World’s first smartphone for senior citizens

By Motoko Kakubayashi 24/07/2012

With an advanced touchscreen, big icons, automatic sound adjustment during phone calls in noisy places, is waterproof, has an 8 megapixel camera, and a 4-inch display, the Raku-Raku Smartphone F-12D is getting ready to hit shop shelves in August in Japan.


The smartphone was developed by Fujitsu and will be sold by Japan’s largest mobile phone operator NTT Docomo.  Shops started taking preorders for the Raku-Raku Smartphone F-12D last Friday (raku-raku is the series name for mobiles developed by Fujitsu for first time mobile users or senior citizens, which could also refer to the Japanese word for easy or effortless).


Smartphones are big business in Japan.  In November 2011, MM Research Institute in Tokyo had reported just under 43 million mobiles were shipped out to shops in 2011, and about half of those were smartphones.


In order to get ahead of the competition, perhaps NTT Docomo saw first time smartphone users and senior citizens as a big enough group to invest in developing this mobile.


I do remember reading an article a few weeks ago in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a leading economic newspaper, which reported on a growing number of senior citizens who were switching to smartphones and tablet computers because they were much easier to operate than desktop computers.


One smartphone enthusiast the article talked about, a 78-year-old iPhone 4S user, said his favourite feature was Siri.

“My friends and I, we’ve got reasons that make it hard for us to use (mobiles), like my fingers keep shaking.  It’s handy to be able to control it just by saying, ‘call home’.”


The F-12D has solved this with it’s new touchscreen, which requires the user to push down harder on icons for applications they want to use.  It eliminates any accidents caused by brushing fingers over the wrong icon.


In fact, this also allows you to scroll down easily too.  Normally, if you’re holding your mobile and a finger has slid on the screen a bit too much, the phone won’t let you select anything until you’ve taken that finger off the screen.  In the new smartphone, you can scroll down pages no matter how many other fingers are touching the screen.


While it has many other features that are just as impressive, we will have to wait until next month to see whether Docomo have done enough to entice new users.