The Doro 409s has a small, low resolution screen. It’s a 2in model with a 176 x 220 pixel display. However, it’s a much higher-quality panel than we’ve seen in many ultra-budget phones. There are none of the viewing angle and clarity issues we’ve experienced in the past. Whatever angle you view the screen from, the display remains clear. The colours do invert if you look at it from right above or below, but viewing from these positions is such a rarity as to be a non-issue.
The low resolution doesn’t matter much here either, as there are virtually no advanced features to make use of the additional pixels. Two games are included – a space blaster called UFO and casual platformer Robot – but these are tacked-on extras not core features.
We’re glad these arguably superfluous additions are sparing, because they would otherwise threaten to dilute what the Doro 409s is out to achieve – a phone that’s simple, accessible and cheap without being low-quality. The accessibility point, in the social sense, is one that shows up in the call experience itself.
Within the Settings menu is a high volume setting, pumping-up the speaker output far beyond what you’d normally get from a budget phone. There aren’t any of the noise cancellation baubles of a more expensive phone, but the sheer volume is a boon for those without perfect hearing. A speakerphone option is also included, but here the volume is more in-line with what we’d expect from a standard phone.
The Doro 409s has pressed many of the right buttons in creating a “basic” phone, but there are some tech tweaks that we miss. When texting, for example, capitalisation doesn’t switch automatically after the beginning of a sentence, so real technophobes may end up forever typing IN FULL CAPS. Switching to lower case requires just a tap on the hash key, but putting ourselves in the minds of the intended users, this seems one cut too far. Predictive texting is included – but is controlled from within the Settings menu to avoid accidentally switching over to this feature.
When judged without due consideration, the Doro 409s is easy to dismiss as low-tech, low-fi and out-of-date. However, closer inspection reveals it to be a thoughtful, well-designed device that has, and deserves, a place on the market. The £59.99 price point marks a new price low for Doro’s mobile series too. Previous phones like this from Doro used to cost almost double the price.
Other capable rivals are available for less money, such as the Nokia C1-01and Sony Ericsson Spiro, but these bigger-name mobiles use more complicated operating systems and smaller buttons. Not all kinds of buyers should consider the Doro 409s, but its low price and wide availability – stocked by Tesco Mobile in the UK – marks a new level of accessibility for this kind of “super-accessible” phone.
If you’re instantly turned off by the Doro Phone Easy 409s, carry on walking. But if its unusual approach appeals, there’s a lot to like in this handset. It’s affordable, blissfully easy to use following a two-minute setup and is worthy of special interest to those with minor hearing or sight problems. It’s not for everyone, but it’s refreshing to see a phone that doesn’t simply try and cram in as many features for as little money as possible to pop up on the shelves of mainstream outlets.
Score in detail