I LOVE my smartphone. I love being able to navigate from A to B using its GPS system, I love changing channels on my TV and wirelessly sending music across my living room to my hi-fi at the same time as surfing the net or playing a video game.
My grand mother, however, hates my smartphone. She’s always having a go at me for spending too much time on it and she can’t understand what I do with it all day.
She does own a mobile phone, just for ringing up to let us know her hair appointment is finished and that she’d now like a lift to the cafe for a spot of lunch. That’s the only time it comes out of her bag.
Poor old gran, as sprightly as she is, is starting to lose her eyesight a bit, though, and don’t get me started on her hearing.
The hand-me-down Nokia I let her use is becoming too small, fiddly and quiet for her and it’s causing more problems than it solves.
This is why I was keen to test out one of the latest in a crop of ‘easy’ mobile phones and I’ve stumbled upon the most recent model from Doro, a manufacturer I’m familiar with because I’ve tried their models before.
The PhoneEasy 506, as it’s called, is very small and light but the buttons are nice and big - and white on black, which makes them easier to read.
The screen is a good size and its colour read-out is clear and un-cluttered.
The screen could perhaps be bigger, and I wonder if it’s even worth bothering with a colour screen in the interests of battery preservation and sheer simplicity, but it’s easy to read and contrasts very well.
The button layout is designed by Doro to keep the number of functions hidden away and ensure simple operation is at the user’s fingertips.
Telephone numbers can be linked to A, B and C buttons and there’s a dedicated button for sending a text message.
Although it’s easy to explain the functions to someone who’s never lifted a mobile phone to their ear before, the instructions are very good. Big writing, with a clear step-by-step quick guide to fit in a pocket or bag.
There’s also a simple set-up procedure to take you through the first steps of choosing ringtones and the like, which Doro calls its ‘start-up wizard’. Gran’ll like that.
Battery life is good and the ring tones are fairly loud. People like my gran will be pleased to hear there are ‘normal ringtones’ alongside the ghastly melodies to choose from.
Call quality is very good and that’s important, obviously, and I’ve found no problems with its signal strength.
It also charges off a fairly ubiquitous, supplied micro-USB plug, which is good news.
Micro-USB plugs and sockets are little fiddlier than a traditional round plug but Doro has thought of this and has designed the charging unit with an enlarged plug on the end. It’s still a challenge to remember which way up it goes, but big or small fingers will find it easy to shove the charger home thanks to this handy addition.
Tucked away in the phone’s fairly spartan menu is an ‘ICE feature’ which is a national ‘In Case of Emergency’ system people can go to quickly to find the user’s contact details. Another clever touch.
There’s even, and this is the really clever bit Doro carries across its range, an assitance button, on the back of the handset which can be programmed to call a particular contact (which will no doubt be me in my gran’s case) if help is ever needed quickly. (Or in case she forgets how to record Emmerdale again).
The button has to be pressed for three seconds to activate the function so there’s little chance of it being pressed accidentaly and, joking aside, this could be a life-saver one day.
It has many of the things a phone should have - an alarm, phone book, calendar and calculator, but none of the things it doesn’t need.
In fact, there’s even an option to hide parts of the menu you don’t want, to keep it extra simple.
As a result of this, Doro has managed to price the phone quite keenly too.
A quick trawl around the internet and you’ll notice it can be had for a shade under £30 which is very good.
Better still though, that’s the sim-free price, which means you can plonk any sim card from any network you fancy in to it.
So if your gran’s like my gran and is happy with her deal but not her phone, you simply swap the sim over, set it up, and you’re away.
The next time my gran emerges from her shampoo and set she won’t need to clothes-line a young lad off his scooter to ask him how to call me for a lift. What a relief.