XPAL Power SpareOne Emergency Phone review

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Ever wish you had a backup cell phone, or wish you had a spare laying around “just in case”?  The SpareOne Emergency Phone by XPAL Power just might be the thing for you.  The SpareOne Emergency Phone is a lightweight GSM phone that is powered by a single AA battery with a staggering 15 year shelf-life.

15 years?  OK let’s get this one out of the way:  That’s 15 years, sitting on a shelf, not powered on.  Let’s take a look at the specs:

  • Talk Time: Up to 10 Hrs
  • Standby Time: Up to 15 years
  • LED TorchLight: Up to 24 Hrs
  • Battery Type: Energizer Ultimate Lithium L91™
  • Shelf Life: Up to 15 years
  • Weight: 2.65 ounces (75g)
  • Dimensions: 4.7″ long X 2.4″ wide X 0.5″ thick (120 x 60 x 13 mm)

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The phone comes in its own waterproof bag.  In reality, you can slip any phone into this kind of bag, but the fact it came packed this way underscores the emphasis on emergency preparedness.

Closeup of the waterproof bag end

Closeup of the waterproof bag end

Inside, you’ll find the phone, instructions, and some quick-reference stickers.  No charger necessary.  A lithium AA battery comes pre-installed.  Pull the plastic tab and you’re ready to go.

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The pull tab comes pre-installed with the Energizer lithium battery.

The battery door comes off without tools.  Swapping batteries is quite simple.  You’ll also find the SIM card slot, plus a mini SIM adapter.  A metal SIM removal tool is included if your donor phone’s SIM access requires it.  See the following images.

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Use your own AA battery if you like.

Use your own AA battery if you like.

Closeup of SIM slot and adapter

Closeup of SIM slot and adapter

The phone functions are pretty spartan.  You get some memory dialing and a handy LED flashlight, and that’s about it.  Two colored LEDS behind the “screen” are your only indications that the phone is on.

Multi-colored LEDS blink to inform you of signal and battery status.

Multi-colored LEDS blink to inform you of signal and battery status.

A dedicated button activates a flashlight.  The button is momentary, so you must keep pressing to shine the light.

A dedicated button activates a flashlight. The button is momentary, so you must keep pressing to shine the light.

The volume button is a toggle.  Press it repeatedly until you get the volume you want.  Worried about accidental butt-dialing?  There’s a dedicated lock button in the lower-right corner.

The large red button with the white cross autodials 911 for emergencies.  You do NOT need a SIM card for this.  Therefore, out of the box (bag), you get a working emergency phone that runs off a single AA battery.  In truth, any cell phone will do this trick, but without the convenience of an easy-to-find battery.

The manufacturer also says the SpareOne can be geolocated in case of an emergency, even without a SIM card.

Incoming and outgoing call clarity was just fine for a phone that feels as light as this does.  The incoming ringtone is a fixed “ding-a-ling” sound.  And since there’s no screen, you hear a series of ascending or descending tones when you power up or down.

You could use this as a travel phone, but there are some things you need to consider, especially if you’re spoiled by a modern cell phone:

  • You must choose between one of two GSM versions:    
  • There’s no voicemail indicator to let you know you have a message waiting.  Plus, the typical “press and hold 1″ to dial your voicemail won’t work, either.
  • There’s no text messaging.  There is an auto text reply function.  The SpareOne will reply with an automatic text response informing them that you cannot read text messages and can be reached via phone calls instead.
  • It has no display.  You don’t NEED one, but I found entering phone numbers without a display to be a little disorienting.  Also, no caller ID, of course.

Powered by a single AA battery, the SpareOne makes a great emergency kit phone.  The phone’s light weight and its waterproof bag makes the SpareOne a great “travel” phone if you’re going somewhere less-than-hospitable and you don’t want to bring your full-featured phone.  Just make sure it’ll work where you’re going first.

 

Product Information

Price:$99.99
Manufacturer:XPAL Power
Requirements:
  • GSM SIM card, 850/1900 MHz or 900/1800 MHz region
Pros:
  • Powered by a single AA battery
  • Long shelf life (with lithium battery)
  • Handy LED flashlight built in
  • Comes with waterproof bag
  • Can dial emergency services (911, etc) without a SIM card
Cons:
  • Not quadband: You must choose between 850/1900 MHz or 900/1800 MHz.
  • Very basic (no display or texting)
Posted in: Reviews, Travel Gear

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Jhon March 17, 2013, 8:58 pm

    Get that down to about $10-$15 and we’ll talk. I picked up two spare AT&T (Samsung) phones from Radio Shack for $5.99 each — had one unlocked for an extra 5 and they work fine. Battery lasts about a week of average use and at least 6 months turned off in a drawer (came on at about 85% after being stored for 6 months to go with son to a week long camp trip).

  • michael pizzio January 6, 2014, 3:57 pm

    I bought both phones for the two different GSM areas of the world in Nov, 2013. A week later I took the correct phone to Central America where I was for two weeks. After purchasing a SIM card there, I installed and attempted to turn the phone on. It would not power up after may tries. Later I saw that it did power up. I tried to turn it off and it would not turn off, at least not for a while. I returned home understanding that the phone could not be relied upon and contacted the company. They told me I only had 30 days to return the phone, which of course is absurd as you will never buy a phone, plan a trip, take it away and return it from an international trip in 30 days when it doesnt work. So Im stuck with a phone that doesnt work, and can only expect the same from the other phone. I would not recommend purchasing these phones for any reason, the least of which is the company makes sure you cant return it within their absurdly short return policy. Nice move.

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