Doro PhoneEasy 618 (Consumer Cellular) review: Reasonably priced and exceptionally easy to use

Other menu features include messages, a call log, a camera (more on that later), a photo gallery or image viewer, an alarm (which can only save one alarm time), and an organizer where you can access a calendar or a daily reminder feature that alerts you for important tasks. In addition there's a calculator, an FM radio, a flashlight, and an icon called ICE for in cases of emergency. Here you can store pertinent medical details like your birthdate, height, weight, insurance info, important contacts, your doctor's number, any listed conditions, allergies, medications, or vaccinations, and your blood type.

Doro PhoneEasy 618
The PhoneEasy 618's user interface is extremely simple and easy to navigate. Josh Miller/CNET

Lastly, there's settings, where you can turn on and off keypad sounds and ringtones, adjust display brightness, activate Bluetooth, set a password, and much more.

You can customize the home page with different wallpapers or you can choose from a photo in your gallery. The screen has designated icons for the current reception, data network, sound settings, and battery level. It also displays the date and time.

The interface is extremely user-friendly. Although it's a pain to scroll through every menu item, I know it's a matter of personal preference. Going through them one by one may be tedious, but it allows easy readability. Fonts and icons are large for those who have difficulty seeing, and I appreciate features like a flashlight and ICE. By themselves these may be small additions, but when considered as part of a whole, the phone is great for someone who wants something that's easy to use but appreciates everyday essentials that make life a bit easier.

Camera
As expected, the 3.2-megapixel camera has only a handful of features. It has a flash that can stay continuously on or adjust for red-eye reduction. It also has a 4x digital zoom and a brightness meter that you can adjust with the volume keys. Other settings (which are located in the Settings feature, not natively accessible in the camera app) include adjusting the shutter sound to low or high (though not off, unfortunately) and three photo sizes that range from 1 to 3-megapixels.

Photo quality was understandably mediocre, but passable. With ample, outdoor lighting, objects in general are captured clearly. However, there is a lot of digital noise, edges are blurry, dark hues are hard to distinguish, and bright lights are usually blown out. Photos taken indoors or with lower lighting fared worse, obviously, and any slight movement from your hand will translate to huge motion blurs in the photo.

Doro PhoneEasy618 outdoor
In this outdoor shot, the sculpture and tree aren't sharp by any means, but are easy to make out. Lynn La/CNET
Doro PhoneEasy618 indoor
In this dimmer indoor shot, you can see more digital noise and motion blur. Lynn La/CNET
Doro PhoneEasy618 SSI
In our standard studio shot, objects are blurry. Josh Miller/CNET

Performance
I tested the tri-band (900/1800/1900) Doro PhoneEasy 618 at our San Francisco offices and call quality was perfectly adequate. There were a few times when voices sounded slightly scratchy, but my calls were never dropped, there was no extraneous buzzing or static, and volume levels were satisfactory. Likewise, I told my voice on the other side came off loud and with strong clarity.

Listen now: Doro PhoneEasy 618 call quality sample

The audio speaker was also great. Even on maximum volume, voices didn't sound tinny or harsh. Though it did sound a bit rough around the edges with scratchiness, it was never to the level that voices were inaudible or hard to understand.

The emergency call button also worked well. It was easy to set up and works whether or not the phone is closed or opened. Keep in mind, however, there is a delay of 10 seconds after you press the button three times to give you enough time to cancel your call. After that passes, it begins dialing the appropriate number.

During our battery tests for talk time, the device lasted 5.6 hours. Anecdotally, battery life was disappointing. A mere 30- to 40-minute call would drain about a fourth of the battery's reserves and charging the handset took a pretty long time. To get even half the battery life back would mean charging the phone for an hour or so. According to FCC radiation standards, it has a SAR rating of 0.62.

Conclusion
As phones become inundated with more high-tech specs like quad-cores and NFC chips, it's a challenge at times to find a device that does the basics and does them well.

The PhoneEasy 618 is one such handset that does just that. It's one of the cheapest phones on Consumer Cellular's network (currently, it's only surpassed by the Motorola WX416 at $35), and while it's stripped of many features you'd see in modern-day handsets, it excels with its call and audio quality. And when extras are thrown in, they are deliberate and pragmatic. Tools like a camera, a continuous flashlight, and a daily reminder module will not only help those who use this phone feel safe, but ultimately, self-sufficient as well.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

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    Where to Buy

    Doro PhoneEasy 618 (Consumer Cellular)

    Part Number: PHONEEASY618CONSUMCELL Released: Dec. 10, 2012
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Dec. 10, 2012
    • Technology GSM
    • Service Provider Consumer Cellular
    • Weight 4.05 oz