing their litte faces on the screen!

And now, just a few weeks later, with social distancing and isolation all around us, I wanted to find a way to get my Grandparents online. Some people in my family thought they'd need to get BT out and set up a modem and all sorts - but all they need is a cheap (but not too cheap) smartphone and a SIM card with some data.

The first thing you need to check is what network will give you reception at their home. Lukcily for me, my Uncle did that call a few weeks ago and so we knew his network has enough reception at their house. But if you don't know, check out the coverage using these online tools:

3 coverage checker

O2 coverage checker

EE coverage checker


Giff Gaff have the same coverage as O2, and Talk Mobile have the same coverage as Vodafone.

Once you know which networks will provide you with a good connection you need to find a sim plan which will give you a large amount of data. 1 GB of data will allow approximately 3 hours of video calling or 30 hours of voice calls. You can compare different networks and data amounts here on USwitch.

Keep in mind that your relatives will need data if they don't have Internet at home. That's the boat my Grandparents are in. Meanwhile my Mum has also bought a smartphone today for this reason but she already has home Broadband so she just needs the device / handset and a little bit of data - she'll do video calls to us when she's home and use her home Wifi.

Finally, you need a phone. Below is a list of low end smartphones all of which are able to install Whatsapp and perform both voice and video calls with other people.

Alcatel 1C - £47

Nokia 1 Plus - £69.99 (This is the one I bought my Grandparents because the Alcatel can't handle 4G and apparently 4G reception at their house is good but their 3G reception is weak. I actually bought it yesterday for £68 from ebuyer.com but they're out of stock now.)

Honor 8S - £83

Xiaomi Redmi S2 - £100

Samsung Galaxy A10 - £130

Please let me know - in the comments here or on Instagram - if this blog post was useful and if you'd like me to do a follow up on how to set up the phone. My Grandparent's phone should be arriving to me shortly so that I can get it all set up for them and then post it to their house, with all our family numbers already programmed in.

Photo courtesy of UnSplash.

by Lisa

Lisa has been planning, designing and building websites for companies of all sizes for over 18 years. Nowadays you'll mainly find her wireframing and then designing complex sites over at 18a to make sure they flow well to give the user the best possible experience whilst providing great ROI for the client. She also teaches SEO (search engine optimisation).

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