A lot of people gift their elderly parents or relatives, smartphones to stay in touch with them. However, most elderly people are intimidated by smartphones for their wide array of applications, functions, icons, highly compact charging slots and they stop using the phone altogether. Learning the complex functions become difficult for them and after slipping up a couple of times, they give up on the phone altogether and it becomes just another piece of junk thrown around. However, when they are handed a simple feature phone with bulky numbers and clear call and end buttons marked, they can use it more simply.
A good number of senior citizens lose their ability to learn something new which is why they cannot remember how to make calls or store numbers from smartphones. No matter how many times they are taught, they cannot remember the functions always. Sadly, cell phone companies are so engrossed in developing products for youngsters with more addition of features and functions that they are making these phones difficult to operate for our elderly relatives. There is no cell phone company that manufactures mobile phones in India that senior citizens may use smoothly. However, this problem could be corrected as smaller companies such as iBall and Magicon Impex have come up with such phones which are elderly friendly.
The Shenzhen Sang Fei Consumer Communications and Sistema Shyam Teleservices plans to bring out a range of mobile phones which are custom made for older people. The former is the company that brought back the mobile phones in India that belongs to the Philips brand after almost 7 years. Sistema Shyam is trying to forge collaboration for developing a large market for mobile phones in India meant for older citizens. A market study is being carried out and talks are being held with numerous local mobile makers for coming up with a special mobile phone that senior citizens shall find easy in terms of usage and affordable in terms of pricing. However, the Russian based Sistema JFSC’s Indian arm did not disclose who the vendor partners could be. There has been a buzz that the phone shall have large buttons with larger font size for allowing users to press their finger firmly on the keys. The larger font size shall ensure that no one wrongly dials a number. The phone shall also have voice prompts embedded in for assisting older users along with one touch keys for controlling volume, a powerful torch, switch for safety alert and FM radio. The Chinese company Shenzhen Sang Fei wants to price this device at Rs 5,200 almost.
Aside from larger buttons, the handset shall have a bright screen which could be converted to a flashlight when a button is touched. A separate SOS button shall be built in for dialing up to 3 emergency contacts designated such as emergency services, doctor and numbers who live close by in case there is an emergency. The senior citizen population in India is around 100 million and sadly there is no cell phone which is designed for this group of users.
For now, noteworthy names of India’s smartphone markets such as Nokia, Apple, Sony and Samsung have commented that they do not manufacture handsets which have been customized for the elderly. ZTE, the Chinese mobile phone maker has reportedly developed these kinds of devices for their Latin American markets although they have refused to comment upon their Indian plans. Samsung and Apple have commented that the smartphones made by them have got accessibility features that have been designed for users who have disabilities such as reduced dexterity and impaired vision and hearing.
For now, Samsung has said that it has no intentions of bringing its handset used by senior citizens in US, Jitterbug to India. Moreover, devices like the iPhone could prove to be very costly for elderly users in developed markets even. Local brands like Karbonn and Micromax too do not have on offer such mobile phones in India.
Most of the mainstream vendors have been dissuaded from manufacturing such phones. Local and global handset makers have not taken the initiative of making such phones because justification of costs for managing the stock keeping of these niche phones is not possible. Most companies opine that such phones shall sell only a few thousand units in a year. Another reason why most companies are shying away from the prospect of making such phones for seniors is the young population of India. Almost 50 percent of the population in India is below 35 years of age and marketing and manufacturing a phone meant for senior citizens may not be well-received by them. It would throw up cost challenges certainly. In developed countries such as US, Europe and Japan, such a concept is viable because ageing population is larger in those countries significantly.
Some companies that specifically targets senior users in these developed countries are Emporia in Austria, Fujitsu in Japan, GreatCall in the United States and Doro AB in Sweden.
The only two companies in India which are fighting for the cause of senior citizens are iBall Senior Aasaan 2 and Senior Duo by Magicon. These phones have been provided a simple keypad that has large buttons along with a magnifying glass. The phones are priced in the brackets of Rs 2700 and Rs 3550. However, their annual sales are only a fraction of the 250 million-plus phones which are sold in India annually.
To buy good quality mobile phones in India, you can go online and enter the name of your city and the brand whose mobiles you prefer to buy. You can also add a budget to streamline the results. The results page shall show you different listings such as those of old mobile phones and newer handsets. You can also obtain a dealer’s phone number from the website whom you can contact directly for buying phones.
All is not lost for the cause of senior citizens as phones are available in the affordable price bracket for them that are friendly enough for them to be used.