Philips Xenium X2566 phone: Gift it to grandma!

This made-in-China Philips phone will appeal to the over-70s -- with large buttons, big fonts, an SOS button  -- and a 'magnifying glass'.

'Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty four'? The plaintive refrain of that sixties  Beatles classic needs a bit of tweaking for the 21st century:  like adding ten years to the age of physical challenge. Sixty Four is sprightly these days.  But come 74 and you start wishing  technology  on things like phones, was a bit less  demanding. 

Philips which  sold off its handset business  a few years ago, to  Sangfei,  stills oversees some design and quality aspects and lends its name to a range of handsets made by its Chinese partner.  It has   introduced a  budget model the   Philips Xenium X2566 (Rs 5537) which seems tailored for the elderly: the keys are large and chunky; the  display of numbers and text and bright and big; the speaker lets you hear music or FM Radio rather louder than most phones.

An SOS button conveniently located  on the top, sets off a loud alarm and keeps calling your choice of three numbers till one of them picks up. An LED torch --  which one can easily switch on with the right thumb -- sends out a bright beam. A text-to-speech option  reads out the number you are dialing -- or the number of an incoming call. 

There is one innovative use of the  VGA camera, that the elderly will appreciate:   Slide the key next the rear camera  and point the phone at any text you want to read -- a newspaper item say or the fine print in a document. The  screen   becomes a magnifying glass. You can enlarge or reduce the image size with two  nicely located buttons and if you want to grab a copy of what you are reading, just press the 'OK' button.

Other phone specs --  tri band GSM, GPRS,  2.4 inch screen, headset socket, Bluetooth, 1630 mAh battery, mini USB data port,  dual SIM, audio recorder, FM radio -- are fairly standard for a 2G phone, but older  users will find comfort in the half a dozen special  features   we tried out and   described.

Our only gripe is that   opening the cover to  insert the SIMs is a messy operation -- we didn't see the famed Philips attention to detail here. We trust they'll improve this in the next rollout: it should an easy  snap-fit operation.

And  keeping its target users in mind,  we  may be excused for  dredging up another Beatles  catchline and using this friendly phone to call them with: "I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello!"-  Anand Parthasarathy.  September 22 2014