Tech Tools review: Doro Liberto 820 Mini

At €199, budget-friendly smartphone will appeal to older users seeking a touchscreen system

Doro Liberto 820 Mini: a decent alternative Android device

Doro Liberto 820 Mini: a decent alternative Android device

 

Doro has made its business out of developing more accessible technology. The company’s range of mobile phones is designed to be used by older consumers, taking into account things such as mobility, sight and hearing issues. Initially, that meant a heavy concentration on feature phones – ones with no touchscreen that fall outside the definition of smartphone – but Doro has shifted its attention to some Android handsets.

And why not – just because you’re an older user doesn’t mean you don’t want a smartphone. There is an ageing population that has become used to certain things, and some may want to be able to access Instagram and Twitter through their phone, preferably one that doesn’t resemble a brick in size and weight.

The Doro Liberto 820 Mini satisfies those requirements. It’s an Android phone, so you can install your own apps and customise it as you see fit. It comes with a 5MP camera, a 4-inch display and built-in GPS. The Liberto 820 Mini actually looks good too. Really, you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from any other budget-friendly Android handsets at first glance.

However, a closer look reveals a few things you may have missed. The menu, home and back buttons are physical buttons instead of touch-sensitive options on the screen. On one side of the phone, you have a power button and a camera button, both of which are marked with a symbol to make it clear what they do. And on the rear of the phone is a recessed button that triggers an emergency contact when it’s pressed in a certain way.

The skin Doro puts on the Android software is built for accessibility: the apps are all on tiles with white backgrounds, making them easy to see. It’s also simple to move through the different screens on the phones. You can pin apps to the home screen in one of six predefined positions. Or, if you prefer, you can add a contact or alarm to the screen. It’s all pretty flexible.

Then there’s the stuff that you don’t see. Recognising its likely audience, the phone has louder ringtones than your average handset. It is also designed to work with hearing aids, so you don’t get deafening feedback when you place the phone to your ear to make a call.

The good

Perhaps one of the best features of the Liberto 820 Mini is the inclusion of the Manager software. That means users can nominate their resident tech expert to manage their phone if necessary. Not only can you install apps and delete them remotely, add contacts and generally mess about with the phone from afar, you can also add content.

So family photographs can be sent to the phone without having to email them or mess around with Bluetooth. The idea is that users allow trusted contacts to manage their phone for them. But those helpers can also be reined in if necessary.

An honourable mention has to go to the inclusion of a built-in FM radio. While most of us have moved on to apps to deliver radio programmes to our phones, that’s possibly through necessity rather than choice. There are many people who would prefer a good old-fashioned radio tuner in their handset.

The not so good

This phone isn’t aimed at the more tech-savvy individual. Sure, it will carry out almost any function a regular Android phone will, but if you try to put it through too much – power-hungry gaming apps, for example – it might stutter a little. And the screen, while bright and more than adequate, isn’t as high-res as some of the more expensive Android handsets out there. But again, you have to take into account both the target market and the price.

The rest

The Doro Liberto 820 Mini also comes with a charging cradle, which means you can drop it into the cradle on the bedside locker and turn it into a prettier version of your bedside clock. It’s also useful for playing music or even making calls, with a few different options open to you once you put it into dock mode.

The verdict **** 

The Doro Liberto 820 Mini isn’t just a good phone for older smartphone users; it could be aimed at those who want a simpler handset. A decent alternative Android device.

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