Review: Native Union Pop Desk
Though it isn't the most sophisticated evolution we've seen of a Native Union product, Pop Desk ($50) is nonetheless as stylish as all of the company's prior designs. Pop Desk adds a metal desktop holder to the earlier Pop Phone MM01H telephone handset accessory -- identical here to the standalone version -- creating something that looks more similar to a traditional corded desktop phone. As with prior Pop models, no power is required for the handset, and a single button on its interior center can be used for starting or ending calls, as well as for activating Voice Control or Siri. It's also worth noting that Native Union's "Moshi Moshi" and model number references have disappeared from this unit; it's just "Pop Desk."
Designed with modern angles, the silver stand is 4.5” at its peak height with a 4.25”-wide base. Made of Mac-matching aluminum, it has significant heft, and is totally sturdy despite its odd shape. An arm extends up from the right side to hold your iPhone on an angle while hiding the single cable. Rather than using a more complex shelf to keep the device in place, Native Union includes a non-slip rubber pad that’s exactly the same height and width of an iPhone 4 or 4S with two soft feet jutting out just slightly from the bottom. It actually works, though, even if your iPhone is in a case; the device stayed in place even when we pulled down on it. To the left are two metal posts covered in the same rubber material, so that you can hang the phone when it’s not in use. One thing Pop Desk omits is the ability to automatically hang up when you place the phone in the cradle; you need to end calls manually, or hope that your caller hangs up to disconnect the call.
Native Union enables the handset to be detached for use as a standalone accessory, which some users may appreciate. Otherwise, the handset attaches to the stand through an audio port on the front of the metal arm. In turn, that’s connected to a cloth-coated cord that ends in an L-shaped headphone plug—connect the L-plug to your iPhone and everything’s good to go. You’re able to place and receive calls through the handset, while the ringtone still comes through the iPhone. Our tests showed that the outgoing audio quality is about the same as from an iPhone itself, but incoming voices are just a bit muddled—still acceptable though. They’re also louder coming through the Pop Desk handset than through the iPhone’s ear speaker, so you’ll likely want to turn down the volume a bit.
Just as with the original Pop Phone, Pop Desk is more of a luxury than a necessity—it doesn’t do anything your iPhone can’t do on its own, save for offering the comfort and convenience of a traditional telephone. Yet for those who want an old school calling experience at their desks, and optionally elsewhere if they’re willing to accept some funny looks when using the handset with an iPhone, Pop Desk is a reasonable value. The retail price is only $20 more than the standalone MM01H, which is entirely fair considering the build and look of the metal stand, and a good value for users who don’t want to pay for the Bluetooth wireless functionality of Native Union’s more expensive telephone models. We ended up liking using Pop Desk much more than we expected, and it merits our general recommendation.