Emporia Smart packs Android and a rear emergency call button (hands-on)

Designed with seniors in mind, the Emporia Smart is an Android smartphone that packs a physical emergency call button, a stylus, and a minimalistic user interface.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
2 min read

BARCELONA, Spain -- Senior phone manufacturer Emporia unveiled its first smartphone during MWC 2014 today, which it aptly calls the Emporia Smart. Featuring basic specs and a comfortable design, the Smart will launch in Europe towards the end of the year for about $275 (€200).

Design Sporting simple, large, and lightweight build for easy handling, the Smart has a 4.5-inch display with a 940x560-pixel resolution. On its right edge sits a small loop to store a detachable external stylus that's reminiscent of the Palm Pilot days of yore.

The device also features a special port next to its Micro-USB plug. This port lines up with the Smart's own charger to ensure that when users plug the handset in, the Micro-USB plug can be quickly oriented in the right direction.

Emporia Smart keeps seniors in mind (pictures)

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Underneath the display are three bulbous control keys for making a call, ending a call, and going to the home screen. During my brief time with it, I noticed that the buttons were very distinct to feel for and easy to press.

Similar to other Emporia feature phones, the Smart has an emergency call button on the back (signified with a heart icon). During an emergency, a user can press this key to call 911 or other pre-programmed numbers.

Key components and features The smartphone runs on Android 4.3, but you wouldn't recognize it as such given how much the users interface has been simplified. The minimalistic UI trims down most of what you see in your standard Android device to just the bare necessities like making a phone call and checking e-mail.

Powering the device is a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and a 2,600mAh battery. It also features an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1-megapixel secondary shooter in the front.

Emporia Smart
Like many of Emporia's handsets, the Smart sports an emergency call button on the back. Lynn La/CNET

Outlook Though $275 off-contract may be a bit steep for what is, in and of itself, a mid-range device, the Emporia Smart goes beyond being just a "user-friendly" smartphone. Instead, features like the emergency call button and the unique charging port make it a truly accommodating product. Those who are looking for a device that blends all the modern conveniences of a smartphone, as well as the advantages of a senior handset may be well to consider the Emporia Smart.

Check out more of CNET's MWC 2014 coverage.