Emporia produces phones that are aimed at older people or those with issues or disabilities that stop them from being able to easily use today's more complex feature phones and smartphones. The EmporiaCLICK that we're looking at here is a clamshell handset with large buttons, the ability to adjust the size of onscreen text and an onboard camera. It's pretty much a direct competitor to Doro's PhoneEasy 612, but at £80 SIM Free it’s around £20 cheaper than that model.
Emporia EmporiaCLICK - Design
In terms of looks, the EmporiaCLICK's styling is a bit classier than that of Doro's 612. Whereas the 612 looks slightly plasticky, the EmporiaCLICK has a more contemporary look, with a mirrored metallic panel on the front and a matte, slightly rubberised finish on the rear to make it less slippery than mainstream clamshell phones.
Of course, because this is a flip _phone_ you don't have to worry about locking the keypad to avoid accidental calls when you're carrying it around in a bag or pocket. Once the _phone_ is closed the keypad is locked away so keys can’t be accidentally triggered.
Flipping the phone open reveals a fairly large portrait screen that takes up most of the top part of the phone. Beneath this there are two call control keys as well as up and down buttons for moving through the menus.
Emporia has also added three quick dial keys that you can associate with the contacts that you call most frequently. The buttons on the main part of the keypad are very large -- much larger than those on a normal mobile. They have a little bit more travel, so it’s easy to tell by feel whether you've pressed them properly or just grazed the surface. The keys are marked with high contrast white text on a black background and are backlit to make them that bit more legible for those with sight problems.
On the left hand side there are two large up and down volume controls which are a bit easier to press than those on Doro's 612, while on the right hand side there's a dedicated button to launch the camera feature. Emporia has added a small LED torch to the top of the phone and above the camera button there's a key to active this LED light. Holding it down lights the LED and letting the button go again turns it off.
Flip the phone over and you’ll find another button that Emporia has dubbed the 'call for care' button. You can program five different emergency contact numbers into the handset and once the ‘call for care’ button is held down the phone emits an alarm to alert people who may be nearby, sends an emergency text to each of the five programmed contacts and then starts calling the these numbers in sequence until someone picks up. It's a feature that's also offered on Doro's range of phones as well as on the Alcatel OT-282 handset, but it's still a great idea, especially for the elderly who may live on their own.
Emporia includes a charging cradle with the phone, so once the wall charger is connected to the cradle you can top up the phone's battery just by plonking it in the dock. This will be much easier to do for those with dexterity issues than trying to connect up the charger's microUSB plug to the socket on the phone.
Emporia EmporiaCLICK - User interface
The Emporia EmporiaCLICK has a reasonably large screen for this type of phone and the display's resolution is quite good too, so text and icons look crisp and clean. Viewing angles are wide, so you don’t have to look at the display square on for it to be legible, unlike the screen on the Alcatel OT-282 that we reviewed recently. We also like the way the text size in the menus is adjustable so those with sight difficulties can set it to be much larger than normal.
However, the controls for the menus are a little bit odd. For example, to open the menu you have to hit the right hand button which is marked as the call end/power off button. That’s very unintuitive for a handset that's meant to be designed with ease of use as a priority. We also weren't that keen on the dual use of the up and down buttons. As standard they're used for moving through the menus, but if you press and hold them they allow you to access the contacts book and a predefined favourite tool (the calendar, calculator or picture gallery, for example). We felt these extra functions would have been better placed on dedicated keys. Also, the menus, although not that complex to navigate around, didn’t feel as easy to use as those on Doro's 612.
Elsewhere, though, there's been plenty of attention paid to little details. For example, the vibration motor on this phone is more powerful than usual, making it easier to tell when there's an incoming call or a new text message. Incoming calls and texts also trigger an LED on the front of the handset, so if you're hard of hearing you can see you have a call even if you can’t hear the ring tone clearly.
The phone's earpiece is also a fair bit louder than normal and as with the one found on Doro's 612 handset, it doesn’t distort when it's turned up loud, so it's always fairly easy to understand what callers are saying. The earpiece is hearing aid compatible too and the phone also has Bluetooth onboard so it can be used with hearing aids that have a Bluetooth feature.
Emporia EmporiaCLICK - Performance
As the EmporiaCLICK is a relatively basic phone it's no surprise to find that it charges up pretty quickly and then lasts for days on standby, or for a good few hours of talk time. Emporia quotes a talk time of four hours and a standby time of just over thirteen days, which seemed about right to us during our time with the phone.
The camera is pretty rudimentary, though. Photos are only captured at VGA resolution, so they look quite smudgy and lacking in detail. Colours aren't all that accurate either and the camera really can’t handle low light situations. In dimly lit conditions pictures come out looking very, very dark, with lots of image noise. There also seems to be no way of getting photos off the phone and on to a PC, as it doesn’t have a microUSB port and doesn’t support photo transfer via Bluetooth.
The EmporiaClick has some nice touches such as the emergency button on the rear, built-in torch function and large, easy to use buttons. It's very similar to Doro’s PhoneEasy 612, but is around £20 cheaper. However, it’s not quite as user friendly as Doro’s handset.