Motorola V600 Cell Phone Review
A classy state of the art flip-phone with
quad-band GSM, Bluetooth, camera, voice recorder, GPRS and
Combining stylish looks
with quadband capabilities and Bluetooth, the Motorola V600
is Motorola's best GSM cell-phone on the market
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
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
$100 with T-mobile service
easily be unlocked, and will work with any GSM service,
anywhere in the world. Recommended.
The Motorola V600 - Basic Phone
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 3½" - 4¼"
in height (with/without the antenna part, clamshell closed), 1¾"
in width, and is ¾" thick. When open, it unfolds to about
6½" in length. It seems to fit one's hand and one's face
comfortably, and weighs 4½ 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
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
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
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
Above the display you can
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
Picture quality is better than on some other similar resolution
phone cameras, and you can see here
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
$100 with T-mobile service
(see warning about T-mobile above).
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20 Aug 2004, last update
21 Jul 2020
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.