As a dad of 3 kids, safety and security is always on my mind. For some parents, acquiring a phone for their child is a good choice so they can reach their kids whenever they would like. My children are too young to manage and own a phone and also the added expense isn’t justified.
AT&T has helped solve this problem with the FiLip 2. The ‘smartwatch’ is a big, colorful watch that your child can wear around his/her wrist.
The FiLip 2 comes in three colors and the one we trialed from AT&T was a fun blue color. My daughter was so excited to have her own ‘phone’ with the ability to call my wife and I. The Filip 2 allows calls to be made from and to pre-programmed contacts (and only those) and to receive messages from parents through the FiLip app on Android or iPhone.
For the kids, FiLip 2 features a fun design with two buttons that allow them to call pre-programmed contacts or go into “emergency” mode where it calls all the contacts for a more instant contact.
Through the FiLip app for Android, I programmed my daughter’s trial FiLip to be able to receive calls and messages from my wife’s mobile number and my own (you can set up to 5 numbers to be programmed in). Set up was kind of kludgy and I’d fear someone non-technical would need help at their AT&T store to figure it out. The Android app needs work, that’s for sure.
It didn’t take long to train my daughter how to use the FiLip. The watch has two buttons, one that selects different options and one that executes that action. The text is big and says “Call Mom” or “Call Dad” depending on your pre-set options.
The only issue for her is that the FiLip’s included straps are VERY small. There are two kinds of straps, one that doesn’t close (like a bracelet) and one that snaps shut. The snaps ensure it won’t fall off but they’re just too tight. Even my 3 year old couldn’t close the snap with his super small wrist.
In the app for Android/iPhone, you can see where the watch is on a map, message the FiLip and of course, call it.
Using the FiLip day-to-day
The Filip 2 was super easy for my 8 year old to use. She enjoyed being able to call us wherever she was, whether it was on a bike ride with grandma, at a day camp over the summer or at a friend’s house. With AT&T’s network being so strong throughout Oregon, she was able to call us no matter where she was.
The FiLip 2 has a speakerphone that sits on the front of the watch. So, the call quality was great from a connection standpoint, but sometimes my daughter was hard to hear because she was shouting into a speakerphone, which was to be expected.
One letdown with the FiLip 2 was battery life. This seemingly non-smart device should be able to last 2-3 days between charges, especially considering how little its used. However, we couldn’t get more than one day out of the FiLip 2 and I was disappointed. The task of remembering to charge the FiLip 2 was cumbersome.
How FiLip 2 pays off
At camp: Through the month of August, my daughter had day camps where she was gone all day. Yes she was at a school and totally safe, but it was nice to see her location on a map to know she was where she was supposed to be. One day, her camp decided to go on a field trip to a neighboring park, without letting us parent know. Because I had set a geofence up in the FiLip app, I got an alert. That gave me piece of mind.
Out and about: Another situation where FiLip was super convenient was on vacation. We were in a resort city and my daughter loves to go on bike rides with grandma. The trouble is, Grandma doesn’t always have her phone on so they’re hard to reach while out and about. One day we decided to head out to lunch and wanted our daughter and grandma to meet us, so we were able to call them on the FiLip and make arrangements to meet. Normally this wouldn’t be possible.
At a friends’ house: We like to let our daughter go to friends’ houses to play. Sometimes, our duaghter wants us to come pick her up early or get ahold of us. This was the case a few weeks ago where Lily was playing and got extremely muddy while playing, creating an embarrassing situation, for her, at least. With the FiLip 2 on her wrist, she was able to call us and ask us to bring her new clothes and extend her playtime with her buddy.
Criticism and conclusion
One last bit of advice on the FiLip, if you don’t have an iPhone or Android, your ability to use FiLip 2 is limited. In our case, Grandma wanted to be able to send our daughter messages and was out of luck because she’s on a Lumia and doesn’t have a FiLip app to use.
Speaking of the FiLip app, I wish it were possible to send messages to FiLip 2 outside the app. I found the Android app to be hard to use, slow and clunky. It was a chore to use. As calling has been whitelisted through the app based on phone numbers, messages should be allowed the same way.
With the above critisism being stated though, the overall experience with FiLip 2 was a positive one. Being that the smartwatch is only $99 and an additional $10/month, for me as a parent, it’s a fantastic way to stay in touch with a young child on the go.