In a bid to offer consumers a product that was so simplistic even your grandparents would be able to use it, iBall, who primarily focused on PC peripherals launched the Aasaan GSM mobile phone. Part of their Senior-Series of mobile devices, the Aasaan has been designed to cater to the much older generation by offering minimalistic features with SOS functions in case of emergencies. I just had to put this to the test, so here’s a closer look at the iBall Aasaan mobile.
The Aasaan is reminiscent of the mobiles that were available in the good old days. Back when calling, messaging and a few extra features were just about all we wanted from a handset. It’s rounded surface makes for an simple yet clean look with extra large buttons that are designed to enhance ease of use. It’s got an Amber (mono-color) 1.65-inch display that’s quite easy to read in the dark or in bright outdoor conditions. The topmost centralized button works as a vertical navigation set up so you can scroll through menus.
Simple and well designed
It’s not really as light weight as it looks but that doesn’t really amount to a bad thing as the added weight does give the Aasaan a solid feel. On the right side are two switches one to activate the single LED torch located at the top near the charging port and 3.5mm handsfree socket, and the other to lock the handset. A one touch activation for the built-in FM radio is placed on the left side under the volume keys. The large orange slider at the rear is, as it says an SOS switch.
In a nutshell the Aasaan is a well balanced, well designed handset with a comfortable keypad and simple but clear to view display.
Features and Performance
For those of you who have been using mobiles since the good old days when handsets makers like Ericsson reigned supreme, the Aasaan will be a cinch to use. But that’s not really it’s USP. The Aasaan is designed to be used by the senior users who have no want for extra features and who would see this merely as a tool to assist them in keeping in touch with their families and to reach out to anyone in an emergency.
All relevant information on the home screen
The UI is simplistic and easy to follow with large fonts and icons making legibility in both indoor and outdoor settings extremely easy on the eyes. You can also opt to switch to a completely Hindi menu in the language settings. The ringer is loud, but one issue I took with the Aasaan is that the voice clarity via the earpiece was a little too shrill. Then again, my ears are pretty good, if I do say so myself. I did however get a few senior adults to use the handset to get a better perspective and they didn’t seem to find it too much of a problem. However, most did say that it could have been just a little louder. Those on the other side of the call had no issues whatsoever.
SOS set up for messages and calls
The large keypad facilitates ease of use for typing messages quickly and effectively in both Hindi and English. The Aasaan’s SOS feature is actually quite well thought out. When starting out you can assign 5 individual numbers to the message and call list that will get autodialed as soon as the switch is activated. The handset also emits a loud alarm while the calls are being made. Calls will continue to go out till someone answers. It’s noisy as heck, but that is the point.
The only media functionality this handset has an FM radio. All you need to do is plug in the headset (bundled set really isn’t of the very best quality though), press and hold the dedicated FM button on the side. The radio also works just as well without the handsfree plugged in so it’s totally wireless. The handset took just about 15 seconds to locate and save all the available channels. Reception was quite good even on my commute.
Wirless FM and loud too
The handset is devoid of any extra options for connectivity other than to make or receive calls and messages. The weird part is that a provision for entering your WAP/GPRS settings was also provided, I’m not sure why seeing as there’s no browser or net connectivity options of any kind.
The Aasaan does come with some basic but handy features in its ‘Toolbox’. These include a calculator that could have been just a little better designed, a countdown timer (I’m not sure why, sounds a bit morbid), a reminder option, stopwatch and currency and Unit converters. A phone Lock PIN setting is also provided. Users can also adjust the handset profiles to suit their environment or preference. There’s also a standard alarm clock function available.
All basic features accounted for and some extras
A 1000mAh battery is loaded up with the Aasaan and lives up to the company’s expectations of 3 hours plus of talk time. However considering this handset has no internet type – always on features, any kind of multi-tasking whatsoever or a large display that would eat into your battery life, it should have been more than able to dish out over four hours. What really eats into the battery is the FM radio. Without the radio and making a few calls, sending a few messages etc. you’ll get over two days of usage with this device, which isn’t too bad, but should have been better.
A handy LED Torch
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 3.250 (MOP), the Aasaan, although manages to meet its primary USP quite well, comes off a little steep for such a basic model, especially since there are handsets now in this bracket that offer music players, low color displays and more. On the other hand, the Aasaan does have a really solid build quality, is well designed and balanced enough for comfortable use and provides an SOS feature that just could save a life, so I’m going with – if you have seniors living on their own and want to keep in touch with them, enabling them to stay connected without the stress of wondering what buttons or settings to press, the iBall Aasaan is a great choice.