Below the display are the navigation controls which also are carried over from the V195. That's a good thing, as we enjoyed their spacious layout and tactile feel as well as the generous number of shortcut options. Besides dedicated keys for the Web browser, the main menu, and the messaging folder, you can designate one-touch controls for the four-way toggle, the two soft keys, and the smart key on the left spine. Other controls include an OK button in the toggle's center and the talk and end/power buttons. The backlit keypad buttons seem a bit changed, however. They're big with large numbers, and they seem more flush with the surface of the phone. They're also a tad slick, but that's not a big deal.
The V195s' 1,000-contact phone book has room in each entry for six phone numbers, a street address, an e-mail address, a birth date, and a nickname (a SIM card adds 250 more names). You can organize callers into groups, pair them with one of 45 polyphonic ringtones or alert sounds, and assign them a photo for caller ID. Just keep in mind that the images won't show up on the external display.
Basic features on the V195s include a vibrate mode; text and multimedia messaging; AOL, Yahoo, and ICQ instant messaging; a calculator; a datebook; an alarm clock; a wireless backup service for your contacts; and a voice memo recorder. On the higher end, the V195s offers a speakerphone, Bluetooth, and voice dialing though the last one is usable only with a headset. Voice dialing is an especially nice addition to a phone without a camera, particularly as more businesses are restricting camera phones in the workplace.
You can personalize the V195s with a variety of wallpaper, color styles, screensavers, greetings, and alert sounds. If you'd like more options, you can download them via the WAP 2 wireless Web browser. You can also buy more ringtones from T-Mobile, use your personal MP3 files, or create your own tones on the phone. The V195s comes with demo versions of three Java (J2ME) games (Bejeweled, Midnight Pool, and Pinball). Total memory on the phone is 10MB of shared space.
We tested the quadband (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) V195s world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Fortunately, call quality was improved in comparison with the V195. We noticed none of the static that we encountered on the previous model, and there was plenty of volume. Outside of some wind noise, callers reported no significant problems on their end, but we did have some trouble being understood by an automated calling system.
Speakerphone calls had a decent amount of volume, but we don't like that the speaker on the rear face directs sound away from you. Also, we had to be quite close to the speaker in order to be heard properly. Bluetooth calls were fine, as was the voice dialing. It's disappointing, though, that you can't use the voice dialing without a headset or a car kit.
The Motorola V195s has a rated battery life of 8 hours talk time and 17.5 days standby time. Our tests revealed an impressive talk time of 8 hours and 20 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the V195s has a digital SAR rating of 1.6 watts per kilogram (the highest amount allowed).