Motorola Pebl U6 review: Motorola Pebl U6

The feature set of the Motorola Pebl doesn't complement the flashy design exactly, but you get an attractive set of goodies. First, the basics: The phone book holds 1,000 contacts, each of which can take six phone numbers, an e-mail address, a postal address, and a birth date; the SIM card holds an additional 250 names. You can assign contacts to caller groups, pair them with a picture for photo caller ID (photos are displayed on the internal screen only), or assign them one of 12 polyphonic or 26 monophonic ring tones. Other features include a vibrate mode, a one-minute voice recorder, voice dialing, a calculator, a date book, an alarm clock, text and multimedia messaging, PC syncing, instant messaging (Yahoo, AOL, and ICQ), and a WAP 2.0 Web browser. There's also full Bluetooth for headsets and wireless data transfers, and though you get a speakerphone, you can't activate it until after you make a call.

The Pebl's camera lens doesn't come with a flash.

Considering the phone's price, we were hopeful for a megapixel camera; instead, you're stuck with a VGA model that delivers three photo resolutions: 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120. For photo-editing features, you have a choice of six lighting settings, an adjustable brightness control, a 4X zoom, a 5- or 10-second autotimer, and a selection of five shutter sounds, as well as a silent option. The MPEG-4 video recorder takes clips about 30 seconds in length with sound and in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96); you can also choose a lighting setting. Photos and video were about what you'd expect from a VGA camera; objects were fuzzy, and colors didn't exactly jump out. When finished with your snapshots and clips, you can send them in a multimedia message or save them to the phone. A meter keeps track of how much space in the phone's 5MB of memory you have left.

The Pebl has average photo quality.

You can personalize the Pebl with a variety of wallpaper, themes, menu styles, color skins, screensavers, and message tones. If you'd like more options or ring tones, you can download them from T-Mobile. You get two demo versions of Java (J2ME) games--Bejeweled and Skipping Stones--but you can always download more if you're an avid gamer.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS) Motorola Pebl world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile's service. Call quality was admirable, and we had no trouble getting a signal. We enjoyed clear conversations with little static and enough volume. Callers said we sounded fine as well, though they could tell we were using a cell phone. On a couple of occasions, the voice quality on both ends sounded a bit tinny, but it was nothing bothersome. We also tested the phone in a room full of electronics and encountered no interference, aside from the microwave. Calls with the speakerphone were surprisingly loud, given the small size of the speaker and its location on the phone's rear face. Voice quality was diminished somewhat, but that's to be expected. We tested the Pebl with the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset and had no problem connecting the two devices. Call quality was fine with good volume.

The Motorola Pebl has a rated talk time of 6.75 hours and a promised standby time of 12 days. In our tests, we got a respectable 6.5 hours of talk time and eight days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola Pebl has a digital SAR rating of 1.2 watts per kilogram.

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