Aldi's $279 Bauhn Sphere: Hands-on

Our first impressions of AldiMobile's hero phone

Changes are coming to AldiMobile. Data savvy plans come into effect on 3 November and Internet speeds are being increased. Coinciding with these changes is the launch of a smartphone armed with a 5in screen and a quad-core CPU.

Read the full review here

There’s something about the Sphere that makes its finish feel like furniture from Ikea. Its as though Bauhn has refined the manufacturing process to the point the Sphere’s inexpensive build is attractive. The smartphone is thin at 9mm and unobtrusive at 148 grams. Soft capacitive keys border its base, and its smooth rear cover is only interrupted by a protruding camera.

This smartphone is full of bare-boned components that perform well. Take the software, for instance. It is a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat dressed only by a few third-party apps, such as BBC News, CNN and a duo Aldi’s own. These 12 apps reside permanently on the Sphere as they cannot be uninstalled.

The display of the Sphere drapes a 1280x720 resolution over 5-inches for 294 pixels-per-inch. This puts the Sphere in dangerous territory as it sits on par with and Kogan’s Agora 4G.

“Mediocre” is the word we’d use to describe the Sphere’s screen quality. Bright colours and a decent enough resolution are let down by a coating that invites fingerprints and reflections. These gripes are to be expected from a smartphone in its pricepoint.

Read more: Changes coming to Aldi Mobile plans and network

Lurching somewhere beneath the 5in display are decent specs. There’s a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU from MediaTek, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The numbers add up to an impressive user experience with the Sphere sifting through its vanilla software with urgency.

Pry open the rubberised back cover and you’ll spot a removable 1800 milliamp-hour battery, an expandable microSD card slot — which has a 32GB limit — and a clumsy dual-SIM arrangement. A diagram reveals the Sphere takes one full-sized and another micro-SIM, with the full SIM working on 3G and the micro-SIM supporting 2G alone.

Sitting elevated on the back of the Sphere is an 8 megapixel camera and a single-LED flash. Beneath the camera is a capacitive button that works as a shutter key. Simply tap the button and you can take a ‘selfie’ with ease. A red LED light, situated in the centre of the key, blinks moments before the photo is taken.

Read the full review here

Bauhn’s second-gen Sphere comes with plenty of features and enough tech to take on the best smartphones competing at the low-end of the market. Most people could live with it everyday, and at $279, we expect many will.

Holding this smartphone back is a savage low-end market, with the Sphere rivalling , Nokia’s $279 Lumia 635 and Kogan’s $229 Agora 4G.

Read: Changes are coming to AldiMobile plans and network

Good Gear Guide will reveal how the Sphere stacks up to the competition in our upcoming full review. Stay tuned.

Update, 3.24pm: Added information on SIM modems.

Read more: Aldi's $279 Bauhn Sphere review: Disappointing

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Tags 4.4 KitKatALDImobileSphereMotorola Moto GAndroidBauhnKogan Agora 4GNokia Lumia 635

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Tony Ibrahim

Tony Ibrahim

Good Gear Guide

@slicktonyi

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