Doro PhoneEasy 506


The Swedish manufacturer’s no-frills phone, which features loud, clear ringtones, a ‘Call Assistance’ SOS button and a battery life of three weeks, enables vulnerable and elderly people to make emergency calls

In a world of amazingly advanced super-computerised smartphones, why are we bothering to feature a £25 mobile phone that has none of the features you would expect in any modern mobile?

After all, the PhoneEasy 506 has no 3G or data connectivity of any kind (apart from text messaging). There is no internet browser, email client or camera of any description and no Wi-Fi or GPS. So, what’s the point of a mobile that resembles the state of the art in 1990?

Well, think of the PhoneEasy 506 as not so much a mobile phone but more a handheld emergency beacon. So, if you’ve got an elderly parent or relative who lives on their own and whose safety and welfare is of constant concern, read on, you’ve come to the right place. Also, it makes the perfect cheap mobile to give to younger children to enable them to easily call home.

Doro is a Swedish company that claims to be a leader in the telecom care market. It was set up 38 years ago to develop easy-to-use mHealth (mobile heath) telecoms products specially adapted to the growing worldwide population of senior citizens.

The manufacturer currently has a range of around 16 mobiles all designed with security and  of use as the main consideration.

Some Doro phones detect when the user has fallen over, others are programmed to send out alarms at the press of a single button.

So it is within this mHealth arena that we should regard the PhoneEasy 506. Remember this is not a mobile for technophiles or gadget freaks and certainly not for fashionistas.

Back to basics

Anyone familiar with the first Symbian user interface that ran Nokia phones of some 20 years ago will know what to expect. The 506 uses exactly the same system of two smart keys that activate Phonebook, Messages, Call Log, Alarm, Calendar or Calculator.

It worked perfectly well for many millions of users for many years, so there seems little point in criticising it for its very basic functionality. It is what it is and is ideally suited for an ‘mHealth’ phone that will be used by people unfamiliar with technology.

First look

Taken straight out of the box, the 506 does seem like something you’d find inside a Christmas cracker. The simple black candy bar case and small plastic keypad sits under the 28 x 35mm colour screen.

With a display of 128 x 160 pixels, compared with an iPhone 5 screen that displays 1,136 x 640 pixels for example, the screen resolution is very basic. But, as stated, you’re not going to use the 506 for imaging of any kind.

All this screen has to do is display text and a few basic icons which it does well with a white font on a backlit emerald green wallpaper. When set to ‘large’ the numbers and letters are entirely legible to anyone with less-than-perfect vision.

Full article in Mobile News issue 544 (July 29, 2013).

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