But ease of use for all seems to be the lowest priority among mobile manufacturers, while the basic point of what we use a phone for seems to have been lost, writes Andrew Stucken.
Add in hard-to-read displays and fiddly keypads, and many retired people avoid mobiles altogether – missing out on a vital lifeline.
Luckily, a number of manufacturers have woken up to the demand for more accessible handsets.
Newly launched by Doro are the HandleEasy 328gsm and HandleEasy 330gsm. The phones come with colour screens and are designed for ease of use – specifically for elderly users. Large buttons and a high contrast display will help the visually impaired. The fonts are certainly far larger – and with better contrast - than on a conventional mobile.
Unable to resist a few extra gizmos, Doro have added an integrated text messaging function, FM radio, torch, vibrating ringer and speakerphone.
The HandleEasy 328 retails at £99.99 and the HandleEasy 330 at £129.99. The phones are unlocked for use on any network.
Other manufacturers are coming to the party. The Life handset by Emporia is a little more expensive at £144.67 RRP, but the Austrian designed phone contains a useful panic button feature. The Time model is just being launched in the UK at the time of writing.
Ease of use
ITT meanwhile produces a range of phones for the elderly user. The ITT EasyUse costs £85.10 and is Digital Hearing Aid compatible. It is also unlocked for use on any network.
The ITT Easy 5 at £68.08 is about as basic as it gets. The '5' refers to the five-button pre-programmable keypad, and it has no display. It is not completely without features, boasting a vibrating option and loudspeaker. It is probably the easiest of the lot to use, once the numbers have been programmed into memory.
As Chris Millington, MD of Doro UK, said: "Needs, opinions and tastes in mobile phones differ among senior citizens as much as in younger target groups. It's great that we can now provide alternatives even for senior citizens who need functions like text messaging or listening to the radio, but still want an easy-to-use mobile phone."
Major retailers do not yet really serve this niche market but there are a plenty of online retailers.
These include Matob Mobile (www.matobmobile.co.uk), Accessible Handset Distribution (www.ahdistribution.com), BioAcoustics (www.bioacoustics.co.uk) and Online Technology (www.onltech.co.uk).
The details and prices mentioned are correct at time of publication.
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