LIVE FROM IFA 2014: Doro announced a new smartphone, Liberto 820, which it said is “designed for seniors who want to enjoy the benefits of a smartphone – but may need some additional support, patience or encouragement on their journey of discovery”.
Chris Millington, UK & Ireland MD for the company, said that while research has showed there is demand for smartphones among this customer group, these users also do not want to be reliant on other family members for technical advice – for fear of being a “nuisance”.
“We’re not saying it doesn’t do things, it’s just structured in such a way as users can get the most out of it,” he said at a briefing ahead of the launch.
To this end, it has a “coaching” feature, to enable users to learn how to use various core functions at their own pace.
It also supports a “helper” app, enabling friends or family members to access certain settings remotely, to address specific problems, or to check status and usage patterns to see if some additional assistance is needed.
Helpers can also recommend apps to Liberto 820 users.
As with its predecessor Liberto 810, the device is fully Google Play certified, meaning that users can access a full catalogue of apps. Doro has also provided a suite of recommended apps which can be selected from the management suite at the outset.
It is also Doro’s first smartphone to integrate an “assistance” button on the underside, for emergency use. It features physical buttons for the menu, home screen and back features, rather than the soft buttons used in many devices, apparently in response to user feedback.
Liberto 820 comes with a raised frame around the screen to protect the glass when positioned face down, making it “more scratchproof and durable than others”.
Other features of the Android 4.4-powered device include 8MP camera, GPS, Bluetooth, simplified menus, HD voice and hearing aid compatibility.
Millington said that while smartphones are an important part of Doro’s strategy, “the vast majority of our business is feature phones still”.
In fact, in some markets where smartphones dominate operator and retailer portfolios, such as the UK, the company is “almost number one” for feature phones, as other players exit the market leaving Doro with a niche largely to itself.
“Feature phones remain very much part of our focus going forward,” he said.
Millington said Liberto 820 is likely to reach the market either late in September or October. Pricing of around £250 SIM-free was mooted