Most of the latest smartphones focus more on surfing the Web, watching videos, playing games and downloading the latest apps than they do making phone calls. For senior or less tech savvy users, this poses a significant problem. Enter Doro, a Swedish company that builds mobile phones specifically for senior users. The Doro PhoneEasy 615 is a comfortable, well designed flip phone with extra large buttons, an easy to read display and a simple user interface. See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?
The Doro PhoneEasy 615 is a replacement for the PhoneEasy 410s. Like its predecessor, it's a flip or "clamshell" phone that is constructed largely from quality feeling plastics. It's a throwback to yesteryear where phones were designed for calls and text and flip phones were almost as fashionable as the iPhone is today. Though we aren't hugely fond of flip phones anymore, the design makes sense because it prevents users from accidentally making calls. Visit Smartphone for the elderly: buying advice
Although not exactly attractive, the Doro PhoneEasy 615 doesn't feel cheap or nasty. The rear of the phone has a rubberised feel that makes it comfortable to grip and hold. The sides and inside of the handset are finished in matte white plastic, which effectively masks fingerprints. We also like the glossy front. Although it does attract fingerprints, the metallic looking plastic feels sturdy and well constructed.
The Doro PhoneEasy 615 has an external display that shows incoming caller ID and any missed calls or messages, a thoughtful inclusion given the target market. However, we wish the handset was easier to flip open. Although it's possible to flip open the PhoneEasy 615 single-handedly, it's a little awkward to get your finger under the front. This is best achieved using one hand to hold the phone and the other hand to flip it open.
The Doro PhoneEasy 615 has an LED status light on the front (which annoyingly can't be turned off), volume buttons on the left side and a 2.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB charging port on the right side. There's also a dedicated emergency button on the back that can contact up to five pre-assigned numbers and sound a loud alarm when pressed. This is a handy feature that provides a little extra piece of mind for older users. It will send a predefined SMS message to all pre-assigned contacts and will then call the numbers on the list until a call is answered.
Large buttons, easy to read display
The Doro PhoneEasy 615 has extra large, backlit buttons that click reassuringly when pressed, along with a display that is surprisingly easy to read in sunlight. The keys offer good tactility and are slightly raised and the screen possesses reasonable vertical viewing angles. Horizontal viewing angles are less impressive.
Using the Doro PhoneEasy 615 is very easy. The main menu is simple and effective and comes in the form of a list that you simply scroll up and down with the arrow keys to navigate. We also love the fact that you can remove items from the menu list if you wish. The large icons and text displayed on the PhoneEasy 615's screen makes it easy to read and use and there's an extra large (read: huge) font option if the standard large size isn't big enough. Two selection buttons sit above the arrow and answer/end call buttons, while we like the shortcut keys for the camera and messaging. There's also A, B and C buttons that can be assigned to frequent phone numbers for speed dialling.
The Doro PhoneEasy 615 is a 3G capable device and its call quality is more than adequate. Both the earpiece volume and the speakerphone volume are louder than most other mobile phones on the market and the phone is is compatible with M3/T3 or higher hearing aids.
Despite primarily functioning as a phone, the Doro PhoneEasy 615 does have a few other notable features. It can send and receive MMS messages and type using predictive text, two functions that didn't exist on the previous PhoneEasy 410s. It also has a basic, 3.2-megapixel camera with zoom and a single LED flash, Bluetooth connectivity, an image viewer, alarm, calendar, calculator and an FM radio. The PhoneEasy 615 can store up to 300 numbers in its phonebook, with up to three numbers assigned per user.
The In Case of Emergency (ICE) function is also notable. This feature allows PhoneEasy 615 owners to enter critical information about themselves in case of an emergency. Information entered can include name, birth, height, weight, language, health insurance details, emergency contact details, doctor contact details and blood type, along with any medical conditions, allergies, vaccinations and medication.
Doro claims the PhoneEasy 615 has a talktime of up to three hours and a standby time of up to 22 days, so it should easily last over a full day with light use. Doro bundles the PhoneEasy 615 with a handy desktop charging cradle along with a standard wall charger and wired headset.