Swipe-free smartphone for the ages

·2-min read

Smartphones can leave older people feeling less than clever, but an Aussie woman claims to have developed a scam-proof version that also overcomes some technical hurdles.

The BigPurplePhone gets its name from the large colourful digits on its screen.

"When I gave mum her first BigPurplePhone to test she was like 'oh wow I can actually see it'," developer Libby Henderson said.

A resident of NSW's Southern Highlands, Ms Henderson was inspired to create an easy-to-use phone when separated from her 85-year-old mother during COVID-19 lockdowns.

"The phone is also set up on a secure family and friends network so users can dial out to anybody, (but) they can't receive texts or phone calls from unknown numbers," she said.

"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."

In 2021 phone scammers stole more than $100 million from Australians according to the government's Scamwatch agency.

A National Seniors Australia report found that the number of seniors aged over 70 using mobile phones has increased since the pandemic.

About 17 per cent say they use a mobile phone, up from 11 per cent in 2018.

But the report found that 46 per cent of participants still felt frustrated using digital technology.

The BigPurplePhone has a simplified operating system and the home screen has been stripped of clutter. It also has SOS emergency call alerts and simplified instant video calling.

"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," Ms Henderson said.

The handset is also designed to be more physically user friendly for older people.

"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."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting