Between earthquakes, hurricanes, polar vortexes, superstorms, and any other number of potentially dangerous natural phenomena, it’s always good to be prepared. The $59.99 SpareOne Emergency Phone for AT&T is a handy tool to keep in the glove compartment of your car, or your emergency supply kit at home. This cell phone offers 3G connectivity for phone calls and location tracking, with voice interaction to make dialing easier. And you don’t need to worry about charging it, as the phone can last for up to 15 years on the shelf with just two AA batteries. It’s a nice upgrade over the unlocked 2G model, which the company no longer sells in the US. But it requires an annual prepaid plan in order to take full advantage of its Locate and Alert services.
Design, Features, and Usability
At 5.7 by 2.0 by 0.8 inches (HWD) and 3.2 ounces, the SpareOne is a larger than your average candy bar-style phone like the Blu Tank II (4.8 by 1.9 by 0.5 inches; 3.5 ounces), but that’s because it needs space to accommodate two AA batteries.
The front of the phone is white plastic, with a clear screen that proudly shows the batteries inside. The back is bright red, with another clear screen that holds a paper insert on which you can write up to eight numbers on speed dial. The top is home to a somewhat dim LED flashlight, with a lanyard attachment to the right. The back is removable, giving you access to the SIM card slot, a nano SIM adapter holder, and the battery compartment. According to SpareOne, the phone can last up to 15 years on the shelf with just two AA batteries, though obviously that number will diminish much more quickly if you actually use it.
The number pad is your standard dialer layout, but you can’t use it to text. An Alert button above is set to dial 911, but you can reprogram it to call a different number. Next to the Alert button are Call Answer and Flashlight buttons on the right, and Call Decline and Volume buttons on the left. A pretty loud panic alarm can be activated by holding the Volume button for seven seconds. At the bottom right you’ll find a Lock button, which disables the number pad. All the buttons glow in the dark, and can be seen clearly even when the lights are out.
There’s no display, but the phone uses voice interaction to make it easier to tell what number you are dialing. The phone speaks numbers out loud and tells you when the call is going through. It will also notify you when the battery is low. Adding numbers to speed dial can be confusing, and I often had to refer to the manual while getting everything set up.pite its simplistic appearance, the SpareOne isn’t meant to serve as a simple phone for everyday use. For that, you’ll be better served by a different device like the Blu Tank II or the Verykool Garnet IX i129. For seniors, the Samsung Jitterbug Plus and the Snapfon ezTWO are better options. The SpareOne works best when used as an emergency backup for times when your regular phone just isn’t available, and in that regard, it succeeds admirably.