In a world where gadgets and gizmos are becoming more sophisticated and complex, the idea of using a new mobile phone can be off-putting for those of us who often struggle with technology. Thankfully, there are a few smartphones on the market designed with the older user in mind and we managed to get our hands on 5 of them. Here's what we thought of each one...
This small, compact handset has all the essentials and basic features you would expect from a smart phone. Although it’s lightweight, it certainly feels robust enough to withstand a good few knocks and drops. The design has been kept simple so there’s no thrills or gimmicks – but you’ll still find all the basic features you’d expect from any smartphone.
The small screen can be quite challenging to use, unless you have very slender flingers and good eyesight, so using a stylus is definitely advisable. The volume levels are adequate, but could be a little on the quiet side for someone with a moderate hearing impairment. Overall, this phone is great value for money at just £15. However, it would arguably make a more suitable first phone for a young child, rather than an elderly user.
- Prices start from £15 when bought for Pay as you go 1. Visit the Vodafone website or call 08080 408 408
5. Alcatel U5 4G
The Alcatel U5 4G is a good handset for someone seeking affordability and ease of use. The set up is straightforward and it has all of the basic features that you would expect from a smartphone with an Android operating system. The build is lightweight, yet robust enough for daily use and certainly doesn’t look ‘cheap’ and the 5" display is nice and bright. The functions can be a little on the slow side for those who regularly browse online and visit social media sites. However, if you’re simply looking to make calls and send texts and occasionally visit the web, this won’t hamper your overall experience.
You'll find the 8GB internal memory is easily used up if you wish to take a few photos and install a few apps - so an additional micro SD card can be purchased to add more storage if needed. This device also has a 8mp front camera and a 5mp rear camera with an LED flash - both are good enough to take nice photos if you have adequate lighting. The selfie camera app is perhaps more suited towards the younger user, but is nonetheless a fun feature to use with family and friends! The battery life can be easily drained, so you'll find daily charging necessary.
- Prices start from £89 PAYG. Visit Argos or call 0345 640 3030
4. Smart N8
If you’re looking for an inexpensive smartphone with a bit of style, this phone will fit the bill. It has a well-built, sold design and costs less than £100!
What’s great about this phone is that you can adjust the size of text and images, making its features more accessible for those who struggle with reading off a small screen. It also has a clever fingerprint scanner security feature to keep other people from accessing your information.
The interface could take a little while to get your head around, so may not be the best option for the less-tech savvy. However, if you’re willing to give it a try, with a bit of patience and perseverance you’ll get a lot out of it. The camera produces good images, but the battery doesn't last a full day so you’ll find yourself needing to charge it quite often. The volume and speaker settings don’t go as high as necessary for those with hearing impairments, but it's perfect for those who struggle with reading off a small screen.
- Prices start from £85 for Pay as You Go. Visit the Vodafone website or call 08080 408 408
This smartphone designed with a mature user in mind. It has a number of user-friendly features, including a 'press-and-hold' system for each button push, which prevents you accidentally selecting options, or dialing numbers by mistake. The screen itself is bright and clear with large text and big icons which are helpful for anyone with a visual impairment.
A great additional feature on for the phone is a medication monitor, which reminds you to take your medication at selected intervals and can notify an assigned contact if a pill is missed. You can add morning, afternoon, evening and night time medication routines and also record a wide variety of measurements such as blood glucose levels which is great for people with diabetes. It also allows you to record information about your GP, and your hospital appointments.
- Prices start from £179.99 SIM-free. Visit the Hearing Direct website or call 0800 032 1301
2. Doro 8030
This really is a great handset for technophobes wanting to keep in touch with friends and family on-the-go. It's simplified interface with call, view and send makes it easy to navigate to where or what you want to do. The set-up is very user-friendly and has super simple tutorials which go through the basics of using a smartphone for the first time, from scrolling and swiping, to viewing an unread message. Unlike many smartphones, it has a clear and coherent volume range.
The assistance button is a particularly handy feature for those who may live alone and may need to call on others for help. All you need to do is set up some contacts, who will be called or texted with a predefined message at the press of the button, should you get into an emergency. Similarly to the Doro 820 mini, it also includes the My Doro Manager feature, which lets family or friends help you control your phone from theirs, making it even easier to set up and manage your Doro smartphone if you’re not sure where to begin. Your trusted ‘helper’ can add contacts, change settings, and back up your phone's content and pictures automatically.
- Prices start from £99. Visit Tesco Mobile or call 0800 323 405
This is a great first smartphone anyone lacking confidence with technology. It’s packed with clear step-by-step tutorials for sending messaging, making calls, taking photos and much more. It’s the perfect size for transporting around – not too small, not too large – and is encased with a lightweight robust material which gives it a very durable feel. Its clear interface makes it ideal for those who want a phone for just a handful of uses and it’s big icons make it particularly user-friendly for those with visual impairments.
The processor and RAM combination are pretty low by today's standards, so opening apps can be quite slow. However, if you’re only seeking the basic functions from a phone then this won’t be too much of a problem. While the battery life isn’t awful, you’ll need to remember to charge it up when you can. The camera produces good quality images, but is definitely not in the same league as the other smartphone cameras on the market. Nevertheless, its more than adequate for someone wanting to capture a few memories with family and friends.
Purchase this handset through Fuss Free Phones and you’ll have your own telephonist service. All you have to do is press the button on the back of the handset to reach a telephonists who will put you through to one of your saved contacts in seconds. You can also benefit from the ‘no nuisance calls’ feature, which enables you to only allow your trusted contacts to call you direct. All other incoming calls are intercepted by the telephonists. If it’s a genuine call, they’ll put the them through. If it's a PPI call, recorded message or it sounds like a scam call, the telephonist will hang up. Just like the Doro 8030, it also includes the My Doro Manager feature.
- Prices start from £25 per month. Visit Fuss Free Phones or call 0800 845 6600
- For more great consumer advice, see Yours magazine!