Quick Summary: The phil&teds Smart looks cool. It's funky and minimalist with a no nonsense style. Unfortunately, the no nonsense approach hasn't quite made it into the functionality of the Smart.
- Narrow and nippy
- Small fold
- Funky looks
Whats not so good?
- Lack of cosiness
- Clunky awkward features
- Low handle
The newly released updated version of the phil&teds Smart has hit our review team, after a not so great score with the previous version; we were excited to hear that phil&teds had made considerable changes to this version.
So, here we have it; the brand new updated version of the phil&teds Smart, with lots of little tweaks and updates, and a whole new ‘colour it your way' system. It looks set to be a great neat and nimble city loving stroller. Not overly impressed with the previous version we were keen to take a look at how well phil&teds have done in listening to their customers and giving them something better.
Sleek and stylish the silky black frame of the phil&teds Smart is quite literally, smart. You can tell from the off that this is a smooth running urban beast, with a petite feel and great manoeuvrability.
The phil&teds Smart frame is softly curved and feels much sturdier than an umbrella fold stroller, and in fact, the previous version. It is exceptionally narrow – able to fit through all those narrow city obstacles – apparently even able to squeeze through those tricky train station automatic barriers – so you don't have to spend ages dashing around looking for someone to manually open the luggage gate when your train is about to leave!
The non-adjustable handle is covered in soft dense foam, and has an interesting upward flick to it giving you a variety of angles at which to grasp. This updated version of the phil&teds Smart has a single bar handle, a real plus for a lightweight stroller – and sets it apart from the traditional ‘umbrella fold market'. It's super easy to push one handed – great if you have an elder sibling or a dog lead, or shopping bags to hold on to too. Although still not the highest of handles, the back axle is high up so there is plenty of clearance behind the pushchair for a longer striding person, even if you do have to stoop a little.
The mesh basket on the phil&teds Smart is an adequate size, with good access from the back with the seat in forward facing mode and from either side with the seat parent facing, you will be able to cram a fair amount in there.
The phil&teds Smart's solid wheels are a good size - 9.5 inches at the rear and 7.5 inches at the front. This is something that really makes this compact stroller smooth rolling and super nippy for an urban stroller.
The foot operated pedal brake is located on the right side of the back axle, and is linked to both wheels; it's an easy push on push off tilt pedal operation.
The seat is suitable from 6 months, but the pushchair can be used instead as a travel system or with the phil&teds Peanut carrycot to make it suitable from birth. As with the previous version, the seat unit itself can be used in either forward or rear facing positions. To use the seat in parent facing mode you will need to use the phil&teds Verso adapters, which are included. The parent facing position is more suitable for younger babies as it's far more reclined than what is possible with the seat forward facing.
Phil&teds have stuck with their solid fabric free seat design for the Smart, but have made several changes to make it a lot more child friendly. The Aerocore seat is hypo-allergenic, insulating, ventilating, UV resistant, waterproof, non toxic and wipes clean. If you've got anything like dust mite allergies, mucky pup children, are a beach lover or a mud lark then this type of seat will be perfect for you. Softer than the previous version, it's still cushy rather than cosy, but to me it seems like your child will be nestled within a giant crocs shoe; comfy, strong and easy to keep clean!
To use the seat in that all important parent facing mode, you need to attach the verso adapters to the seat. Another task that's not completely intuitive and a bit fiddlier than you'd like. The seat can then be used in one of two recline positions – both of which are fairly recumbent and really only suitable when your little one is still young enough to take plenty of naps and is content just to gaze adoringly into your eyes. The ‘follow the sun' hood really comes into its own here – you can adjust it easily to protect your little one no matter which way you're facing, or even just to give some shade from overhead lighting indoors.
In forward facing mode the seat once again has two recline positions, but this time they are both more upright. Perfect for nosey toddlers the seat is nice and upright, and a very slight recline can be made to help rest a nodding head back if your little one does happen to fall asleep at some point.
In both directions the mechanism to adjust the recline is clunky and faffy, needing a third hand once again – one hand on each side to simultaneously release the recline lock, and a third to adjust the seat position.
The calf rest has been extended on this version, and this is a welcome addition, giving some comfy support for little legs until feet reach the solid plastic footplate on the frame, and the seat width has been increased on this model – giving some much needed bottom space, whilst maintaining a good backrest height, and an exceptional ‘height to hood' for the tallest of toddlers. Softer than the previous version and with the excessive ventilation holes removed – the structural aspects of the seat upgrade are a hit.
The hood is good here, once again, a faff to get it together with zips and holes but once you've got it on it looks great, soft, smooth and light. Not giving huge amounts of protection or enclosure, what it lacks in this respect it makes up for in the fact you can adjust it to ‘follow the sun'. Although I would like to see some method of attaching it to the frame at the back. Ultimate way to annoy mummy – keep reaching up and pulling the entire hood forward and down...
The raincover seems to be fairly sturdy, with reinforced areas less prone to ripping; it attaches to the frame for security both at the top and right down near the footrest. With the seat parent facing this function is lacking, and as such your raincover will be highly vulnerable to both kicks and gusts of wind.
The soft padded seat liner is a winter essential, keeping your tot a bit more cushioned and protected within the moulded seat shape. The liner is available in a range of colours so you can change it to suit your needs.
Changing the phil&teds Smart seat from front to rear facing and vice versa is a complete pain, and not something to be attempted ‘on the go'. Yet again you do not have enough hands to be able to release the sockets on either side of the seat, and then detach the finger biting recline locks on either side of the seat, whilst lifting the seat away. You then need to add on the Verso adapters (another fiddly job getting them on and inserting the recline bar into the required holes, all before you can sit the seat back in.
The fold of the phil&teds Smart is not intuitive, and I'll admit, it took a while for me to grasp it (the instructions aren't too helpful either) but once you've worked it out and had a couple of goes, it's actually quite easy to do. An improvement over the previous model in terms of smoothness of the operation, and the bar handle means you no longer need three hands to be able to do it. What I also like about the Smart's fold is its neat and tidy compact result.
The phil&teds Smart only folds with the seat off or in forward facing mode. To fold, push the hood all the way forward and down, undo the quick release latches on either side of the pushchair, lift the pushchair up by its handle so it's resting vertically on its front wheels with the handle sticking straight up, depress the red button on the left side of the pushchair, then whoosh, push the handlebar down towards the ground and the whole thing shuts down nice and easy. Re-close the latches to keep it shut as you carry it round by its handle, or even pull it along like a trolley behind you. A lovely flat result, although it doesn't free stand you could easily stash it under the sofa.
To unfold, undo the quick release latches, and pull upwards on the handle smartly, if you're rough enough it jumps right open and auto locks in one swift easy movement, you can then close the quick release latches to give your handle stability.
The phil&teds peanut carrycot fits on the Smart to make it into a pushchair suitable from birth. This makes for a great package buy – you can buy the carrycot for the early months, then swap to the reclined parent facing seat for the elder baby, then to forward facing upright seat for the toddler years.
The Peanut carrycot suits the Smart, it's smart in itself. With a lovely curved outer, widening into a keyhole shape at the top for extra arm and shoulder room. The carrycot collapses down for easy storage, and stability rods mean it is sturdy enough when opened up to be placed on the floor. The carrycot uses the same hood as the seat unit to give it shade, and this works really well, you just attach the carrycot to the pushchair frame and then push the hood forward to give a traditional carrycot hood – it still works well as a ‘follow the sun' hood too – so no more draping muslins over the top when the sun is behind you.
To attach the carrycot to the frame you don't need any additional adapters, just pop it into the same sockets the seat uses. You can tuck the carry handles away underneath for a neater look.
To remove; depress two buttons, one on either side of the pushchair and lift the carrycot away.
The phil&teds Smart looks cool. It's funky and minimalist with a no nonsense style. Unfortunately, the no nonsense approach hasn't quite made it into the functionality of the Smart. It's safe to say that if you ever want to alter anything about it (from seat recline to zipping on a new hood) you need an extra hand, and not having one will cause you endless frustration.
If you don't have any desire to continually adjust things on it – you're onto a winner. If all you want to do is get a funky pushchair out the car, open it up, chuck your little one in, zoom round the city, on and off the underground, in and out of shops, on the bus, back to the car, fold it, chuck it in the boot... you'll LOVE it.
Yes, it's far improved on the original (and this is reflected in the price tag), and although it still doesn't hit the nail on the head in terms of functionality. Why is it for some reason then, I cannot help but want one?