Doro Launches the first easy to use Smartphone
The tale of Mobile World Congress was that the phone industry is going the way of the PC industry. Once there was innovation in computer design: both how home computers were constructed and what they were like to look at. Then along came the PC and it became an issue of which version of Microsoft operating System you were running and which Intel chip was inside. Computers got dull and predictable.
Mass market smartphones are the same. This year it was about Quad Core processors and the Google “Ice Cream Sandwich” software. Next year it will be about having A15 processors and Google’s “Jellybean”. A man from the chip company ARM said to me “We pretty much know what we are doing for the next eight years”. Google name their operating systems alphabetically (Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean). So you know what letter is coming next.
It all get a little unexciting.
So it’s great that there was someone doing something very different with Android, and even better that the particular someone was doing it in the Easy To Use market.
The Doro 740 is the first Android phone with a 12 key keypad, it has a touch screen but is designed so that you don’t have to use the touch to do most of the things you might want from the phone. Some people have commented that this makes it ideal for people like construction workers who want to use a phone wearing gloves.
All the Android menus, contacts, and programs have been replaces with Doro’s own easy to use equivalents and doesn’t look or feel like other Android devices on the market; the UI is the first fruit from Doro’s purchase of the French development house Prylos last summer.
The fact that the mobile is built with a known software platform is ideal for mobile healthwhere you might want to use Bluetooth to link to blood pressure monitors, scales or spirometers, and the Doro 740 supports Bluetooth 4.0 which has the profiles for such devices..
Regular readers of this blog will know that I prefer clamshells to sliders, indeed a lot of Doro’s success has been on the back of the 610 and 410 phones. However Chris Millington, UK boss of Doro points out that to make the 740 a clamshell would have resulted in a huge, unwieldy phone. And the sliding mechanism of the pre-production 740 I looked at in Barcelona felt very good.
There is a 5MP camera which will no doubt be used for taking pictures of grandchildren but which also acts as a magnifier to help you read small print documents. A Security function uses GPS location and of course there is a charging cradle.
What you can’t do is download apps from the Google Apps store. This is to provide a consistent, easy to use way of controlling all the apps on the phone. You can add apps but the have to be designed with the Doro ethos and you’ll get them from Doro. There is scope for third parties to build accessibility applications but they will have to match the handset maker’s look-and-feel, which it calls the “experience-based menu”. The first of these,euronews has already been announced.
There is a web-based system, called the Doro Experience which makes adding apps, phone numbers and other information to your Doro 740 very much easier than if you try to do it on the handset. This information can be added by someone else so if you have a friend or relative who is a bit of a computer whizz they can do it for you.
I was very impressed by the Doro 740, it’s rounded and very well thought out. I was expecting the first Android phone for seniors to be a toe-in-the-water, taking and existing phone and modifying it a little. I wasn’t expecting a comprehensive, ground-up product which put the consumer first. Although I was hoping that would follow.
The website CNET had a good first look at the telephone and you can see their video here:
You cann read the full Doro 740 specification by downloading this file.