Smartphones can do more than ever before and for many they have replaced our computers. For anyone who has grown up and used computers over the last 20 years it may feel like second nature.
However, put your elderly relative in front of a PC and their feelings and experience will be quite different. For a generation less ofae with such, a smartphone may be appealing in terms of capability but daunting in terms of everyday use. Swedish firm Doro, aim to put mobile technology in the hands of the elderly and give them the capability and functionality modern phones bring. The Liberto 820 is their latest and best example of this. Available in two colours, black or white, the 820 looks like many other smartphones but the inclusion of contrasting buttons below the screen makes it stand out against the rest. These three keys offer functionality as well as user confidence thanks to the tactile feedback they give. All told the 820 is really quite a capable smartphone. Even to a seasoned smartphone users the following specifications are quite strong: Specification aside, the 820 is about offering modern smartphone capabilities to the elderly market and managing the needs of these users. Whether they are hard of sight, wear hearing aids or struggle with movement in fingers, the Doro will be suitable for a broad range of users. The 820 is suitable too for even the most able individual, it is just the interface is slightly different to most other Android phones. In hand the Doro feels comfortable. It is thick and large enough to feel solid in the palm, but is small and light enough at 132g to be easily handled and not take up lots of space in a bag or pocket. The edges of the device have been rounded and the plastics used warm to the touch. With a SIM card popped into the device, the user can make and receive calls as well as browse the internet if a mobile data connection is enabled on the SIM. If mobile data is not needed, but connection to the internet is desired, the 820 has WiFi to, so you users connect to the internet at home, at work or in a coffee shop with this. Read the news, check sports scores and more. The large 4.5” touchscreen makes for simple interaction with the device, but there are buttons on the device that give the tactile feel and reassurance you have pressed them. The aforementioned front facing keys offer core functionality with side mounted power, volume and camera keys. To protect the screen, the frame of the phone is slightly raised, so if the phone is laid screen down on a surface it is raised ever so slightly to help resist scratching. Whilst the device is running the Google Android operating system, Doro have customised the interface with bold and simple to use buttons and shortcuts. From the moment the 820 is unboxed, key features and functions are only a few taps away. You can even customise the screens changing the wallpapers and shortcuts that are available on first glance. Gone are the long and complicated menus. Apps and settings are clearly shown over various pages. Therefore you can remember what pages your apps are on or scroll through at your leisure. If these are still overcrowded an even more simplified layout is available with just six icons per page. Simplified does not mean limitation though. Favourite apps can be download from Google Play Store to the phone, emails can be sent to friends and images shared on social media if the user chooses to. When using key apps, 60% of the display is taken up by the key elements a user needs, with 35% taken up with less important but required features. The rest can be found by pressing the menu key. Doro give what is needed on screen, but allow access to what is wanted should it be required. If you have been using smartphones for a while you may well have heard of Swiftkey. A popular keyboard for devices that intelligently monitors users typing and offers suggestions. This is included on the 820 and can really aid those less used to on screen keyboards, making the process simpler and faster. Known as the ‘Discover Me App’, included are detailed guides and tutorials on how to use elements of the phone, so even a first time phone user can be shown how to use features within minutes. Clear and well explained, these tutorials can be turned back on a later date should they be required. It is all too easy to forget how something worked. Whilst the speaker on the Liberto packs a punch producing sounds of around 80 decibels, hearing aid compatibility means that if your relative who will use the phone struggles with audio, the Liberto will amplify the sound thanks to TM3/M3 compatibility. The 8 megapixel camera records still images and video at 720p, along with a LED flash being available to increase light in low light conditions. There is a physical camera shutter button on the side of the device for capturing the image. When going to take a picture, a long press on the camera shutter button will launch the camera and take the picture, no need to unlock the screen. The images and video can be stored on the internal memory of which there is 8GB or on a microSD memory card in the available memory card slot. Whilst none of us would like to think that any user of the phone would be in trouble; if the worst should happen, a rear mounted ICE button gives the user the ability to make emergency calls and send emergency messages to up to five pre-configured contacts. This offers great peace of mind and reassurance to you and the user. A new feature that Doro are bring to the 820 is ‘My Doro Manager’. It allows for remote management of the 820 from other Android or iOS smartphones as well as a desktop computer. Managers have to be approved and different managers can be given different permissions, but it essentially means that you can gain an element of control over a relatives handset. For example. If you are an emergency contact and you have a new mobile number. Rather than telling the user the new number, you can remotely programme it without them having to worry. You can share apps and even photos with the user. A discreet notification comes up on the 820. Of course privacy is a concern. As a manager you are not able to see what they are doing on the device and only have limited control for key/important features. Most importantly you can see that they are active though. A status icon also indicates how much usage has taken place. If it is green, you know the user is ok, but if it is red, maybe you need to check up on them as there has not been much usage. On top of this, within the manager there are many user tutorials to help you get the most from the phone. There are even recommended apps based on other Doro users preferences and popularity in the Google App store. Relative recommendations of applications also show here. Users need not install the recommendations, but there are available for viewing. Battery life is often a concern on smartphones, but the Doro Liberto 820 is relatively conservative in its power usage. A 1900mAh battery should last the user a couple of days. When it does need charging just pop it in the convenient dock which not only charges but provides a home for the phone. No need to connect fiddly cables, unless absolutely necessary. If away from the dock and in need of power, the 820 can be charged using a microUSB cable, common on most smartphones. Due to the varying needs of users, there are various elements that can be customised, from the font size, to the volume. Hard of sight users will likely find many benefits from the included magnifying glass that uses the camera on the 820. Whilst the older generation may be less keen on listening to music and and watching media on the go, it is all possible and an FM radio is included as well. Just connect the provided headphones, launch the radio and users can tune into their favourite station. The Liberto 820 from Doro may not scream WOW, nor may it be on the front cover of all the latest technology magazines, but often understated can make more of an impact. The 820 is a well engineered smartphone that puts the user at the forefront and not flashy features, although it has some. Whilst geared towards the elderly, even the young can seek benefit from the phone. If your relatives would like a mobile phone that offers modern capabilities and functions but you or they want the peace of mind of a simplified user experience with assistance at hand, the 820 is such a device.