AT&T's latest no-contract GoPhone, the SpareOne, is a basic cell phone with an intriguing twist—the handset is powered by a replaceable lithium AA battery. For the SpareOne, AA battery power can be useful in the event of a sustained power outage when traditional smartphones and cell phones can't be recharged due to a lack of electricity.
That's how AT&T is marketing the new SpareOne Emergency Phone in its GoPhone lineup, as a device that can run on lithium AA power for as long as it is needed, wrote Judy Cavalieri, vice-president of voice, wireless home services and prepaid products for AT&T, in a Nov. 3 post on the AT&T Consumer Blog.
"The SpareOne Emergency Phone lets you stay connected in almost any situation and offers a flashlight, glow-in-the-dark keypad, a panic siren and a SOS signal built into your phone," wrote Cavalieri. "At the touch of the Emergency Button, the Locate and Alert service can alert up to nine 'guardians' (people you want to notify in an emergency) and they will receive a call, email or text message with your location."
The SpareOne Emergency phone will be available from AT&T stores and online starting Nov. 6 for $59.99, plus an annual service plan for $25 that includes 120 minutes of domestic U.S. talk time and the use of the Locate and Alert service.
The handset never needs to be charged. When its battery is discharged, it must be replaced with a new lithium AA battery. The lithium battery that comes with the phone will maintain its charge for decades if it is not used, according to AT&T.
The SpareOne is not a smartphone, so it has no Internet access and cannot be used for texting, according to AT&T. The device can be used to call 911 for emergency services even if it is not equipped with a SIM card.
Users of the phone must be in an AT&T coverage area to make or receive calls.
The SpareOne weighs 2.4 ounces and is 5.7 inches tall, 2 inches wide and 0.75 inches thick. It can be used in temperatures of -22 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a wider range than for most smartphones, according to its manufacturer. It can be kept for long periods in an emergency kit, vehicle glove box, travel bag or anywhere else that an emergency phone may be needed.
The phone operates using the GSM cellular network with separate models for North America and western South America, and for Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and eastern South America, according to SpareOne.
In September, AT&T added the ZTE ZMAX 2 smartphone to its GoPhone no-contract prepaid phone offerings, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The ZTE ZMAX 2 smartphone features a 5.5-inch HD display, 2GB of memory, a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 16GB of on-board storage and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera. The 4G LTE device sells for $149.99. The low-priced phablet was AT&T's first large-screen Android GoPhone and runs on the Android 5.1 operating system, according to the company.