BT Home SmartPhone S 2 review

For a lot of people the traditional landline telephone is simply obsolete but plenty of consumers still make good use of one. BT is aiming to liven things up a bit on this front so here's our BT Smart Home SmartPhone S 2 review.

We don't normally review home phones but with this run sporting a touchscreen and running Android, our ears were perked sufficiently enough to check it out. BT says it's “the home phone that lets you do so much more.”

At £169 from BT or Amazon the device does seem quite expensive – more than some really decent budget smartphones – but that what you'll have to pay to get a home phone with smart features rather than a bog standard one which does little more than calls.

The SmartPhone S 2 isn't the only touchscreen home phone with Android with similarly priced rivals from Panasonic, Archos and Gigaset.

So what do you get for your money? Well you get the phone, a charging station and all the cables you'll need. The base station is included but separate to the charger meaning you can put the phone where you want rather then next to your wall socket.

One phone for the money doesn't seem the best value but this is because it's a smartphone. If you're looking to place two or more phones around the house then you'll need to look elsewhere.

For a fairly expensive home phone, the SmartPhone S 2 is quite bulky and a little cheap feeling, too. It's difficult not to compare it to budget smartphones which have come a long way. For example, the Motorola Moto G feels nice and has a 5in screen for £10 less.

The 3.5in is bigger than most home phones but feels small when you've been used to using a smartphone which you no doubt have. The resolution isn't particularly high either so we can't exactly describe the display as crisp. It also has very poor viewing angles.

BT Home SmartPhone S2 review

What the SmartPhone S 2 does have against traditional home phones is a bunch of features you wouldn't normally get. Since the device runs Android (stock 4.2 Jelly Bean) and has Wi-Fi, you can log in with your Gmail account and get instant access to all your contacts.

Not having to enter your entire address book is a real boon and it will sync if you change anything on your Android smartphone. We did find getting emails to the phone annoying but Android lets you decide to switch that sync off so it's not a big deal – perhaps you will find it really handy.

The SmartPhone S 2 allows you to download any apps you would normally download to your smartphone via the Play Store. That sounds pretty cool but let's face it, it's 2015 and you probably want to use your smartphone or tablet which has superior specs for your favourite apps. Facebook and Twitter are pre-installed but we just didn't find we used the device for things like social media.

BT asks 'fed up with the kids taking your mobile to go online or play games?' so maybe the SmartPhone S 2 can be the device you hand over instead of your £500 flagship.

The problem here is that although you can download any apps you want from the Play Store, there's only 1GB of internal storage and so you're going to run out of space pretty quickly. There is a Micro-SD card slot though, so you can add some more.

Moving onto a headline feature, the nuisance call blocking. There's an app pre-loaded called Nuisance Calls but don't be fooled into thinking it will just do its job without you doing anything. You'll need to go in and choose what you want to block with a choice of things like international, withheld number, unavailable number and payphone. You can also block a certain number if you know it and set up an automatic do not disturb period. VIP numbers which you pick yourself can always be allowed through.

BT does warn, in the small print, that you'll need a Caller Display service from your network provider for the block nuisance calls feature to work. BT's is £1.75 a month with BT Privacy which you can get this free for a year if you sign up. Check your account to see whether it's inclusive or not.

You can also block certain outgoing calls (mobiles, international and premium rate) if you want to avoid running up a large bill. The Nuisance Calls app is PIN protected to avoid any unwanted changes.

BT Home SmartPhone S2: Specs

  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 3.5in capacitive touch screen
  • 1GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • Nuisance Call Blocking
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 3.5in capacitive touch screen
  • 1GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • Nuisance Call Blocking

OUR VERDICT

While the BT Home SmartPhone S 2 offers much better and more modern features compared to a traditional DECT phone, we can't ignore the fact we all have superior mobile phones in our pockets – even if you have a budget handset. The SmartPhone S 2 does have handy call blocking features but doesn't offer great build quality or specs for the price. You can always use the BT Smart Talk app on your regular phone to use your included plan calls on your existing mobile.