Emporia are a brand that has really been creating innovation for the senior market without making their phones complicated to use. The Emporia Smart.5 is the latest from this brand and is the upgrade to the Smart.4 we reviewed back in February this year.

Also read our review on the: TouchSmart V3

The Emporia SMART.5 has a number of similarities to that of the SMART.4 such as the emporia emergency button as well as pre-installed apps from google as you come to expect on a normal android phone. Plus larger icons best for those with poor eyesight. The Smart.5 costs £249.99 and is available from Amazon via the link below.

Who Are Emporia?

Emporia was founded in 1991 to offer the senior market user-friendly telecommunication products.  The brand is known internationally and has been developing products with up to date technology with a degree of understanding. Emporia have a part of the market that target those who feel left behind in technology.   

Design

The Emporia SMART.5 has kept hold of the key design points that we saw with the SMART.4 such as the removable back cover and battery that can be replaced. The SMART.5 is also benefits those who are hard of hearing, as it’s compatible with hearing aids. That is where the similarities come to an end with a full touch screen with two touch screen buttons (Menu & Back commands) at the base with a raised button in the middle which is your home screen button. 

When unboxing this phone as expected with Emporia you are packed with accessories such as the wired earphones, USB-C charger cradle, Instruction manual and just like with the SMART.4 you have a 154-page training guide. 

It’s this guide that will help any senior users prevent embarrassment when asking someone else for help. It covers all the basics as well as helping users with how to use a QR code scanner and also how NFC works for making contactless payments.  

The Smart.5 has improved design which now comes with a combination of plastic and aluminium on the frame with the back that comes off so you can replace the battery if needed and place your chip into the phone as we did in the old days. (Remember them glorious Nokia 3310 days when the snake game was king)

The phone is now slightly bigger in dimension – 150 x72 x10mm and but is now slightly lighter at 127g compared to 155g with the SMART.4. The Screen has increased to 5.5-inches and the camera has also been improved with a triple-lens camera that will allow for HD images as well as portrait and night mode, but more on the camera later. 

Also on the back is the Emporia assistance button its these features that add that level of safety as it will trigger an alert when pressed more detail on this later. Emporia gives you two back covers one with the cut out for the button on the back of the smartcover and the other without the cutout if you did not want to use the assistance button or the smartcover.

Moving to the side of the phone you have a power button and volume button just like you had in the previous model. The Phone also comes with that 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone along with some emporia branding. 

The phone is IP54 rated which means it’s dust and splash-proof which is great for offering a bit of protection to the device. Speaking of adding protection, with the Emporia SMART.5 comes with a smart cover that works for these looking to bridge the link between the feature phone and smartphone. 

When the cover is on the phone and is closed, it allows the user to have a credit card-sized window at the top. This will be ideal if we do end up with a covid Passport that is being discussed and you will be able to show the passport at a moments notice its also ideal for when you want to use your phone for contactless payment.  The smart cover also comes with a diamond cutout as well allowing the user to have a shortcut to their 4 favourite numbers with a picture on display of each.

You can also use the 4 icons to display the most used functions this makes things such as call answering or call ending as well as hands-free calls. Shortcut buttons for the camera, touch all with the cover on. This cover prevents scratches on the phone as well as muted calls by mistake. 

The only thing this phone is missing is the use of a fingerprint scanner, but, it is missing for a reason. What do most older people have in common? Well, its cold hands due to less circulation, and less moisture on the fingertips means using a fingerprint scanner was less effective.  Emporia did some research and found out 70% of older users did not want a fingerprint scanner hence why it has not been included.

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Features/Performance   

This phone is powered by a fast 1.8GHz octa-core processor which is paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage but if you need more storage it allows for a micro SD card up to 256GB. 

The phone also comes with Andriod 10 which is a common operating system found in most phones. The Emporia SMART.5 also comes with a number of pre-installed apps such as the QR Scanner which is ideal for the NHS Track & Trace app that many of us will have on our phone due to the current pandemic.  Other apps pre-installed included things such as the magnifier which is really useful when the senior user needs to see a menu or simply make the text bigger when reading a paper its a really helpful app to have. 

The Emporia SMART.5 offers larger icons and simplified menus meaning using the apps is made easy for those with poor eyesight and even without poor eyesight, I found the larger icons and simplified menu made it quicker to find the app you wanted to use.

The SMART.5 also comes Google certified meaning Google Play is available allowing you to download apps such as WhatsApp meaning video calling with family members is now possible something some senior users will have missed in the current pandemic. This phone also comes with NFC Technology allowing the user to make contactless payment which is ideal in a world where contactless payment is becoming more of a common way to pay.    

What I did notice was the touchscreen sensitivity at first thought seemed slow but when I did some research the sensitivity has actually been reduced, as Emporia tells us that senior users press heavier compared to younger users.  This phone also comes with face recognition to unlock the phone quicker than putting in a code that the senior user may forget over time. 

The key feature of this phone is the emporia emergency button and it has been kept in the same place compared to the SMART.4. This feature is really important for the senior user as it will alert up to 5 pre-installed contacts until one of your contacts picks up the emergency call and the emporia SMART.5 turns on the loudspeaker so the senior and their emergency contact can speak. You will also get an emergency SMS sent to the emergency contacts with a GPS signal so you will be able to find the person with ease.

In the case that all 5 contacts can not be reached a loud alarm tone will simultaneously sound to draw attention to those in the area, having this emergency button really offers that vital link between life and death. 

Battery Life

When talking to both my father and uncle who are in their 70’s I asked what they thought was an important factor when considering a mobile phone and one of the factors they mentioned was battery life well I guess you can’t blame them they both enjoyed the days of the Nokia 5110 with a battery life of a whole decade. 

So when they got the SMART.5  to try, they were both impressed with the battery life you get a replaceable 3.550mAh which is an improvement on the SMART.4 that comes with 2500 mAh so you now have 1000 mAh more with the SMART.5 that now will give you a full day and half of the regular use or up to 4 days of minimal use. Please make sure the first charge is 4 hours otherwise the battery life will be reduced.  

When it’s time to charge you will hear a beep and the battery icon will appear red and the LED flashes. Simply plug into the charging cradle which also allows you to keep the phone in the cradle when at home as it acts as a holder as well as a charger. 

Camera Review by James Robertson-Milligan

When I was handed the Emporia Smart.5 to review the camera on, I wasn’t expecting much as this phone is geared to the “older” generation so I wasn’t expecting much from the camera on this handset… WOW, was I surprised with this 13 + 2+2 Megapixel triple-lens camera and 8mp front-facing lens. 

When I started taking photo’s I just could not believe the true to life colours that were coming from this camera in Auto mode. The true-life colours could be mistaken from a picture being taken in HD from the quality of the image, this phone will really set your imagination as to how far you can go with taking pictures and capturing memories on this handset coupled with downloading apps and a lot of free to use imaging apps the most popular being Snapseed you can really make your photographic imagination come alive with this phone and really give the big boy handsets a run for their money! 

So, what photographic features come with this handset, this comes fully packed out with shooting modes to make the inner photographer of you become alive! so, you get – Auto, Night, Portrait, Backlight, Bokeh and Macro. 

Macro was a BIG let-down as when you take a picture you are supposed to get ultra-intense detail but this really let you down with the detail and also the colour, so the picture I took was a bright Orange satsuma where and the colour didn’t come out and you ended up with a waxy-looking result of a picture. I did try more pictures but to be honest, this just didn’t work. 

Emporia SMART.5 Review

The macro shot gave ultra-intense detail did not help the overall quality.

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Bokeh mode, so first off I will explain what “Bokeh” actually is, Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject. However once again, I tried a few subjects with this phone and it seemed to do it in reverse where the background was crisp and clear and the image I was shooting was blurred when it should of been the other way round. This was a bit of a head scratch moment, the actual image does come out crisp and clean with great colours but it should be the background blurred not the foreground.

Emporia SMART.5 Review

Bokeh Mode seems to have produced an image that the background is focused and the image taken was blurred.

Back Light Mode, I think the backlight is just another term of using flash when taking a photo so in low light this will be to your advantage, however does light up the subject area very well and gain your true colours once again. 

Emporia SMART.5 Review

Back Light Mode is just a way of using the flash in low light and brings out the colour well.

Portrait mode, on most phones in portrait mode you get a selection of lighting and filters on this handset to make your pictures stand out but on this, you don’t, once again it’s just a point and click for this however the end result is quite nice.

Emporia SMART.5 Review

When using the Portrait mode you get a good range of filters to make the picture stand out.

Auto in daylight on this phone was outstanding capturing excellent true colour images and could be mistaken for HD photo’s this was outstanding and will give any mid-level handset a run for its money, I was really impressed with the detail that came out in the images and the clarity of colour. If you were to take pictures in this mode and then edit them in a photography app you could really make your pictures trick and become an envy of many on social media platforms.  

Emporia SMART.5 review

Selection of Auto mode taken on the Emporia SMART.5

Emporia SMART.5 Review

Selection of Auto mode taken on the Emporia SMART.5

Emporia SMART.5 Review

Selection of Auto mode taken on the Emporia SMART.5

Emporia SMART.5 Review

Selection of Auto mode taken on the Emporia SMART.5

Front Camera, this is your box standard “selfie” camera and this camera works well and images again come out crisp and clear with a subtle background blur but works very well indeed.

Emporia SMART.5

Selfie Shot of our camera reviewer James took on the Emporia SMART.5

So, in conclusion, I really like the camera on this phone for the “auto” feature this works really well and you get great and amazing colours from this with an HD outcome, other aspects were a let down on this handset but once again you can bring your imagination out with the free to download and use the software on Google Play Store. 

Overall Verdict 

The Emporia SMART.5 is definitely a great device for the senior market and even makes the phone look less like a senior phone and more like a device I would consider being in my mid-30s based on the design. 

I really like the touchscreen offering that has been adjusted for the senior user they won’t feel that much different from anyone else in the house.  The Emporia SMART.5 comes with all the accessories you come to expect from Emporia to make using this phone easy to use. I like the charging cradle as it offers you somewhere in the home to place the phone when not in use. 

What makes this phone unique is the interactive smart cover that allows you to use certain features like answering a call or making a call.  The cover also allows you to set your favourite most used functions without having to open the cover of your phone. This is ideal as it prevents accidental calls or even mistakes when on a call we all dialled a number with our ear by error. 

The large 5.5 touchscreen is easy to use and for those with poor eyesight easier to see the icons and the larger keyboard. I also liked the fact the phone comes google certified meaning you can download most apps you come to expect on a fact like Whatsapp and even Facebook yes your nan is allowed to join social media. 

The phone comes with the ability to use a QR Scanner and NFC technology which is used for contactless payments. The smart cover is also designed to have the space for that covid passport we are expected to be used in the coming months. 

The phone is IP54 rated which means it’s splash-proof and dustproof adding to the overall protection of the phone. The camera in the SMART.5 is a vast improvement with the use of a triple camera lens 13+2+2MP camera that produces some amazing shots that as we are coming out of lockdown the senior user will be able to capture memories of seeing family in the flesh and in our case some new members of the family for the first time. 

The camera is not perfect when you consider macro & bokeh modes but this phone is for the senior market and the majority of users won’t be worried these features are not as good as they should be. The Portrait and auto mode works very well which I feel is the most important feature they will use every day when you consider the camera element. 

Emporia has also kept the emergency assistance button that I feel really makes this phone ideal for the senior market. It’s that safety blanket when you can’t be with that older family member all the time it’s so useful.

To summarize, Emporia has taken what they did with the SMART.5 and made it feel more like a smartphone but without making it complicated to use. The Smart cover is a really useful addition and the improved battery and larger display are just some of the improvements they have done to make this an excellent option for someone looking for a phone for nan or grandad.

Product Rating:             

Design: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars   

Features: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Camera: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

User Friendly: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Value For Money: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars     

Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5.0 stars 4.8 Stars       

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