Aldi’s $279 Bauhn Sphere smartphone reviewed

Remember when you had to go to a phone store to buy a phone? No more, with phones available everywhere, and Aldi is getting on that with the Sphere, a budget phone for a budget price. Worth it, or is there better value at some other place?

Features

Everyone has a phone, and now it’s Aldi’s time to show us what the company has been working on.

There isn’t an Aldi name, though, with “Bauhn” used, one of Aldi’s many house electronic brands, like Tevion or Medion.

Here in the Bauhn Sphere, you’ll find a 1.3GHz quad-core processor paired with 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, and support for a microSD slot beyond this. Google’s Android 4.4.2 “KitKat” runs here, making it relatively up to date.

Connection options are relatively bare-bone, with WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G connectivity spread out over two SIM slots. A microUSB port is also provided, useful for charging and moving data to and from the Bauhn Sphere.

Cameras are also here, with a 2 megapixel front-facing camera and an 8 megapixel rear camera with auto-focus and a flash.

This sits under a 5 inch high-definition screen, showing a resolution of 1280×720, and a pixel clarity of 294 pixels per inch.

Buttons are normally not found on most Android phones, but Bauhn still has a few soft buttons here, relying multitask, home, and back under the 5 inch screen. There are only two physical buttons, with a volume rocker on the left edge and a power button on the right.

Ports are also found here in the form of a 3.5mm headset jack up top next to a microUSB port, while a microSIM and a miniSIM slot can each be found under the plastic rear cover, as well as a microSD slot.

The battery is removable and is rated for 1800mAh.

Performance

In the hands, the black plastic of the Bauhn Sphere feels cheap and flimsy, but for the price, we’re sure people won’t mind.

It’s not one of those phones that exudes a feeling of something being well built, that’s for sure, but that plastic back comes off after a good and solid prying with your fingernails, and while it’s plastic all the way around, it’s comfortable enough in the hand, complete with buttons on either edge, making it easy to grip and fiddle with both the power and volume when you need to.

Bauhn won’t win any awards for the design, though, and it won’t win even a commendation for the name.

Even though Bauhn calls it there “Sphere,” there is nothing remotely spherical about the smartphone, unless of course you include the small sphere printed on the back, and that’s a circle, not a sphere.

Forget the name, though, because there’s a smartphone here, and it packs in features for a value price, so does Aldi’s Sphere have the potential to take on products from Motorola, Kogan, Huawei, or ZTE?

Based on what we’ve seen, no.

Just… no. Horribly no.

Where to start?

Well, we’ll probably just start with the negatives and how they affect the experience, because it’s the first time we’ve needed to start with the weak points of a phone, and that’s because there are just so many. So, so many.

The aesthetics of the phone are basic enough, and we don’t have a problem with the simple look, black plastic back, and 5 inch high-definition screen, but that’s probably where the niceties stop, and from here on in, our experience with the Bauhn Sphere wasn’t exactly a pleasant one.

For starters, there are three soft buttons on the bottom, but they’re not totally mapped correctly. There’s a multitask button, a home button, and a back button, and we listed these in the features, but these are not what the buttons actually are, or one of them, even.

The multitask button actually works like a menu button, telling us this is actually old hardware — an old phone from before Google ditched the menu button and went with multitasking instead — and that multitask feature works by holding down the home button, not when you press the multitask button.

That’s not a good sign that Bauhn let the Sphere out without checking this basic issue, and we’re a little surprised to see the problem crop up on a KitKat phone, but we’ll progress.

It's Android, sure, and pretty stock, but this has to be one of the weakest Android phones we've ever looked at.

Then there’s the performance, and there are already concerns when we switch it on for the first time, with the screen requiring a basic calibration before working, and letting us see some of the developer specific things, such as app permission management and a name for an audio enhancement feature that hasn’t changed much — “BesAudEnh” — and probably should before it was released.

Move on from here and you’ll find some issues, such as slowness, and lots of it, as the phone struggles to open applications quickly. When you let the phone catch up, it’s not bad, but we found problems as we jumped from apps to the menu, with the phone lagging all the time.

Even the keyboard was a touch frustrating, with Bauhn providing the older Android keyboard from before Google moved to the version with gesture typing. It’s there, mind you, and you can switch to it, you just have to know it’s there, otherwise you’ll be using the old AOSP keyboard with zero gestures and a readily seen slowness as you press each on-screen character.

Frustrating.

Pages: 1 2

11 Comments

Write a comment
  1. Steve
    November 04, 13:38 Steve

    To quote a famous line from Star Wars ” these aint the droids your looking for..

    Reply this comment
  2. Bert van Dyk
    November 04, 16:49 Bert van Dyk

    Surprised the bloatware could not be uninstalled. Bought the Sphere 10.1 tablet, went to apps and uninstalled all of them…
    Not bad as a second tablet for $249 even though it has no GPS chip

    Reply this comment
  3. Loz
    November 18, 23:48 Loz

    You can uninstall those apps on the previous 5″ as I got it recently when it went down to $209, the screen went so I took it back for an exchange and I got this model. I can’t actually believe I can get more apps on the older model!! Its insane. Definitely taking this one back and going back to my old phone (boo hiss iPhone) which is a shame because given the price and spec this could have been a phone to brag about.

    Reply this comment
  4. Daniel 'DazzaJay' Fitzgerald
    December 08, 11:22 Daniel ‘DazzaJay’ Fitzgerald

    I have one of these, and it’s unfortunate that the storage is partitioned in such a stupid way. 32GB Total Storage, 950MB App Storage, with 800MB of Factory Crap. (About 150MB Usable by the user) – but if you let the preloaded crap auto-update, suddenly you’re out of space.

    First phone I’m actually going to have to Root just to make useful.

    Dual Sim is great for my business in Rural Australia though, as there’s huge deadspots between networks, but quite often where there’s no Telstra signal, there’s Optus Signal, and vice-versa.

    Either way, Going to Root it, and research how much effort it will take to compile a new 4.4.2 Rom with the Partition sizes corrected. – I SHOULD be able to turn this into quite a good phone.

    Reply this comment
  5. Leigh :) Stark
    January 05, 12:20 Leigh :) Stark

    It’s nice that Aldi has a fix, but that’s not an ideal roll-out.

    This should probably be over-the-air and easy, not a half-gig zip file that reflashes hardware that should have worked properly in the first place.

    Reply this comment
  6. Glen
    January 26, 09:17 Glen

    I have purchased two of the Bauhn devices (smartphone & tablet). Both came with a system app called ‘SMSREG’ pre-installed, this was confirmed by Tempo Australia and it is in the firmware update for the tablet. Do a search for yourself and see if you can find ANY reference to it NOT saying it is a virus/malware, I haven’t found any. People are now reporting that the devices are sending international SMSs and not noting them in the phone/tablet logs, more than a bit suspicious in my books. Neither Aldi or Tempo have done anything as far as I am aware to fix the problem and they have known about it for over a year. No concern for the protection of their customers security and privacy.

    Reply this comment
  7. Rob Brown
    February 06, 12:27 Rob Brown

    Link didnt do anything. Sent a message to the Braun site. Hope they can fix this frustarting issue.

    Reply this comment
  8. Rob Brown
    February 07, 10:24 Rob Brown

    unfortunatly the link is not there now 🙁

    Reply this comment
  9. Glen Palmer
    February 22, 13:42 Glen Palmer

    Link now gone Kenn, any chance of emailing me the file if you still have it?

    Reply this comment
  10. Marco
    October 09, 20:56 Marco

    Don’t waste your money. My Aldi Bauhn B5 sphere is(was) a glitchy phone with NO spare parts or support if you crack the screen. Lasted 6 months, so the cheap price was cold comfort. Buy a second hand I-phone or galaxy instead, at least they are well supported.

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

view all comments

Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person. Required fields marked as *