The Swissvoice C50s is a semi-smartphone that can enhance the life of the older user, without confusing them. The ability for the caregiver to monitor and remotely control the various settings of the phone are impressive. Improvements in the responsiveness of the web monitoring apps and a clearer indication of available reception could help improve what is already a very good aged care tool. However if you want to buy the mobile outright, prepare to jump through some hoops as you can't buy it outright online.
The Swissvoice C50s is an Android smartphone running a custom app or 'skin' aimed at simplifying many of the communication tasks that may seem overly complex for some seniors. The dual SIM mobile has a 5-inch display and basic buttons for messages (SMS), photos and phone calls.
It comes with a base station that charges the mobile and allows for hands-free use. The base station is also a handy place to store the phone when not in use. Both the base station and the phone have an SOS button.
The remote monitoring interface allows the caregiver to customise the phone without any input from the owner.
The main screen presents large icons indicating the ring volume and battery level as well as the time across the top of the display. Three photo icons (you can choose the photos) showing the most important people to call allow for easy, single-touch access. If the user accidentally clicks on a menu and stumbles into the standard (and more complex) Android screen, all the user needs to do is push the home button at the bottom of the mobile to restore the simpler Swissvoice interface.
The caregiver can monitor the C50s and change any settings remotely by subscribing to the premium service for a few extra dollars per month. You can even force the video camera to turn on and monitor the surrounding environment without any input from the phone's user. This could easily be seen as an invasion of privacy but may be necessary for the level of care some people require.
A couple of issues hold the Swissvoice C50s back from being one of the best senior phones we have tested. First, the lack of a clear reception signal on the user screen unless you carefully swipe down from the top of the display could be confusing to some users if the phone isn't working as expected. Also, the mix of push button-only and swipe actions can make navigation feel a bit inconsistent.
Regarding purchase if you want to buy with a plan there are options ranging from $5 up but there seems to be no way to purchase outright without calling Southern Phone direct and supplying details for a credit check. It does seem that the website has removed the ability to buy the phone outright from the website however there is no indication as to when this occurred.
For more information: Southern Phone
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.