Review: The Emporia RL1 simple mobile phone


It’s stylish in a scaled-back, retro sort of way, the Emporia RL1 mobile phone. You could sort of see it take off in certain hipster-clusters, but the core target market for this simplified mobile phone is those aged 50 or over. This is less a “bells and whistles” phone then, and more a “what it says on the tin” sort of job.

Size-wise, the RL1 is pretty standard, fitting nicely into the palm of your hand. If you’re used to a smartphone it will feel light, as it’s pretty thin, and the screen is smaller than most new phones as priority is given to the very large keys. The big keys will be a big attraction for the seniors market, which may find the small buttons on regular mobiles hard to see and push. The press info about the RL1 includes a host of scary stats about what happens to our bodies as we get older – I’ll abstain from sharing the details and just say there may well come a day when we will all need big buttons. Enjoy your fine motor functions while you have them.

Considering its functions, this phone basically does two things: makes calls and sends texts. Moving through the menu feels similar to the old Nokias we had ten years ago – hit the ‘menu’ button, use ‘up’ and ‘down’ buttons to scroll through. The text comes up quite large, but this can be adjusted down to a regular size (called ‘small’), or alternatively you can set it to ‘jumbo’.

The text messaging function does not have predictive text, a decision that may seem odd if you are used to that. If so, this will probably be the phone’s main drawback. If however you are in the 50+ target group, this may actually not be such an issue – I’m basing this on my experience of having tried to teach a person in this age group to use predictive text, to significant frustration for all involved.

The phone has some extra features too, such as an alarm clock, calculator and a birthday reminder. It’s very easy to manoeuvre everything, as the phone will guide you through the options for everything you may want to do. For those needing to use the manual, this is written in the strictest back-to-basics format, making the phone easy to use even for those who have never had a mobile before. For instance, there’s a whole page on how to correct a mistake in a text message.

The handset comes with a nice little stand, which can be connected to act as the charger. The phone has a dedicated on-off button on the side – a bit confusing if you are used to holding down the red ‘cancel’ button to turn the phone on or off, but this is a habit issue. Strictly speaking it’s probably simpler to have a separate button for this anyway. Other side-buttons are there for changing the volume, there’s a torch too plus a dedicated locking button. Try and press one of the keys while the phone is locked, and the display will show you a picture of the locking button and a big fat arrow pointing to it. So if you’re still confused, it’s not the phone’s fault.

Technical data:
– Standby time: up to 200 hrs.
– Talk time: up to 180 min.
– Dimensions: 109 x 50 x 14 mm
– Weight: 92 g
– Rechargeable battery: Li-Ion 3,7 V / 700 mAh
– Display: 1,8″ OLED, 160 x 128 pixels
– Dual band GSM 900 / 1800
– Exclusive to Vodafone UK /

RL1 -stand.jpg



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