NEW ORLEANS--Usually when I come across a phone designed for the elderly demographic, more times than not it's a feature phone. Most have the same big rubber buttons, the simple UI, and some sort of emergency call button.
I've never seen features characteristic of a smartphone, however, like data connection, a touch screen, or an app store.
That is, until now.
At CTIA this year, the Swedish telecommunications company, Doro, announced an entire mobile ecosystem tailored for an older demographic. This includes its first ever smartphone for seniors, the Doro PhoneEasy 740.
The PhoneEasy 740 is equipped with all the characteristics seen in most devices aimed at seniors. It retains the same generous keypad, the bumped-up audio volume, and the clean interface.
But, because it's aimed for those who want something in between an easy-to-use cell phone and a feature-packed smartphone, the PhoneEasy 740 is also an Android device that can browse through the Internet and load apps.
Don't get me wrong, it won't look like any Gingerbread or Ice Cream Sandwich handset you've seen before. Though users can still access Google Play and purchase games like Angry Bird, its interface is much simpler.
The device includes a 3.2-inch touch screen and a 5-megapixel camera on the back, which can double as a magnifying glass. Also on the back is an emergency call button that will dial and text five preprogrammed numbers when pressed.
It's estimated that the PhoneEasy 740 will cost $99, and it's slated for commercial availability in spring of next year.
The device is all part of Doro's upcoming mobile ecosystem, which also includes a software interface, an app store, and a management tool.
The Doro Experience is an interface that you can purchase as an app. It can be installed on a tablet, and there is a PC version of it as well. It can be set as a default launcher, and it gives users access to applications like a calendar, e-mail, and a photo viewer in a easy-to-use, colorful interface.
Through the Doro Experience, you can access the Doro app store called Doro Selection. The store will feature apps tailored to seniors, such as Doro Friends, which takes your Facebook account and spits it out in a much cleaner, simplified version.
If you choose to, you can give relatives and loved ones access to this Doro ecosystem with Doro Manager -- an online management tool that lets you or people you know, log in and input information like an upcoming doctor's appointment onto your calendar app.
Doro reps said the Doro Experience will have a free, albeit limited version, available in the Google Play store. However, if you want the entire package, complete with Doro Management and some extra cloud storage, the going price will be $59.99 for two years.
Catch all the latest news from CTIA 2012.