Chatsie logo
Chatsie logo

Chatsie, The Product:
The Software, Hardware, Network, and Customer Support

The Facebook term “move fast and break things” has been a core pillar of startup culture, even long after they dropped the phrase. By adopting this mantra, companies have been able to build successful, nimble operating machines driven by just a few people who are learning quickly and taking risks. There are obvious downsides too and we decided this wasn’t the right approach when building Chatsie.

We do operate with a small team (more detail about that here) and learning is a core value for us, but there are a number of technical, safety, and operational challenges in launching a smartphone & mobile network for senior citizens, that means a more considered approach is needed.

Below we’ve outlined the features that make up the offering today. Chatsie is a “full” mobile solution: software, customer service, hardware, network. For the latter two, we’ve relied on solid relationships with highly reputable firms and we’ll detail why we made this choice to partner with them. The software & customer service parts are entirely built and managed by us (and this will continue to be the case).

Want to get your hands on a Chatsie phone?

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The Software
Chatsie has two key differentiating factors that sets it apart: 1) the simplified scrollable layout (vs a typical grid system that most smartphones run on), 2) remote management for carers and relatives.

Scrollable layout
Early in our journey we realised that the grid system is no good for anyone who is a) unused to smartphones, or b) in cognitive or sensory decline. It is too complicated and unnecessary if one really needs a phone for a few basic functions.

The Chatsie menu is therefore split into four scrollable sections:
1) Calls
2) SMS
3) Shortcuts / apps
4) Settings

Calls: we’ve made it possible to call someone with one tap and changed the experience so it’s much clearer to put the call on loudspeaker or mute someone / oneself. We found that relying on icons alone isn’t helpful and we have used clear language instead to signify to the user what they need to do next.

SMS: the default experience here is voice notes + transcript (the latter requires decent 4g+ connection to work). We found that seniors in particular really struggle with a smartphone keyboard with problems ranging from the “fat finger” issue that all age groups wrestle with, through to dry fingers which means the phone doesn’t actually respond to touch.

Shortcuts / apps: most of our users require some apps - things like Whatsapp, online banking, and the NHS app. They have two to three people they contact regularly and so this section means users can easily access their chosen apps & contacts with just one tap.

Settings: people can change things like touch sensitivity & visual impairment settings here. If you need the phone to be extra sensitive to your touch, it’s easy to change it (and vice versa). If you need a larger font, this is where we can make that happen.

Want to get your hands on a Chatsie phone?

Find out more
Remote Management

Streaming: increasingly, families live further away from eachother geographically. That doesn’t mean they’re emotionally more distant, but it does mean the support that children can offer their ageing parents is more limited. It is incredibly hard to troubleshoot a technical problem when someone is describing it on the phone - we all know you need to see what’s going on. We created streaming for this purpose alone. Carers and relatives can see the screen, which in turn gives them the information to give verbal advice on what to do next.

Manage.Chatsie: sometimes the problem is more complicated and that’s where the manage.chatsie function comes in. This is a secure area that requires the relative or carer to have access (through us) and here they can tackle more complicated problems, including billing and app management.
Customer Service

Phone companies do not do well on platforms like Trustpilot when it comes to consumer scores relating to customer support. We realised early on that this was a true differentiating point for us. It’s incredibly important for our users so our commitment here is to offer (free) local & responsive phone customer support, forever. No ifs, no buts.

The Hardware

Just like Apple, Samsung, Nokia; any reputable mobile provider - we don’t manufacture the phones ourselves. Instead we’ve partnered with Wingtech who supply phones for other major companies: T-Mobile, Google, Cricket to name a few. After going through a thorough process, we settled on a pretty high spec phone - the T-Phone Pro that has been designed for T-Mobile (which is why you see the logo when you power up the device). We decided to go in this direction for a few reasons:

- These phones are fast. Their processing power is great and that makes the experience much more enjoyable.
- The phones are fairly large and that means large font and other accessibility features really work.
- They are 5G compatible and that means they are good for a long term solution.

Many people want to keep their phone for a while and a high quality, top notch spec, means that can do just that.

In the box, users will receive:
- An Android phone (6.8” screen, 256 GB)
- A UK mains charger
- A comprehensive set of instructions
- A stylus (some people prefer messaging via the keyboard and a stylus can come in handy here)

The phone will come ready with:
- The SIM card in
- A black grippable case
- A screen protector
The Network

Most of us go to our network for our phone. We don’t think of our mobile in separate components: Apple making our software for example, a manufacturing firm in the far east making our hardware, EE providing our network; we just go straight to EE and order the phone. No one has time and energy to manage multiple relationships and issues. This is the role the traditional networks play in exchange for (often reluctant) loyalty.

There is very real frustration from consumers that they consistently pay more on a monthly basis than the tariff was sold. Couple that with frustrating customer service and many people are living in a state of frustrated apathy with their mobile provider. We want to be different from day one. We’re not a cheap PAYG provider, but nor will customers receive surprise bills. The price is £19 per month for unlimited UK calls, unlimited UK SMS, 4GB of data, and the phone (minimum contract is 24 months).
Honest Mobile

We decided to partner with Honest Mobile because they completely share this ethos and they’ve built an offering around these values already. Interestingly, their customers fall into largely two categories: under 30s who are cost conscious and passionate about sustainability (where Honest Mobile scores highly)... and the over 60s for the exact same reasons. There are no surprise bills, their network is based on 3 (extremely solid) and their values are genuinely customer centric (they actually buck the trend of phone companies doing poorly with customer support, scoring 4.7* on TrustPilot).

1. Read about the problems we’re looking to tackle over the next few months.

2. You can visit our help section covering over 50 FAQs.

3. If you are interested in purchasing a Chatsie subscription as part of the summer Beta programme, visit the website here.

4. If you have any questions or feedback, contact us on

Over the next few weeks we'll publish more information about how people can get the most out of using their smartphones, plus further details about our journey. Make sure you follow us on our social channels: Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. ​
June 28, 2024 - 6 min read

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