Accessibility has become quite the theme here at Mobile World Congress: Nokia and ZTE have announced new low-cost devices to bring push Windows Phone into developing markets, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt highlighted the importance of connecting all people.
Sweden-based Doro is trying to help in their own way — the company has recently pulled back the curtain on the PhoneEasy 740, an Android-powered smartphone meant to help the older folks in your life stay connected.
It feels like slider phones like this are harder to come by in general these days, but an Android portrait slider? Seems like a odd choice, but Doro seems to make the form factor work for their needs. The 740 has a thick, plastic body that doesn’t feel like the most solid thing in the world but could take its fair share of drops on tile. The keys were large but shallow; don’t get me wrong, they’re totally usable, but they lacked the satisfying feel a good button should impart when pressed.
In addition to the usual nine-key layout on the front, the 740 also features a customizable button on the device’s rear. Think of it as an emergency button. By default, holding it down for a few seconds prompts the phone to continually call and message 5 preset people in case something nasty happens.
The screen was passable — given the device’s target market, it doesn’t make much sense to pick nits with with screen technology here — it was bright, and was great for displaying the UI’s large text
That UI, called Doro Experience, runs on top of (and obscures) Android completely — there are no homescreens, no widgets, and perhaps most importantly, no ways to access the Android Market. Doro has plans to open their own app portal featuring apps developed in-house. The first will be a medicine dose reminder, and a Facebook application is in the works, though they hope to build partnerships with third-party app developers to help bolster their lineup. Doro is also bullish on what they call the Doro Experience Manager, which allows 740 users to allows for remote access to their apps and media by trusted friends and family.
The Doro 740 is set to debut this Spring, and could enjoy a fling in the States — Consumer Cellular, a MVNO geared toward the mature audience carries a few of Doro’s wares, so the 740 may soon be spotted at your local drug store.