Doro 6050 review: a phone designed for the elderly

Doro’s new feature phone is aimed squarely at senior citizens and features none of the flash-bang wizardry that most people are accustomed to seeing in modern devices.

To me as a tech enthusiast, the 6050 was decidedly unimpressive during the initial unboxing. The flip phone is relatively bulky, sporting large, simplistic-looking buttons and would have seemed dated in 2007, no less 2017.

The tiny 2.8-inch colour screen does not feature any touchscreen functionality to speak of and internet access is limited to a basic email app. Despite these negative first impressions, the Doro 6050 definitely earns its place in a crowded phone market.

The device is clearly not designed to appeal to 29-year-old technology journalists, but that’s OK. Its core market is octogenarians, those who struggle to adapt to this new, overwhelming world of constant connectivity, social media and apps, in which the 6050 obliges by largely eschewing all of that functionality entirely.

While we would normally include a bunch of information about processor speeds, RAM and gaming capabilities, these stats are not really relevant for this device. Suffice to say that it does include a passable, albeit unimpressive, 3MP camera.

The phone is housed in a relatively large clamshell exterior that tapers around the edges to make it easy to open. The plastic build does not exactly feel premium, but it’s good enough for the role it is trying to fulfil. It also feels like it could withstand some pretty rough handling, especially in comparison to some of the more easily smashable modern-day smartphones. 

When closed, basic information is displayed on an exterior dot matrix display such as the time or the name of someone calling. Although rudimentary, this display is clear and designed to be as legible as possible.

On the back of the handset is an assistance button, the phone’s most obvious concession to the elderly market, which can be used in times of emergency. It also features a highly coveted removable battery, something that has been long abandoned in most phones today.

When opened, the device features a clearly laid out keypad and four application-specific hot buttons, including the camera and the torch. Simplicity is the aim here; users who generally lack confidence handling mobile phones should have no trouble figuring out how to use its basic functionality.

The main screen is relatively bright and the font is large and legible. Admittedly, perusing the menus wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience and was reminiscent of using old Nokia devices such as the infamous 3310 from the early noughties. For someone accustomed to zipping through apps using swipes and gestures, this phone will definitely feel like returning to the Stone Age, but again, it’s not really marketed at those people.

The call quality is clear and ringtones are designed to be super loud to accommodate those who are hard of hearing (the device is also compatible with hearing aids).

Ultimately, the Doro 6050 provides a pretty frustrating experience for the modern-day phone user. Returning to T9 text input is not an enjoyable experience and harkens back to the bad old days when every character was precious in an attempt to keep below the character limit and avoid spending that extra 10 pence on another supplementary SMS message.

As a phone for the elderly, however, it does the job. There are very few devices aimed at that demographic so the choice is limited, but someone needs to be catering for it. As a result the Doro 6050 justifies its own existence, even though most people under the age of 70 will crave something with (much) more functionality.

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