It may be a raging stereotype, but many people over a certain age have just one priority when it comes to mobile phones: ‘I just want to make calls!' Smart design helps, and a clean user interface that isn't cluttered with endless menus. You also have to take into account conditions such as arthritis, which affects millions of people in the UK alone.
After reviewing the Carephone, a peace-of-mind mobile designed to help families keep tabs on their older relatives, we've rounded up three other wrinkly-friendly smartphones and compared them to see which is the best.
Doro's PhoneEasy 615 is a clamshell phone that harks back to the flip phones of last decade. That curvaceous design is easy on the eye and feels quite substantial in the hand.
Given the target users and the name of the device, you'd expect the Doro PhoneEasy 615 is a breeze to use, and it certainly lives up to its name. A handy screen on the front gives you the name and number of callers. Flip the phone open and you'll find a two-inch display and a keypad of large, well-spaced keys including dedicated camera and SMS buttons that take you right into those features with one click. The menus are simple to master.
The PhoneEasy boasts a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, one feature missing from the other handsets here. Snaps look fine if not spectacular, and there aren't any special settings other than red eye reduction, but it's a doddle to operate. Built-in GPS is a bonus (although you can't track the handset's position remotely, as you can with the Carephone). The handset is also hearing aid compatible. The PhoneEasy 615 also has a useful ICE (in case of emergency) function for entering your name, date of birth, blood type and allergies, as well as two emergency contacts.
With such a dearth of features, you'd expect the battery to last for days without the need to recharge. The Doro PhoneEasy 615 doesn't disappoint, lasting the longest of all the phones here. As with the other handsets in this round-up, the basic functionality means performance isn't an issue.
The intuitive interface makes this a great phone for oldies, with more features than expected. Read our full Doro Easyphone 615 review for more info.
None of these phones could be described as attractive, but the Emporia RL1's dour display and calculator design are particularly grim. The lightweight plastic build had us terrified, as we're not convinced it would survive a drop.
Though the lack of features means there's not much to master, we found a slight delay in key recognition led to the odd typo when texting. At least the font size is typically huge for the visually impaired, while the hard-of-hearing are catered for by a terrifyingly loud ringtone.
An SMS Blacklist facility (to prevent text messages from certain numbers), calculator and birthday reminder are about all the features you can expect. Like the Carephone it also has a torch, but the excellent safety features of that phone are missing here.
For a back-to-basics handset to work, it must do the basics well (i.e. calling and texting). Sadly, we found the phone had a slight delay in recognising a key press, particularly when using the text facility. Phone calls were also hindered by a bizarre crackling noise. We found battery life to be decent, if unremarkable. As with the other phones here, the lack of features such as web browsing and media playback means the power won't drain too fast.
The Emporia RL1 may only cost £60, considerably cheaper than some of the phones here, but the lack of interesting or useful features and the issues with texting and calling make it impossible to recommend. Read our full Emporia RL1 review for more info.
Due to its plastic shell, this phone feels rather flimsy but impressively light. After using the bright, colourful screen of the Carephone, the PhoneEasy's dull grey display was disappointing.
Designed with ease of use in mind, the 341gsm is one of the easiest phones to get to grips with. A typical lack of features keeps the interface simple. The display only measures 27x37mm, but text is large enough that even visually impaired users should be able to read it without too much trouble.
A calculator, emergency button and alarm make up the bare feature set. There's not even a calendar or a torch, which can be found on the other phones here. However, you can speed-dial up to 10 contacts by assigning them to the number buttons. Like the Carephone, you get a handy ‘Emergency' button on the rear which calls and texts a set contact as well as emitting a piercing alarm.
A below-average battery life mars the performance, though you'll still get the best part of a day's use. We didn't notice any call issues or other niggles.
The Doro PhoneEasy 341gsm achieves its goal of being a no-nonsense back to basics phone, although the dull display and plastic design make it less appealing than other phones in this group. Read our full Doro PhoneEasy 341gsm review for more info.