Designed for the more elderly user, the Doro 8050 aims to make Android easier for the less tech-savvy
- Doro Response app for emergencies
- Intuitive interface
- Speaker is very loud
- A bit expensive
- No NFC
- The camera could be better
Trying to get an elderly relative to master a modern smartphone can be hard. I once spent an hour giving my 80-year old mother what I thought was a super-simplified guide to a large-screen Android handset only to get asked at the end, “So how do you turn it on and make a call?” All my blather about screens, launchers, swipes, taps, files and apps had gone right over her head.
With this not-uncommon scenario in mind, Doro – which specialises in making phones for elderly citizens – has an Android smartphone with a user interface that’s designed to be a little less bewildering, along with a handful of hardware features aimed at protecting the vulnerable.
Doro 8050 review: What you need to know
This isn’t the first time Doro has tried to pitch Android to the aged. Back in 2019, we tested the Doro 8035 and came away decidedly unimpressed.
The newer Doro 8050 has all the hallmarks of earning high praise, though. Elderly-centric features include a customisable user interface, with help from Google Assistant, as well as Doro’s unique Response button on the back of the handset (more on that later).
Doro 8050 review: Price and competition
SIM-free, the Doro 8050 costs £190, but it’s also available via most of the UK’s major networks on contract, with prices starting from as little as £9 a month.
Those prices put the Doro 8050 head-to-head with some very serious competition, not least Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9T, which currently wears the crown as the best budget handset on the market and costs £180. Samsung’s Galaxy A21s (£145) is also a worthy mention, as is the Moto G9 Power (£190).
On that note, these phones also come with a combination of either 5G connectivity, NFC support or a fingerprint reader for almost the same money. The Doro lacks all of these, of course, but none of its rivals has been designed with the elderly in mind. From that perspective, at least, Doro has the market pretty much all to itself.
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Doro 8050 review: Design and key features
Physically speaking, the 8050 is a conventional, if not curvaceous, handset, with chunky bezels above and below the screen. In both size and proportion, it’s very similar to the iPhone 8 Plus’ dimensions, measuring 152 x 70 x 9mm and weighing 165g. The Doro’s polycarbonate body is easy to hold and doesn’t feel as slippery in the hand compared to its glass-sandwiched rivals either.
The physical home button sitting below the screen may seem a little dated, but it’s ideal for Android newbies. It’s large enough to press easily, and takes you straight back to the home screen no matter how many applications you’ve got open.
Elsewhere, the phone charges via a USB-C port at the bottom, and it has separate volume up and down buttons on the left with a power button on the right. The SIM/microSD tray can be opened without the usual use of an easily misplaced SIM poker, and is instead accessed with just your fingernail. A 3.5mm audio jack can also be found at the top.
Take a peek below the rear camera and you’ll find the Doro 8050’s dedicated Response button, which is one of the phone’s main selling points.
In order to get this up and running, you have to install Doro’s Response app on another device and pair the two. You’re now pretty much good to go, with a long press (or three rapid presses) of the Response button sending an alert and location details via Google Maps to the linked device. As soon as the receiver acknowledges the alert, a hands-free phone call is established between the two handsets.
Doro 8050 review: Display and audio
Since arthritis or even just a simple stiffening of the joints can make using large displays a bit of a problem for the elderly, the Doro 8050’s screen thankfully measures just 5.45in across the diagonal.
The 1,440 x 720 resolution IPS display has a decent pixel density of 298ppi and an sRGB gamut coverage of 82.7%. Colour accuracy is a bit off, though, with a measured Delta E of 2.85, but at least the phone is bright enough with a recorded maximum luminance of 501cd/m². The phone’s contrast ratio of 1,318:1 isn’t too bad, either.
Like the majority of Android phones, the Doro 8050 is compatible with hearing aids and has an HAC rating of M3/T3. Call quality was good with plenty of volume from the earpiece, and it has a loud speaker for the hard of hearing, too.
Doro 8050 review: Software
The Doro 8050 runs Android 9 with a heavily modified interface. The most important aspect of this is Eva, which is Doro’s own software overlay that groups together the most commonly used functions under a selection of action-based icons; Call, View, Send, Add, Search, Help and Set.
As an example of how this works, simply tap the Add icon and the subsidiary menu offers further options such as add a contact, a note, an alarm, an event or an application. Alternatively, tap “note” and Google Keep opens, or tap “application” and the Play Store launches. It’s all an obvious effort to make the Android interface action-based with simply titled commands, and it works rather well.
Beyond Eva, the entire launcher has been designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind, with a well-thought-out series of setup tutorials and easy access to the phone’s various accessibility settings.
Doro 8050 review: Performance and battery life
The combination of a quad-core 1.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 processor and 2GB of RAM is enough to get the basics done with reasonable speed. In everyday use, the 8050 never feels like it’s getting bogged down or slow, even if it’s nowhere close to being the fastest phone we’ve tested.
It does, however, struggle with demanding 3D games such as Shadowgun Legends, but lighter titles like Dead Trigger 2 run smoothly enough. Assuming slaughtering virtual zombies is your grandad’s hobby, that is.
If you plan on loading the Doro with media or games, you’ll need to invest in a microSD card. Internal storage is listed as 16GB, but our review unit only had 8GB of usable space when we first switched it on.
As for battery life, I expected the 8050 to struggle in our battery test, since it only has a small 3,000mAh battery. To put that into context, both the dirt-cheap Nokia 1.4 and Alcatel 1S have much bigger 4,000mAh units.
My initial concern was misplaced, though, since the Doro lasted for 16hrs 41mins in our video rundown test. Samsung’s Galaxy A21s can do better – to the tune of 22hrs 48mins – but the Doro’s stamina is still good enough to squeeze out a day’s worth of use on a single charge.
Doro 8050 review: Camera
The Doro has a simple 13MP camera at the back and a 5MP selfie snapper on the front. The front camera does a decent enough job when it comes to making video calls, and can record Full HD (1080p) video at 30fps.
The rear camera isn’t very impressive, with an inability to accurately judge the exposure of any given scene. Capture a landscape picture in bright sunlight, for instance, and the sky is completely blown-out.
Image detail is decent enough, at least, and the camera is also quite fast to focus. The digital zoom is best avoided, however: any magnification beyond 2x results in a visually unappealing image, with the camera app also grinding to a halt as well.
Doro 8050: Verdict
In all, though, the Doro 8050’s simplified, action-based user interface and emergency response app are well worth the price of admission alone.
It’s a bit on the pricey side, and its hardware offering is a tad lacking compared to its feature-rich rivals, but the Doro 8050 is an ideal choice for the Android uninitiated or technology averse.
|Doro 8050 specifications|
|Processor||Quad-core Qualcomm 215 (4 x 1.3GHz)|
|Screen resolution||720 x 1440|
|Screen type||IPS LCD|
|Screen refresh rate||60Hz|
|Dust and water resistance||None|
|3.5mm headphone jack||Yes|
|USB connection type||Type-C|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||MicroSD, 128GB|
|Cellular data||4G LTE Cat4, 3G (150Mbits/sec DL; 75Mbits/sec UL)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||152 x 70 x 9|
|Operating system||Android 9|