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When the average smartphone can't even make it through a whole day without being recharged, a disaster like Hurricane Sandy can leave millions of people with no way to communicate with family or reach emergency services. Enter the SpareOne Plus, a small second phone that runs on a single AA battery that you can use when the juice runs out on your primary handset.
Though the original SpareOne came out last year, manufacturer XPAL has just unveiled the updated SpareOne Plus here at CES 2013. The new version adds built-in GPS tracking so your loved ones that have power can use an app or a website to see where you are and hopefully learn that you're out of the danger zone. It also adds voice confirmation of each number you dial so that, if you're in the dark, you can hear the phone say "3-1-1" when you hit those buttons.
As with the original SpareOne, this handset features a torchlight you can use to light your way. If you don't have a SIM card handy, the phone will still dial emergency services as soon as you hit the red cross labled button above the number 2 key.
If you have a GSM-capable SIM card (AT&T or T-Mobile here in the U.S), you can pop it in the back and use the phone to make calls. A North American version of the phone supports the 850 / 1900 MHz bands you need in the U.S. and Canada while another version of the phone supports the 900 / 1800 MHz bands they use everywhere else. You can also assign quick dial numbers so you can call your family in just one press.
With a single AA battery inside, the SpareOne Plus is rated for 10 hours of talk time or 24 hours of torchlight use. With the included Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA battery installed, the phone can sit around for 15 years without running out of juice. An XPAL rep told us that lesser-quality AA batteries might not last as many years inside the phone.
There's no word yet on pricing, but XPAL charges $99 for the current model so the new one seems like it will be within that price range. The phone will be available in white, black or matte silver when it launches later this year.