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Just5 calls their Just5 phone an antidote to overly complex cell phones. It is touted as an easy-to-use cell phone with big buttons, amplified sound and a Personal Emergency Response. It also has lots of added features like an FM radio, a speaking keypad, and a flashlight. We wondered how such a fully loaded cell phone could be easy-to-use, so we decided to take a look.
The Just5 comes in a fairly plain white box which is shown in Figure 1.
Inside the box are the phone, a proprietary charging cable, and a pair of earbuds with in-line control, as shown in Figure 2. Although a User Manual was supposed to be included, none came with our review unit. We were, however, able to access the User Manual online at the Just5 website. In Figure 2 you will see our Just5 review unit and will notice that we were sent a red Just5 phone. The phone charger was nicely labeled with the Just5 name, but it was bright orange. The earbuds were black. Although this was not a major detriment to the phone, if you like to be color-coordinated, this might be a bit disconcerting.
Just5 is a European company that is currently only selling one model of their phones for the U.S. market: the Just5 09 model. This model comes in black, red, gray, orange, and white. These colors are only used for the keypad on the front. The rest of the phone including the trim around the screen and the back and sides are a either black or white. The black and gray phones have black backs and trim, while the red, orange, and white have white backs and trim. All of these have white letters on the keypad except the white which has gray letters. The black phone with white letters provides the most contrast and is the easiest to see. However the red, orange, and white with the white trim are the easiest to find in a pocketbook or on a crowded desk.
[nextpage title=”The Hardware”]
The Just5 phone is 2 x 4 x 0.5 inches (50.8 x 101.6 x 12.7 mm) making it very comfortable in the hand. It uses the same body as the Snapfon that we recently reviewed. In Figure 3, the Snapfon is on the left and the Just5 is on the right. As you can see, except for the color and labeling on the keypad, the hardware is almost identical. You will also notice that the Just5 numbers are bolder, but slightly smaller than those on the Snapfon.
The screens and print on the screens on both phones are identical, as also shown in Figure 3. Both phones have large black numbers and letters on a lighted amber background. Although the Menu options are very similar, things are often worded differently. For instance, on the Just5 there is an option to set the “Ring Tones.” On the Snapfon that choice is labeled “Tones & Sounds.” There are also differences in small things like the choice of ring tones and date format selections.
However, the ease-of-use that we found in the Snapfon is duplicated in this phone. Figure 4 shows the keypad on the Just5. The up and down arrow keys are flanked by two buttons with red and green telephone icons that are used for sending, receiving, and ending calls as well as for navigation. For instance, you can use the down arrow to go through your phone book. When the contact is found you press the green phone icon button on the left which is also marked OK. Then you can press Ok again to dial that number or continue to press the down arrow for more options, like choosing an alternate number that you have stored for that person, sending a text, editing that contact’s information, or deleting that contact.
The Up arrow is used for the menu options which are: SMS for text messaging, Settings, Phone Book, and Call History. The * and the # buttons at the bottom of the keypad can be pre-programed as speed dial numbers so that when you press and hold either of these, the phone dials the telephone number that you have dedicated to that key in the settings. The people icons on these keys show that they are speed dial keys. The one on the left looks like a female, while the one on the right looks like a male, perfect if you want to program them to call mom and dad at different numbers. The 2-9 keys can also be programmed as speed dial keys. The speaker phone can be turned on by pressing the 0 key as indicated by the icon on that key.
There are several buttons and ports on the top, bottom, and sides of the phone. The left side, shown in Figure 5, has two sliders. The one on the left controls the volume. The one on the right turns the FM radio on and off.
The right side of the Just5 has two more sliders, as shown in Figure 6. The slider of the right locks and unlocks the phone, the one on the left has a high intensity LED light that acts as a flashlight.
Figure 7 shows the flash light on the top of the phone. To the right of that are two small openings where you can attach a lanyard.
The bottom of the phone, shown in Figure 8, has two ports: the proprietary charging port and a standard 3.5 mm port for earbuds. Unlike the Snapfone which forces you to use their proprietary earbuds, the Just5 works with any standard earbuds.
[nextpage title=”Using the Just5″]
The Just5 is an unlocked GSM 850/1900 band phone so it can be used with GSM carriers worldwide. You simply purchase the Just5 hardware from Just5 or another retailer and then set up service with a mobile carrier. Th
e carrier will give you a SIM card to be used in the Just5. In the U.S., both AT&T and T-Mobile provide SIM cards that can be used with Just5. There are also many smaller local carriers whose unlocked SIM cards that can be used with the Just5. It will also work with pre-paid SIM card providers, as long as their SIM cards are not locked.
Setting up the Just5 hardware is easy. You simply slide off the back of the phone, remove the battery, insert the SIM card, and replace the battery and cover. Figure 9 shows the Just 5 with the back and battery removed. The SIM card is the blue and white card in the phone.
Setting up the software is also easy. It’s pretty intuitive, but if you need help there is a very useful video called “How it Works” on the Just5 website. This video takes you through the initial setup of the phone including how to place and receive calls, send texts, and add contacts to the address book. It also shows you how to use some of the phones other functions and how to set up the SOS button (which is shown in Figure 10).
As seen in Figure 10, the Just5 has an orange SOS button on the back. It is depressed, so it won’t be pressed inadvertently during normal handling of the phone. You can program five numbers to be used with the SOS functionality. Once that is done, you can use it in any emergency. You simply press the SOS button and hold it down briefly. That initiates a loud siren and activates the SOS programming. The phone then sends five text messages announcing that the phone owner is having an emergency. The Just5 then dials each phone number in succession until it finds one that answers. Then the Just5 goes into speakerphone mode so the person can talk handsfree. It’s a well thought-out implementation that can bring help quickly in an emergency.
In everyday use, the Just5 performs admirably. The lighted keypad has large, clear, easy-to-see numbers. The phone will verbally announce each number as you dial, a feature that is great for the sight-impaired and can be turned off if you don’t need it. The volume is loud, up to 100 dB and the sound is quite clear. The phone is also hearing aid compatible.
The Just5 also has Bluetooth, which worked quite well in our testing. It also has a built-in FM radio. Depending on the station’s reception, the FM radio can be a little staticy through the speakers, but quite clear with the headphones. Unlike the Snapfon, the Just5 worked with own headsets. The phone must be in the unlocked position to play the radio. The FM radio will start at the last station that you listened to. Unfortunately, there are no presets, so if you want to change the station, you use the up and down navigation arrow keys.
The phone book can hold up to 100 phone numbers and may be able to hold more depending on the capacity of the SIM card, which you provide from a cellular provider.
With the Just5, you have your choice of two languages, English and Spanish. It also has a calculator and an alarm.
There is one minor inconvenience with the Just5. It does not pick up the date and time from the cellular network as many other cell phones do. Instead, when you get the phone or when daylight savings time begins or ends, you must reset the time manually in the phones settings.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Just5 J509 cell phone include:
- Dimensions: 2 x 4 x 0.5 inches (50.8 x 101.6 x 12.7 mm)
- 50.8 x 101.6 x 12.7 mm
- Screen: 1.6 inch 128×48 LCD
- SMS memory: 100
- Phonebook memory: 100 or more depending on SIM card capacity
- Call record: last 10
- Ringtones: 6 polyphonic
- Alarm Tones: 6 polyphonic
- SMS Tones: 5 polyphonic
- Battery: Lithium-ion battery
- Talking keypad
- Emergency S.O.S. button
- High intensity LED flashlight
- Speaker phone
- Built-in FM radio with headset
- More information: https://www.just5.com
- MSRP in the US: USD 89.00
The Just5 is the perfect cell phone for anyone looking for simplicity. It is easy-to-use and has a nice set of beneficial features. Since you add the service yourself, it gives you many alternatives for service including options that won’t tie you down to a contract.
Those with aging eyes will find the large numbers on the keypad and the size of the text and the screen quite appealing. These features plus the talking keypad make it a good phone for those with vision impairments. The loud volume and hearing aid compatibility will be welcome by those who have difficulty hearing.
The SOS emergency help feature will be useful to anyone who lives alone, has a medical problem, or simply wants to have help handy in an emergency. It offers an emergency lifeline without an additional monthly fee.
Although it is marketed as a cell phone for seniors, the speed dial mom and dad keys, SOS button, and its other features make it a good choice for children as well.
The USD 89 suggested retail price is appealing as the Just5 makes everyday communications easy and adds just the right amount of useful features.
- Very good size and shape
- Unlocked GSM phone
- Big, bright keypad buttons
- Large, 28-point screen font with large text
- Large clear text on screen
- Talking keypad
- SOS button
- Long battery life
- Useful LED flashlight
- FM Radio
- No radio presets
- Manual date and time settings