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Optus launches new phone for seniors

  • Optus launches special seniors phone
  • EasyPhone has large keys, special features
  • Look into the appeal of both "seniors' phones" and smartphones
Written by Mikaella Clements

Optus have announced a new phone designed especially for older Australians. Partnering with senior specialist Swedish phone manufacturers Doro, Optus have released the Doro PhoneEasy 615 which is a feature phone boasting some low-key features especially for pensioners.

Click here to check out Optus's great cap plans.

The PhoneEasy is designed to create a phone that has the features seniors need without forcing seniors into using old technology and defunct systems.

Doro EasyPhone

With extra large concave buttons and a clear display with large characters, the PhoneEasy is designed to keep seniors from squinting at their screens. It is compatible with hearing aids and has programmed in an extra loud speaker so that users with hearing difficulties will find it simple to use.

The phone also includes a security button, separate from an additional emergency call button that goes straight to 000, that will automatically and simultaneously contact up to five pre-programmed contacts when pressed. It's this kind of thinking that may make it particularly useful for seniors – rather than just emphasising the large screen and buttons, Doro have concentrated on coming up with new features that address seniors' concerns. Even if the security button is never used, having it there as a safeguard will inevitably reassure many senior Australians and their families.

The PhoneEasy is not, however, sacrificing newer features in order to provide a reassuring, easy to use design. It's 3G compatible and features a 3.2 MP camera with zoom and flash.

Apps are available, too, with special focus given to pre-programmed health apps designed especially for seniors. There is the ability to interface with a Bluetooth glucose meter which can track your glucose levels over time, and a pill-minder app that gives the user reminders to take certain medications. There's even an option where if a user doesn't confirm on the phone that they've taken each pill, the phone will automatically notify a health professional.

Optus head of segment marketing, Gavin Williams, said: "There is a vast seniors market in Australia and we're confident this handset will resonate well with our older customers. Doro's mobile phone range and in particular, the Doro PhoneEasy 615 handset, specifically adapts today's must-have technologies to make them easier for elderly Australians to use."

Doro seemed equally positive about the new partnership. The general manager of Doro Australia, Andrew Batchelor, said: "All Doro mobile phones are easy enough for anyone to use, without sacrificing style. The retail partnership with Optus, announced today, will see many more Australians for the first time enjoying the unique Doro experience of our Doro mobile phones."

The phone, which comes with its own charging cradle, is available now for $165 outright. Call Optus now to find out more or order it on 1300 303 960.

But do you really need a specialised seniors' phone?

While we at Compare Mobile Plans think that it's great that companies like Optus and Doro are looking to cater products to specific demographics, we wonder if the PhoneEasy is absolutely the right product for all seniors.

Certainly the low-tech feel of a capable phone will appeal to many, but honestly, a smartphone may be just as good or better for many Australian seniors.

Smartphones, too, feature big, clear screens, and the touchscreen interface is easier to use and more instinctive – we believe – than feature phones. The "phone" screen on smartphones like the iPhone or on the Android OS is large, bold, and easily accessible.

Additionally, smartphones provide easier access to maps – helping seniors find their way with a GPS locator – and the internet, meaning that any questions are just a quick Google away. Most smartphones also have voice activation technology and easier ways to find phones with such apps available as "Lost iPhone". Radio is more readily available, and public transport timetable apps can be found everywhere. The world clock is also a useful feature, particularly for those pensioners who have family and friends in far-flung lands and want an easy way to check whether or not it's appropriate to call them. (Perhaps using Dodo's great new unlimited plan featuring 100 minutes of  international calls.)

As well as that, smartphones usually offer exactly the same features as feature phones, but the touchscreen interface makes them simpler to use: calendars, reminders, notes, lists, even text messages are all simpler with that QWERTY keyboard and easy touchscreen interface.

If you're a senior Australian, it's worth sitting down with a family member or friend and their smartphone and getting them to spend half an hour showing you what's possible on it. For many people, smartphones have revolutionised the way they go about their day and use technology.

There's no reason why seniors should be judged incapable of using smartphones, or offered feature phones as consolation prizes. The PhoneEasy 615 is a great option for seniors, but an iPhone is also a great option. Rather than creating senior specific phones and then trying to shoehorn seniors into using these phones alone, companies and providers should be open to the many options and needs of senior citizens.

The PhoneEasy is definitely a step in the right direction, with its 3G compatibility and the great camera that allows senior citizens to snap as many cute photos of their grandkids as they like. It would be interesting to see Doro expand into the smartphone market, as they are canny around developing features like the security button and could no doubt make a big impact in smartphone design that was tailored for seniors. As the industry stands, though, the PhoneEasy shouldn't be seen as the only option; different phones suit different people, no matter how old you are.

If you'd like to talk to us at Compare Mobile Plans about what phone and plan would suit you, feel free to give us a call on 1300 850 518.

Or take a look at some of Australia's favourite smartphones: the Apple iPhone 4S 64GB, the Nokia Lumia 800, or, to try something different, the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note.


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