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Phone aimed at tweens is a disappointment

*Est. $80, no contract
Reviewed
May 2009
by ConsumerSearch
Firefly flyPhone

Phone aimed at tweens is a disappointment

Pros
  • Built-in camera, music player
  • Good parental controls
  • Available on multiple carriers
Cons
  • Poor call quality
  • MicroSD card slot located under battery
  • Mediocre camera
  • No picture messaging
  • Keypad difficult to see in sunlight
Where to Buy
 

Unlike the popular Firefly glowPhone, the flyPhone, aimed at a slightly older crowd, is routinely panned by professional reviewers for its poor call quality and mediocre camera. While professional reviewers and users admit the phone does have some cool features, many recommend going with Kajeet, which uses adult phones from Sprint, such as the Sanyo Katana II. Another option is to purchase a simple cell phone, such as the Pantech Breeze (AT&T), and make use of the carrier's parental controls. The flyPhone is an unlocked phone that will work with not just Firefly Mobile but also with AT&T or T-Mobile. (You'll have to purchase a SIM card from them directly.) Like the glowPhone, it has built-in parental controls.

The Firefly flyPhone differs from the glowPhone in that it has a 1.4-inch color screen (128 pixels by 128 pixels), built-in camera, music player and video player. It also comes bundled with games and ringtones and has two-way texting capability. (The glowPhone can only receive text messages.) CNET finds the camera to be "dismal," the music player "serviceable" and the video player impractical, especially considering the phone's small screen. User reviews report problems with texting and complain about poor customer service.

One of the flyPhone's cooler features is a "morphing" keyboard, which uses backlighting to switch between numbered keys for calls and directional arrows and an "OK" button for navigating the menu system. However, reviewers find the keypad hard to see in daylight -- harder to read even than the LCD. CNET's German finds the screen's graphics to be sharp and appreciates that you can adjust the backlighting time and the brightness. PCMag.com's Segan notes that because this is an unlocked device, it has some unique features. It comes bundled with FlyKicks software, and with it, you can create customized ringtones, upload contacts and optimize video for the phone.

We found thorough professional reviews of the flyPhone at CNET and PCMag.com. CNET's review is more positive that PCMag's. Reviewer Kent German says "the FlyPhone is a good compromise for tweens," and in testing finds that it has "acceptable call quality." On the other hand, PCMag.com's Sascha Segan notes that "this rugged and feature-packed handset is saddled with really shaky call quality" and recommends trying Kajeet, which has a more reliable network. There is a scattering of user reviews at Amazon.com, Target.com and Buzzillions.com.

image
Sanyo Katana II Prepaid Phone, Pink (Kajeet)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $99.99   
Average Customer Review:  
Where To Buy
Firefly Cellphone for Kids

 
Buy new: $49.99 $49.95   1 New from $49.95

In Stock.

 

Our Sources

1. CNET

CNET's Kent German provides a thorough review of the flyPhone, comparing it a bit with Firefly's other handsets but no others. He finds call quality to be fair and notes some trouble with slippery keys when texting.

Review: Firefly FlyPhone (blue), Kent German, July 23, 2008

2. PCMag.com

Segan points out the flyPhone's fatal flaw in the first paragraph of his review: "awful call quality," making it unreliable as an emergency phone for kids. He compares Firefly's service with Kajeet and the now-discontinued Disney Mobile and recommends Kajeet as an alternative.

Review: Firefly flyPhone, Sascha Segan, Oct. 1, 2007

3. Buzzillions.com

There are about 15 reviews of the flyPhone on Buzzillions, a review aggregator. All of the reviews are from customers at ToysRUs.com; these reviews can no longer be found on the store's site, because it no longer carries this phone. Most of the reviewers give the phone a perfect score.

Review: Firefly Mobile FlyPhone Mobile Phone, Contributors to Buzzillions.com

4. Amazon.com

Although there is only one review of the flyPhone at Amazon.com, it is detailed and helpful. The owner, who got the phone for her daughter, complains that text messaging isn't reliable and that customer service is terrible.

Review: Firefly Mobile flyPhone, Contributors to Amazon.com

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