As phones get smarter by the day, some of us yearn for the peace of mind and abandon of the pre-mobile revolution days. That does not mean we don’t want to be connected. It is just that we don’t want to be this connected, almost as if we are on the wire. But there might be ways to stay connected and still find peace in nature or solitude. The Easyfone Shield tries to cater to this category and of course, those who want to take their phone anywhere. And with a recent update, it has also become more appealing for those who find a smartphone, or even a smaller feature phone, hard to use because of their advanced age.
The Easyfone Shield+ is a waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof phone with an IP68 certification. It looks like one tough phone with screws holding the back panel in place and bumpers protecting the entire chassis of the phone. I did not try it, but I’m quite certain the phone would have withstood a fall from my fifth-floor apartment.
But another way to look at the phone would be to think of it as a Nokia-type phone in armour — I’m hoping at least some of the readers would be from the era when Nokia was the pinnacle of what a phone could achieve. So this is not an Android phone and there is no large touch screen for you to navigate. Instead, there is a 2.8-inch IPS screen which is larger that what you would get on a feature phone but still nowhere near what most of us are used to now. For older users, this means they don’t need to worry about what happens if the phone falls off the nightstand.
Under the screen is a full numeric keypad, but with larger numbers that make more sense for seniors. It also works in case you want to use it underwater or in the snow. There is a prominent SOS button to the right which can be set to a number you trust. The 3.5-mm audio jack above and the micro-USB port below are both protected by flaps. The power port here can be used to charge other devices, which is a good feature.
I struggled with setting up the phone because both the slots on this phone need old size SIM cards which I did not have anymore. I had to fish out an old SIM converter from one of my suitcases to get this working. The other struggle was with getting back to using a keypad. The frustration started with just unlocking the phone, which is as simple as it gets, but something we are just not used to doing anymore. So, a few hours into fiddling with this phone, I was convinced this cannot be my primary phone anyway, but it could become a good backup phone that supports my main device too.
For those who like to go on treks, or have to visit places where connectivity and power can be an issue, this phone will be a boon. The power backup on this phone’s not-so-large 2500mAh battery can last up to three weeks and can help juice up other devices also during this time. The other interesting feature is the flashlight which is powerful enough for you to find your way in a forest at night and is not on the rear panel as we expect on phones.
Interestingly, this phone comes with a unique charging dock which makes it almost like a landline for those who have limited need for a phone outside their home. Also, given that the phone can be set up to allow calls only from some trusted numbers, it works as a great device for seniors to keep in touch with their family wherever they are and avoid unnecessary calls.
The Symbian-like OS offers some smart features like a music player, the ability to store files on a 32GB external card, Bluetooth connectivity and a camera. The camera is very old-world and is again a backup at best. One feature that works well for this phone is the inbuilt FM radio tuner.
At Rs 5,499, the Easyfone Shield+ is a good backup phone for those who find themselves more in sync with nature than the urban life and for those who don’t need a smartphone anymore. No, this is not a phone you would use otherwise unless you have turned a corner in life and have devices to abandon all conveniences. Even for those who drive around a lot, this is a good device to have in the glove compartment of your car for emergencies. And that is clearly the purpose of this phone, to be a rugged partner for those who like the tough life. Buy this only if you have a specific use case for a phone that will not die with a fall and will not die on you when you need it the most.