Update: Check out the Harman Kardon Esquire which we reviewed in December 2014
As we begin to rely on our mobile devices for more and more of our business needs, I found myself needing a “portable Polycom” which would allow me to make quality speakerphone calls from my Mac or iPhone. Sure, the built-in speaker and mic are top notch on Apple products for their size, but I’d often have a hard time hearing what was on the other end of the line. Even more importantly, people couldn’t understand what I was saying, especially as I moved around.
Both are similar sized, but the Philips is smaller and slimmer as well. Unfortunately, the case for the WeCall is somehow bigger and bulkier than the snug fitting Logitech case. In the hand, they both feel about the same weight – both solid build quality – but specs say the WeCall is lighter by a few grams. I’m not a case person myself so I’m giving the advantage here to Philips.
Both units work over Bluetooth and setup is easy if you’ve ever paired a device on iOS/Android or Mac/PC before. For Mac/PC users, both also have a USB option. I like Logitech’s built in USB cable which is attached and wrap around the underside of the unit. The WeCall has an industry standard microUSB port which works fine as well. In both cases, the USB isn’t just for audio but is also for charging the units. Smart. The Logitech has a built-in stand which flips open and is a nice way to hold your iOS device during a call, but it doesn’t have a Lightning port or anything which could act as a charger. It is just somewhere to put your device and hold it upright. Advantage: Logitech because of the built in cable and iOS device stand.
Both devices work exactly how you’d expect. Once enabled either by Bluetooth or USB on a computer, they become the default speaker and mic. Sound quality is excellent on both units but I think the Logitech is a little louder and richer while the Philips is extremely accurate on the high pitches and perhaps a little more muffled on the lower end. Compared to a 15-inch retina MacBook Pro, the MyCall is about the same volume and the Logitech is like dialing it up to 11 (both without stereo separation). Both sound way better than iOS devices obviously. Speaker advantage: Logitech.
The mics are where these devices set themselves apart from standard phone/tablet/computer hardware. Both sounded leagues better than either my iPhone 5s or the MacBook Pro at the same distance. Also, where I’d fade out standing up and walking around on standard hardware, both devices would increase sensitivity as I moved away from the mic. But there was a clear winner here, the WeCall.
While the Logitech has a single forward facing mic, good for personal use, the WeCall has four separate mics which are designed to sit in the middle of a conference room table and pick up noise from all directions. For personal use, both units function similarly but when you want to make a call while preparing a lunch in your kitchen or while filing paperwork in your office, the Philips is noticeably superior. Mic advantage: Philips
Buttons: When making conference calls you often want to adjust the volume or mute the call so you can talk smack about the person on the other end of the call. Both units have these buttons along with the call/hangup functionality for phones on Bluetooth. Unfortunately, Logitech’s buttons here are capacitive and it isn’t easy to register when you have hit a button. The LED lights around the edges help in this regard, but they aren’t as intuitive as the mechanical buttons on the Philips WeCall. On the flip side, the buttons are all on the top/front of the Logitech whereas they are on either corner of the WeCall. Buttons: Advantage Philips
Battery: Both devices function as portable Bluetooth speakers when out and about though as I said before, the Logitech is a little bit better on the loud/low end while the Philips excels on the high pitches. The logitech battery is rated at 15 hours which is significantly more than the Philips at 8 hours. While self-rated battery tests often overstate capabilities, I can confirm that the Logitech did last significantly longer, on average, than the Philips during my testing. Advantage Logitech
App: The Philips WeCall has an App as you can see in the video below which acts as a secondary conference phonebook/calendar which stores numbers and codes. I found it mostly useless and repetitive to what I already keep in my calendar and phonebook. It would have been better if it had only given battery status (which it doesn’t). Neither
Overall: Both of these units do essentially the same task extremely well but both excel in certain areas. The Logitech is louder, the battery lasts longer and has a built-in stand/charger/USB cable. Meanwhile the smaller, more portable Philips unit has better mics and better buttons.
While it is a toss-up on paper, figure out what you need most and apply it here. I think many will opt for the smaller Philips because the quality of the Mics is probably the most important aspect of this class of products. On the other hand, if you don’t often sit at a conference room table and make calls from your desk chair and want to use this as a 10+hour Bluetooth speaker, grab the Logitech.
If there is a tiebreaker needed, Logitech’s can be had for $10 less and is available now. Meanwhile Philips WeCall will be available in a few weeks on Amazon or at your local Apple Store.
As a side note: I’ve found that for normal dumb speakerphone calling (without noise cancelling/directional/echo suppressing mics, call/hangup/mute buttons but much better speaker volume), the best Bluetooth speakers, including my favorite UE Boom and Mini Boom work really well often at a cheaper price.
Philips WeCall promo videos:
Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e promo videos: