The built-in music player on the Debut is quite good. It organizes songs into albums, artists, genres, and it even supports podcasts. The player interface is pretty generic with the controls at the bottom and the visualizer taking up most of the screen. There are three different visualizers you can choose from, or you can turn it off altogether. Other settings include shuffle, repeat, album art view, and 13 preset equalizer settings. There's even a 3D music mode with 14 different 3D reverb effects. You'll need to wear headphones to really hear the difference. The music player supports AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WAV, RA, and WMA files. You can load the songs to the Debut via a microSD card. You can also arrange it so that the music player plays in the background while you multitask in other parts of the phone.
The Motorola Debut has a 1.3-megapixel camera that can take pictures in six resolutions (1,280x1,024, 640x480, 320x240, 160x120, 128x96, AND 220X176), two quality settings, and six white balance presets, including a night mode. Other camera settings include a self-timer, adjustable exposure, five color effects, 2x zoom, two shutter sounds (with no silent option), and the capability to add geo-location tags to photos. You can also record video in three sizes (352x288, 176x144, and 128x96) in two different lengths--short ones for MMS and longer ones for storage. There's 70MB of phone memory, but you can load up to an 8GB microSD card for more storage.
Photo quality was not bad for a 1.3-megapixel camera. Though images weren't as sharp as we would like, colors looked bright and natural. Quality isn't so good in low light, however. Video quality was not that great: it seemed choppy and pixelated for the most part.
You can personalize the Motorola Debut with various graphics and sounds for wallpaper and ringtones. You can also play games on the Debut; our review phone came with a demo version of Virtual Villagers. To get more games, applications, and personalization options, you can purchase and download them via the wireless Web browser.
We tested the Motorola Debut i856 in San Francisco. As a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, Boost Mobile uses Nextel's network for PTT and regular phone calls. We were very impressed with the call quality overall. We heard our callers loud and clear with hardly any static or background noise. The voice quality was clean and natural, as well.
On their end, callers said we sounded great, almost as if we were speaking on a landline. They didn't hear much static or echo, either. Also impressive were speakerphone calls. They could hardly tell when speakerphone mode was on, and they could hear us even when we spoke in a relatively soft voice several inches away from the mic. On our end, callers sounded a little harsh, but they still came through with plenty of volume.
Audio playback was decent from the external speakers, but nothing great. Music sounded rather thin and flat. We would recommend using a headset for a better audio experience. Indeed, we found that the 3D effects in the music player sounded pretty good with a decent pair of headphones.
The Debut has a rated battery life of 3.4 hours talk time and 3.95 days standby time. We saw a talk time of 3 hours and 34 minutes in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the Debut has a digital SAR of 0.88 watt per kilogram.