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This Phone Lasts 15 Years on 1 AA Battery


The Global Innovation Series is presented by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Whether faced with a dead battery or an unexpected emergency, you’ve likely found yourself without access to a phone. It leaves you feeling helpless and even vulnerable. The makers of SpareOne phone seek to prevent similar situations in the future — or, at least, for the next 15 years.

Debuted at CES 2012, the SpareOne phone runs on a single AA battery, which can last up to 15 years or through 10 hours of talk time. The phone features straightforward, no-frills technology that allows you to make and receive calls from its simple, lightweight device.

SpareOne and XPAL Power (the portable power company behind SpareOne’s simple battery system) suggest using the phone for emergencies, such as natural disasters or roadside predicaments. But beyond that, SpareOne is great for planned activities that operate on tenuous communication means, such as backpacking or traveling overseas. You can even give one to the kids when they wander off at the mall.

How It Works

The phone’s designer, Alan Cymberknoh, uses his phone every day around 5 p.m., when his iPhone‘s battery goes dead. “I keep receiving and making calls on my SpareOne,” he says. “I have pre-set my important numbers on it — home, office, family — so when people call me, I pick up on my SpareOne.”

You’ll notice, however, that SpareOne doesn’t have a screen — that’s one of the reasons it can subsist on so little battery power. Users must instead memorize or program up to 10 numbers into the phone, and note them on the attached sticker. Some people actually welcome the return to more analog technology, says Jeniece Aragon, SpareOne’s marketing manager. Elderly people “appreciate the simplicity — [it] reminds them of how a phone ‘should be,’ and was,” she says.

On the other hand, SpareOne still requires a SIM card for most outgoing calls. You may choose to either use the SIM card from your main phone or request a copy SIM card from your carrier for a small monthly fee. If you’re traveling, you can buy a pre-paid SIM card — but keep in mind that it would have an entirely separate phone number. SpareOne even accounts for smartphones with Micro SIM cards, like the iPhone: Attached to the SpareOne phone is a pin that helps eject the Micro SIM door. Finally, if you find yourself in a situation with no SIM card whatsoever, you may still press the red button to reach emergency services.

Endless Places, Endless Possibilities

Because of its simple design and adaptability, SpareOne applies to a universal audience. XPAL Power works on power solutions for the Western world, and its increasingly mobile lifestyle, but the SpareOne phone’s potential also extends to developing nations. “Where fixed and reliable power is not as available — like developing [countries] or during natural disasters — additional solutions are required for mobile phone users,” says Aragon. “SpareOne simply utilizes the most common battery in the world to operate the most common critical device in the world.”

Although the phone has only been on shelves for a month, SpareOne customers have already experienced its possibilities. Aside from winning a Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award as a top CES 2012 gadget, the company has received a ton of positive feedback on its Facebook Page. One woman even posted a photo from the top of a mountain, where she had used her SpareOne phone. Aragon thinks the phone will allow some people to feel just disconnected enough from today’s onslaught of communication devices while still retaining a communication lifeline with SpareOne.

How would you use a SpareOne phone? Would it give you added peace-of-mind knowing you had a reliable backup communication device? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Series supported by BMW i

The Global Innovation Series is presented by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

More About: design, features, Global Innovation Series, Mobile, natural disaster, Social Good, Tech

This Phone Lasts 15 Years on 1 AA Battery
Stephanie Buck
Wed, 16 May 2012 13:31:25 GMT

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