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Doro 8030 review: The perfect phone for the older generation

Smartphones have come a long way – you can now grab a competent touchscreen phone for just £50. The Doro 8030 is, by all objective measures, not a good phone. However, after using it, I can understand why it’s popular amongst older generations. To understand Doro’s popularity, you have to leave all your preconceptions of what a smartphone is at the door.

Doro 8030 review: What you need to know

The Doro 8030 is a 4.5in smartphone, that comes with a dedicated assistance button, three physical navigation buttons and its own charging cradle.

It might not be the most attractive phone, nor have the best screen, camera or performance, but its interface has been tailored for the older generation. This is arguably the best phone for your grandparents, or for those who might not fully understand technology but want to stay connected. If you’re looking for an intuitive phone, with an easy-to-understand interface, get the Doro 8030, despite its drawbacks.

Doro 8030 review: Price and competition

It’s hard to compare the £110 Doro 8030 to other budget smartphones, as there’s nothing quite like it. Still, if you’re in the market for a phone, you should consider your options.

At around £50 you’ll find the Alcatel Pixi 4 (5) and Vodafone Smart E8, two budget smartphones that offer spectacular value for money. For a little more, you’ll find the Vodafone Smart N8 at £85, which adds a few additional features such as a fingerprint reader. If you spend more still, you’ll come across some of the best budget smartphones around, such as the incredible Lenovo P2 from around £170 with its amazing battery life. There’s also the sleek, stylish and blisteringly quick Smart V8 for around £159, then the king of budget phones, the Moto G4 from £150, and the new Honor 6A from around £145.

Doro 8030 review: Design and build quality

The phone is rather chunky at 10.1mm thick. It’s large bezels and angular design makes it seem like a time traveller from nearly a decade ago that got put on the shelf by mistake.

As a result, the Doro 8030 does feel robust in a world where the latest and greatest feel increasingly fragile. Dropping the phone from waist height doesn’t inject any fear – it’s the type of phone that you’ll be able to drop a few times without having to worry about a cracked screen.

There are three physical buttons at the front of the handset, a long-lost feature on the modern-day smartphone. The buttons are large, easy to press, clearly indicated and also illuminated. The left button opens your recent applications, the centre is your home button and the right button is to go back (be it through menus or a web page).

Flip the handset over, and you’ll find a dedicated assistance button. This customisable button can be used to call the emergency services or a designated contact. It can also be used to signal a distress – a beeping sound to be precise, before automatically dialling your pre-assigned contact. The button is a fundamental part of the Doro 8030’s operation. It’s a phone that’s designed for those less-able, and if something were to happen a click of a button can literally be a lifesaver.

Its microUSB charging port (which is also used for data transfers) is found on the right-hand side of the phone. You might be wondering why. It’s clever actually – due to its design, and the included charging cradle found within the box, you can slot the phone into the cradle, charge it and watch videos in landscape mode. This bundled accessory makes it ideal for those who want to place the phone on their bedside table, or by the television.

There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone, where you’d plug in your headphones. Speaking of which, the bundled earphones provide a decent sound quality.

Its power button and volume rocker are located on the left-hand side and have tactile marks to distinguish them apart from each other. A dedicated camera button is found on the right-hand side, which provides quick access to the camera app (when long-pressed) from your home screen.

The Doro 8030 isn’t waterproof, water-resistant nor dustproof, as it has a removable back plastic cover which reveals its removable 2,000mAh battery, a microSIM slot and a microSD card slot. The latter provides an additional 32GB of memory, which you’ll have to buy separately.

Doro 8030 review: Display

Its 4.5in display is rather poor. Starting with its 854 x 480 resolution screen, which feels low, given it’s identical to the much cheaper Alcatel Pixi 4 (5) and Vodafone Smart E8.

With a 331cd/m2 brightness, the Doro can be used under bright sunlit conditions without any issues. Viewing angles are relatively good too.

It hasn’t got the best colour accuracy at an average Delta E of 2.55, which will result in certain colours (such as red, green and cyan) looking a little off target. With an 83% sRGB gamut coverage, colours look vibrant and are rich.

It’s 860:1 contrast ratio and 0.38cd/m2 black level mean black colours on your screen might look a little grey.

Doro 8030 review: Software

Doro’s software is rather unusual. The company has opted to overlay the outdated Android 5.1, which looks old in comparison to the shiny new Android 8 Oreo mobile operating system.

I’m usually against Android overlays, but in this case, I’m all for it. Its interface is designed to make operations intuitive and easy-to-understand. The menus and submenus are broken down into categories, tapping the onscreen downward-arrow on the home screen will reveal a simple menu with Call, View, Send, Search, Add, Snap, Discover, Listen and Set. By tapping on one of these, you’ll be presented with more options – such as when you press ‘View’ it opens up a submenu that lets you jump to your messages, emails, call history, pictures and contacts among others.

I also like the simple, yet effective option at the top-right hand side of certain menus that have an ‘I want to’ button. Such as in the Gallery, tapping this option reveals: Display, manage favourite, delete picture(s), and set. It’s a simple option but makes it really easy to understand what you’re going to do – no hidden meanings or complicated sub menu structure here.

Doro 8030 review: Performance

Inside the Doro 8030 you’ll find a quad-core 1.1Ghz Snapdragon 210 with 1GB of RAM. These specs aren’t terribly good, in fact, the Doro 8030 is outpaced by the cheaper Alcatel Pixi 4 (5) and Vodafone Smart E8.

Looking at the cross-platform Geekbench 4 benchmark results, the Doro 8030 sits at the bottom of the table, and the numbers reflect the real-world speed and multitasking capabilities of the phone – it’s sluggish and incapable of handling multiple apps at once.

^ Doro 8030 Geekbench 4

It comes to no surprise that it struggled in GFXBench Manhattan 3.0, scoring only 7fps in the onscreen benchmark. That’s not to say you can’t play games like Candy Crush, so don’t worry: you can still swipe those candies into oblivion!

^ Doro 8030 Battery life

The Doro 8030 lasts 9hrs 55mins in the Expert Reviews video torture test. This means the phone will last you a day without having to be recharged. If you aren’t going to be watching movies on it for 10hrs straight, then it’ll last you a few days without needing extra charge – though the easy-to-use charging dock means you’re unlikely to be hunting a cable for long.

Doro 8030 review: Camera

Its camera performance is shocking. With a 5-megapixel sensor and no rear-facing flash, the Doro 8030 doesn’t take accurate images and has noticeable smearing.

In the image below, you’ll see the buildings and the greenery are oversaturated making it look artificial. There’s blur at the bottom left-hand corner too, with image detail going amiss.

^ Without HDR enabled, colours are rather dark, but image detail is good

Indoors, images aren’t any better, with a lot of extra image noise dampening its quality. Colours aren’t accurate either and with the lack of flash, shadows are clearly apparent.

A front-facing 0.3-megapixel camera can be used for selfies, but yet again, colours, smearing, image noise and detail are poor.

Doro 8030 review: Verdict

The Doro 8030 has a terrible camera, poor performance, a disappointing display, no fingerprint reader, a chunky build quality and runs on the outdated Android 5.1 mobile operating system.

But to complain about this stuff really misses the point of the Doro 8030. Its purpose isn’t to compete with the best budget phones, but to provide a device that’s accessible to all. With its large physical buttons, rear-call-to-help button that sends a distress signal and intuitive interface, the Doro 8030 is a phone I’d recommend to the elderly or for your children. It’s fit for purpose and there’s no denying its target audience. Until a handset comes along that offers all of this with better performance and a lower price, the Doro 8030 is an unlikely champion.

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