We tend to rate phones by features and performance over almost anything else, but not every phone plays that way. The Doro Phone Easy 409s takes the opposite approach. It's designed to be easy to use above all else, making it a sound choice for technophobes, the elderly or those who just don't like today's new-fangled fiddly gadgets.
The Doro 409s is a clamshell phone. They used to be almost as popular as touchscreen phones are now, but for the most part their day has passed. Doro isn't ready to let this old form factor ride off into the sunset yet though. The inside of the handset is white, with black trimmings in the shape of buttons and the screen surround. The outside reverses this scheme, with white ornamentation on plain black.
Although not exactly a stylish device, it's one of Doro's best-looking phones yet. Previous handsets have used a very similar design, but in dumping superfluous bits of colour used before the 409s manages to look respectably tasteful.
The keypad uses a traditional T9-style layout, with large rubberised buttons that positively dwarf the tiny keys used in most small phones available around the same price - £60 on a pre-pay deal. The other key accessibility feature of this phone is the emergency call button on its back. Like the numerical keys, it's large and rubberised, and is also contoured slightly so your thumb can find it without getting your peepers involved.
The Doro 409s's conservative design may not scream high-quality craftsmanship, but it's a well-made phone. A soft-touch finish covers the entire outside of the phone, giving it that comfy - almost cuddly - feel in-hand. The white insides are made of more conventional plastics, but your thumb will almost always be hovering over the high-friction rubber keys of the keypad anyway.
There is one oddity in the build though. Two little rubber buffers sit just above the screen, to soften the impact of the clamshell snapping shut, but they simply pop out if you dig a nail underneath them even slightly. We managed to do this accidentally, leaving the screw underneath completely visible. Function-wise it's not a tragedy if these rubber blips are lost, but like removing a model's makeup, it does rather spoil the intended look.
Two little lights sit on the front of the phone, acting as indicators for SMS messages and low battery. They're much less subtle than you'd find on a similarly-priced phone like the Sony Ericsson Zylo, but then the Doro 409s is all about simple ease of use and intuitiveness - concessions to fashion don't rank highly here. The keypad lights-up too. The spread of light isn't even across the keys, but it does the job of making all the internal keys easily visible at night-time.
Features, aside from the basics of texting and call-making, are laid-on thinly. There's no web browser, no email functionality and no app store. Connectivity is also very limited with no Bluetooth, no GPS and no SD card slots. Volume controls and a 3.5mm headphone jack feature on the phone's sides but internally everything's kept conspicuously, deliberately bare-bones.