Hands-on Gear Review

Phil and Teds Dot Review

Price:   $500.00 List | $464.03 at Amazon - 7% off
Pros:  Shorter footprint makes it easy to push and turn in tight spaces
Cons:  No storage with second seat, harder to use, weird seating variations
Bottom line:  Strange seating leaves second child without space or visibility
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight:  30.9 lbs
Folded Dimensions:  23.5"W x 15.5"H x 35.5"L
Capacity Limits:  Minimum: Main Seat Birth Rumble Seat 6 mo. Maximum: 44 lbs front, 33 lbs rear
Manufacturer:   Phil and Teds

The Skinny

Phil and Teds Dot is an inline double stroller with a rumble seat that almost sits underneath the front seat and in the storage bin/tray. This stroller brings some nice things to the table with a shorter footprint and easy maneuvering compared to much of the competition. However, this stroller doesn't give the passengers a similar riding experience, and the bottom or rear passenger will end up taking up almost the entire storage bin with their feet. We wanted to like this stroller when we first saw it, but after testing became somewhat disenchanted feeling like it is sort of cool, but not quite there. This stroller is difficult to use, requires the removal of the rumble seat to fold, and lacks some of the conveniences parents are likely to expect on a double stroller. In short, we feel that this stroller could use a little improvement on design with such stiff competition that left us wanting more after testing.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Double Strollers of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
Friday
May 5, 2017

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Phil and Teds Dot is an inline double stroller that works with a second rumble seat when you purchase the double seat kit. This inline product is one of the shortest tandem products in our review. The Dot has an auto-locking fold, puncture proof rubber wheels, and locking front swivel wheels. The seats can be configured in multiple positions with the double kit purchase, and have 5-point harnesses with one touch release. The main seat holds 44 pounds and the rear seat up to 44 depending on the position. The stroller has an adjustable handlebar, a storage bin with an 11-pound limit, and a global safety certification.

Performance Comparison


The chart shown below is the overall scores for each double stroller we tested in this review. The Dot is shown in blue.


The sections below provide details on how the Dot performed during testing for each metric.

Ease of Use


For ease of use, the Dot earned a disappointing 3 of 10, which is the lowest score for this group in the ease of use metric. The high score of 8 is shared by the UPPAbaby Vista Double and the Peg Perego Book for Two.

Unfolding the Dot includes removal of the second seat and the sun shade cover if you are using it.
Unfolding the Dot includes removal of the second seat and the sun shade cover if you are using it.

Fold and Unfold


The Dot has one of the more complicated folds in the group, primarily because the rumble seat needs to be removed to complete it. This means you'll be responsible for two children, a folded stroller, a diaper bag, and the additional seat. This is a lot and not the best deal for parents. On the upside, it does mean you might be able to fit it in smaller space than the strollers that fold in one piece because it is divided into two.

Part of the Dot folding process includes pressing an unlock button and squeezing the handle before pulling up to fold.
Part of the Dot folding process includes pressing an unlock button and squeezing the handle before pulling up to fold.

Unfolding the Dot requires two hands because you have to remove the rumble seat. The main part of the stroller is a one hand fold. The Dot has six steps to fold, auto-locks, and does not self-stand. The fold is a very hard process compared to the competition, and we had to bend all the way to the ground to complete it. Unfolding is equally as difficult with eight steps to complete including putting the rumble seat back on. This is definitely not the stroller for a quick turnaround or one you want to mess with at Disney World.

The Dot brakes are single action brakes that have a pad under the pedal that makes them very foot and sandal friendly.
The Dot brakes are single action brakes that have a pad under the pedal that makes them very foot and sandal friendly.

Brakes


The Dot brakes are single action brakes requiring only one push to engage. Applying and releasing the brakes is easy compared to the other products, and we considered the brakes to be sandal and barefoot friendly as there is a soft pad on the underside of the brake pedal where the top of your foot presses to release the brake.

The second seat on the Dot sits in what phil and Teds call the "gear tray" making the typical storage space virtually useless.
Not only is the "gear tray" not suitable for storage  it tilts up at an angle so as baby grows so will their legs.

Storage


The photos above show two different angles of the "gear tray" for the Dot. If you imagine a child in the seat, you can see how quickly you'd lose room for even the monkey doll or a bottle.

The under seat storage for the Dot is referred to as the "gear tray," which seems to be a nice way of saying it isn't really a bin. When the stroller is in single mode, it is on the smaller side, but once you attach the rumble seat the storage all but disappears. In fact, compared to the competition when it came to size, we listed it as not applicable because you can't use it with a child in the seat. This storage tray received the lowest score out of 19 strollers for storage, and the Dot does not have any other storage like a parent console or zippered pocket. While the manual claims the tray has an 11-pound maximum weight allowance, we aren't sure how you'd fit 11 pounds in the tray and assume they mean the passenger's legs shouldn't weigh over 11 pounds?

The main seat on the Dot has a sunshade that attaches to the frame with elastic hooks. The vinyl peek-a-boo window has no closure so the flap can flop open with the wind.
The main seat on the Dot has a sunshade that attaches to the frame with elastic hooks. The vinyl peek-a-boo window has no closure so the flap can flop open with the wind.

Sunshade


The sunshade on the Dot is also small compared to the competition, and we rated it only medium in size compared to the other products in the review. It does offer extra ventilation and a peek-a-boo window made of vinyl on the top canopy, but there is no canopy for the lower seat, and instead, it has strange mesh cover that extends from the top of the main seat to the back of the second seat. This creates sort of a cocoon effect that will keep the sun down to a minimum, but it isn't the same as a true canopy that blocks it entirely. Perhaps Phil and Teds thought the top seat offers some additional protection since it virtually eclipses the bottom seat, but it still seems short-sighted to offer a shield that could easily get misplaced or lost and leave baby exposed on all sides. Most of the similarly styled competition solve this problem by giving a canopy to both seats. The top canopy attaches to the frame with elastic loops that gives the whole thing sort of a cheap feel more akin to a less expensive stroller.

All four straps on the Phil and Teds Dot must be inserted into the buckle separately one at a time. This makes the harness and buckle more difficult to use  especially if baby is fussy or doesn't want to be strapped in.
All four straps on the Phil and Teds Dot must be inserted into the buckle separately one at a time. This makes the harness and buckle more difficult to use, especially if baby is fussy or doesn't want to be strapped in.

Harness


Both seats on the Dot have 5-point harnesses. Both are easy to adjust, but we found getting them on and off to be more difficult than the average harness in the group. To buckle there are four straps that need to be put into the buckle one at a time, which takes about twice as long as any other stroller. Plus it may be a hassle if the baby is squirming or having a tantrum. We experienced a lot of resistance when trying to insert the straps into the buckle as well. Unbuckling is no picnic either; while pressing the button isn't that hard the straps don't always pop out automatically, so you'll need two hands to take it all apart. These seats have a rethread adjustment for shoulder height. There are three height positions for the shoulder straps and only one crotch strap position that is not adjustable.

Seat


This stroller does not offer a leg rest as it comes to an abrupt stop and leaves legs hanging off an edge where only children of a certain height will be able to reach the footrest. While most of the competition offers a leg rest of some kind, even if it is just a padded curved transition, the Dot really has nothing but a padded edge. Some of the competition even has adjustable leg rests that offer variable leg rest angles from straight down to straight out so baby can stretch their legs to nap in a reclined seat. Also, because the seat bottom and back are stationary, as opposed to having a pivot point where the two connect, the entire seat tilts back when reclined. This means the whole thing leans back which puts baby's legs into the air or hanging off the end of the seat. It may not be uncomfortable, but it is a strange design nonetheless.

If the leg rest isn't weird enough, the recline features are arguably stranger in our opinion. The front main seat and second seat are so close together that to recline one means you can't use the other in an upright position, even if that passenger is not sleepy or would prefer to sit upright to look around. To recline the main seat to flat, you need to move the second seat to a position in front of/on top of the main seat. If you move the second seat from the bottom to sit on top of/in front of the main seat you then have one baby almost laying on top of the other, and the only way you can get to the baby in the main seat is through the back head area between the seats. This juggling of seats seems excessive and more akin to poor design than simple strolling configurations. While many strollers offer a variety of seat configurations and combinations, this is the only one that requires harness threading alterations. In the end, we were left feeling like there is not a great solution for either passenger and it is unlikely that there is a seating configuration that will work for both riders needs all the time.

Each side on the back of the main seat of the Dot has plastic adjsutment buckles to raise or lower the seat. It is only 1 step in a possible 5 step recline process.
The Dot recline mechanism is several steps including unbuckling the sides  sliding the adjuster on each side  and potentially un-zipping the inside for full recline.
The photos above show two of the initial steps in the reclining process of the main seat.

The reclin on Dot's second seat is far less complicated and requires only 1 hand and 1 lever.
The reclin on Dot's second seat is far less complicated and requires only 1 hand and 1 lever.

To operate the recline feature on the primary seat, there are two side plastic adjustments slides that work independently, each requiring two hands to operate. Then if it isn't reclined enough, you can unzip the sides from the inside of the seat to increase the recline. This process makes it one of the most convoluted operations in the review. If the baby is laying completely flat in the front seat, you also need to reconfigure the harness straps by moving the shoulder and crotch straps to new positions in the seat. This involves unthreading the straps from the seat and rethreading in different holes so you can harness baby into the flat portion of the seat instead of the seat bottom that remains at an almost 90-degree angle (baby also rotates, so their head is at the seat bottom). This arrangement isn't the worst thing in the world, but other strollers manage reclines without the hassle, and when baby wakes up and wants to sit up you'll have to remove them from the seat to make the necessary adjustments back to an upright harness. We aren't sure what you do with the baby in the meantime if you are traveling solo, but we don't like the idea of sitting baby on the ground while your attention is diverted to mastering convoluted harness adjustments. In their instructional video (see below) the process looks like a hassle. However, if you reimagine the video with an actual baby and consider how the user manages the baby and the adjustments, it isn't hard to see why we have reservations and suspect that once the seat is in the flat position parents aren't likely to move it until they get home.

This photo shows the Dot with the second seat in the standard location under the main seat. This photo shows both seats in their most "upright" positions.
This is the Phil and Teds Dot in the standard configuration with the second seat. The main seat is partially reclined while the second seat is fully reclined. The rear passenger has less legroom  no canopy  limited recline angles and poor visibility with the front seat blocking their view.

The photos above show in order from left to right the Dot with the seat backs fully upright, the main seat reclined and the second seat fully reclined, and the main seat fully reclined with the second seat moved to a front position.

Ease of Setup




The Dot is harder for ease of setup compared to the competition. It took us about six minutes to get this stroller unpacked and put together. The user's manual directions are not very clear, and they seem to skip steps. Some of the assembly was accomplished thanks to our experience putting together lots of strollers over the years.

The Dot has a single front wheel which helps improve maneuverability  but it used to be rubber and pneumatic which we think would probably be even better.
The Dot has a single front wheel which helps improve maneuverability, but it used to be rubber and pneumatic which we think would probably be even better.

Maneuverability


The Dot managed a 7 of 10 for maneuverability, which is the third highest score in the group and nothing to sneeze at. While you may have trouble figuring out where to put children in this stroller, you certainly won't have too much trouble pushing them once you do get them seated. The top scorers in this metric are the Thule Urban Glide 2 Double, Thule Chariot Cross 2, and the BOB Revolution Flex Duallie The Dot runs the middle line between the two extremes with a three-wheel design and puncture proof tires that are not plastic.

The front wheel on the Dot can be locked in place to help negotiate uneven terrain.
The front wheel on the Dot can be locked in place to help negotiate uneven terrain.

This stroller is compact and can fit just about anywhere. On hard flat surfaces, we had no difficulty pushing, turning, or navigating tight spots. For city dwellers, the ability to navigate on crowded walkways is a must, and this smaller stroller will manage the feat better than most. However, when you get off the flat path and onto grass and gravel, the Dot didn't perform as well as we thought it would with a trike design and rubber tires. It wasn't terrible mind you, just not that impressive. We were able to push it through grass and even over gravel, but it didn't manage the rougher surfaces as well as strollers with pneumatic tires. On a side note, it looks like previous versions of the Dot offered pneumatic tires that users complained frequently went flat. We assume they changed the tires to address the problem, but we can't help but wonder if the previous tires made the Dot easier to push. The Dot is just okay for negotiating stairs and curbs, but given that some of the competition couldn't manage them at all, it is still a win in our book.

Wheel Hazard
Given the proximity of the second seat to the back wheels and brakes, we have concerns that little ones could manage to mangle their fingers by playing with the parts they can reach. We suggest parents place children in the second seat only until their arms are long enough to reach the wheels.

While the Dot is relatively light and compact compared to much of the competition  it isn't light or small enough to put up with removing the second seat prior to folding.
While the Dot is relatively light and compact compared to much of the competition, it isn't light or small enough to put up with removing the second seat prior to folding.

Weight and Folded Size


Phil and Teds pitch this stroller as compact and lightweight, and it is below average for both weight and folded size compared to the other products in this review. The Dot received a 7 of 10 for this metric. The high for the metric is 9 earned by the Joovy Caboose Ultralight Graphite with the lowest weight of 23.4 pounds, and the Britax B-Agile Double with the smallest folded size of 10, 649 cubic inches.

The Dot weighs 30.9 pounds with the second seat in place. This is below the average of 32 for the group. This might sound a little heavy, and it likely will be for some parents, but most of the double products are heavier than 30 pounds. The folded size is 12,931 cubic inches which really is its saving grace; this is much smaller than the majority of products with some measuring over 29,000 cubic inches. While smaller than most, it does require the removal of the second seat to fold, so keep this in mind when comparing the stroller to other, possibly larger options.

The Dot performed well in our tests for quality.
The Dot performed well in our tests for quality.

Quality


What the Dot lacks in functionality it does make up for in the quality department with a 7 of 10 for this metric. The high for the group is 9 for the Thule Urban Glide 2 Double.

The fabric on this seat has a nice feel to it and the padding is more than adequate. The seats are thermo-molded and feel like they will last over time without losing shape or padding compression. The frame has a simple feel to it without a lot of connectors and plastic parts. The wheels are also simple and look nice, altogether the parts give the stroller a nice looking fit and finish.

The handlebar on the Dot is adjustable by rotating it on a pivot point. This type of height adjustment results in the occasional kicking of the rear axle as the higher handle height brings you closer to the stroller.
The handlebar on the Dot is adjustable by rotating it on a pivot point. This type of height adjustment results in the occasional kicking of the rear axle as the higher handle height brings you closer to the stroller.

The handlebar has a comfortable shape, even if it is a little narrow. It is adjustable from 30.5 to 42.2 inches from the ground, but many of our testers found they ended up kicking the rear axle occasionally when pushing.

The stroller lacks any suspension and the seats are relatively firm and somewhat hard under the padding. While they are sling-style seats, it still isn't enough to make them super comfortable. We suspect with no suspension that passengers might not have the most comfortable ride. Most of the strollers in the same price range as the Dot offer suspension, even if it is only two wheel and not adjustable.


Ease of Car Seat Attachment


The Dot accepts two infant car seats from a variety of brands including, Mountain Buggy, Phil and Teds, Maxi-Cosi, Cybex, Graco, and Chicco. The adapters are sold separately, and they cost about $50 on average. We tested this stroller with the Phil and Teds Alpha, the Chicco Keyfit 30, the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max, and the Cybex Aton 2. The adapters do not require assembly, and you do need to remove the second seat to attach two car seats.


The Alpha is the easiest option to attach, which makes sense since it is the same brand, but it is still hard to line up the sides. All of the seats require that the handle is in the down position, which makes the installation more difficult and can be hard to do with a 20-pound baby in the seat. None of the infant car seats work that well, and we felt that none of them felt secure once attached.


Twins


The Dot is not the best option for twins even though it does accept two infant car seats. The seats are hard to install, and space is limited once they are installed. It has a crowded and busy feel that makes it somewhat useless. Even if your twins are old enough to ride in the main and second seat, it isn't the best bet given the disparity between the riding experience of each passenger. In our experience, it is better to offer siblings of any age a similar experience if you want to avoid bickering and tantrums. This is somewhat less important if the age gap is broad and you have an infant and a three-year-old, or older child. Partly because the expectation is that the larger the gap, the more likely they will simply need or want a different riding experience. However, this stroller probably doesn't work that well for older/larger children, so it's hard to say it works for children of different ages either.

Best Applications


Even though we sort of like Phil and Teds there probably isn't a best application for the Dot. This stroller is compact when open, but this comes at the price of the second rider and their riding experience. It is smaller when folded, but higher ranking and cheaper strollers are lighter and smaller. It doesn't accept two infant car seats, so it isn't a good option for twins, and the comfort and convenience features are limited and perform poorly, making it not a great choice for parents or passengers. Given the competition, it is hard to find a good application for this stroller that another stroller doesn't manage better.

Value


The Dot has a list price of $500 putting it in the top half of products price wise. While this may feel like a good deal given that several strollers in the review cost more, there are still options in the review that performed better overall and cost less. Given that many of the strollers we looked at have a similar price or are within about $150 of the Dot it is hard to describe the Dot as a good value. We think most parents will be happier with a better performing stroller with a similar or cheaper price.

The Dot with second seat kit came with all the things you see here.
The Dot with second seat kit came with all the things you see here.

Conclusion


Phil and Teds Dot is a compact inline double stroller that navigates crowded city sidewalks and tight store aisles with ease. It has an adjustable handlebar, quality fabric, and one good size canopy. Unfortunately, this stroller has a weird second seat that sits inside the storage tray, and so close to the ground it left us wondering if that child would get wet if you rolled through a puddle. The recline features of both seats left us wondering how little ones would fit in the seats when reclined and whether or not they would be comfortable doing so. Given that one seat doesn't have a canopy, sits low and close to the ground, lack suspension, and could be kicked when walking we wonder if this is the seat for the child you don't like (just kidding). In short, it is hard to recommend a stroller that seems to be lacking basic standard features like a useable storage bin or simple fold. We think most parents will be regretting this purchase the first time they have to fold it and ended up carrying a stroller, second seat, diaper bag, and two little ones.

Other Versions


Phil and Teds make six strollers that can accommodate two passengers including the Dot. They all have similarities and differences depending on how you intend to use them like features that make jogging possible. They all have a similar design with the second seat sitting somewhere under the main seat, and after reviewing the Dot this year and the Verve last year, we don't think this design is that impressive.

Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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