Reviewing the Doro 8030 is a little surreal because by all normal measures, it is a terrible example of an Android phone. Running to £120 (SIM-free) on Amazon at the moment, there are plenty of excellent Android devices that come in at a similar price point, all of which leave the Doro 8030 standing. However, comparing the Doro 8030 based on specifications and hardware is to miss the point somewhat. The Doro 8030 is aimed at a very particular need, and fulfils that need well.
It is best to get the bad news out of the way first. Rocking a quad-core 1.1Ghz Snapdragon 210 and 1GB of RAM, the Doro is not going to set the world alight and is easily outpaced by similarly priced phones. It feels slow in use and not really able to handle multiple applications. Not that the included 8GB of storage would take many installations. Storage can be increased via memory card to 32GB, although you’ll be unlikely to want to fill that with pictures from the awful 5-megapixel camera. There is also no flash to ease the poor performance of the imaging sensor. The screen is on a par with other low-end Android handsets with the 4.5-inch display running at an 854 x 480 resolution. It is a bright screen, and worked well through a variety of viewing angles.
The good news is that this is a solid bit of kit. At 10.1mm thick and weighing in at 142grams, it feels chunky and robust in the hand. Doro have retained actual hardware buttons, which are pleasant to use and unusually added a physical button to trigger the camera, along with an assistance button that can be set to make an emergency call to a nominated contact, as well as send both SMS and location information to a distribution list of contacts. A cradle is provided to simplify charging and the removable 2,000mAh battery should see the phone get through a few days of normal use (you’re unlikely to be playing many battery-sapping games on the Doro 8030). The 8030 is hearing aid compatible and is equipped with an eardrum-bursting 91dB ringer.
I am not usually a fan of manufacturer skins on Android, but this is where the Doro 8030 plays its trump card. The Android 5.1 software onboard is somewhat outdated, but Doro hope that the target market will never venture beyond its own simple and well-designed interface. It is worth considering the niche that Doro is aiming at – people who do not get on well with technology. This may be an older person or simply someone who has neither the inclination nor time to get to grips with Samsung’s finest. Based on my experience, Doro have done an excellent job of simplifying the operation of a modern smart phone.
The basic interface is divided into 3 clear categories. Calling, Viewing (which jumps to a sub-menu for activities such as viewing received messages) and Sending (which displays a sub-menu with messaging options). Most intuitive is the ‘I want to’ option that appears in the top-right corner of many screens, giving context-sensitive options depending on where the user is. All the screens are very clear, with large, easy to select options that do not require a lot of thumb action to hunt down a specific function.
In the Hands of The User
While I quickly found myself trying to drop out of Doro’s friendly world to get to the underlying Android OS, my mother-in-law, who has struggled with a variety of phones over the years (from Windows Phone to Android), was able to get to grips with the Doro 8030 with little issue. Tasks such as making and receiving calls, or dealing with SMS messages that frequently required considerable support for other devices presented no problem here. There were some niggles, such as deleting messages, that required a little training, and the sluggish performance of the phone meant she often jabbed the screen a few times while understandably impatient for something to happen, but the experience overall was an excellent one. Certainly, a huge leap from what had come before.
This is a phone aimed at a specific market, and it serves that market extraordinarily well. Doro are to be commended for the thoughtful interface design along with neat features such as the hardware assistance buttons. Many of us have friends or family who shy away from the relentless march of technology. For those people, the Doro 8030 represents a relatively inexpensive way of staying in touch.