As you might imagine, we get all sorts of interesting gizmos and gadgets to test and review here at the TechDissected labs, and generally speaking, these are the latest and greatest of technologies. So I was a bit surprised not too long ago when I was offered a Motorola IT6 landline phone to review.
Yes, a landline phone.
While I’ve fully embraced mobile technology and certainly wouldn’t want to do without it at this point in time, I still haven’t given up my landline, and don’t have any plans of doing so any time soon. It’s a constantly reliable connection, I can always count on it for clear sound quality, and I can send and receive faxes. And it appears that landlines still have lots of other fans as well.
Still, amidst all the discussions of cutting edge mobile devices and audio equipment, I honestly can’t remember the last time I gave much thought to any advances in landline technology. But while I’m inundated with news flashes about ever-growing screens on cell phones, the announcement for the Motorola IT6 calls the phone “impossibly thin”. And this intrigued me.
Design And Form Factor
It’s obvious that some real care and pride was put into the design of the Motorola IT6. The phone received the coveted Red Dot Award for Product Design 2014 for its unique appearance, which was the work of Curventa, an industrial design consultancy from London. The actual production of the phone was done by Binatone, who develops and markets Motorola’s phones and some other products like baby and home monitors for the North American market.
At 6mm (that’s less than 1/4 inch for those of us who still don’t think in metric) at its narrowest point, the Motorola IT6 is called the world’s thinnest home phone. It’s housed in a metal frame, and the plastic body has a soft matte surface on the front face, and a nice texture on the back. Keys are backlit as well. The display screen is a generous 2.2″ backlit LCD, which is about twice the area of my existing cordless phone.
The base is also really nice, with more backlit keys, on a small case that also houses the answering machine. It’s impressively small, especially if, like me, you remember big clunky analog answering machines that recorded to audio cassette tapes.
The actual dock is clear lucite, and has the appearance of crystal. Slide the curved bottom end of the Motorola IT6 into its cradle, and it gives the impression that it’s floating. This is definitely a far cry from the lumbering phones of my childhood.
Using The Motorola IT6
Calling works just like you’d expect it to. A green “call” button is for dialing and answering, and also switches to speakerphone when you’re in a call. A red “end” button ends the call, and also returns you to the “standby” state as you scroll through menus. You can pre-enter the number (and make corrections, if needed) before hitting the green button to call, like on a cell phone, or access a dial tone first and then dial directly, in the tradition of good old analog phone dialing.
As for the user interface, if we can call it that, actual menu navigation is done by means of a four direction rocker key and two soft keys. I found these to be a little cumbersome and non-intuitive, although the functions are not all that much different from what I’ve seen in other cordless phones. But it really served as a reminder of just how much more convenient and easy modern smartphones are to use. I had forgotten how laborious of a task it really is to enter text using a 10-key keypad.
Call Quality And Sound
Talking on the Motorola IT6 is crisp and clear. It uses DECT 6.0 technology, and I have to say that I’m really impressed with how far cordless technology has actually improved. It claims to work at distances up to 900 feet from the base, and my tests got good results all over my house, and out in the yard as well.
Hands-free mode worked well and delivered a clear sound through the microphone, with none of the echo or boxy sound that sometimes plagues talking on speaker phones. The small speaker on the back of the phone left a little to be desired though, as even maximum volume seemed a bit weak.
In the category of sound, we should probably include the ringtones. There are five for the base, and ten for the handset. These range from sort of natural sounding rings to synthesized sounds to midi melodies. There is no overlap, however between the tones for the base and those for the handset. So if they’re both in the same room, you can end up with a cacophony of conflicting sounds. Playing around with the variety of tones did, however, yield some combinations which, as a musician, I found to be relatively harmonious and pleasant.
Battery life is really a non-issue here, since the base station is powered, and the handset won’t go too far. But the info sheet says that they Motorola IT6 batttery will last for 7 hours of talk time or 130 hours of standby time, though I haven’t put either of those to the test.
The phone has solid constructions and gives the feeling that it’s rugged and will last, though, again, I haven’t put it to any heavy tests in that regard.
Caller ID works as it should, and will store the last 50 calls, and the phonebook holds 100 numbers and names. The answering machine has a reasonable capacity of 30 minutes.
If you’re still keeping your landline and need a new device, or if you’re making a return to a landline, the Motorola IT6 is an excellent choice. It won’t give you the user experience of an Android or iOS phone, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing that in landlines any time soon. They’ll also be releasing a package with two handsets in the fall, and the base supports up to 500 handsets, though I can’t imagine how practical that would be, as you’d eventually need more bases to keep them charged.
Retail price $69.99, which seems affordable and a good value. And, of course, you won’t get locked into a two-year contract.