As an EV-DO phone, the V950 offers full support for Sprint's 3G services. You can connect to Sprint's Power Vision for Sprint TV, which includes live and on-demand programming from a wide variety of sports, entertainment, and new channels. You also can check out movie previews and stream more than 150 channels from Sprint Radio. We've said it before and we'll say it again: it's an exhaustive selection of programming with much of it exclusive to Sprint. And to top it off, the TV interface is intuitive.
The V950's music player is relatively similar to that on Sprint's other music phones. You can access the Sprint Music Store for simultaneous downloads both to your PC and wirelessly to your phone, or you can transfer music from a PC using a USB cable. The music-player interface is pretty plain, but you get album art and the controls are easy to use. We also like the multiple searching options in the online music store. Features are limited to playlists, repeat, and shuffle modes, and you can't use MP3s as ringtones. There is an airplane mode, however, and you can send the music player to the background while you're using other phone functions. When a call comes in, the music will pause automatically and will resume again after you hang up. Our only knock is that we'd prefer a 3.5mm headset jack.
With its GPS, you also can use the V950 as a directional tool with Sprint Navigation. Features include spoken-driving and visual turn-by-turn directions and integration with Microsoft Live Search (for searching for local businesses). The V950 also uses your location for Sprint's On Demand service, which offers a range of information that includes news headlines, sports scores, and weather updates personalized for your ZIP code.
The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in five resolutions, from 1,200x1,600 down to 120x160. Other editing options are plentiful; they include seven color tones, nine fun frames, a self-timer, adjustable brightness and white balance, a multishot mode, three quality settings, and six shutter sounds (plus a silent option). Photo quality was quite good on the whole. Colors were bright and natural, and there was little distortion or image noise. When finished snapping shots, you can transfer them off the phone using Bluetooth or a multimedia message. You also can transfer them to a computer or a printer using a USB cable.
The camcorder shoots clips with sound in three resolutions. Editing options are similar to the still camera, but you also get a night mode and you can mute the sound. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at about 20 seconds; otherwise, you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits. On the downside, the V950 comes with a just 65MB of internal-shared memory. We recommend using a microSD card for more storage.
You can personalize the V950 with a variety of color themes, screensavers, and greetings. You can download more options and additional ringtones from Sprint using the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The handset comes with demo versions of five games--Diner Dash 2, Midnight Pool, Pac-Man, Tetris and Tower Bloxx--you'll have to buy the full versions for extended play.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Motorola V950 in San Francisco using Sprint service. Call quality was pretty good; voices sounded relatively natural and there was plenty of volume. What's more, the signal was relatively free of static. We noticed that some of our callers sounded a bit metallic at times. It wasn't a big deal, and it was very irregular, but it was noticeable.
On their end, callers reported few problems. They could hear us well under most conditions and they could understand us clearly. A few mentioned a slight background hiss but they didn't say it was overly distracting. Most could tell we were using a cell phone, but that's not unusual. On the whole, it is about average as far as Sprint cell phones go. Speakerphone calls were quite good, however. The volume is very loud and there were few issues on either end of the line.
Sadly, streaming-video quality was disappointing. The sound was loud, and it didn't match up with the speakers' mouths; the video was choppy and blurry. Visible pixels were common and it couldn't handle fast movements. On the upside, videos loaded quickly and we didn't have any hiccups in the stream, but this is not a phone we'd recommend for video lovers.
Music quality was much better, fortunately. The sound clarity was more than satisfactory and the phone's speaker has powerful output. The audio won't have the range of dedicated music devices, but it works fine for short periods. A headset will offer the best quality.
The Motorola V950 has a rated battery life of four hours talk time. The V950 has a tested talk time of 4 hours 34 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the V950 has a digital SAR rating of 0.66 watts per kilogram.