- Robust design
- Charging dock
- Easy-to-use Android
- Capable camera
- Fiddly keyboard
We review the Doro Liberto 820 mobile phone, the very first Doro smartphone for seniors, packing a new easy-use Android and an 8-megapixel camera.
We were intrigued to have a play with the Liberto 820, Doro’s first foray into the smartphone market. Known for its senior-friendly mobile phones, Doro has finally launched itself into the wonderful world of Android, but has it retained its ease-of-use quality that’s important for anyone who isn’t fully able-bodied or not used to smartphones?
Design: Ease of use
The Liberto 820 feels like a rugged phone of yesteryear, with its sunken screen and chunky build, which is great news in case of droppages. We treated the phone with a fair bit of disrespect and it didn’t even scuff up, let alone break. Its size should make it easy or at the very least possible to clutch for a wide range of users, including those with arthritis.
Doro has of course adapted Android to make it friendly for elderly users, so instead of tiny on-screen buttons for home, back and menu, you get large, physical push buttons beneath the sharp 4.5-inch display. They’re easy to push and light up too, with clearly visible icons.
And then there’s the interface, which has also been tweaked by Doro. In its standard mode, you can put up to six large shortcuts on your desktop; these can be app shortcuts or even a quick-dial button for a contact. The notification bar also sports large, easy-to-tap shortcuts for turning the likes of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on or off, as does the settings menu itself. Each app has also been rejiggered, including the phone book, to make everything simple to understand and easy to read.
Doro has also included plenty of ‘step by step’ guides to help new users understand a certain feature or app. Everything has been thoughtfully laid out anyway, but they’re good to have for anyone who’s completely new to a smartphone device. And if you’re really stuck, there’s even a remote help feature which connects you to a live assistant, similar to Amazon’s Mayday support on its premium Fire devices. It’s even possible for family members to remotely access the phone using My Doro Manager, allowing them to add contact details, for instance.
As you can see, you can also set a photo of your loved ones as your desktop, so you can stare adoringly at their cherub-like faces.
Unfortunately, not every aspect of the Liberto 820 is friendly to elderly or less able users. The on-screen keyboard is Android’s usual fare, which is fine if you’ve got decent eyesight and you’re relatively dextrous, but long-sighted users or anyone with arthritis is likely to struggle.
It’s not really Doro’s fault; after all, Google is quite insistent that certain criteria are met for Android phones, and there’s limited screen space to work with anyway. We’d recommend holding the phone in landscape mode to make the keyboard larger, which helps somewhat.
Features: Sending out an S.O.S
One of Doro’s standard features is the Assistance button, located on the back of the Liberto 820. The idea is that you can push the button if you require aid, which then alerts your friends or emergency services.
If you go into the phone’s settings you can configure this to operate how you like. So for instance, you can select exactly how to begin the alert (one push, three quick pushes or simply deactivate entirely), which numbers are messaged when activated, the exact message that is sent out and so on. Once activated, the Assistance alert makes the phone bleep loudly and gives you a chance to cancel the messages if the button was pushed by accident.
It’s a great little feature that can even send a GPS location to your emergency contacts so they know exactly where to find you.
As well as GPS support, the Liberto 820 packs 3G support, great news if you want to browse the web. Websites load quickly and the 4.5-inch screen keeps everything sharp and clear.
There’s also support for hearing aids, although we couldn’t test this when making calls as we didn’t have one to hand.
Battery life: Dockable
Another thoughtful feature is the bundled dock that Doro has thrown into the box. This plastic stand plugs into the mains and then all you need to do to charge the Liberto 820 is slip it into the dock, which holds it securely in place. This saves fiddling around with tiny cable ends every time you want to boost the battery.
We’re happy to report that the Liberto 820 also boasts decent battery life. We’d imagine the phone won’t get constant use like most other smartphones, with mostly occasional checks for messages and the odd phone call. In this respect, it’ll happily last four or five days between charges, as the battery barely drains when the screen is off.
With more regular use, including web browsing and so on, the Doro Liberto 820 will still survive for a couple of days, even with the screen brightness boosted to maximum.
Camera: Sharp shooter
Surprisingly, Doro has packed a crisp 8-megapixel camera into the back of the Liberto 820, complete with LED flash. It’s a decent little snapper too, taking sharp photos that are packed with detail when viewed back on a TV or other large display (although and HDR mode would have helped to brighten up shots on murky days).
The camera interface is easy to use and photos take as soon as you tap the on-screen shutter button or the physical shutter button on the side of the phone. You can tap another on-screen button to switch to video mode, which again produces perfectly good results if you want to capture the family frolicking.
There’s also a basic front-facing camera which can be used to video chat with the family.
Doro’s Liberto 820 is an excellent debut smartphone from the master of senior-friendly handsets. Android can appear horribly complex to smartphone virgins but Doro has extended almost every kind of assistance imagineable, from the reworked desktops and the bonus help features to the nifty bundled dock.
As for the standard smartphone features, Doro hasn’t skimped there either. The 4.5-inch screen is sharp and bright and the 8-megapixel camera is surprisingly good, capturing sharp photos packed with detail.
If you have an elderly or infirmed relative who’d like a handset to get online or take decent photos, without compromising ease of use, then the Doro Liberto 820 is simply your best choice.
|OS||Android 4.4 KitKat|
|Storage||microSD memory card|
|Bonus features||ICE Assistance, My Doro Manager, bundled dock|