You’ve undoubtedly seen one of these before; Native Union‘s POP Phone was the first to bring back the old retro handset with its 1950’s curves and make it into a mobile headset. I think it was, and is, one of the better novelty accessories available to mobile devices; I mean, who doesn’t want to relive the days when you could hold your phone between your head and shoulder. Sure, you can try that now, but you might end up with a hefty repair bill. Native Union’s next step is to bring the POP Phone into the future with its next iteration, POP Bluetooth, which, as you might have already guessed from the name, makes the original POP Phone wireless.
In your box, you get the minimum required to get your retro phone-answering started with the handset itself, a charging cable and a felt resting pad for your POP Bluetooth. I like that the charging cable maintains the whole retro vibe with its coils, which cleverly disguises the fact that the charging cable is in fact a lot longer than it appears to be. I’m indifferent to the resting pad as it implies that you’re not going to be taking the POP out very much, though since it is so thin, you can always pack it up if you’re on the move.
The construction of the POP Bluetooth is solid, as you’d expect from something inspired by a retro design. The exterior of the handset appears to be a kind of rubber/plastic hybrid as it much more closely resembles the texture of rubber. This is both good and bad: this exterior means that your POP is going to be much more durable and is easily cleanable if you get stray marks on it, but it also means that it’s going to be a little bit of a dust magnet as you’ll probably be able to tell in a few of the photos.
The POP Bluetooth isn’t a particularly complicated device; there are a total of 3 buttons on the handset and two of those are for volume control. The centre button serves as a multifunction button, acting both as a Bluetooth mode on and pick up/hang up button. As with most Bluetooth devices, all that’s required to turn on the device is to hold the centre button for a few seconds and it will begin looking for a device to pair with. Once paired, the indicator LED located just above the volume up button flashes blue every few seconds. This became an issue for me as I struggled to find a way to put the device into standby mode and the light kept flashing, though it did stop flashing after what was presumably its timeout period.
To charge the device, all that’s needed is a micro-USB cable plugged in at the button of the handset. According to the FAQ sheet, it takes 3-4 hours to fully charge the POP and discharges that in 8 hours of talk time. That said, it is supposed to be able to last 100 hours in standby mode, so unless you’re a serial chatter, the POP should serve your purposes as a wireless handset. It can of course also be used while plugged in so you can charge as you talk, provided you’re near a USB port. I’m slightly miffed that Native Union haven’t elected to retain the ability to have the POP Bluetooth also operate as a standard mobile handsfree handset through the use of a mobile adapter cable as it means you have to have charge in the device to use it.
During my time with the POP Bluetooth, I didn’t experience any audio issues either from my side of the call or reports from my receivers, though I have to say that the quality of the call itself sounded slightly tinny. The POP also has its own ringtone, a retro ringing sound, of course, but it can take awhile to get used to listening for that instead of your own ringtone. I think it would have been nice to be able to configure whether you want the default ringtone or the one from your device, but as I said, the POP is an uncomplicated device.
The original POP Phone was a nostalgic gem that kindled the memories of an age when we could still slip the handset between our head and shoulder and we could nonchalantly play with the cable as we chatted away. The POP Bluetooth offers the same opportunity and does a good job of it, but somehow I feel that a bit of that nostalgia is lost by cutting the cable and making it wireless. Sure, you can still use it wired as you charge it, and presumably, using the phone without a cable is probably a lot safer and functional, but for me, it just seems like a weirdly shaped handsfree handset. That said, if you’re a multitasker, maybe this doesn’t even factor into the decision.
Though, when you factor in that it costs $69.95 USD (compared to the $49.95 POP Phone), the POP Bluetooth can be seen to be a bit expensive as a simple accessory which will only be used during phone calls. As a novelty gift, there’s probably none better or more nostalgic than the POP Phone and POP Bluetooth, but if its a personal purchase, you’ll want to focus on the fact it’s great for multitasking and looks stylish despite its retro influences.
If you want to pick up aÂ Native Union Pop Bluetooth Retro Handset, you can visit its product page here, or for more information about Native Union’s other products, you can visit their website here.
Gallery of photos