A lot of older readers and listeners ask us about an easy-to-use smartphone, but the choice is still iPhone or Android – but now there’s the BigPurplePhone which has been specifically designed for seniors.
The BigPurplePhone was designed by Libby Henderson who was separated from her 85-year-old mother during the pandemic and had trouble trying to video call her.
This incident inspired her to create a device that was simple to operate for seniors and others suffering dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“Mum was sick in hospital for three months but because of lockdown we couldn’t visit her so when we tried to video call it was futile as she couldn’t work out how to use the phone,” said Ms Henderson.
“I thought there must be an easier way, especially for video chat but when I looked at what phones were available here in Australia they were all quite complicated, so that was the catalyst that inspired us to create the BigPurplePhone.
“The phone gets its name from the large purple digits on the screen and when I gave mum her first BigPurplePhone to test she was like ‘oh wow I can actually see it!’”
“It has a high contrast simple design that makes it easy for elderly users to operate and is the only smartphone to come with an emergency SOS Emergency call alert – so if they are away from home – help is always at hand.
“The phone is also set up on a secure Family & Friends network so users can dial out to anybody, they can’t receive texts or phone calls from unknown numbers.
“Before the BigPurplePhone, my Mum was getting 16 text messages a day from spam numbers and she didn’t know how to block them and the phone protects her from unknowingly clicking on a scam link and getting into trouble,” said Ms Henderson.
The BigPurplePhone is actually a Nokia G50 5G smartphone with a simplified user interface with big buttons and extra-large digits.
The device also has an emergency call button to dial triple zero and notify designated family members and friends.
All phone contacts are labelled with images to make them easier to find and there’s also an instant video call feature.
There is also a voice to text function that makes entering text easier using your voice rather than typing.
The BigPurplePhone’s touchscreen is also set to respond to taps rather than just touch to reduce risk of accidentally opening apps and pocket dialling others.
“As we age our skin becomes dry and it makes it harder for touchscreens to work and problematic for elderly people to swipe so we’ve designed the screen so they can still navigate their way around the phone by tapping,” explains Ms Henderson.
“Each phone is delivered fully assembled and ready to go with the phone number ported over, SIM inserted, screen protector already in place and there’s also a help button to connect users to a video chat with an operator if they need extra assistance.
“During COVID older Australians were forced to adopt new technologies such as QR codes, smartphone apps and digital banking however for some the dramatic change has seen them left behind and now feeling isolated.”
The BigPurplePhone has large buttons for music playback and to listen to the radio, to access the camera and checking news headlines and weather.
There is also a photo app – like your own social network – to make it easier to share photos with family and friends.
There’s even a one button shortcut to access your COVID vaccination certificate.
The BigPurplePhone is priced at $699 and the plan is $79 a month for unlimited national calls and data on the Telstra network.
“BigPurplePhone is more than just a mobile phone – it is 4 in one: 1) it is a smartphone 2) an SOS alert call button and emergency notification service 3) it comes with a Family&Friends App so there is a secure social network to share photos, video call and messages 4) Help – we also personally deal with Telstra any outages and technical support, and provide live video help for people who really struggle with their phones,” Henderson says.
“SOS alert systems alone can cost $500 + a monthly fee for the service – with BigPurplePhone you get so much more with data, calls and all the above features.
“Nokia is our partner and have made the phone, and so the quality of the camera and the phone is excellent.
“We understand however, it isn’t for everyone who can manage on their own, but for those who need a little help, it provides them much needed support and assistance. I hope that helps to explain a little more about what BigPurplePhone is, and why it is priced as it is.”