What is the Doro PhoneEasy 621?

The Doro PhoneEasy 621 is a _phone_ designed to be supremely easy to use. For older or technophobic _phone_ users, especially those with arthritis or visual impairments, it will likely be much handier than one of Samsung’s flashy Android phones or an iPhone.

It’s designed to cater to a specific market and some of its periphery features are so basic as to be virtually useless. However, it’s also a high-quality well-made phone that we’d be happy to rely on.  
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Doro PhoneEasy 621 - Design and Cradle

The Doro PhoneEasy 621 is a clamshell phone, something that’s extremely rare these days. However, it’s a practical design as it means the screen is protected when the phone is not in use, and it gives the number keypad lots of room to breathe.

Although the entire phone is made of plastic, it feels well-made. The smooth action of the hinge, the thickness of the plastic and the general heft of the PhoneEasy 621 all make it feel like a quality mobile. As it costs £100, we would be disappointed with anything less.
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The Doro PhoneEasy 621 comes in a couple of different finishes – the two-tone white and red we have here and dark grey. A white button surround gives the phone a higher-contrast look that may be useful for those without the sharpest eyes. And we think it looks better than the grey version anyway.

In the box you get a charge dock as well as the phone itself. This lets you simply plonk the phone down to charge it, and the dock has cleverly been weighted a little so that it won’t fall over if you put the PhoneEasy 621 down at an askew angle. There’s an LED that flashes red on the front of the phone so you know it’s charging.

Unlike some earlier Doro phones, the PhoneEasy 621 uses a microUSB charge socket, both on the phone itself and the charge dock. This is the kind of socket used by the vast majority of phones – iPhones being the only major models that don’t use it.
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This phone has a removable battery that you can easily replace, unlike some of the most popular smartphones out there. The battery cover on the back pops off, and there’s a little ridge on the rear to help you do just that. Replacements cost £30 from Doro direct, but you can also find deals on eBay.

As you might expect of a basic phone, the PhoneEasy 621's battery life is far better than that of any smartphone. Without any pushing of emails to the phone, the battery can last for the best part of a week without a charge. Drop it in the charger every now and then and you don't need to worry about the phone running out of charge.
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Doro PhoneEasy 621 – Buttons

There are two main sets of buttons on the Doro PhoneEasy 621. The white ones form the normal numerical pad, and are both highly contoured and easy to press thanks to a light but crisp action. The back ones are more interesting. As well as navigating through the interface and taking calls, they offer direct buttons for your two favourite contacts and shortcuts to the camera and SMS messaging parts of the phone.

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These are key to the PhoneEasy 621’s ease of use. However, there is a degree of setup involved. While there is a setup wizard that lets you choose between the 16 wallpapers, the 16 melody ringtones and the 6 ‘ring’ ringtones, speed dial numbers are set by delving into the menus. If you’re buying the phone for an elderly relative, we strongly recommend doing so before giving it to them.

All the number keypad buttons can also be long-pressed to act as additional speed dials. And every front button on the PhoneEasy 621 lights-up in use, making it easy to use in darker rooms.
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We do find the main high-contrast select buttons a tiny bit stiff for weaker hands, but in many cases the volume control rocker on the side can be used interchangeably. And that has the same light touch as the number pad.

Another issue with the PhoneEasy 621 is that it offers no call screening. Some clamshell phones have a display on the top to show you who's calling, but here there are no such tip-offs, and as standard the call is automatically accepted as soon as you open the phone. It's simple, but not for everyone. The phone can be set to answer calls with a press of a button rather than by opening the phone, but you need to select this yourself in the menu.

Doro PhoneEasy 621 – Screen and Camera

The PhoneEasy 621 has a small colour screen that’s low-res and low-quality compared to today’s smartphones. However, as it has to relay only very basic information it does the trick perfectly.

It’s pretty bright, and you can choose between three brightness levels. You can also switch between two menu types – one that just displays a single menu entry per screen for extra clarity, and a more traditional list menu type.

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The list menu is on the left, the one function per screen one on the right

One other part of the PhoneEasy 621 that’s pretty basic is the camera. It’s a 2-megapixel sensor that produces very low-quality photos, and suffers from severe shutter lag. Thanks to the dedicated camera button it’s very easy to use. However, the pictures it creates are worse than just about any £100 ‘normal’ phone.

Doro PhoneEasy 621 – Accessibility Features

The PhoneEasy 621 does have a couple of more advanced features – 3G connectivity and Bluetooth – however, these are really only there to interface with hearing aids. It supports the T4/M4 and HAC standards. There’s no email or web browser features here, if you expect that from a 3G phone.

Just as important is ICE – the ‘in case of emergency’ button. This sits on the back and texts an emergency message to up to three contacts, and rings a main contact, when pressed twice or held down for a few seconds.

There's also an ICE section within the menu, which holds information about allergies, conditions, vaccinations, prescriptions and so on.
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The PhoneEasy 621 also has a much more sensitive-than-average loudspeaker. As Doro has boosted it to the max, it is a bit hissy when outputting audio but is very loud and clear.

The earpiece speaker is louder than average too, and has a beefier sound than the vast majority of phones - especially those under £100. However, there is some light crackle louder during calls at max volume, showing that the phone is really pushing the speaker driver to its limits. We'd ideally like to see Doro improve this in future phones.

Doro PhoneEasy 621 – Other Features

The PhoneEasy 621 has no music player app, no web browser and no email client. However, it does have a few neat extras.
There's an FM radio that uses any attached earphones as an antenna – however, it won't work with earphones that have a handsfree remote/housing. The radio can be routed through to the loudspeaker too, which is handy.

Other inbuilt apps include a couple of games, a calculator and and organiser section that holds an alarm, calendar, reminders and notes section. However, the basic, button-press heavy interface makes them a bit fiddly to use every day.
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Should I buy the Doro PhoneEasy 621?

There aren't all that many current alternatives to the Doro PhoneEasy 621, outside Doro's own range. Samsung and Nokia offer a few 'easy' phones, but they are generally cheaper, less well-made and have less of a focus on accessibility features.

Selling for £59.99 from O2, this phone is a pretty good deal. But elsewhere it retails for £100 and at that price it is a bit more of a stretch. The camera is poor and we think the main nav buttons may be a bit stiff for those with arthritic thumbs. However, its basic features are otherwise very easy to access, and its 'old school' week-long battery life will prove a massive plus for some.

The charging dock also makes the PhoneEasy 621 a good replacement for a home phone. Thanks to good-value SIM-only deals and 'pay as you go' deals from companies like Tesco, a mobile can now be significantly cheaper to maintain than a landline phone.

Verdict

The Doro PhoneEasy 621 is an easy to use phone that is well-made and decent value if you shop online. There are a few niggles to consider, but no show-stopping ones.

Next, read our best mobile phones round-up