A 4-inch Android handset aimed at first-time smartphone buyers, the Doro Liberto 810 makes up in simplicity for what it loses in features and performance.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/8/2014 1:27:43 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Simplified interface for smartphone newbies
Poor default keyboard
Low screen resolution
Limited potential consumers
By Alistair Charlton, Devices Editor
As smartphone spec sheets burst at the seams with fingerprint scanners, heart rate monitors, Ultra HD video and quad-core processors, you’d be forgiven for thinking the manufacturers have entered a 21st century space race, breathlessly trying to outdo each other at every opportunity - but for those looking for simplicity in their next smartphone, Swedish company Doro thinks it has the answer.
Called the Liberto 810, the phone you see here runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, has a 4-inch display, a five-megapixel camera, and a suggested price of £200, although it is widely available for £130.
So far, so normal for a budget smartphone, but where Doro hopes the Liberto 810 - and indeed the company as a whole - can carve out a niche for itself in a hugely crowded market is by targeting those who are unfamiliar with smartphones and unlikely to get along with the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.
Software: Android, simplified
Doro has modified the Android user interface to make it as simple to use as possible. There is only one home screen, which includes the familiar Google search box and time/date at the top, but is joined by three large speed-dial icons for your favourite contacts and three equally huge icons for the phonebook, text message inbox, and camera.
Someone who hasn’t used a smartphone before - exactly who Doro is targeting here - or those with poor eyesight will benefit from these big, clear icons, and returning to the home screen is done with a press of a large, illuminated and tactile button, flanked by two similarly-physical buttons.
For more features, tap the icon at the bottom of the home page to reveal four further pages of huge application icons. Some elements of Android remain, such as swiping down from the menu bar to reveal settings and notification, but delve any deeper and the settings app itself is also massively slimmed down to cater for less tech-savvy users.
Although the Doro runs a modified version of Android, the system isn’t ‘forked’ like an Amazon Kindle tablet or the new Nokia X phones. This means Google’s services (Maps, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail and more) are all present and correct, although Chrome isn’t the default web browser.
For anyone familiar with Android, the Doro will feel like it’s patronising you with its super simple interface - but then if you do feel patronised, this phone isn’t for you. If you’re used to a basic feature phone with a tiny screen, no camera and numeric keypad, then the Doro acts as a friendly stepping stone into the smartphone world.
Design-wise, the Doro Liberto 810 is par for the course when it comes to the £100 to £150 price range. The rear cover has a slightly rubberised finish to it and, added to a pocket-friendly footprint of 126 x 66mm, makes for a device that is comfortable to hold and use in one hand without fear of dropping it.
And if the worst were to happen, the Doro’s screen is unlikely to smash like a more premium handset, due to its cover being plastic instead of glass. That plastic protects a 4-inch display with a resolution of 800 x 480, and while this may seem paltry compared to the Full HD resolutions higher up the smartphone food chain, Doro knows its customers are less likely to want to watch HD movies on their phone.
They can of course install Netflix and stream Breaking Bad to their heart’s content, but not using an HD screen - and thus lowering the performance requirements and price - is a sensible decision by Doro, given its intended audience.
Resolution aside, the Doro’s screen is surprisingly bright given the price, and although viewing angles aren’t the best (tilt the phone vertically and everything goes negative) it’s perfectly acceptable as a first smartphone for those on a budget.
Doro is keeping its cards close to its chest regarding the processor and amount of RAM used by the Liberto 810, but having used the phone it feels much like any other budget Android phone. Yes, there is a degree of lag between tapping an icon and the application opening - and the Doro’s gaming potential ends at Angry Birds - but you have to remember who this phone is aimed at.
Saying it performs less well than an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S3 Mini would be missing the point of the Doro - this is for consumers who haven’t used a smartphone before, and so have very little previous experience to compare it to.
Performance isn’t ground-breaking, but everything still runs as you’d expect, with any lag when opening apps kept to the right side of frustrating.
The Liberto 810 has a five-megapixel rear camera with a flash and digital zoom, and while you won’t be shooting photos for National Geographic, it does the job well enough.
The app is very simple - as you would expect - and offers little more than being able to turn the flash on or off, and reduce the image size from five megapixel down to three, two and one megapixel.
There’s a bit of lag with the app’s shutter animation, darkening the screen each time you take a photo, but on the whole it performs well. Images produced are quite pale, but otherwise fine for sharing onFacebook and Twitter.
The biggest problem we had with the Liberto 810 was its keyboard, which would repeatedly misinterpret our inputs. The backspace and M keys were confused with alarming regularity; even when we tapped right at the edge of the screen, an M would appear instead of the last letting being deleted.
In short, this is a bad keyboard. But thankfully a quick visit to the Google Play store meant we had the excellent SwiftKey installed moments later, fixing all of the Doro’s typing troubles.
It’s a shame that this change of keyboard was necessary because we feel those consumers Doro is aiming the Liberto at may well be unaware that alternative keyboards exist and can be freely downloaded in minutes.