Review: Native Union Moshi Moshi 02 - MM02
Over the course of the last two weeks, the iPhone accessory receiving the most active use and attention around here has been Native Union's Moshi Moshi 02 ($60, aka MM02), a decidedly retro concept with contemporary looks and appeal. Named for the Japanese telephone greeting "moshi moshi," MM02 is a telephone handset for the second- and third-generation iPod touch models and iPad, designed to let users make Skype and other VOIP calls. It's really quite nice, too.
One thing needs to be mentioned up front about Moshi Moshi 02: if you want judge it from a completely reductionist perspective, what Native Union is actually doing here is extremely simple, and the results can be duplicated almost exactly with the $29 Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic. In essence, the soft touch black or white rubber set consists of one speaker, one microphone, a coiled cable that connects them in handset form to a plastic base that sits on your desk, and another cable that connects them to your iPad, iPod touch, or even an iPhone if you so desire.
There’s only one button on the handset, and it stops or starts calls in the same way as the center button on Apple’s remote controls; as with most telephones, there’s no volume adjustment on the MM02 itself. A rubber pad is included so you can set your iPod touch or iPhone down somewhere while it’s being used with the handset. You’ll need your device’s screen to dial numbers and do whatever else might be necessary to initiate conversations, apart from hitting that one handset button, and hanging up MM02’s phone doesn’t do anything other than placing the handset in the cradle.
That all having been said, MM02’s design and comfort level are both impressive enough that we’ve actually really enjoyed using it. The rubber finish on the handset and base enabling them to look sharp and feel comfortable in the hand for extended periods of time, while the curves of the handset are very modern—a great match for the boxy rectangular base. Native Union has weighted the base to give what is in essence little more than a conduit for cabling the feel of a substantial piece of office equipment, so pulling the handset up doesn’t disrupt the base’s ability to stay put on a desk. It even stays firm when the coiled cable is pulled on, though a big tug can obviously pull the base off a table just as would be the case with a real telephone. The size, shape, feel, and look strike us as very good compromises, all things considered.
Sonic performance was also positive. Callers reported that the microphone sounded extremely similar to the one found in the iPhone 3GS, and the speaker is passive, requiring no external power source and performing audio clearly at whatever volume level is specified on the connected iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. There were no surprises, and though a similar experience could be had through the aforementioned earphones, there’s still value left in the traditional telephone form factor if it looks and feels right. MM02 just feels like it’s worth the asking price—the sort of accessory that belongs on a nice desk.
The only reason to hold off on the MM02 if it appeals to you is the impending release of MM03, which will forgo cables in favor of a Bluetooth 2.1 connection, enabling the user to skip the step of connecting Apple’s devices physically to the phone while preserving the same calling functionality. MM03 will be sold for twice the price and feature a different, glossy finish, as well as a different system for powering the otherwise similar wireless handset. We’re looking forward to testing MM03 and determining which of the models is actually better overall, but for what MM02 is, we certainly really like both the concept and execution, and have been surprised at how often we’ve wanted to use it rather than keeping the radiation-emitting iPhone up to our heads. iPod touch and iPad users with Skype needs will find it to be valuable for similar reasons. If you like the look and feel of desktop telephones, this one is certainly worth checking out.