Those of you passionate about high-end technology and the coolest and snappiest smartphones around are probably not familiar with Doro, a Swedish telco focused on manufacturing and selling simple, easy-to-use products for seniors.
The latest device to be unveiled by Doro is probably their most interesting ever, as it combines Android’s functionality with an easy to use interface and pretty decent hardware. The PhoneEasy 740 is still in the last stages of pre-production, but the manufacturers are hoping to iron out all the little kinks in time for a US release before the end of the summer.
Sascha Segan from PCMag.com spent some time with the PhoneEasy 740 and his report paints the picture of a device who is actually more than you’d ever expect from something targeted at the elderly.
Sporting a 320-by-480 3.2-inch touchscreen, the PhoneEasy 740 has a slide-out keyboard and features 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of on-board storage, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 3G and WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, and a microSD memory card slot. That’s not too shabby for a device that is set to be made available at a very affordable price, and the software is itself surprisingly functional.
While it doesn’t look anything like Froyo or Gingerbread, Doro’s future handheld will run a heavily skinned version of Android 2.3 that only features the absolute basics. The home screen has four huge main menus (Contacts, Calls, Messages, and Email) that can be accessed via the keys or the touchscreen, and, if you scroll down, you can get other more “complex” options, like a Web browser, podcast client, camera magnifying glass app, and Doro’s own app store.
The app store (Doro Selection) only features 15 apps right now, but Jerome Arnaud, the company’s CEO, has promised that it will grow over time and include other essential programs to suit senior needs. I know, 15 apps might be very little for anyone who’s had contact with a smartphone launched later than, say, 2007, but remember, this phone is targeted towards a certain kind of people who don’t need complex games or full access to Google Play.
As for the user interface, PCMag.com reports that things are surprisingly solid, with only one serious flaw. The texting and email apps are be a bit hard to use, as there are no on-screen keyboards or predictive text functions. Other than that, the PhoneEasy 740 is very easy to use, accessible even for someone who hasn’t interacted with such technology before, and it even comes with a few original features (a configurable panic button and wideband audio among others).
Doro has an interesting PC-based interface as well, which will allow relatives or friends of the PhoneEasy 740 owners to remotely set up and monitor their devices. The interface is much more complex than the actual phone’s software, and with it, you can add or remove apps from the PE740 to help out your father, mother, or grandfather get the best out of their “smartphone” experience.
There’s no word on the phone’s pricing or availability just yet, but Doro is negotiating with several “important” US carriers as we speak. Consumer Cellular, who’s been selling Doro’s products before, will most likely be one of the company’s partners for this new device. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the PhoneEasy 740 sold by more “popular” carriers as well.
What do you guys think? Would you buy the PhoneEasy 740 as a gift for your dad or mom? What are the device’s chances of becoming the least bit popular? And finally, what would be the right price for the phone, in your your opinion?