Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Seniors appreciate simpler cellphones

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MONTREAL -- Mobile phones are adapting as the population ages.

Bigger screens and keypads, amplified speakers, simplified cameras and hearing-aid compatibility are senior-friendly features some manufacturers are exploring, said mobile analyst Sascha Segan.

"The train of thought that basically says seniors are technophobes should be replaced by a train of thought that says seniors are people who may have these physical issues going on," Segan said from New York.

"I know plenty of men and women in the 65- to 75-year-old range who want to communicate with their friends, their children, their grandchildren and look things up on the Internet and take tons of pictures, so they're all very excited about their smarpthones."

Jerome Arnaud, chief executive of the easy-to-use mobile phone maker Doro, said a segment of seniors just wants the "minimum functions that are vital to them."

"You still have a part of the population who also wishes to keep things simple," said Arnaud, in Canada recently for the launch of two of the company's phones, the PhoneEasy 620 and the PhoneEasy 520X. Doro is available at Rogers, Zoomer Wireless and Cityfone.

Arnaud said some seniors "disconnect" from the latest technology as they get older, but still want to stay in touch with family and friends.

John McLaren, 80, tested a simplified Doro feature phone. He gave up on his smartphone after about a year and planned to give it to his teenage granddaughter.

"Sometimes it doesn't do anything you want it to do because you've put the wrong finger on it," McLaren said of his smartphone experience. He just wanted to make phone calls and eventually might do some text messaging.

McLaren preferred Doro's large keys and liked the emergency button on the back of the device that would allow him to alert family or a doctor with a text message in case of an emergency. He can also wear it around his neck on a lanyard. "It just goes wherever I do and I don't lose it."

Segan said simple cellphones for seniors have been a mainstream product in Europe for some time.

There will always be a market for these simple-to-use cellphones, but it will be a niche market, he added.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 B11

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