Sunbeam mobile phone review
I’ve been using the Sunbeam Orchid phone for a few weeks now. It works well enough, and is pretty much what you would expect from a basic call / text only phone, however I do have a few critiques.
1: The battery life isn’t what I was expecting, which is about three days minimum from a single charge. Now I wasn’t expecting a month long life on a single charge like my previous phone, but I also wasn’t expecting it to only last around three days. A week or two at minimum, but not three days!
I don’t know if this is just an inefficient phone or an unfortunate reality of 4G requirements (plus this VoLTE service that AT&T requires to make phone calls over LTE.) Perhaps it’s a combination of both, but I find it disappointing. My work iPhone with all of the bells and whistles disabled can survive three weeks minimum, so what’s the deal here?
I may contact their support to see if they have any idea.
2: The screen supports touch input, which is very peculiar for a flip phone, and without any way to disable it. It’s highly irritating to be on a call, and the tip of my ear touches the screen and hangs me up, or mutes my input, or enables speaker mode full blast into my canal. I also wonder if it doesn’t soak up battery life too?
Other minor nitpicks:
- If there’s a pending OS update, the phone will make a beep sound every few hours or so, and into the night as well. It’s seemingly random, and uses the notification sound which leads me to expect someone is text messaging me. It took awhile for me to figure out why it was making a notification sound with no notifications, save for the phone update.
- When on a call, the “Mute” toggle is the only button that’s highlighted, leading me to believe that my call is being muted. I can’t tell if this is a visual bug, but it’s quite idiosyncratic when compared to the other non-highlighted toggle buttons.
- When text messaging, changing the character states between lower case, upper case, numbers, and symbols is a real ordeal. On my previous phone, you could just press the bottom right “ # ” pound button to switch between states. Meanwhile on the Sunbeam phone, you'll have to hold down “ * ” asterisk for a second, then select the state. Heaven forbid you want to be grammatically correct with proper punctuation. Fortunately for me, I’m not a heavy texter so it doesn’t really bother me.
- The “off-line” map is not truly “off-line” and requires a data connection to function*, despite my phone having the 32GB microSD card with the map data on it. Also there is a perpetual “Finding location” stuck on top of the map, blocking you from ever interacting with it and rendering the service useless. I even enabled location services to see if that was the hold up, but nope it’s just never going away. I figured the “off-line” map function would be nice to have in the event of being stuck in the middle of nowhere without little direction, but it doesn’t work, too bad.
Despite the critiques and nitpicks, it operates how I expect a phone should. It can call other phones and receive phone calls without any nonsense involved. There are no distractions, no spyware, or invasive identity verification requirements just to make a call. I only wish that the battery lasted longer and maybe the built in map worked.
So far the phone has still been working well for me. I did find some info on the batteryfrom Sunbeam's website FAQ in response to low battery life questions that I'll quote here.
The battery in my CDMA phone lasted almost a week, and it only had a 980mAh battery. Why can't a new phone with a 1,400mAh battery last even longer? This is a hard thing to provide a satisfactory answer to. In many ways CDMA was better for voice phones, especially so in regards to power consumption. There are two reasons for why the battery of a Sunbeam phone running on VoLTE will not last as long as a CDMA phone running an older operating system. The first reason is that the BasicOS operating system is based on AOSP. This is like a V12 engine compared to a four cylinder engine in the older phones. Even when idling, it still consumes more power. (The larger engine is required to handle VoLTE). The other reason is because the VoLTE signal is packet switched and requires far more processing than the older circuit switched CDMA signal. Both of these things mean that the good old days of batteries lasting all week are gone forever, unless you have a massive battery.
You know, I wouldn't really mind a big hunk of a battery for my phone, even if it did look like it stepped out the 80's.[Return to top]