Native Union was at CES offering an intriguing lineup of handsets that'll turn your iPhone, iPad or even iPod touch into a more traditional handset-style phone. One model even morphs into a speaker for music or speakerphone. Unfortunately, audio quality was tough to gauge at the noisy show floor, so we'll try to test these in a more controlled setting later. Here's a quick rundown of the Native Union lineup.
These were announced back in September 2010, but I took a few pics in the gallery for you to check out. They are simply handsets that use a 3.5 mm jack for plugging into your iPhone, converting it into a sort of old-style phone with a handset and stretchy cord. Remember those? You can also use it with Skype or any VoIP app on your iPod touch, iPad or even your Mac.
The POP Phones come in a wide variety of colors (which "pop" as the name suggests) and have a nice soft, rubber finish as opposed to the old shiny gloss finish of Ma Bell's phones. I find the form factor quite handy for cradling the phone on your shoulder while doing other stuff as opposed to the precarious placement of a slender iPhone between ear and shoulder. As I said, these are pretty basic. They sell for around US$29.99. There are two models with bases, which sell for around $64.
Debuted at CES: MM03i Bluetooth handset
This one is pretty snazzy -- a wireless handset with built-in iPhone charging stand. If you want the best of both worlds, a desk phone and your mobile, it's a good design. The iPhone docks at the far end of the base, with the handset in front. They only come in black or white and use a glossy finish, but I get the feeling they are meant to cater to business users.
The MM03i has a 6-hour talk-time charge, and 120 hours of standby according to Native Union. The sync base has a 3.5 mm output, so you can plug your iPhone into a speaker system, and my guess is (as normal) any music would be muted when the handset takes a call. You can answer a call just by picking the phone up off the base, or use the buttons on the phone, which include volume. The MM03i retails for $149.99.
Introduced at CES: MM04i Bluetooth stereo handset
Available later this month, the MM04i adds to the 03i feature set with a set of built-in speakers to your handset and a design that allows you to use the thing as a set of small speakers (via Bluetooth, even though your iPhone docks) and pick up and use the phone as a phone or speakerphone at any time. It's a clever design, although I can't say I was a huge fan of the angular nature of the phone handset itself. All of Native's phones are designed by "award-winning" designers, so what do I know?
The MM04i will retail for $199.99. Check the gallery to see a close up of the handset and its buttons plus the dock for your iPhone.