Finding the right phone for an elderly or vulnerable relative is tricky. They have to be easy to use, have large keys, and not require a weekend reading a manual as thick as War and Peace before you can make a call.
If they also come with some useful emergency features this is a bonus, and it’s why the Doro PhoneEasy 715 is such a treat.
I’ve tested a few handsets aimed at the elderly, and they are mostly pretty big, in order to fit in the larger keys, and often quite plasticky in feel – not good if you know that arthritic hands are more likely to drop the handset.
Out of the box, Doro’s latest release feels pleasantly solid – it is neat in size, thanks to the fact that it has a slider feature, with the keypad hidden underneath the screen, which smoothly slides up to reveal the keys. The screen itself is plain and simple, with the words appearing in a clear, easy-to-read font. The back has a textured finish, which ensures it is easier to hold than some of the fancier smartphones (Apple, I’m looking at you) on the market.
Surprisingly for this kind of phone, it has a 2-megapixel camera, which takes reasonable images, offering the option to send by Bluetooth or use as wallpaper or in your phonebook – handy if the user finds it hard to remember names. Take a snap, choose to share it via Bluetooth, and it asks if you want to activate Bluetooth – just what you need, rather than having to have the know-how to recognise which menu to delve in to switch on Bluetooth.
The keyboard has shortcuts keys for the camera and texts, and all the keys light up so they’re easy to see in low light. Other features include a torch, organiser, calculator and radio (which can only be listened to if you plug in some earphones).
The standout feature though, for anyone who is looking for a phone for someone who is vulnerable, is the emergency alarm. Should they be in difficulty, they can press the large square button on the back of the handset and it can either set off a loud alarm, call a chosen contact, or both.
There’s also a neat ICE (in case of emergency) section, which can be filled out with full name, address, medical notes, allergies, doctor’s details and emergency contacts should the user be taken into hospital in an emergency or be too confused to give proper details themselves.
Doro has even included a couple of games should you want them – good old Teris is one of them.
Charging is done via a charging dock – again far simpler than trying to fiddle around with charger ports if your hands aren’t as agile as they used to be.
This is a neat, well-made phone with some real thought in the special features for elderly or vulnerable users. The price on our press release was £130, which seemed high for what is essentially a basic phone, but a quick peek on Amazon shows you can now buy it for a shade under £90 – not a bad price to pay for peace of mind.