Of Telegraph Poles and Phones 

As my current main phone was suffering from a dodgy power connection, it was time to check out a replacement.

BT Aqua kitchen shot

Generally I do not believe in co-incidence but sometimes circumstances force me to reconsider my position.  Take, for instance, the combination of two recent events.  On the very day that I had decided to review a new BT phone, who should turn up but a team of BT engineers.  Their assigned task was to replace the telegraph pole situated outside my home.  To me the original pole look fine but I was not consulted about the matter.

This removal required residents, myself included, to move their cars from parking space that had been pre-paid for on an annual basis.  It also resulted in land-line telephonic communications being cut off for the immediate area.  Needless to say BT did not give any advanced warning of this temporary disruption to normal services - presumably the company just expected nobody to notice.

Of course with no connected telephone line, the review process had to be put on hold which is why I am writing this introduction to this review.  Hopefully when communications are restored, the delay will not cloud my judgement, whether consciously or sub-consciously, regarding the BT phone.

While waiting, let's take the opportunity to describe the appearance of the BT Aqua product.  This phone belongs to the BT family of DECT phones that allow you (telegraph pole replacement permitting) greater freedom in the positioning and use of the handset.  I have to say that the colour scheme of Apple white and blue is not to my taste, I would have preferred more subtle colouring.

The kit consists of a base station; handset; charger dock; two AAA rechargeable batteries; two main power leads; telephone line cord; wall mounting screws; plus a small User Guide.  The base station, measuring 151 x 130 x 68mm (H x W x D), can either be used free-standing or wall-mounted.  It can be positioned anywhere within reach of a mains power and telephone line socket.  LED lights on the top indicate when power and the answer machine are turned on.  There is also a slot for inserting a SIM card for copying contact details to the unit's phone book.

Following a short break, I was pleased to discover that my phone had been reconnected; I only hope my neighbours are as fortunate.  As with the base station, the charger dock needs to be connected to a power source but can be located almost anywhere within the home.  When not in use, the handset will sit on the dock and its internal batteries will be recharged giving approximately 10 hours of talk time and 100 hours on standby.

BT Aqua DECT phone in kitchen

The handset adopts the slider style of unit which keeps the telephonic keypad concealed until needed.  A compass style navigation wheel, selection buttons and a colour 3 x 2cm LCD decorate the front of the device.  Mobile phone-like, the LCD screen displays icons and other relevant information.

As well as supporting a phone book storing details of up 250 contacts, the handset can hold a list of the last 30 answered or missed calls and the last 20 dialled calls.  An icon will be displayed to indicate when you have missed calls and when the answer machine is turned on.  An on-screen alert will advise when you have new messages.  You can also use this phone to send SMS messages with standard charges to apply.  Three-way conferencing is also possible but as yet I have not tested this facility.

Generally this phone performed well up to expectations.  There are numerous settings which can be customised to suit individual needs.  I do have one criticism regarding the positioning of the handset when seated in the charger dock.  Rather than the upright stance used, a slightly backwards angled position would improve the visibility of the LCD display.  The BT Aqua DECT phone has been priced at £59.99 for a single handset and £89.99 for a dual handset pack.

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Comment by clare stace, 20 Dec 2010 18:49

the phone is totally unusable, impossible to charge, often when picked up to answer will carry on ringing and menu list are complicated to use.  purchased last week on internet not worth the bother of sending back and waiting for return of money.  definitely a pile of PANTS.   

Comment by p & v exeter, 21 Feb 2010 21:50

just bought this phone.. the ringtones are shockingly bad.. echo-ey sound on the other end & cuts off if more than 8metres away from base station!

very disappointed. changing asap for a 'real' phone

Comment by jonno, 4 Feb 2010 10:24

Comment by Chris Knight, 21 Dec 2007 20:46
'Best' example of convoluted, long winded obscurantist twaddle I've read for a long time

Ha ha well said, full of irrelivant twaddle

Comment by Jamie from Wigan, 7 Jan 2010 15:09

BT AQUA are the worst phones I have come across. They don't reach very far, the menu is complicated, and missed calls have to be deleted from evey handset. Charging the phones is so annoying and fiddly. I'm currently looking at other DECT phones for replacement.

Comment by hellphooey, 7 Jul 2009 18:40

We have had the triple handset version of this for less than 6 months and are about to get a new phone. Has a mind of its own, runs out of charge really quickly, rings after you have answered and when you finish a call, keypad has poor response when keys are pressed, temperamental when it comes to accepting the handsets for charge on the base etc. etc. Worst house phone I've ever had.
I will never buy another BT phone again if this one is anything to go by. Looks good but is a very poor performer.

Comment by Carl Mills, 9 Apr 2009 19:51

BT Aqua is a pile of crap!!!! If position of phone holder is not 100% flat it won't charge!  Keeps going flat and is generally a pile of pants. Not worth money....AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

Comment by PurpleCrazyHorse, 17 Jan 2009 20:39

We've had the BT Aqua twin for just over a year and we're about to replace them.  The menu isn't well designed so it's a bit tricky to use - not as clear and simple as we would expect from BT.  You gain a lot of functionality but lose the simplicity.  We're quite techy but I often get frustrated with it and my husband hates them.  Also, the battery is dying on the main handset although as it takes rechargable AA batteries they're quick and easy to replace.

On the whole, they look great, we just don't think the interface has been thought through particularly well.  We're going to get a simple twin, without any features so we don't have to go through loads of menus to get to the recent calls list!

Comment by jaycee2, 2 Dec 2008 22:16

Sorry no, I don`t agree with the previous comment. Before I make a purchase, I like to scrutinise every  last detail / feature and so for me, reviews as in-depth as this one, are extremely helpful.     

Comment by Chris Knight, 21 Dec 2007 20:46

'Best' example of convoluted, long winded obscurantist twaddle I've read for a long time

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