Last year, Oscar nominees received the Motorola T722i, an envy-inspiring phone. Taking its place at this year's Academy Awards was the Motorola V600, which doesn't have the most innovative design but packs plenty of features that complement a movie star's jet-set lifestyle. This Bluetooth-enabled flip model allows world roaming, sports a built-in camera and speakerphone, and offers a rich, 65,536-color display. Combining high-end features with customizable style, the V600 will serve business users well, but at $299 with a two-year contract, the price is steep, especially when you consider that smart phones can be found for less. With its black-and-silver coloring, the full-figured (3.5 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches; 4.4 ounces), flip-style Motorola V600 resembles the shield of a well-known Bay Area football team. As a result, we've nicknamed this no-nonsense model the Raider phone. We particularly like that you can add some sparkle to the mobile's brawny exterior by swapping out the silver bezel for a version in Swarovski crystal ($69), easily transforming it into a handset for Raiderettes. While we're usually not fans of mobiles with a lot of girth, this model feels comfortable in the hand and snaps shut with authority.
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Though it has some girth, the V600 will fit in a pocket.
On the face of the V600, you'll find the conveniently placed camera lens and a small mirror that can be used to snap self-portraits. Like many flip phones, the Motorola V600 has a two-line external LCD that's illuminated with blue letters and icons; it also shows the time, the date, network strength, battery life, and caller ID (when available). Adorning the left side of the V600 are two buttons that navigate the menus, adjust the volume, and change the ring style. The latter even pulls double duty as a shutter button when the phone is in camera mode. On the right side of the mobile is a key for adjusting speakerphone volume.
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A Swarovski crystal faceplate turns the Raider phone into a perfect fit for a Raiderette.
Open the V600 and you'll find a spacious, eight-line, 65,536-color display that's viewable in direct sunlight. In addition to the tactile, backlit numeric keypad, there's a four-way rocker key (giving one-push entree to user-defined applications) with a silver control in the middle that acts as the default OK button. Surrounding the navigation key are five additional buttons: two soft keys (which activate the camera and mMode features from the main screen), the traditional Talk and End keys, and another oddly marked button that provides single-touch access to the menus. The Motorola V600 has all the features you'd expect in a mobile and more, including caller ID (when available), voicemail, voice-activated dialing, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a currency converter, a to-do list, and wireless Web access via AT&T Wireless's high-speed GPRS data network. The handset's internal phone book holds 1,000 names, and you can store an additional 250 names on the SIM card. The V600 comes with 21 (24-chord) polyphonic ring tones, four MP3 tones, a vibrate mode, and two Java (J2ME) games, Stuntman and Bejeweled, though you can download more. You also can record short voice memos or send IMs from the handset, and the V600 can be personalized with your choice of wallpaper, colors, screensavers, or menu styles.
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See for yourself: A mirror next to the camera lens aids in self-portraits.
As noted, the phone has a built-in VGA digital camera. You can take pictures in MMS (160x120), Medium (320x240), or High (640x480) mode and save as many images as the phone's 5MB of shared memory will accommodate. The better the resolution, the more memory an image will require. Plus, if you download a lot of games, you won't be able to store as many pictures. However, it's easy to keep tabs on storage capacity, as the Photo Viewfinder displays the percentage of memory used when you're in camera mode. You'll also find a self-timer and lighting settings, and you can save photos as wallpaper or screensavers, as well as attach them to names in your phone book for picture caller ID. While the mobile supports video playback, you can't record any footage.
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Picture perfect: Photos can be saved for use as wallpaper or with caller ID.
But the V600 isn't all fun and games. With its Bluetooth and USB connectivity as well as its ability to view and send POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 e-mail, the phone is a workhorse. Additionally, you can purchase Motorola's Mobile Tools software ($60 with USB cable, $80 with Bluetooth adapter), which allows you to sync Outlook contacts and calendars on your handset. When we tried this feature, syncing seemed easy, but we noticed that the handset's calendar didn't support all the fields (such as Notes and Location) we used in our version of Outlook. We remedied this by combining location details in the subject area in Outlook on our computer, then syncing, but this isn't an ideal solution. One other quibble: You can't turn on the speakerphone until you actually place a call. We tested the world (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) phone in San Francisco and Las Vegas using AT&T Wireless service. Callers said they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone, and on our end, we could hear them just fine. As for the speakerphone, it was loud, but callers occasionally sounded muffled on the other end.
Battery life was impressive. We managed to meet the 3.5 hours of rated talk time. Additionally, we managed to slightly surpass the 5.8 days of rated standby time by a couple of hours.