The majority of the phones on test come from specialist manufacturers. In the US, mobile phone makers and networks must by law offer a number of handsets that satisfy some or all of the Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) criteria. That's not the case over here, so British buyers have to turn to some unfamiliar names to get hold of a phone with a decent HAC score.
Thankfully, the HAC system has become something of a global standard. An HAC rating indicates how well a phone will work with a hearing aid in microphone mode - the M part of the rating - and how well it will function with telecoil hearing aids - the T part.
Each feature is rated from 1 to 4, giving potential ratings from M1/T1 (poor) to M4/T4 (excellent). T3 and T4 indicates a phone that will work either well or very well with a hearing aid in telecoil induction mode, while phones rated M3 or M4 shouldn't interfere with or suffer interference from hearing aids in microphone mode.
In the US, only phones rated M3/T3 or above can be advertised as being hearing aid compatible, but that's not the case here.
The HAC rating is not a guarantee of complete compatibility - much will depend on the type of hearing aid in use - but generally speaking the higher the HAC rating the more likely you are to be satisfied with the phone's ability to operate alongside a hearing aid.
For folk who can't see or have very poor sight, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) recommends Apple's iPhone 3GS. The handset includes VoiceOver, a feature that, when activated in iTunes or on the device itself, will speak out the names of buttons and other on-screen elements when the user runs his or her finger over them. You can also set the screen to display white on black.
VoiceOver is built into the 3GS, so the only cost is the handset itself.
If a 3GS doesn't seem appropriate, the RNIB also recommends Nuance Talks Premium, a £150 app for certain Symbian-based Nokia handsets - not the 7230, alas - that, like VoiceOver, reads out what's being displayed on the handsets screen.
The RNIB has a good document detailing the options here (PDF) or you can call its advice line: +44 (0)845 900 0015.
Phones for the rest of us you mean?
At last some reviews of actual proper phones that can be used out doors and have proper phone functionaility.
Real phones for those of us that wont delude ourselves that we need to spend a fortune on quasi PC/phone gear that doesnt really work well as one or the other and costs a small fortune each month for the ability to have a poor web experience.
You know...folks with common sense.
Loud ringer for the hard of hearing
"A seriously loud ringer is good for the hard of hearing"
Given an entire generation seems intent on setting themselves up for hearing loss and/or tinitus judging by the level they set their headphones (which I suppose is, for everybody else, still prefererable to those children who feel the need to play their music on public transport out loud), these people are, it appears, going to piss off everybody into their old age through their necessarily loud ringtone as a direct result of pissing everybody off with their unnecessarily loud mp3 players.
Anonymous...so the Daily Mail don't start marketing at me as a potential punter.
Oh do keep up...
Yes, and you also read the register, which probably means that the uber-dumbphone angle of this review isn't aimed at you. This would be aimed at the likes of my Gran, who I can assure you doesn't surf the net, snowboard etc. So, don't be offended by what is a very valid angle - most of the people reading the reg will regularly get asked by relatives about all things related to technology.
"For those of us under 40".
What an ignorant statement - but one that is understandable, perhaps, coming from the inexperienced mind of a thirty-something year old!
I have a perfect app for you
It works out the price of cat food in old and new pence.