Too often in the world of cell phones, the need for a quality, basic handset gets lost in the shuffle of integrated cameras and other high-end features. The primary purpose of a phone is above all to make calls. If a mobile can't do that well, it's not worth much. Fortunately, there are devices like the Motorola V180. Wrapped in a compact package, this T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless handset offers solid call quality and basic yet functional features. While its design felt flimsy, its inclusion of a speakerphone and instant messaging was a welcome surprise. At $119, the V180's price is right, but you can find the phone for even less with a service agreement. With silver cell phones dominating the market, we always enjoy a handset that offers alternative styling. Colored in black with a silver trim, the Motorola V180 is a good-looking phone. Compact measurements (3.5 by 1.7 by 0.9 inches and 2.8 ounces) make for true portability, and the mobile feels comfortable while you're talking. A rectangular external screen shows the time, the battery life, and the caller ID (where available). Though the screen is monochrome, it's easy to see in all kinds of light. The only control on the exterior of the phone is a volume rocker on the left spine. The speakerphone is located on the rear face.
We were disappointed when we first opened the V180. While the front face of the handset is well constructed, a flimsy plastic material covers its inside and back face. The result was unimpressive; the V180 felt quite fragile. Like the display on the, the one on the V180 is rather small (1.5 inches diagonal) and is hard to see in direct sunlight. Also, while it supports 65,000 colors, it was far from vibrant and had an overall washed-out effect (you can adjust only the contrast). The mirrored frame is vulnerable to smudges as well. Users with visual impairments should be advised that the phone's small text size cannot be changed.
Though the menus are easy to use, the cramped navigation controls seemed to be made of cheap plastic. A five-way toggle gives one-touch access to the phone book, the call log, the message center, and the ring styles. Two soft keys open the T-zones application and the instant messenger and activate the speakerphone during a call. But it should be noted that Motorola pulled a switcheroo with this model. While most Motorolas position the Talk key on the right side and the End key on the left side (the opposite of most cell phones), the V180 has the buttons in their traditional places. Consistency, it seems, is not a theme here. The keypad buttons aren't the best either. Set flush with the surface of the phone, they aren't terribly tactile, making it difficult to dial by feel.The Motorola V180 comes with an average but useful set of features. The phone book holds as many as 500 contacts, with room in each entry for as many as six phone numbers and an e-mail address (you can store an additional 250 names on the SIM card). Contacts can be assigned to caller groups or paired with any of 28 monophonic or 20 polyphonic ring tones. Contacts can also be paired with a picture, but pictures do not show up on the external display. And since there's no camera, you must provide the images or have others send them to you.
Other features were similar to those on the. You get a vibrate mode, voice dialing, text and multimedia messaging, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, a calculator, a calendar, and an alarm clock. Unforeseen but useful additions include AOL Instant Messenger, USB capability, and a speakerphone, which can be activated only after a call is made.