Motorola Debut i856 review: Motorola Debut i856

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.

The Motorola Debut takes decent photos.

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.

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