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The Motorola V600 is the high end member of a new family of quadband phones.

It is compact and clean in design, and easy to use.  It has almost every imaginable feature you'd want in a fully featured state of the art phone and long battery life.

 
 
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Motorola V600 Cell Phone Review

A classy state of the art flip-phone with quad-band GSM, Bluetooth, camera, voice recorder, GPRS and more
 

Combining stylish looks with quadband capabilities and Bluetooth, the Motorola V600 is Motorola's best GSM cell-phone on the market today.

 

 

The Motorola V600 is an attractive clam-shell design phone sporting all the latest 'bells and whistles'.

It has a generally easy to follow interface, and is widely available now through T-mobile (see warning below), AT&T and Cingular, usually costing about $250-$300 with new service.

It can also be purchased at a much better price through Amazon.com, which often offers the best price for cell phones - their prices in August 04 are $50 with AT&T service , $100 with Cingular service and $100 with T-mobile service .

The V600 can easily be unlocked, and will work with any GSM service, anywhere in the world.  Recommended.

The Motorola V600 - Basic Phone Capabilities

The V600 is the best of four new models of phone released earlier this year (the other three being the V300, V400 and V500).

The V600 measures 3" - 4" in height (with/without the antenna part, clamshell closed), 1" in width, and is " thick.  When open, it unfolds to about 6" in length.  It seems to fit one's hand and one's face comfortably, and weighs 4 ounces.  This makes it feel solid, but absolutely not heavy.

In keeping with other 'super phones' it has an extensive manual - 268 pages (although, in fairness, the pages are small in size and the print is large).

Most of the time, for most people, it will be used primarily as a regular cell phone - answering calls and making calls, and you don't really need to read the manual at all to know how to do this.

It does these basic operations easily and well.  The number keys on the keypad are large and easily operated.  The bright color screen is large and has helpful prompting unlike some phones with small screens and puzzling icons that don't mean anything obvious.  The screen has a pixel resolution of 176x220 pixels (the highest currently available on regular cell phones), and can display 65,000 different colors.  It is a very bright screen (using TFT technology) and can be read even in bright sunlight.

The phone takes about 20 seconds from when you push the 'On' button until when it had completed its power-on routines.  By comparison, the Nokia 3650 takes 27 seconds, and even a simpler Motorola V66 takes 22 seconds.

Sound quality is good, and it also has a speakerphone setting enabling you to put the phone down and still hear the other person.  It comes supplied with an 'ear-bud' type headset, with a speaker part you plug into your ear and a microphone on the cord that plugs in to the top of the phone.  The phone has a standard 2.5mm jack for headsets (and can also work with most Bluetooth headsets).

As you can see in this picture, the phone has a second single-color display on the front, visible when the phone is in its closed mode.

This is convenient, because the display shows you who is calling, as well as other helpful information such as signal strength and the time.

Note the blue circles around the 'M' logo at the bottom.  These circles can be set to illuminate in various different color combinations depending on the type of incoming call you are receiving.  This seems to be little more than a gimmick, but it is a harmless gimmick and doubtless some people will enjoy programming, eg, red for calls from the boss and green for calls from the girlfriend!

The phone's antenna sticks partially out of the phone.  There is nothing to pull out and extend further, just the stubby mast you see.  I had hoped the semi-external antenna might make for improved reception, but in testing, the phone seems to perform not quite as well as my Nokia 3650 with a completely internal antenna, and would sometimes lose signal in places where the Nokia still worked well.

Above the display you can see a camera lens on the left, and a convenient mirror next to it.  This makes it possible to know how to point the camera when taking a picture of oneself.  This is discussed next.

Built in Camera

The built in camera can take pictures at a maximum resolution of 640x480 pixels (ie 0.3 megaPixels).   Picture quality is better than on some other similar resolution phone cameras, and you can see here examples from the V600 camera and matching examples from a Nokia 3650 so as to form your own opinion about its quality.

Taking a picture is easy.  You see on the screen the picture that will be taken, and can easily make adjustments to the image before pressing the button to capture the image.  You can set the phone to either make a 'shutter sound' or to be silent when taking pictures.

In theory, after taking a picture, you can then send it via a text message to another person's phone or to a person's email address.  However, after a lengthy call to two people at T-Mobile support, they gave up on getting this to work, and I am now waiting for a call back from a 'Level 3' support specialist, which could take up to 3 days to eventuate.  I'll update this when the matter is resolved.

You can also send pictures via Bluetooth to another Bluetooth device (which is how I got the pictures out of the phone and onto the website).

The V600 has enough memory to store up to 100 pictures in its high resolution mode - this amount would reduce if you've downloaded lots of ringtones or games or other applications.

Regrettably, the camera doesn't have an IR port, so this usually simple way of transferring files is not available.  And, unlike the high end Nokia phones, it also does not have removable memory cards, which could be used to store many more photos and transfer them to other devices.

The phone will display short video clips, but will not take them.

Battery Life

The commonly quoted specifications for the phone's battery life are 240 hours on standby or 450 minutes of talk time, assuming the phone is in a good signal area (so it doesn't have to use more power to compensate for the weak signal).

I tested the phone and got about 190 hours of battery life combined with 31 minutes of talk time.  This test result equates to either 205 hours total battery life or 390 minutes of talk time.  This is a very credible result and acceptably close to the invariably optimistic officially claimed battery life by cell phone manufacturers.  In comparison, my Nokia 3650 claims 200 hours standby or 240 minutes talk time, and in a simultaneous test, it managed only 135 hours of standby with no talking.

In other words, the V600's battery lasts 50% longer than the 3650's battery.

A small note of caution - check that you have a high capacity battery.  The Lithium Ion battery should have the number 780 printed in a box on the battery's wrapper.  I've seen a few phones with shorter life batteries (750 mAh and some as low as 700 mAh).  If your phone doesn't have a 780 mAh battery, return it and ask for the full capacity battery.

The battery takes a tediously long time to fully charge with the supplied 'medium rate' charger.  While a slow charge is easier on the battery, it seems that often we find ourselves short of time and desperately needing to cram as much charge in our phone battery as possible in as short a time as possible.  The charger seems to take between 4 - 5 hours to fully charge a flat battery - more than twice as long as my Nokia.

Battery life would substantially reduce if Bluetooth were permanently turned on.  It is best to leave this off for reasons of battery life and security, and only turn it on when needed.  But if you do this prudent thing, you lose the convenience of Bluetooth, for example, if you have a hands-free Bluetooth car-kit that would otherwise automatically connect to your phone whenever you go into the car.

The phone starts making warning beeps when the battery is low.  These beeps give you about half a day of remaining life before the phone dies completely.

Other Features

The V600 comes complete with a large number of different polyphonic ring tones to choose from, and you can download more from various websites, usually at a cost of $1 or $2 per tune.

You can even use your own Midi, .wav and mp3 files and design your own ring and other event tones any way you wish.

The phone can be set to vibrate or ring, but setting it to both vibrate and ring is difficult.  It will first silently vibrate only for about three ring cycles before then switching on the ring sound as well.  This is a stupid limitation.  It would be much more convenient to simply have three choices - ring without vibrate, vibrate without ring, or do both simultaneously.

Ringing sound levels were reasonably loud.

Unfortunately, if you set the V600 for silent mode, it will still make very loud noises if you have it, for example, set to warn you whenever it loses signal.  I was in a movie theatre and the phone kept losing its signal (and making a noise to tell me) and then finding it again (and making another noise to tell me).  I eventually had to turn the phone off completely.

The phone's address book is a weak point.  These days good phones have address books that enable multiple phone numbers and other information to be stored alongside each person's name in your address book.  While the Motorola tries to mimic this capability, it doesn't do it very well and you end up with what appear to be separate entries in the phone book for each different phone number for a person.  So you might see six or more different entries for someone (home, office, private, cell, fax, pager, email, etc) and no convenient way to recognize which is which from the phone apart from some puzzling little symbols on the right hand side.  The phone book can store 1000 entries in total.

You can record voice tags for 20 of your phone book entries.

The phone allows you to send and receive SMS text messages - something that is very popular internationally but not so popular in the US.  Most if not all other phones have adopted the T9 method of text entry which makes it faster and easier to type text messages.  Unfortunately, with this phone, Motorola decided to use a different type of predictive text (iTap) that I found completely strange and unwieldy and totally dislike.

SMS users will probably find it a nasty change to have to forget their T9 tricks and learn this new method of text entry.  It makes it difficult if you use different phones, most of which are T9 based, but one of which (the V600) is not.

The phone can run J2ME type Java games, but because it does not have an 'open' operating system (eg Symbian on some Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones or Palm on the Treo) there are not many other applications you can add to the phone.  It has 5MB of available shared  memory to hold any programs you might add to the phone as well as ring tones and pictures and anything else you might add.

The phone has replaceable covers in various different colors.  Unlike most phones these days, the covers are metal rather than plastic, and most of the colors are reasonably attractive.

I like the appearance of the standard silver-grey covers that came with my phone.  One person proudly showed me their customized phone - it had a row of imitation diamonds running where the chrome strip otherwise goes on the outside cover!

Internet and Data

The V600 comes complete with a built in web browser.  It supports Class 10 (4+2) GPRS for reasonable speed data transfer rates.

I prefer to use my V600 as a modem, connected via Bluetooth, to my Palm Tungsten T3.  The larger and higher resolution screen on the T3, plus the better keyboard and data entry, make the T3 much more a practical solution for sending/receiving email and browsing web pages than any phone by itself.

The phone is not compatible with the new '3G' type fast data service that is starting to appear.

Clamshell Design

Some people like the clamshell type design, other people don't and prefer the more staid 'bar of soap' design.

There is one very important benefit of a clamshell designed phone.  You can carry it in a pocket and not worry about accidentally pressing any buttons on its dial pad.  In the past with other phones, I have several times ended up making long phone calls - including to my own voicemail - without realizing it, as a result of a semi random combination of buttons being pressed that caused the phone to perhaps redial a recent number.

Carrying the Phone

Now that cell phones are ubiquitous, how do you carry your phone?  In a pocket can be a problem, particularly if you don't have enough pocket space.  In a shirt pocket is an invitation for disaster the first time you bend over.

On a belt clip is sometimes dangerous - unless the clip is very secure, you run the danger of the phone coming off the belt and getting lost.  And the clip can be bulky and unwieldy on the phone.

My current favorite method of carrying the phone is on a lanyard cord, looped around my neck and fastened to a special attachment point on the top of the phone.  I then place the phone in my shirt pocket, on the end of the lanyard.

This seems about as foolproof a method of carrying the phone as possible, with it impossible to lose the phone.  Here's an online store that sells them for about $2 each. A great investment.

Traveling with the V600

Increasingly, phones need to have two bands to pick up all GSM signals in the US, and a different two bands to pick up all signals in other countries (see my detailed article on quadband phones).

Some phones try to compromise by giving you only three bands, and - worse still - many phones from AT&T and Cingular do this by giving you the less useful international band along with the two necessary US bands.

Fortunately this is not a problem with the V600, because it supports all four bands.

If you're traveling out of the US, you'll probably want to unlock the V600 so it can be used with any SIM and service, anywhere in the world, rather than having you be forced to use the expensive international service offered by your US wireless carrier.  Fortunately this is a simple and inexpensive process.

The V600 is accordingly an excellent phone for travelers, domestically and internationally.

Warning - T-mobile V600 Problem

A reader advises that he purchased a V600 from T-mobile and that it has the 850 MHz band disabled in it.  It just plain does not exist in his V600.

Looking on the T-mobile website we notice that T-mobile describe the phone as being tri-band not quadband, and indeed they also describe the other two quadband phones they sell (Treo 600 and HP ipaq 6315) as triband phones too.

We unofficially believe that T-mobile indeed does disable the fourth band on some of the quadband phones they sell, and it appears that the V600 is one such phone.

You can imagine how negatively we feel about this!

Bottom line - if you're buying a V600, you probably should NOT buy it from T-mobile.

An Essential Accessory

If you have any type of GSM SIM based cell phone, then our SIM Saver is a wonderful device that can save you much hassle and inconvenience.  It acts as a backup and copying unit for the phone directory information stored on your SIM card.

Summary

The Motorola V600 was introduced earlier this year, and represents the 'state of the art' from Motorola.  Everything is of highest quality and compares well to competing phones from other manufacturers, and indeed, there are very few other phones available that offer both quadband and Bluetooth.

Apart from a few minor quirks that don't interfere much with normal everyday use, the phone is easy to use with great on-screen prompting.

It can be purchased through Amazon.com, which often offers better prices than direct from the wireless service providers - Amazon's prices in August 04 are $50 with AT&T service , $100 with Cingular service and $100 with T-mobile service  (see warning about T-mobile above).

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 20 Aug 2004, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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