Phil and Teds Dot Review
Pros: Shorter footprint, easy to push and turn in tight spaces
Cons: No storage with second seat, harder to use, weird seating configurations
Manufacturer: Phil and Teds
Our Analysis and Test Results
Phil & Teds is a small company based out of Wellington, New Zealand. They have been making baby gear for over 20 years under the names of Phil & Teds, Mountain Buggy, and Mokopuna. Phil & Teds has spent significant time working to create innovate products and has won several awards. Their products can be purchased internationally.
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.
Fold and Unfold
The Dot has one of the more complicated folds because you need to remove the rumble seat. So, you'll be responsible for two children, a folded stroller, a diaper bag, and the additional seat. This is a lot to carry! On the upside, you might be able to fit it in smaller spaces because it is divided in two.
Unfolding requires two hands to remove the seat, but only one to finish the fold. It has six steps, auto-locks, and does not self-stand. Unfolding is challenging with eight steps including the rumble seat. 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 requiring one push to engage. Applying and releasing the brakes is easy and sandal foot friendly with a soft pad on the underside of the brake pedal where the top of your foot presses.
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 storage is referred to by Phil and Teds as the "gear tray," which we think is a fun way of saying it isn't a bin. When used with the rumble seat in place the "tray" all but disappears. In fact, when it comes to size, we list it as "not applicable" because you can't use it when pushing two children as the second passenger's leg fill the bin. The Dot does not have any other storage, and while the manual claims the tray has an 11 lb allowance, we don't see how you'd fit 11 lbs of stuff in the tray unless they mean baby's legs.
The sunshade is small, and we rated it medium in size compared to the competition. It has extra ventilation and a vinyl peek-a-boo window on the top canopy, but there is no canopy for the lower seat. Instead, it has stretchy mesh cover that extends from the top of the main seat to the back of the second seat. This placement creates a cocoon effect that keeps the sun to a minimum, but it isn't the same as a canopy that blocks it entirely. Perhaps Phil and Teds thought the top seat offers protection since it eclipses the bottom seat, but it is short-sighted to provide a shield that can be misplaced and leave baby exposed. Most of the similar competition provide a canopy to both seats. The top canopy attaches to the frame with elastic loops that gives the whole thing a cheaper feel.
Both seats have 5-point harnesses. Both are easy to adjust, but we find getting them on and off more challenging than the average harness. There are four harness straps that go in the buckle one at a time, which takes twice as long as any other stroller. This process will be a hassle if the baby is squirming or having a tantrum. We found significant resistance when trying to insert the straps into the buckle and unbuckling is no picnic either. While pressing the button isn't hard, the straps don't always pop out, so you'll need to take it apart. Shoulder height is a rethread adjustment with three height positions and only one crotch strap position that is not adjustable.
The seat does not have a leg rest as it comes to an abrupt stop leaving legs to dangle and only children of a certain height will be able to reach the footrest. Also, because the seat bottom and back are stationary, as opposed to pivoting where the two connect, reclining tilts the entire seat back. This design results in a baby's legs sticking up into the air or hanging off the end of the seat.
The recline is arguably stranger than the leg rest issues in our opinion. The front seat and second seat are so close together that to recline one means you must recline both, even if the passenger doesn't want to. To recline the main seat flat, you need to move the second seat in front of/on top of the main seat. If you move the second seat on top of/in front of the main seat, then you have one baby virtually 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 akin to poor design. 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 feel like there is no good option for either passenger and it is unlikely that any seating configuration will work for both riders all the time.
To operate the recline on the main seat, there are two side plastic adjustments slides that work independently, each requiring two hands to operate. Then, you can unzip the sides from the inside of the seat to increase the recline. This process is 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. This process involves unthreading the straps and rethreading in different holes so you can harness the 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). What the?? This arrangement isn't impossible, but other strollers manage to recline without the ridiculous hassle. Plus, when baby wants to sit up, you'll have to remove them from the seat to make the 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 you divert your attention 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.
The photos above show 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 (from left to right).
Car Seat Compatibility
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 with an average cost of $50. 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 challenging 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 (get ready to weight lift). None of the infant car seats work that well, and we feel that none of them feel secure once attached.
Ease of Setup
The Dot is hard to set up and took us about six minutes to put together. The user's manual directions are not clear, and they seem to skip steps. We only accomplished parts of the assembly thanks to our experience putting together lots of strollers over the years.
The Dot managed a 7 of 10 for maneuverability, which is 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. The Dot has a three-wheel design and puncture proof tires that are not plastic.
This stroller is compact and fits almost anywhere. On hard flat surfaces, it pushes and navigates tight spots well which is great for city dwellers. When you get off the flat path and onto grass and gravel, the Dot didn't perform well despite the trike design and rubber tires. We were able to push it through grass and over gravel, but it doesn't manage rougher surfaces as well as strollers with pneumatic tires.
Given the proximity of the second seat to the back wheels and brakes, we worry that little ones could manage to can possibly mangle their fingers by playing with the parts they can reach. We suggest parents stop using the second seat when the passenger's arms are long enough to reach the wheels.
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 competition we tested. The Dot receives a 7 of 10 with a weight of 30.9 lbs using both seats which is below the average of 32 for the group. The folded size is 12,931 cubic inches which is much smaller than the majority of products with some measuring over 29,000 cubic inches. However, keep in mind that you must remove the second seat to fold so you'll have two parts instead of one.
What the Dot lacks in functionality it makes up for in quality with a 7 of 10. The fabric has a nice feel, and the padding is more than adequate. The seats are thermo-molded and feel durable. The frame is simple without a lot of connectors and plastic parts. The wheels are also simple and look nice. Overall, the parts give the stroller a good fit and finish.
The handlebar has a comfortable shape, despite being narrow. It is adjustable, but many testers ended up kicking the rear axle occasionally while strolling.
The stroller lacks suspension and the seats are firm and somewhat hard under the padding. While they are sling-style seats, it isn't enough to be super comfortable. We suspect with no suspension that passengers won't have a comfortable ride. Other strollers in this price range have suspension.
The Dot is not the best option for twins despite accepting two infant car seats. The seats are hard to install, and space is limited. 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. In our experience, it is better to offer siblings a similar experience if you want to avoid tantrums. While children with larger age gaps may do well in strollers with different riding experiences, this stroller probably won't work that well for older/larger children given the small second seat, so it's hard to say what child will enjoy sitting close to the ground with their legs in the storage tray and a seat in their face.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team