Not everyone wants hot phones chock-full of features. In fact, once you get past a certain age, some of today's cells look downright intimidating. Maybe seniors just want a phone that's easy to use without all the confusing bells and whistles. Enter the Coupe by UTStarcom ($39.99 with a two-year contract), which is aimed directly at people 65 and over. And when you open this clamshell, you'll know why. Besides its large, easy-to-read screen, this handset has a large numeric keypad. Above the keypad is a row of three buttons, each with a letter in bright red: I, C, and E, standing for In Case of Emergency. Each button can be assigned to an emergency number of your choice; there is also a dedicated 911 button on the keypad. The elderly need not worry about struggling to hear other callers; the Coupe has an extra-loud speaker and is available with a hearing aid add-on. Although the Coupe sports several senior-friendly features, it still has many of the basic mobile tools we all demand, including a tip calculator and T9 predictive text capability for text messaging. I didn't think I was quite the right person to review a phone aimed at the AARP set, being at the sprightly age of 23. So I passed it on to my friend Gillian, or 'my BFF Gill.' Gillian, who is 78 years young, has a pleasant English accent and talks daily to her daughter who lives in upstate New York. She isn't unfamiliar with cell phones; she has an older LG clamshell from AT&T, with which she makes calls daily. Gillian used the Coupe for a month, and we asked her a few questions about the experience. What feature did you like the best on the Coupe? The feature I liked the best was the ICE buttons and also the 911 button. The ICE buttons would be extremely useful not only to the user but also to a second person who needed to get in touch with a close relative or friend of the user if the user was incapacitated in any way.
How was the call quality? I could hear clearly when making a call. I do have a slight hearing problem at times depending on to whom I am speaking. I also liked the speakerphone. I had no problem figuring it out and hearing my daughter's voice as I walked around the kitchen. Was the phone easier to use than your current phone? I have to say yes. I liked the size of the text on the screen of the phone and also the enlarged print in the instruction manual. I found the instructions easy to follow. How was the battery life? Well, I still had to remember to charge it! I had to charge it every two days or so, and I talk on the phone about two hours a day. Anything else about the phone that you liked? I found the World Time settings helpful. I have friends in other countries, so it is helpful to see what time it is there before I pick up the phone and make a call and wake them from their sleep! Did you take advantage of the text messaging on the phone? I do not text message, as of yet! I did just sign up for AT&T's messaging plan so I will be learning soon. The Coupe's large keypad would probably be easier to use than the small buttons on my current cell phone. Would you replace your current phone with the Coupe? Surely. I just have to wait for my contract with AT&T to expire.