Anyone on the hunt for a bleeding-edge smart phone rammed to the gills with the latest technological innovations might want to point their cursor elsewhere, because the Doro PhoneEasy 409gsm takes simplification to new extremes. Simple isn't bad however -- this mobile is aimed at the elderly, and it's designed to be as easy to use as humanly possible.
At a cost of around £90, has Doro succeeded in its goal of making a truly accessible mobile?
Visually, the Doro 409 isn't too impressive. A bulky clamshell design measuring 98 by 50 by 19mm frames the 409, which is matte black all over apart from a strip of green plastic on the front and around the emergency button on the back.
While it's not particularly slender, this phone is light. It tips the scales at 110g, and it doesn't feel heavy at all. Two LEDS on the front of the handset will flash intermittently to let you know the battery is low, or that you have a new text message waiting.
Flipping the phone open, the first thing you'll notice is the 409's absolutely massive buttons. You'll have a hard time missing your mark with this phone, so it's perfect if your eyesight's a little wobbly, or you find the tiny buttons on other mobiles too fiddly. Above the alphanumeric keypad, there are 'call' and 'call end' buttons, up and down arrow keys for cycling through menus and two more navigation buttons, primarily used as 'confirm' and 'back' keys.
Small but mighty
The 51mm (2-inch) screen is really quite small considering how much space is available, which is surely a missed opportunity. With a resolution of 176x220 pixels, it does look pretty sharp, and it's bright, too, which is somewhat redeeming.
The menu system really couldn't be simpler. Bring up the menu by tapping the left button from the home screen, then scroll up and down using the arrow keys. Every icon is pleasingly chunky and the interface is extremely snappy and responsive. We'd expect nothing less -- with such low functionality and pared-down graphics, you'd be highly disappointed if you couldn't browse the phone's menus at a fair old lick.
In terms of features, things are extremely sparse, with no camera, web browser or media player in sight. There is, however, a headphones socket on the right of the handset. Ultimately, this phone is for texting and calling only. One feature that does set this mobile apart, though, is the emergency button on the back.
State of emergency
Holding the emergency button for a few moments or tapping it twice in under a second (or three times in under a second -- an option you can select from the settings menu) will first sound a very loud alarm, then automatically send a text message to five different numbers. The call list and emergency message can be edited from the settings menu. Once all the messages are deployed, the 409 will start calling the numbers on the call list until someone answers.
Another feature is an extra-loud speaker for the hard of hearing. The 409 has a hearing aid compatibility rating of M3/T4, which means the sound output from this phone will be picked up by a hearing aid with increased clarity. For a more in-depth explanation of exactly what these ratings mean, check out this site.
If you're looking for a really simple phone, ordinarily we'd recommend picking up an old, reliable Nokia from the days when mobiles were drastically less complicated. The extra features of this phone, however, designed with the elderly in mind, certainly make the 409 a more attractive purchase if safety's your biggest consideration.
It ain't so pretty and it's certainly bereft of features, but, if you're looking for a phone built for the elderly or hard of hearing, the Dora PhoneEasy 409gsm is very simple to use, with well-implemented specialty features.
Edited by Emma Bayly