When picking the best phone, not everyone wants top-end specs or the biggest display – older folk just want something that's easy to use and straightforward, which is what Doro specialises in. Its phones are simple, affordable, and made with the elderly in mind.
The Doro 8035 is the second-most advanced (and expensive) phone Doro makes, after the Doro 8040 (which has a slightly bigger battery and a slightly better camera). If you've got older friends or relatives in the market for a new phone, then this is worth checking out.
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The software is based on Android Nougat 7.1.2, so you're not getting the absolute latest Android software here – not that it matters too much. Doro has put its own skin on top of Android to make the OS easier to navigate and to bring important apps to the fore.
You can still install anything you like as normal from the Play Store, and all the usual Google apps are already installed as well. By default though, the phone will point you towards the simpler, more accessible versions of these apps that it's developed itself.
Doro 8035 review: set up and design
Setting up the Doro 8035 isn't all that different from setting up any other Android device – you just enter your Google account credentials and away you go – but when setup is complete, you're met with a simplified, chunky interface on the 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 pixel display. It's certainly easy to get to the apps you need.
Doro's own apps are basic, sure, but they do the job and don't complicate anything – perfect for the older user. From the email client to the calendar app, the software is bright and easy to get around, and all your Google information gets pulled through. If you need standard apps or the standard Android settings panel, they're not far away either.
You certainly can't say the phone is much of a looker, but what do you expect for under £200? It's a heavy-ish 171 grams and a thick-ish 9.48 mm front to back, but it's still perfectly pocketable, and that extra heft is likely to please elderly users. The bezels are thick, the navigation buttons are big and clicky, and there's nothing like a fingerprint sensor here – it's PINs or patterns for locking the display.
Around the back is a 5MP camera which is not all that good at all, and an assistance button: In the software you can set this to call or text a particular contact or group of contacts when it's pushed a certain number of times. Again, extra peace of mind for older people who might need the function. It'll also emit an alarm sound, if needed, to attract the attention of neighbours.
Doro 8035 review: features and performance
We'll quickly go through the usual points that get mentioned in a phone review. The battery life isn't great (you'll struggle to get through the day), the camera is pretty poor too (only the most well-lit and stable shots will turn out to be decent), and the phone does feel slow and laggy at times – not enough to make it unusable, but enough to notice.
Those factors don't matter so much though, because the Doro 8035 is aimed at a different set of user. Using the most basic layout, for example, you get three choices on the home screen: Call, View or Send. Doro has done a smart job of simplifying the phone experience, from navigating apps to configuring settings.
Launch the camera, for example, and the phone asks you if you want to take a photo, a video, or a selfie – that's going to be a lot easier to understand for someone who's confused by the standard camera apps on smartphones. You get taken step-by-step through each action, with a lot of haptic feedback and options for voice control (Google Assistant is on board too).
We've mentioned the assistance button around the back, but you've also got a remote assistance feature that means someone else can quickly control the phone from another mobile device or a computer. It might save you a lot of time when it comes to troubleshooting your parents' phone problems.
Doro 8035 review: verdict
A lot of the factors we would normally weigh up when reviewing a smartphone just don't apply here – the Doro 8035 is chunky, and a bit slow, and doesn't have a great camera or display... but if you're thinking about buying it then you probably won't care about any of that. And let's not forget it retails for just £180.
The customised interface isn't perfect, but it impressed us – some real thought and attention has gone into making Android more usable for people who might not have the reflexes or the eyesight that they once had. It's actually quite refreshing to see a phone interface simplified and stripped down like this.
If you're buying a phone for an older parent, there's a lot to like here: that assistance button, the remote assistance feature, the ease of setup and use, plenty of support for voice input, easy to use apps, and more. The phone even includes an app that lets you use the device's camera as a magnifier.
It has a few marks in the negatives column, but considering all that's good about the Doro 8035, and the price you're likely to pay to get one, the phone ends up in credit by the end. You're really buying it for the software experience though, rather than anything on the hardware side.