AT&T's Go phone service has long been a solid source for basic cell phones that just make calls. Handsets such as the Motorola C168i aren't complicated by a fancy design or expensive features; rather, they bear a simple design and do exactly what a cell phone is supposed to do. Some basic features were lacking, but the call quality was reliable despite a slight fuzzy sound in the background. And with a bargain-basement price of $19, it's hard to pass up. To find accessories for this phone, see our cell phone ringtones and accessories guide.
The C168i has an uncomplicated candy bar design. With straight lines, rounded edges, and an unassuming black-and-silver color scheme, it doesn't call attention to itself. At just 4.1x1.8x0.55 inches and 2.75 ounces, it's compact and portable so it slips into a pocket with ease. The phone feels comfortable in the hand, even if it's a bit small for users with big paws, but we couldn't help noticing that the plastic battery cover felt a tad flimsy.
The display on the C168i is low-key. It measures 1.5 inches diagonally (128x128 pixels), which is somewhat small for the phone's overall size, and it supports 65,536 colors. Normally we'd gripe about such a low-resolution screen, but on this caliber of phone we don't mind. Just remember that graphics aren't very sharp and colors are somewhat washed out. You can change only the backlight time.
The C168i's navigation controls are a mixed bag. The toggle and central OK button are raised above the surface, which gives them a tactile feel. They are slightly cramped, however, so you may want to give the controls a test run first. The toggle can be set as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. On the downside, the soft keys are flush with the surface of the phone and appear to blend in with the black border surrounding the display. We'd like more tactile definition.
Fortunately, the backlit keypad buttons and the Talk and End/power keys are raised, which made it easy to dial by feel. The numbers on the keys are small, but that's understandable on such a compact phone. Yet we're really disappointed that the C168i doesn't have an external volume rocker. That means you must remove the phone from your face during a call to adjust the volume. The only features on the exterior of the phone are a charger port on the left spine and a headset jack on the phone's top end.