These days it’s not uncommon to see a business professional using their cell phone as their primary or only phone number. This is particularly true with traveling consultants. And while I work in the same office every day, for the past two years I too have chosen to list my cell phone number as my only number on my business cards and in my signature block on outgoing e-mail.
Despite my relatively analytical mindset and preference to avoid small talk, I somehow end up talking on the phone a lot. AT&T reports that I racked up 15,176 voice minutes on my aging iPhone 4 in the past twelve months. If converted to 8-hour business days, this represents 31.6 days spent on the phone out of roughly 260 business days per year. Thank goodness for unlimited talk and text.
The transition from a traditional business desk phone to cell phone was made practical in my case largely by another device similar to the one we’ll talk about today. That other device, the iFusion SmartStation (reviewed here), gives my iPhone 4 a traditional telephone handset and speakerphone whenever I’m at my desk. Having that traditional handset linked to my cell phone has allowed me to participate in long conference calls or troubleshooting sessions without tying up one hand, or having to crane my neck at a particularly awkward angle to sandwich a thin cell phone between my shoulder and my ear. Given the amount of time I spend talking, I also take comfort in knowing that my cell phone isn’t directly irradiating my head. And while the first-generation iFusion works great with iPhones up through the 4s, what about everyone else? What if you want the ergonomics of a business desktop phone while using your Android phone, Windows Phone or BlackBerry?
It turns out that the answer has been lurking in the land down under since 2010. The “Australian designed and developed” BlueSIM Bluetooth Desktop Phone, pictured above, looks at first glance like a no-frills business desk phone of the sort that blends in with the monitors and other gear on your desk, to be mostly ignored except when it’s ringing. The distinction, as its name implies, is that this handset pairs with your mobile phone via Bluetooth in order to make and receive calls.
After a one-time pairing exercise explained in the manual, I also enabled ‘Auto connect’ so that the BlueSIM will try to reconnect with my phone every half minute when I’m away, anticipating my return. The display actually says “iPhone” when I’m connected, and “Auto connect” when my iPhone and I have left the vicinity. The BlueSIM can be paired with up to eight devices, though with only one active connection at a time.
First Time Use
Dialing calls via the BlueSIM is a matter of punching in the ten digit number, and then picking up the handset or pressing the speakerphone button to initiate the call. I made my first outbound call to my favorite sister, who indicated that the call sounded crystal clear on her end. I found the volume to be a little low on my side, until I rotated the silver scroll wheel to raise it to comfortable level. The phone kept my desired volume level on subsequent calls. When initiating outbound calls from the BlueSIM, the paired iPhone doesn’t light up at all, conserving energy. Both the BlueSIM and the iPhone light up and ring on inbound calls. My first half-hour long call was a complete success as well, with no issues to report.
The BlueSIM has a jack for a wired RJ11 corded headset of the of the type that call center employees might use. Though I’m thinking that frequent headset users might just get a Jawbone or similar and skip the BlueSIM altogether. The regular coiled handset cord that comes with the BlueSIM is perhaps not as long as would be ideal, but that could be replaced for around $10 locally.
While the appearance of a phone is far from the most important thing, most of us are visually oriented enough to consider it. The finish of the BlueSIM is, well, blueish, when compared to something that’s a true black. The BlueSIM also has a bit of surface texture, which, while not uncommon, isn’t glossy smooth like some phones. The handset feels solid enough, in a practical though non-luxury sense. The button travel feels just a little bit long, especially on the number keys, but they’re easy to use. And the LCD display, while highly readable, feels a little dated compared to the devices that you’re likely to sync with it. Were this a standard telephone for use with plain old telephone service, you would expect it to cost no more than half the price. The premium is justified only by the relative uniqueness of this Bluetooth pairing solution.
Cost And Purchasing
There’s no electronic shopping cart on the BlueSIM web site at this time. So I reached out via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in late December. After exchanging a couple of messages, I received a PayPal invoice for the list price of $299.00 AUD, or $273.86 US at that day’s exchange rate. There’s no shipping or tax added to US orders, despite the fact that the AirMail charge turned out to be a relatively hefty $56.55 AUD, representing 18.9% of the overall cost. My BlueSIM was shipped shortly after the New Year, and arrived at my office in Connecticut ten days later.
It’s easy for Americans to assume that the world revolves around us, but these days that’s often not the case. The BlueSIM’s AC power adapter says that it supports 100 to 240 volts, but it bears Australia’s native AS3112 plug and includes no adapters for use in the US or Europe. I needed an AS3112 receptacle to NEMA 5-15P adapter like this or this. Since I was taken by surprise, I went with the one that I could get shipped in the next day. Americans who order a BlueSIM should order the requisite power adapter from Amazon the same day, and you’ll be all set when your phone arrives. The BlueSIM also has a space for a 9-Volt battery, which may run the device for an unspecified length of time.
The BlueSIM Bluetooth Desktop Phone combines a business desk phone experience with your modern Bluetooth-enabled smartphone whenever the two are in proximity to one another, without regard to your phone’s vendor or your telecom carrier. While relatively expensive at $299.00 AUD, this tool makes it easier to live with a single phone and phone number, when regularly transitioning between your desk and on-the-go. For some, the simplicity or the reduced cost as compared to maintaining two types of phone service over the long term may make the BlueSIM Bluetooth Desktop Phone an appealing accessory.
[In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, this article was inspired by an employee of our Federal Government who subscribes to the blog, and who, in fact, originally suggested adding the ‘Subscribe’ box that you see on the blog today.]