Modu phone

We can appreciate the genius in the Modu concept, but the reality of this concept is half-baked at best.


3.5
CNET Rating
4.0
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


It could be argued that the mobile phone space is growing stale. There's been very little commercial innovations for handsets outside of the standard variations on the common phone design in quite a while. Modu is a phone that attempts something new; a central control unit that can be inserted into a range of products to create a new product. For example, you could take the Modu and insert it into your car's dashboard to connect to the stereo speaker system, or insert it into a notebook to synchronise content from both machines while you take calls using your PC's speakers or a connected headset.

Design and features

To facilitate the goal of being the central unit for a range of standard-sized devices, the Modu phone is positively tiny with 72x37x7.8mm dimensions and a feather-like 40g weight. This pint-sized physical specs don't leave much room for a screen or physical control, Modu offers a 1.2-inch low-resolution display and a navigation pad only.

What's this, no keypad? The central Modu unit is sans a number pad, but this is where inserting it into a Modu jacket will add much needed functionality. You can actually make calls without a jacket, selecting numbers on-screen with the nav-pad, but the Modu without a jacket is like the Fonze just wearing a T-shirt — it doesn't really work.

We saw three of the compatible jackets available in Australia and we can say the following without a hint of remorse: these jackets are garbage. Seriously, between the Mini Jacket, Speedy Jacket and the Night Jacket there isn't a single standout and none make the Modu better than an AU$99 Nokia in design or features. Mini and Speedy Jackets simply give the phone a different look and a number pad, while the slightly larger Night Jacket adds a crumby 3.2-megapixel camera to the mix. This gives you some idea about what Modu could be, you can imagine slotting it into a compatible compact camera with a 12-megapixel sensor, or a touchscreen running a smartphone OS like Google's Android, but that isn't what you can do with Modu at this time.

The phone's software is painfully simple; it makes calls, sends messages, keeps a calendar and an address book, plays music, displays images and that's about it. No games, no FM radio, no GPS with maps. There is a web browser but the Modu's low-quality screen and 2G data transfer speeds should deter you from using it too often. The one redeeming feature of Modu is its 2GB of internal storage, but this is cold comfort from such a dismal product.

Performance

It probably comes as no surprise that this mini mobile struggles to deliver a first-class user experience. On its lonesome the central unit makes entering numbers and text ridiculously hard. Worse than that, call quality is tinny and crackly with or without a jacket on. Battery life is about average for a 2G device, draining in approximately 2.5 days with moderate use of calling features.

We can appreciate the genius in the Modu concept, but the reality of this concept is half-baked at best. When you compare the Modu against a phone in the same price range, the Modu's poor feature set and below-par performance make it impossible to recommend. Modu is available in Australia exclusively through online retailer Mobicity.

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DavidB19 posted a comment   

I don't know about you guys, I got a totally different modu, in fact now that I look at it it's called modu T and I'm guessing the T means touch because mine got a 3" size touch screen kind of like a mini iPod touch, got Internet, Facebook , google, mail, twitter, ebuddy, flicker, tunewiki, YouTube, phone, contacts, music and video player, comes with 2GB but expendable with SanDisk, plus they gave me a camera with flash skirt. All that I paid $110 American. They also sell cool skirts for it that make it look like blackberry or Samsung galaxy but totally un necessary because its so tiny but does everything including getting more Apps and I wish I could show a picture, I own an iPhone 5 but I saw it yesterday and I said I got to have one oh yes it also straps to my arm with really cool headphones and great for jogging listening to music and it actually feels your pulse and let you know and I forgot it also got WiFi and Bluetooth, the whole thing is one touch screen that lets you do everything including speaker phone, any way I took my sim out of my iPhone got it in the modu T and I'm totally laughing and having fun with this tiny device.

 

Nad posted a comment   

I am useing a modu. It's great! Fits in my jeans perfectly. The reception, sound and the battery are within the forwarded specs. I use it as a weekend or function phone and has the regular phone forwarded to my modu. Anyone interested should grab one, plus it is selling at a pretty good price. Cheers!!!

Schleumale
1
Rating
 

Schleumale posted a review   

The Good:Size

The Bad:Everything else

The size counts! And in this case, the smaller the better. However 100 hours standby is much to low in order to be usable. After two calls you may be left with a couple of hours in standby and three minutes for an emergency call. Should have saved power by using a different display (e.g. like the Motorola F3).
Go back to the drawing board.

 

nDaru@5758 posted a comment   

The Good:Design

The Bad:Mac Syncronize

How to syncronize from mac address book into modu phone???

 

Oscarh posted a comment   

Hi guys, I don't have any modu handset yet; however I would like to buy one of this phones. It seems that the modu handset meets my needs: receive and make calls, send and receive texts, and bluetooth. However I would like to know if the bluetooth capability meets the standard to be used with my the car bluetooth/hands-free. Thanks

dee
10
Rating
 

dee posted a review   

The Good:lovely retro domino design, tiny size, works flawlessly

The Bad:jackets are,indeed, rubbish. plus they scratch the modu!

Sorry to spoil the hate fest guys. I own and use currently a sturdy Sony ericsson w995 and a lightweight (or so i thought, up until i got the modu yesterday) nokia 5630. Both music phones, meaning I rather appreciate good call quality+audio on a (small sized) mobile. Also, neither are touchscreen, because oddly enough i favor pressing buttons on a phone. I've of course heard all about the modu (hard not to when you live in Israel), liked the idea but didn't think it would ever work, yet only actually saw one yesterday. loved the design and size, so I bought it (costs roughly 120 USD) along with three (awful) jackets, thinking it'd probaboly be rubbish but still neat to have around. And guess what? after i popped my spare sim card into it (which was the hardest part- took me ages to figure out how to open the damn lid!)and personalised it a bit, turns out that 1)the call quality is just great- on par with both my other cell phones! 2) same with the earphones plugged in 3)reception is better than the nokia, same as sony 4)i don't need the jackets to use it for calling, or texting- its very intuitive and 5) I carry it with me so to speak all the time, in the neat little design pouch supplied with the set.its a perfect fit and looks like a cross between a real small retro domino piece and the teeny sony mp3 player i used to own...

all in all, the best 120$ i've spent on electronics in quite some time, and i *will* check out modu 2 once its out, even though its touch screen!

Liar
1
Rating
 

Liar posted a review   

The Good:Honest CNET review

The Bad:Modu fan review

Modu fan, your review reads like an employee of the product.

 

Modu fan posted a comment   

Good points:
This is the best phone I have ever owned. The small size and low weight are amazing. I cannot believe so much is packed into such a small, light unit. The phone has all the features I need i.e. receive and make calls, send and receive texts, clock, alarm clock, template text messages, contacts list, call log, predictive texting, keypad lock, automatic keypad lock (keypad locks automatically after set amount of time), can charge phone from any USB device (no need to carry around special charger). It also apparently plays your music and functions as a storage drive although I personally do not need these last two features. The Quick Start Guide is clear and well written. For me it is a phone, just a phone, nothing more and nothing less, but what a beautiful, small, light, compact and well-designed phone!

Bad points:
It came with a US mains charger (I live in the UK so this is not much use). However this does not matter as it also came with a mini USB cable for charging. I can charge it from my computer, or from a mains USB charger. The "mini CD" that came with the phone does not work in my iMac. Must be for PCs only. I don't know what is on it but can't be important as I can do everything I want without it. To make use of some functions you need a "jacket" which costs extra. For example, you cannot edit or delete a text template on the phone, but pop the phone into a minijacket and hey presto, you can! Took me a while to figure out how to remove the SIM card (you need a bent paper clip ... should have been obvious to a veteran Mac user like me) but if I had looked at the Quick Start Guide I would have known.

 

dee posted a reply   

modu fan, you're right the mini CD is for PC's- nothing essential in there, merely a cool desktop widget which opens the modu pc suite - for synchronizing, backup and of course transfering files- most of which you can do by dragging stuff into the modu memory folder




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User Reviews / Comments  Modu phone

  • DavidB19

    DavidB19

    "I don't know about you guys, I got a totally different modu, in fact now that I look at it it's called modu T and I'm guessing the T means touch because mine got a 3" size touch screen kind of like..."

  • Nad

    Nad

    "I am useing a modu. It's great! Fits in my jeans perfectly. The reception, sound and the battery are within the forwarded specs. I use it as a weekend or function phone and has the regular phone fo..."

  • Schleumale

    Schleumale

    Rating1

    "The size counts! And in this case, the smaller the better. However 100 hours standby is much to low in order to be usable. After two calls you may be left with a couple of hours in standby and thre..."

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