Doro are a Swedish brand known for one thing, catering devices to the older generation. To that end, it would be quite useless for me to review the Doro 8030, so I roped in someone I thought would benefit from this, and would be more appropriate to review it… My nan.
Disclosure: Doro were gracious enough to send us a review unit of the Doro 8030, but had no editorial control over the outcome of this review. It was used on the Three Network in the southeast of the UK.
My Nan (Wendy) Is a 75 year young woman who has had phones, and even had a smartphone before, but has never really accepted them as something she owned and could use. But When I had the opportunity to get a Doro 8030 to review, I jumped at the chance, because I could get my Nan to review it, and not only that, I could get her using a smartphone for more of the smartphone-y things they’re for. This could be fun.
For the Last month or so, my Nan has had the Doro 8030 in place of her Moto E 2014 to use as her daily device. Her SIM card has been in this, and I made sure she took notes about using it, so I could write this with her help.
Speeds and Feeds (specs)
- 4.5” WVGA (800×480) Screen
- 1.1Ghz Quad-Core Snapdragon 210
- Adreno 304 400Mhz
- 1GB Ram
- 8GB internal storage (5gb free)
- MicroSD capable of storing up to 32GB
- Android 5.1.1
- 2000mAh removable battery
For a more complete Specification list, contact Doro.
In her daily routine, the Doro 8030 comfortably fit into my nans routine. The soft touch plastic finish was lovely to hold, it wasn’t too grippy, and just felt right. My nan was able to get on with her day and use the device without fear of dropping it. The non-slip coating meant that no matter where she put it, she could feel safe that it would stay there whether it be her bag, her bedside table, the coffee table or kitchen countertop. Doro really know their target audience here, and the material they’ve used here speaks to that audience well.
The Front of the Doro 8030 has the 4.5” WVGA display, it seems to be an IPS display, as the colours pop and the viewing angles are more than adequate. Viewing from the side is simple and there is no discernible colour shift. The Display cover glass is set forward from the display itself, Usually, this would be annoying, but in her use, my nan never said that it bothered her. She just appreciated the high peak brightness, the vibrant colours, and the seemingly smudge resistant glass.
On top of the display, we have the ambient light and proximity sensors as well as the VGA front facing video camera. The Proximity sensor, as its name suggests sense the proximity of the person’s face to the screen, when they get close enough, the screen shuts off, preventing your cheek from making any unwanted inputs. The Ambient light sensor is there so that the screen can automatically adjust brightness depending on the ambient light of your surrounding, pretty neat.
In her testing, My nan noted that the Doro 8030 got plenty bright, even when she was using it out in the sun. [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“It was never a struggle, I never had to cup my hand over the screen in order to see it”[/pullquote]
“It was never a struggle, I never had to cup my hand over the screen in order to see it” . Low reflectivity and high brightness mean that even with her vision problems, the 4.5” panel was great for her use. Whilst a 4.5” screen for mainstream smartphones is laughably small, the user base for these phones will have likely been using candybar phones with sub 2” screens, so the 4.5” WVGA panel is big enough and higher resolution. Funnily enough, my nan is coming from a Moto E 2014, a device using a 4.3” qHD (960×540) screen, and even from that, she said that the increase in size is noticeable, but the drop in resolution isn’t really, but it does seem brighter and less reflective.
Below the screen we have the 3 large physical navigation buttons, and whilst I am not personally a fan of these on my personal devices, my nan loved them, they are very big, don’t rattle and need very little actuation force. She doesn’t dislike onscreen buttons, she actually likes that they make her other phone look clean, but the fact they didn’t look like what they did oftentimes confused her. Doro has very clearly made sure that a house was used for the Home button, and a back arrow or back. Little usability tweaks such as the two little nubbins either side of the home button to locate the centre, these are things that people that have no vision problems or mobility problems don’t think of, but when they’re catered for, make a big difference.
Lastly on the front we have the Microphone. The microphone is situated under the home button in the middle. It has high gain, I was easily able to hear her on calls, It was crisp and clear, and it works in tandem with the great earpiece up top to make the telephone aspect of this smartphone, much more pleasant and easy to use for those who still make calls, even if they are just “Hello? Where are you” calls in the supermarket.
Whilst she isn’t going to be taking many selfies, the fact that the front facing camera is there is something useful. Despite only being VGA quality, it means she can video call my sister and her daughter, my nan’s great-granddaughter, If she isn’t able to leave the house or hasn’t seen her for a little while. Whilst VGA quality is on the low side, even for someone with vision problems, it’s the difference of if she needed it, she’d be able to use it for video calls and things, things she wouldn’t be able to do if they had decided to not include it, for whatever reason, Something, again, Motorola omitted from the girst gen Moto E she was using before the Doro 8030.
The Bottom houses absolutely nothing, a nice and clear part of the design, somewhere you get to see the dark grey painted rim meet with the darker grey/black soft touch plastic back. As we do a 180 we see the top of phone with the 3.5mm audio jack at the left (if looking from the front). This being at the top has no significance to my nan, compared to my preferred placement which is the bottom. As her phone usually goes in her handbag, the orientation matters less than it does to me, someone who puts their phone in their pocket.
Right-hand rail has the power button and the volume rocker. When asked, she said that the side buttons had the same amount of “press resistance” (actuation force) as the buttons on the front, which she liked, it means that when her arthritis is playing up which it often does, she isn’t as restricted, she can still turn her phone screen on and off (pressing the buttons on the front of the device also wake up the device). The Power button is slightly smaller than she would have liked, but is honestly not much of a problem, it is in a comfortable place, is easy to push and is easy to locate, even when she is not looking at it.
Left-hand side houses the MicroUSB charging and data transfer port, as well as the 2 stage camera button. Whilst I
personally am not a fan of side-mounted USB ports, on the Doro 8030 there is a reason, The included bedside dock. The Doro 8030 comes with a dock that you put on your bedside table and that you slide the phone into to charge it, and this is probably her favourite thing about the device, just how simple it is to charge it, no having to worry about whether the cable is the right way, whether she’ll drop her phone, she slides the phone down into the dock, and as it only goes in one way, bobs your teapot, everyone is happy. The single stage camera button is a similar affair, once prompted as to what it was, she just knew how to use it. “It’s just like using a proper camera when you hold it sideways, the button is in the same place”. One criticism of the camera button is that the actuation force is a little too much and can often times introduce judder into the frame, whilst the half step to focus is enough, the extra step to capture often requires a tad too much.
Lastly we have the back of the device, with its 5mp rear camera, noise cancelling microphone just underneath it and assistance button just underneath that. Right at the bottom we have the Mono speaker, sadly rear facing, and the Doro logo. In the bottom left hand corner of the back there is a tin cutout where you can place your fingernail or a pry tool to remove the back cover. This gains you access to the removable 2000mAh Lithium Ion battery, The MicroSD card slot capable of supporting up to 32gb expandable storage cards, and the MicroSIM card slot. One thing that is often glossed over is installation, and Doro helpfully etch diagrams of which way to put the MicroSIM and the MicroSD card into the device with graphics on the plastic showing the correct orientation. With the rear cover off we also still see the camera module and its silver cover, the assistance button and lastly in the bottom right corner the loudspeaker.
Software is where things start to get interesting, The Doro 8030 is an Android smartphone, a relatively low-end one by 2016 standards, but certainly more than capable for the audience this is geared towards. Will this play modern combat 5? Probably, will it run it well? I can almost assuredly guarantee you not. But this does not change the fact that Doro ship the 8030 with a relatively heavy skin on Android, geared towards making it incredibly easy for the user to do what they need/want to do.
Starting with the simplest and most obvious change, the lock screen. Doro has added a large translucent white circle with a “landing strip” of arrows that indicate for you to put your finger on the white circle and drag up, this is accompanied by text telling you to do the same thing. There is also a Clock with the date underneath as well as a little alarm clock if you have any active alarms.
Once you’re actually into the device, you can see that things are a little different than usual. There is still the google search bar present, right at the top waiting for you to tap and type, or jab the mic and say “How old is Robbie Williams?” and it’ll happily speak the answer to you. In asking my nan what she thinks of having the prompts, she said that having them there are a nice reminder “just in case”, she knows how to use her phone, but on the odd occasion she doesn’t, it’s there to back her up, and that’s the running theme with the software on the Doro 8030.
Android 5.1.1 is powering the Doro 8030 (With the February Security patch) and it runs like a dream with nary a hitch in day to day use for my nan. I’ve noticed a stutter here or there when I’ve been flicking through things, but these aren’t things she would do, and I would rather than 99% of the target audience wouldn’t either. That’s why getting my nan to review this phone was a good choice.
The Home screen for the Doro 8030 has 3 big thumb sized buttons, “Call” “View” and “Send”, below that is an Arrow that you can either tap on or swipe up from, that gives you access to a few more options, “Search”, “Add”, “Snap”, “discover”, “Listen”, and “Set”. Tapping the home button brings you to the main screen with 4 shortcuts, the clock and Call,View and Send.
Swiping from right to left brings you into the app launcher, it’s a 3×3 grid, the more apps you download the more pages there are and will be. In the top right, there is a button that says “I Want to”, you’ll find these types of buttons all over the Doro UI and they are really what sets this phone apart from other devices. Taping that buttons brings up a context sensitive menu, for instance when in the “My app” app launcher, hitting the “I Want to” button brings up a menu that says:
- Add new Application(s)
- Create a folder
- Uninstall applications
- Open the App. menu settings
This kind of hand-holding makes some of the hidden parts of the Android UI, far easier to grasp. As an advanced user, I just forget that some things are harder for people to do and some things aren’t natural user interfaces. Long presses and double taps are two of the worst UX paradigms in existence, but they are implemented almost everywhere, So Doro has tried to eliminate them wherever they can, And in my nan’s view, it has worked. She found she “played around with it all a little more” and that she felt comfortable playing around with it.
Doro’s Simplified interface starts right from the bootup, asking you about font scaling and a bit of DPI scaling, but in the most user-friendly way possible it puts a message on-screen and says is it big enough? With 2 buttons, one saying it’s fine, the other saying a little bigger. Things like this made her feel much more in control, but also, more attached to it, because she’s able to do more on it, she feels more attached to it.
Whilst for some more advanced or season smartphone users, the prospect of having a big button that says “Send” and then a submenu whose options are :
- A Message
- An Email
- A Picture or Video
- A Contact Card
- A Note
- My Location
- A Music File
- A Recorded sound
Might sound strange and almost torturous, for my nan, that’s exactly what she wants. If she thinks “Ooh, I want to send Dom a Message” that’s the thought process in her head, so having it play out like that on the screen is simple and effective. It is literally :
- Click “Send” button
- Click “A Message” button
- Decide whether you want to type the number or find a contact
- Type message
That User Interface and User Experience flows to other parts of the phone as well, In the expanded menu, clicking the “Snap” button gives you options for “A Photo” or “A Video” as well as Selfies and a sound recorder. Having a User interface that is very text based, but in the way that it follows the thought process of a person is so simple, it’s genius. I Think a lot of the Time we as technology enthusiasts just think people will adapt and move on, but sometimes that isn’t the case, and having things designed for a specific user base have their place. Are Doro going to sell 100 million 8030’s? Of course not, but maybe the 100,000 they do sell are to people who may not have had great experiences with smartphones before and who are wary of trying again. Those people are going to be able to use this and slowly learn things that they can then transition to newer potentially more complex devices once they learn the skills, Or they have a brand loyalty towards Doro because for once, they have had a company cater to them and make them feel comfortable using a device.
The Doro 8030 has a pair of Cameras, a 5mp Autofocus unit on the back, and a VGA unit on the front. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Neither Camera is particularly great. They are servicable, they capture the moment, will it be the best representation of that moment? probably not, but you caught a part of it.
The Main problem is that the ISP in the Snapdragon 210 isn’t great, which is then compounded by slow focus speeds in the app. I can’t comment on the quality of the sensor or the lenses used as I don’t know the details, but the camera module on the back at least looks as if the coating won’t scratch too easily. As I said earlier, the most positive thing I can say about both Cameras on the 8030 is that they exist, but It doesn’t take particularly high fidelity images, they look very smudget,despite the subject not moving, as if someone smeared a very thin layer of vaseline on the lens.
My Nan had similar views, though she doesn’t use the camera all that much, so it doesn’t really bother her. When I told her that she could video call Felicia (My sister) to see Aria (my Niece, my nan’s Great-Granddaughter) she got more excited, “And they can see me?” she said to me, nothing that something she couldn’t do on her other phone, she didn’t know she could, but she said that even though it’s not great quality, it’s nice to have it, because the times where she would use it, a low-quality camera that still gets across what you were trying to get across is better than not having that camera at all.
Doro could have most certainly spent more money on the optics of the 8030, but they spent enough so that the basics where covered, but let me not decieve you, they have only covered the basics.
A 2000mAh Lithium-Ion Battery, Quad-Core Snapdragon 210 processor and a 4.5” WVGA screen, you’d expect the Doro 8030 to have pretty great battery life, And you’d be correct. In her use (Remember, this has been her only phone for the last couple of weeks) My Nan has continuously been able to eek 2 and sometimes 3 days of use out of the 8030. This includes firing up Google’s speech to text service to ask what other programmes Actors have been in, Searching YouTube for more Adam Lambert, and for Calling my mum to find out where in the supermarket she is.
She never worried about the longevity of the Doro 8030, she didn’t not take it out because it’s nearly dead. Each part of this phone just sips power. If somehow she had managed to irreparably damage the battery in the last few weeks of testing, she wouldn’t be too bad off, because the 8030 comes with a removable 2000mAh battery, and buying a replacement from the people over at Doro shouldn’t be too difficult.
The Charging solution is one thing of note that I want to praise. In my Initial conversations, I specifically asked for the Dock to be included, thinking that it is an added extra, but no, every 8030by default ships with a charging dock. The Charging dock is not only one of my favourite parts of the phone, but my nan’s too. The Dock Plugs in via MicroUSB on the back, and the Doro cable is nice and thick gauge wire and the Micro-B plug is nice and easy to grip, but once the dock is plugged into the wall, all you need to do to charge it is turn it 90 degrees to the right, and vertically lower it into the dock. Once in the dock it opens up the dock UI, making it into a bedside mode. This feels very well designed, I Love it, and so does my nan, saying that it makes it easy to set her alarms, or call people, to play some peaceful music or go into Do not disturb mode. The Doro 8030 Charging Dock is something that I thought was extra, but I’m so glad to be proved wrong and I’m so glad they’re included by default.
Really nice simple branding for the Doro Charging Dock
WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G, those are the 3 important connectivity features you need to know about the Doro 8030. Just because it is a designed for the older generation doesn’t mean it needs to get stuck with the older generation of communication protocols. Cat4 LTE is supported by the X5 LTE modem in the Snapdragon 210, meaning if your carrier supports it you can get 150mbps downlink and 50mbps on the uplink, not too shabby.
WiFi is limited to 802.11n 2.4Ghz, meaning the most crowded space, but the most common WiFi standard. If you have WiFi at home, it’s more than likely you’ll have a 2.4Ghz SSID, meaning your Doro 8030 will be able to connect to it. The only reason I connected my nans one up was the SSID was unfamiliar to her (It’s Pretty Fly for some WiFi… kids ask your parents) and the password is long and hard to remember. Using the ever so popular Speedtest.net app from Ookla a few feet from the router our 8030 was able to pull in 31mbps on the downlink (out of a possible 45) and 18mbps on the uplink (out of a possible 20). Very respectable radio performance.
On The Three network in the Southeast of the UK, the Doro 8030 on HSPA+ speeds were very different (I Sadly wasn’t able to get any LTE testing done), depending on the time of say, we could get 1mbps, and I could move 5ft to the right and that would jump up to 10mbps. The radio is obviously dependent on your carrier’s service where you live. Whilst I would not say the mobile radio is quite as good as her outgoing Moto E 2014, the WiFi antenna seems vastly improved.
Doro 8030 Conclusions
There was more I could write on the Doro 8030 and this could easily be double or even triple length If I wanted to go full in depth on every nook and cranny, but here is the conclusion for this review. Would I as a 21 year old male buy this phone? No, but I’m not the target audience, neither is my older sister, but my grandmother, she is the target audience for this phone, and I practically had to pry it from her hands to take photos for this review.
The Doro 8030 has gotten her to do things I didn’t think she’d do on a smartphone. She’s signed up for whatsapp, she takes photos of my niece (her great granddaughter) speaks to Google and goes on maps to find directions for things, and then goes on youtube to watch music videos and relax. What’s more is that she has learnt to adapt the skills she has learnt from this and apply it to her Amazon Fire Tablet, she’s downloaded apps, gone on the web, searched IMDB for exactly what films Pierce Brosnan has been in. And in asking her If she would buy it, she said yes before I could even finish the Question, and she’d also recommend it to friends.
Doro Know who their target audience is, and they’ve obviously put a lot of effort into making their product usable and useful for those people. I started out on this as an experiment, could I get my nan to review a phone, the answer is yes, and in a fantastic turn of events I’ve gotten her asking questions I’m glad to answer because it means she is using her devices, the fact she’s inquisitive is so encouraging, because it means she wants to know more, and to that, I thank Doro entirely.