It’s over two years since we first got some hands-on time with Modu, the multi-faceted mobile. The concept is utterly unique: a tiny blower minus a keypad, it can slip into a variety of different ‘jackets’, which in turn give it different features depending on what you need at any given time.
Slip it into a basic ‘Express jacket’ to get a standard numeric keyboard mobile, or slap it into a stereo jacket to get it pumping out sounds from the onboard music player.
This extensive techie wardrobe is completely anathema to the do-it-all skills of modern day smartphones, seeing as you have to dress Modu up differently depending on the feature you need. We tested three different jackets: the Express, Sport and Shiny – all with quite varying results, as you’d expect.
The main Modu unit is tiny. At just 7.8mm thin, it’s smaller than an iPod Nano and is undoubtedly one of the most discreet phones we’ve ever laid hands on.
You can make calls and even type messages on it, all with just a directional pad for help. This doesn’t come recommended, as the minuscule 1.3in screen’s keyboard leaves such little room to see what you’re tapping out you’ll need to keep a magnifying glass handy.
This is where the basic Express jacket comes in. Essentially, it’s a plastic front for the Modu. You can slip the phone behind it, giving you a basic numeric keypad and directional keys. It transforms the Modu into a cheap-as-chips mobile.
This can be stepped up, however, with the Shiny jacket, which completely encases the phone. Its tiny, isolated, faux chrome buttons aren’t anything to write home about though, and your fingers will yearn for something more reassuring when tapping out texts.
While the basic offerings leave a lot to be desired, Modu really comes into its own when trying something more in keeping with its obscure styling.
The Sport jacket works as an arm pouch for the phone, much in the same way you’d strap your iPod on when you hit the gym. It works brilliantly, with the interface getting a new look when you dock the phone and easy access to the blower’s surprisingly usable music player.
The Sport jacket eschews a keypad and instead focuses on getting your tunes delivered to your lugholes, with play/pause and skip keys. The bundled ear buds are great too, sitting snugly and cutting out all but the most insistent of ambient noise.
Sports jacket aside, though, Modu only really works as a concept. Swapping jackets is infuriating and nowhere near as convenient as having a phone that can handle all the same features in one package. At £130 for the phone and £50 per jacket, it’s also remarkably costly. A neat idea, but one for fans of leftfield gadgets only.