The Modu Mobile Modu Phone is the world's first modular mobile phone.
Do you ever get sick of your mobile phone? Do you wish it could change appearance from one day to the next? Israeli company Modu Mobile is counting on you answering yes to both questions. One of the smallest and lightest mobile phones we've ever seen, the Modu Mobile is the world's first "modular phone" - a handset that can be inserted into a range of "Modu jackets" that enhance functionality and change the phone's design.
As a standalone phone, the Modu Mobile is as basic as they come. It's a small, rectangular device with square edges and a relatively thin profile. Modu Mobile claims the Modu Phone is the lightest phone in the world - with a tiny screen and just seven buttons, it looks much like an MP3 player, and it has basic features to match the simple design. Bluetooth and an MP3 player are included, along with 2GB of internal memory, but the Modu Phone doesn't support 3G. We found it annoyingly difficult to remove the SIM card from the small slot on the left side of the handset.
The Modu Phone doesn't even have a regular keypad - the five-way navigational pad is used to select keys on a keypad displayed on the screen, which is a slow and rather frustrating process. The screen itself is just 1.3in wide; when used without a jacket it displays an annoying green tint. The Modu user interface is as basic as they come, and reminiscent of older mobile phones.
The real beauty of the Modu Phone lies in the "Modu jackets." These are enclosures that you slide the Modu Phone into, not only changing the design but adding a number of features depending on the individual jacket. For example, the "night jacket" we received in our review package adds a full, angled keypad, a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash, surrounding lights and external volume controls. There are a range of jackets available - many are a simple design change, while others offer extra functions like speakers and photo frames. Impressively, a jacket can alter almost any aspect of the Modu Phone, including the display size, memory, battery life and features. Jackets often change the phone's user interface too.
The three jackets we received with the Modu Phone were the night jacket, the speedy jacket and the mini jacket. Aside from the night jacket adding a 3.2-megapixel camera, these jackets are pretty standard fare and don't offer anything exciting apart from a different look and feel. Depending on your tastes, the design changes may not be welcomed - the speedy jacket feels like a plastic display phone, while the mini jacket's keypad doesn't provide the best tactility when typing messages.
Perhaps the most perplexing omission from the Modu Phone is vibration, a basic feature included on even the most inexpensive mobile phones. The MP3 player is also basic, and it's let down by Modu's insistence on a USB headphone connection rather than a standard 3.5mm jack.
The reality is that the Modu Phone is one of the most basic mobile phones we've ever reviewed. Though we appreciated the design efforts in creating the Modu jackets, in a day and age where mobile phones are portable internet and multimedia devices the Modu Phone seems stuck in the past.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>