The Aspera F40 probably isn’t a mobile phone the average Reckoner reader would buy for themselves. However, the average Reckoner reader likely has someone in their life who needs a mobile phone but a smartphone isn’t suitable and that’s where the Aspera F40 becomes interesting.
If you’ve stumbled across this review via Google whilst researching a dumbphone with big numbers for an elderly relative, then I don’t need to explain to you why someone might not want a giant glass fronted rectangle running Android or iOS. The good news is that you’ve come to the right review, as that’s exactly what the Aspera F40 is – the antithesis of an iPhone.
Flip it open, dial a number using the big keypad and the call begins. Close the phone to end the call. That’s probably 90% of what this phone will do and it does it well. Don’t want to remember numbers? Train the phone’s user to press the person button, select the person they want to call from a big grid of 6 people and press the green telephone. You’re now talking to them.
Phone call volume can be adjusted from the buttons on the side, as can the ringer volume. As expected for this phone, the ringer is loud and the earpiece speaker is loud, way louder than my iPhone. There’s a 4G radio inside, so even when the 3G network starts shutting down in 3-4 years time, the Aspera F40 will keep on working. Perfect for those resistant to change oldies.
Of course you can send SMS on the Aspera F40, just like you did back in 2004 with a numeric keyboard. There’s T9 predictive text, but it’s still really slow going compared to a QWERTY keyboard. Good enough to belt out “OK” or “I’m lost” or something like that. Also fine to receive messages on to keep someone up to date with what’s happening.
Speaking of getting lost, the other important feature is the SOS button on the back. Hold it down for about 5 seconds and it will play an ambulance siren sound, then send an SMS to each number you’ve entered into the SOS setting (the message is customisable) and call each person on that list on speakerphone from 1 to 6 if the first caller doesn’t answer. Pretty handy if you’re giving this to someone that’s prone to wandering and confusion or injury.
Feature wise, the Aspera F40 doesn’t do much. Sure it can take photos, but they look crap, see:
It can browse the web, but it’s a total waste of time. Check out at Reckoner on it:
There’s a few other features like an FM radio (needs headphones plugged in), a music player if you load up some MP3s (there’s a microSD card slot), a video player if you like watching videos on the 2.8″ screen, a calendar and even a torch, but they’re all secondary to the “open phone, make call, close phone, end call” ability.
Not everyone can manage to use a smartphone, nor do they want one. I know for some of my relatives, physically locking and unlocking the smartphone (swiping up or holding a button down for a fingerprint) is confusing or difficult. If all you need is a phone to make calls on and maybe take the occasional SMS, the Aspera F40 is perfect. At $99 it’s even well priced for a phone in this category with large buttons.