While cell phones are viewed today as an integral part of daily living, they have become more complex with all of the features including email, music listening, cameras and hundreds of apps of differing degrees of usefulness. However sexy those features may be, the Just5 phone provides an elegant solution that provides a basic feature set but designed for older adults without the confusing bells and whistles of today’s new cellular phones. Released earlier this year, the Just5 is designed for those with poor eyesight, hearing problems and those with medical conditions that require a simple to use cell phone. The feature set of the cell phone is limited but focused on ease of use and large buttons for easy dialing and texting.
We tested the ‘candy-bar’ form factor phone for 2 weeks and found that the phone worked well and provided good audio quality and tested the device using a SIM Card that operated on AT&T’s network. In order to use the phone, we needed to remove the SIM card from our phone and install it into the Just5.
The phone, which looks like a pocket calculator, has large numbers and a small monochrome display with a backlight that shows the basics such as date, time and signal availability and battery life. The phone has text messaging capability and includes a small flashlight built into the device which is more handy than we expected. The phone makes a loud sound each time a button is pressed and the phone has a feature that will read the numbers out loud when you press each number.
Overwhelmingly, the most mentioned feature when users, young and old, saw the phone was the reaction to the big buttons and their tactile feel similar to older touch-dial phones. The speaker phone feature was helpful and and provided better sound quality to listen to other callers when compared to other phones we’ve tested, especially some of today’s smartphones. The phone had a keypad lock feature that allowed us to carry the phone in our pocket or purse without “pocket dialing” anyone programmed into the phone. The sounds were loud and distinct when the numbers were pressed and the number screen was large and worked well in both indoor and outdoor lighting.
We tested the SOS button that provides a siren noise to alert persons in the vicinity that there is a problem and the phone did text the number that we preset as part of the setup and called the number. The FM radio worked with a headset and through the speakerphone output but didn’t really do much for us as most seniors were talk AM talk radio listeners. The battery life for talk time was limited at about two hours during our testing.
The Just5 is just fine for a simple solution for a senior cell phone. Just be aware that some smartphone users may even experience some button envy when the Just5 is out in plain view.