Thursday, February 27, 2020

Radio Shack NHA-4RA Cellular Portable Telephone

November 27, 2006 by · 13 Comments 

During a recent trip home to visit the extended family, I stumbled upon possibly the most interesting “Blast from the Past” yet. My grandmother carries a Radio Shack NHA-4RA Cellular Portable Telephone that she got for use in emergencies, in ‘probably 1991’.

NHA4RA Phone Thumb

Physical description:
The body of the phone is plastic, removable battery, and fixed antenna can be unscrewed from the body. The green side-lit digital display features two lines of text at a resolution of 14 pixels x 48 pixels, with additional row and columns of fixed indicator items. The battery is a 4.8v Ni-MH type, removable. The phone weighs in at roughly 16 ounces. Overall, the phone has an extremely solid feel, somewhat brick-like even. The keypad is large enough for even the biggest fingers, and the buttons provide positive feel when depressed. The Send and End call buttons are large, and color-coded green and red in case the user has trouble reading the keys. The phone is large and easy to hold, and comfortable in the hand. The relatively heavy unit weight could make long conversations somewhat uncomfortable for more petite users.

Overall dimensions:
2” wide
1.25” thick
6.25” long (7.5” including antenna)


User Interface:
The user interface is fairly basic. The menu features are limited to call volume, store numbers to memory, call timer, restrict calls, one touch dialing, and a few others. There are five ringtones to choose from. No fancy-schmancy polyphonic tunes here, just the basics. No downloadable ringtones, sorry to say. You can even choose to turn on or turn off keypad tones! Power-on and power-off are virtually instantaneous.

This phone uses the network currently supported by Verizon Wireless. Due to its age however, service has also been provided by regional carriers Alltel Wireless and 360 Degrees Communications. In limited testing this phone has fairly good reception, though call quality was only average. The large antenna certainly helps with reception. I was unable to ascertain why Verizon did not require the handset to be upgraded when they took over Alltel’s customers.


Battery Life:
Battery life was not extensively tested, as the phone is used for primarily emergency use and routinely kept in the ‘power off’ mode.

Connectivity and audio:
This handset has no connectivity features. There is no SMS capability, data connectivity, or Bluetooth. There are no external headset or headphone options. While this is a limitation compared to some of the newer phones in the market, the simplicity of this unit will be just what some consumers are looking for. This unit does not have any music playing capabilities, due in large part to the lack of fixed memory and removable memory, monophonic sound capability, lack of port interfaces, and no speaker phone setup. There is no way to import your existing contact list.

Other features:
Due to the handset’s large size and considerable weight, it could feasibly be used to ward off attackers. The stiff and robustly anchored antenna would serve should eye-poking defensive techniques be required.

While I can’t recommend this phone to most current-day users, it does seem to fit the needs of a certain segment of the population that desires a phone simply for emergency use, and to ensure that their purse is never without sufficient heft. The lack of any retail outlets that carry this phone anymore (a call to a Radio Shack store indicated that they didn’t recall selling the phone, and definitely were not getting any in stock) makes it nearly impossible for anyone who would want to invest in this sturdy phone.

Comments are closed.