In the race to create the most hilariously unnecessary but somehow strangely cool product, Native Union are out in the lead with the POP Phone; a phone-shaped headset ( actually, it’s more a handset! ) for the iPhone 4 and other supported devices.
Designed by David Turpin, it’s certainly not the first product of its ilk. There are phone-shaped mini bluetooth headsets and retro brick-phone cases which you can slide your phone into out there. The POP Phone, however, is probably the sleekest and most well built example of its kind that I’ve come across. And isn’t totally unnecessary as you will find out, at least not when coupled with a laptop.
The POP Phone exudes quality, with a sturdy build and a reassuring weight. The outside is rubberised for comfort and grip, and it’s available in a variety of colours from which I chose black. Black ultimately complements the black iPhone and black/aluminium Apple products best, but if Red, Blue, Green, Purple, Yellow or Pink are more your thing then you wont be disappointed. There’s even a Gold POP phone, for £35.
The phone is shaped like any other classic phone handset, has a “Pick Up” button in the middle of the handle, and a neat coiled cord which keeps out of your way and is, of course, also reminiscent of an old-school phone.
The connector is a 4 pole, 3.5mm jack plug. If this means nothing to you; then it’ll suffice to say that it works on the iPad, iPhone and MacBook Pro out of the box, and a whole host of other phones to boot. If your phone lacks the aforementioned connector, then Native Union supply a range of adaptors to more esoteric and proprietary headphone connectors; notably those on Samsung, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia feature-phones.
If you want to use it with a desktop computer, or anything that has a separate audio-in/microphone connection then they also sell a splitter adaptor which will split the phone’s connector into those familiar old green and pink jack plugs.
The POP Phone is comfortable and satisfying to use, bringing to memories of a time gone by; before everyone had mobile phones and considered house phones a somewhat archaic novelty. It’s got pretty good voice and audio quality, although if you hit the button and find your music collection playing through the ear-piece you will be treated to music that sounds disturbingly like “hold music” played down a real phone. The speaker isn’t something you’re going to want to listen to music through, and it would be awkward to do so anyway.
Incidentally, the button on the phone handle will also Play/Pause iTunes when connected to a MacBook Pro. Although this is of questionable use.
On the go the POP Phone is insanely inappropriate. You can almost stuff it into a pocket, and if you fancy walking around with a retro phone handset for some sort of bizarre geek cred then I’m not going to dissuade you. At home is where the POP Phone really comes into its own. The feel of holding a real phone handset when talking on Skype or Facetime cannot be understated. It just feels… right.
At a pinch, you can also use it to lay down vocals in Garageband on the iPad and the result isn’t bad at all.
At around £25, the POP Phone is a little pricy. But it’s certainly built well for the price. It’s great for desktop use, and less than ideal for use on the go. Ultimately, it would make a good gift for the devoted Skype or Facetime user.
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