We have been anticipating the iDECT Smart 64 since its release was announced at the start of this year; and when the first stocks arrived earlier this week our initial impression was very good. It is not the first outing of Android in a home phone with models available from BT, Gigaset, and Panasonic all offering premium touchscreen models in their portfolio; so we were interested to find out how the Smart 64 would stack up against the competition.
Design & build
iDECT tend to be very design orientated and are responsible for some of the most stylised cordless phones available (just check out their iDECT Eclipse), but unlike some of the more striking phones from their back catalogue the Smart 64 is beautifully understated. Whilst some expense might have been spared on the base and charging cradle (and the included earphones) the handset looks and feels very sleek; athough the high-gloss black battery cover has the potential to drive anyone with OCD tendencies to distraction with how easily it is marked by finger prints.
There are only two physical keys on the handset; a power button at the top (which can also be used to bring the Smart 64 in and out of sleep mode), and volume control conveniently placed on the side. The 4.0” touchscreen boasts a pretty respectable 800 x 480 pixels; for comparison - Gigaset's SL930A is only 3.2" and 320 x 480px so the Smart 64 certainly delivers more bang for your buck in the display department.
Obviously the main draw of the iDECT Smart 64 is the inclusion of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2.2), which gives you a landline home phone packed with features. There is 4GB of internal storage, most of which is used up by pre-installed apps (there was just over 1.1GB available) so if you want to take full advantage of the phone's potential then you'll need a MicroSD (the Smart 64 supports up to 32GB). A front-facing camera has been included so that you can use Wi-Fi to make and receive video calls (although there is no pre-installed app for this); in theory you could also use it to take pictures and record videos but the likelihood is that you'll have something better to hand in your home for that kind of thing.
iDECT might be hoping that the recent trend for app-enabled home accessories is catching on with the Home Hubble App pre-installed on the handset, and promoted on the packaging. Unfortunately, we did not have any compatible devices available to test this, but the potential for further functionality is promising.
The clarity of sound is reasonably good, especially on landline to landline calls; and the range when tested offered a reliable signal indoors and about 250 metres from our office outside before it started to break up. We downloaded the free Skype app via Google Play to test the quality of the video call function; and were extremely impressed by the smooth quality of the video feed and sound quality, which was better than the quality of some Smartphones I've used.
iDECT claim the battery life will provide up to 10 hours continuous talk-time, but Wi-FI, downloading and using apps will drastically eat into your battery life; but as it's a home phone this is less of an issue as there should be power socket close to hand (and the ergonomic cradle has been designed so that you can still use the handset quite easily whilst it’s being charging). The touchscreen is the most responsive that we've used on a home phone, and the overall usability of he handset is excellent and should pose no major issues for anyone with some experience of using and Android phone or tablet.
The iDECT Smart 64 is the best Android home phone that we tested so far. It may not beat the Gigaset’s chrome SL930A in the beauty contest stakes, but is a decidedly more attractive choice at more £50 cheaper with the added benefit of a larger screen and support for video calls. If the idea of an Android home phone floats your boat, then the Smart 64 is a smart choice.