contributed by Dick James
In this era of ever-faster product launches and programmed obsolescence, it is refreshing for an old greybeard like me to find a product that is designed to last for years rather than months. We saw a phone that fits that description at the CES-Unveiled session on Sunday night, from SpareOne. Their pitch in this case is that it is supposed to be an emergency phone designed to sit around for months, hopefully years, without being used; but when you do need it, it will work.
To that end the form-factor design is focused around the single AA battery that powers the device; there is a distinct bulge in the center to accommodate the cylindrical object, when we’re all used to flat-pack batteries.
The battery supplied is a relatively high-end Energizer Ultimate Lithium L91™. The fifteen-year life is presumably the storage life of this brand, since this is the time quoted with an insulating tab in place to prevent any battery drain. I was told that if the tab is removed it should be good for five years.
As a phone, it operates on two GSM bands, 850/1900 MHz and 900/1800 MHz, which covers most of the world except Japan and Korea. The RF chips are supplied by Intel (formerly Infineon’s Wireless group).
The phone has one-touch capability for the pre-programmed emergency number (press the white cross), and nine others, with no SIM card needed; and it’s not locked so it can be used as a regular phone if you put one in. Talk time is up to ten hours. It also doubles as an emergency flashlight of sorts with a small WLED in the bottom.
It is also shipped in a waterproof bag, which, like the phone, is qualified for extreme temperatures. (My question was “I’m from Canada – will it still work at -30 C?”; the answer was yes.)
And as a larger format phone, the keys are larger than most, so suitable for injured or older folks (maybe I should be writing this for Gadgets for Geezers).
So for those who want an international unlocked phone, that will work under almost all conditions, this could be the one – price point is $99.99 online. And don’t forget, it will still dial 911 even without a plan (in the US and Canada anyway).