Facebook Portal Mini

The Facebook Portal Mini is a glorified landline for the modern age. Buy one for your parents, your aunties, uncles and anyone with grandchildren, while they’re cheap.

One of these just arrived today, four days after ordering,

and I thought it was such a good deal I wanted to detail the full process of unboxing and setting one up. Right now, until the 20 September 2021 Facebook have discounted them from $200+ to $80 with free shipping to a select set of countries, of which New Zealand is one. To me, for this device, $80 seemed dirt cheap. They have larger, more expensive devices which are also discounted, but nothing that really outs itself as being an incredibly good deal when you consider its purpose of video calling and nothing else.

This particular one of two was actually purchased by and for my (75 year old) father, in which one is intended for him to use, and the other is to be shipped to his sister in her 90s in Malaysia on my recommendation and I gave the recommendation based on the price and the research I had done to it up until that point, it seems to me that Facebook took a different tact to making a device which goes against what’s generally happening at the moment and they sat down and said, “Lets make a device that is good at video calls, and almost nothing else.” To me, this screams, “Elderly friendly” as most devices these days try to pack maximum functionality at the expense of usability.

[Facebook] sat down and said, “Lets make a device that is good at video calls, and almost nothing else.”

The device itself is probably best described as, “A digital photoframe that can video call”, when not in use it displays stock photography, next to the time and weather, but you can also have it show select Facebook Photo Albums of your choosing.

It has no battery, and is plugged into the wall where it should stay.

On the top, you’ll find a slider that physically disconnects the camera (and shutters it off) and microphone, the physical disconnection is Facebook recognising they have a trust problem, and I’ll cover that in the conclusion.

And on the left you’ll find volume controls. There is no power button or any other buttons to speak of.

On the back, there is a large subwoofer which came as a surprise to me, as it can connect to Spotify and a small selection of other apps to play music and video, and a poorly designed branded tab that absolutely looks like it should pull off but it turns out it’s just a logo and the manual specifically tells you not to remove it.

First Impressions

Before I delve into the full, screen by screen set up process, I’ll cover my thoughts on actually using the device and my impressions. After getting it I rushed to unbox and make this article (which first meant building a whole new section on my web cluster to support WordPress, and setting up a site) because I genuinely see it as perfect for a market sector (the elderly) who are both missing out on modern technology, and are actually being hampered by it. I honestly don’t benefit one iota from this review (I don’t even have ads and it took me a whole day to set this site up), and I won’t even keep the one I have.

Using the Device

As I mentioned before, Facebook seems to have taken the approach of, “Lets do one thing, and do it well.” The Portal is a chunky device, with few buttons and few functions. The functions that it does have are all visible and available from the main window, and you can be calling someone in two taps.

I’ve since made a few phonecalls on it, the wide angle lens captures the whole room in good quality. The sound is excellent, and the camera follows and focuses on people, this means it controls the zoom on the wide angle so it can track the user.

When out of use, it shows a slideshow of images, with the clock and weather. Tapping brings you to your home screen, with your recent calls, and the contacts button will show you everyone with some categories like Recent, Favourites and a search. Group Calling is available.

It’s a tablet at heart, and it has apps, but they’re a smaller focus and of limited selection. Spotify will play music through its “excellent for a tablet” speaker and subwoofer array as well as the ability to view recipes, watch videos, see photos and the like. There is a web browser for anything else, but it’s really second focus.

Fundamentally, it’s an internet phone that revolves around Facebook (for better or worse), with a couple extra things, but not much.

For someone who is possibly hard of vision, or scared of technology, it is not a scary device. Walk up, tap the face of the person you want to talk to and the type of call you want (Video/Audio) and you’re away, with the ability to leave a message if they don’t answer. Someone could happily only ever do that with it, and it wouldn’t be going to waste.

Performance wise there have been no issues, no slow downs, no crashes, it does its job well.

Who is it for?

To me, it’s for the elderly and technophobic. I personally won’t own one myself, as my desktop computer, laptop and phone can do everything it can and more. But for someone older, who doesn’t have a computer, or has never owned a smart phone but is increasingly feeling isolated (especially amidst a lockdown) it is absolutely perfect. They may or may not need help setting it up, the process is quite straight forward, but once it’s going they have a modern connection to their friends and family without having to learn all the steps to make it work. No futzing around with speaker, or microphone settings, no finding the right app to learn.

Simple, easy, intuitive calling.

Unboxing and Set Up

This will be an image heavy section with minimal information and details every screen and step I went through to set it up.


The Facebook Portal is a good device and I’m impressed.

First, I’ll address the trust issue, and there is one. Facebook is a hugely powerful entity with an almost peerless knowledge of personal information on a huge portion of the entire world, and seemingly no fucks to give about being a force for good.

To coin Ali G, “They is even more eviller than Skeletor”.


Their products DO benefit the world, but only because it’s profitable that they do, and that’s against the negatives they simultaneously cause on the world.

But to be honest I see this as a very small increment on top of their existing profile and not the linchpin to their bid for world domination. Your Facebook account is that, and to stop them, you have to delete it. In lieu of deleting your account and not using it all, then my personal opinion is that this is a minimal addition to your loss of privacy. No greater than owning a Facebook connected smartphone.

If you don’t have a Facebook account because you fear for your privacy, this device is not for you.

Assuming you’re still here, it’s otherwise very good for my perception of it’s target market, old people and technophobes and I think it’s the best way that someone who is isolated and slowly losing their technological options to reconnect with minimal outlay.

The Facebook Portal Mini is a glorified landline for the modern age. Buy one for your parents, your aunties, uncles and anyone with grandchildren, while they’re cheap.

Extras if you get one

Just a few things of note, if you end up getting one

  • You can set night mode in settings, which turns off the display between X hours (in case it’s in your bedroom).
  • You can increase the font size, in the theme of being for the elderly
  • You can get larger screen options, they just cost more
  • You can connect WhatsApp, but I don’t use it
  • You can use it for Alexa, which may be a major benefit for people who struggle to use the touch screen. As you can make a call using voice commands. I personally didn’t use it, though.
  • You can make it read out loud every button you touch, for even more accessibility for those hard of sight, you then double tap to activate things.
  • You can save a curated list of websites as apps, such as AllRecipes.com, for using as a recipe device in the kitchen.

The Facebook Portal Mini is currently on promotion until 20 Sep 2021 at the below link, there are also larger models that are discounted, but not such a great deal:


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