Friday, January 27, 2023

The Goldilocks Problem, Backup Phone Edition

I've shared why I carry a backup phone, and the plan I use to power it. Now comes the fun part: talking about the device itself.

Here are three examples of what I consider top notch backup phones, but as you'll see one is clearly the winner. All three phones make use of the same old-school operating system which will be familiar to those of us who grew up on turn of the century Ericssons and Nokias. For everyone else, these phones will feel primitive. Remember: what they lack in pizzazz they more than make up for in functionality.

Finally, all three phones rely on 2G networks. One day, T-mobile & US Mobile may stop supporting this type of network. When that happens, these phones will be useless and I'll need to search out new devices. But until then, these devices rock. One just happens to rock more than the others.

The Slide: Too Little

The CR1102GD Slide, aka the M5 mini phone, is a remarkable device. It's easily one of the best phones I've ever owned. Weighing in at just over an ounce (31g!), having form factor of a credit card and costing $19.95, it's the just about the perfect minimalist communication tool.

The Slide has you covered for calls and text messages and includes extras like speakerphone, Bluetooth and a physical off switch to avoid power drain while not in use. If you pair it with a Micro USB to 3.5mm audio jack cable, you also get access to FM radio. You can even pair the device with your main cellphone, letting the Slide serve as a 'Bluetooth dialer.' This lets you handle this unassuming phone in public, while calls are routed through the $1,000 cell phone in you pocket.

The Slide isn't without its quirks. It doesn't pickup the current date & time from the cell network, so you have to set it yourself. And the screen and keyboard are obviously sub par. But still, as backup devices go, it's gold.

But, we can do better!

The A10: Too Much

The full metal construction and comparatively expansive color screen of the A10 1.77 HD mini phone makes it feel luxurious compared the Slide. The built in 3.5mm audio jack and support for capturing voice memos is a nice bonus, making it useful for on the go journaling.

Alas, the all metal construction is also the phone's Achilles' heel. The phone weighs in at a massive 66g (for context: my S22 Ultra, with case, weighs 300g), which I can't justify when there are lighter options out there. Like the Slide, it doesn't appear to pick up the date from the network either. Finally, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to get the battery removed to install an SD card.

Again, we can do better!

The Soyes 7S+: Just Right

The Soyes S7+, aka the PUSOKEI Mini Cell Phone, is a delightful step up from the Slide without the weight penalty of the A10. Weighing in at 36g, and being slightly thicker, yet narrower than the Slide, it maintains a tiny footprint. The phone adds a larger and more functional screen than the Slide, a very low resolution camera, flashlight and primitive Micro SD card support. And hallelujah, it gets its date and time from the network, so you don't need to set it manually.

The flat keyboard is handy for storage, but not as pleasant to use as the A10. The voice recorder of the A10 is probably more practical than the camera from S7+, but that hardly justifies the weight increase.

Overall, the Soeys S7+ is the way to go if you're looking for a backup phone that disappears in a murse, yet can be a lifesaver when you need it.

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