Cell phones can be complicated. Android or iOS? Samsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5s? Which apps to get? If you don’t need a smartphone, or just want a barebones phone to make voice calls, the Snapfon ezTWO ($79.99 unlocked, $19.99 with service plan) is one of many streamlined options. The phone attempts to appeal to seniors with its emergency features, and it aims to outshine its predecessor, the ezOne-c, which was an Editors’ Choice when we tested it two years ago. Unfortunately, some issues hold the ezTWO back, and the Samsung Jitterbug Plus remains our top pick for simple phones.
Measuring 4.6 by 2.2 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.3 ounces, the ezTWO is easy to hold, at least compared with current smartphone giants. Despite a plastic build, the handset feels sturdy enough; I had no fear of it breaking apart if it hit the pavement. The face of the phone is dominated by large, rubbery, easy-to-see, and simple-to-push buttons that engage with a satisfying click. You get a basic numeric keypad along with Answer and End Call buttons, a selection rocker, and two selection keys. The tiny 320-by-240 LCD measures 1.8 by 1.5 inches. It’s a full color display, but numbers and text are in white on a black background.
On the right panel is a pair of plastic sliders that control the underpowered LED flashlight, and a keypad lock, which prevents accidental key presses. The volume rocker and a dedicated camera button can be found on the left side of the phone. A standard 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB port for charging and connecting to a computer are on the bottom of the handset. There are also two electrical contacts on the bottom panel for charging the phone with an optional charging dock ($9.99). Inside, underneath the bottom rear panel, is an empty microSD slot and a removable 1000mAh battery. The ezTWO has 1.26MB of onboard storage, so if you’re planning on taking many photos, you’ll need a memory card.
The top portion of the back panel of the phone holds the camera lens, and a large, red SOS button. Holding it for a few seconds connects you to a trained OneCall Mobile Response Agent who, in the event of an emergency, will call 911 and alert the contacts you designate. The 24/7 service is available for an additional $15 per month
In the box you get a micro USB cable, a USB wall charger, and a user manual.
Connectivity, Service Plans, and Call Quality
The Snapfon ezTWO is a Quad Band GSM world phone running on the 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands. There is no LTE or Wi-Fi, but the phone integrates Bluetooth, so you can use a hands-free headset. I paired it with a BlueAnt Connect Bluetooth headset with no problem. The ezTWO is also compatible with M3/T3 hearing aids.
The ezTWO can be purchased unlocked for use on other GSM networks (like AT&T and T-Mobile here in the states), but using OneCall’s operator service requires a voice and OneCall plan. So if you want the full benefits of the phone, you’re better off with the accompanying service. Snapfon is in talks with other service providers to make the OneCall service available for use on other carriers, however.
Snapfon provides service using PureTalk USA (which runs on AT&T’s network). Plans start at $14.95 with 150 minutes and unlimited rollover, and can get as expensive as $54.95 for unlimited minutes and texts and the OneCall service. To compare, the Samsung Jitterbug’s GreatCall service offers a $14.99 per month plan with 50 minutes, and a $79.99 per month plan with unlimited minutes and text messages.
As for call quality, the lack of earpiece volume in the ezOne has been resolved. It’s loud enough here, but sound quality isn’t great for a phone that concentrates on voice calls. On a busy street in New York, clarity wasn’t too bad, but the constant light static noise made my voice sound distant. The person on the other end sounded clear enough, but still a bit muffled. Noise cancellation is nonexistent, with the sound of every passing car getting picked up by the phone’s speaker in my tests. Outdoors, the speakerphone was too quiet, and I had to hold the phone near my ear to hear anything clearly.
The ezTWO’s battery lasted for 3 hours and 33 minutes of talk time. Which is fine for a phone that, more than likely, won’t be too far away from a charger. But it’s one of the shorter times we’ve seen for simple phones. The Jitterbug Plus lasted 5 hours and 37 minutes.
What you won’t find here is an app store. Or a Web browser. Or even simple games. You can choose from six polyphonic ringtones and store up to 200 text messages. Navigating the menu isn’t as easy it should be for a phone that’s marketed as “the cell phone for seniors.” The black and white menu scheme is straightforward enough, but can be confusing when only two choices are available and either one looks as though it’s selected. I would have liked to see an arrow to clarify my selections. When dialing, numbers appear clearly on the screen. The keypad can also provide clear audible feedback, so you’re sure you’re pressing the right buttons. There’s a 250 contact limit and contacts can hold one number each. Assigning speed dial contacts is done in the settings menu, and is easy enough. Just pick a number slot and choose a contact. Holding the corresponding number on the main screen dials that contact.
The Snapfon ezTWO has a 0.3-megapixel rear camera. Needless to say, photos are grainy, and lack detail, but you can send them in text messages. You can adjust filters, white balance, continuous shooting and there’s a timer. These settings can be adjusted using the selection keys, but again, it’s not simple as you’d expect. The ezTWO does not record video.
The Snapfon ezTWO attempts to appeal to seniors, and it does just well enough if safety is your main priority. The camera is poor, the flashlight is dim, and call quality could be better, but if you need help in an emergency, you’ve got it. Sure, there are options like our Editors’ Choice, the $99 Samsung Jitterbug Plus, with its slew of features geared towards senior citizens like medication reminders and free 24-hour operator assistance. The Plus also has two extra hours of battery life. But if all you need is a cheap phone with emergency services and an easy setup, the ezTWO may be the phone you’re looking for.
|Service Provider||AT&T, T-Mobile, Unlocked|
|Phone Capability / Network||GSM|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900|
|Screen Resolution||320 x 240 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.66 x 2.26 x 0.6 (HWD) inches|
|Operating System as Tested||Other|
|Camera Resolution||640 x 480|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||3 hours 33 minutes minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||1.26 GB|
|Screen Size||1.8 x 1.5 inches|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc