As is often the case in the cell phone world, the hottest, most expensive phones don't stay that way for long. Such is the fate of the V70, Motorola's stylish GSM/GPRS mobile that features a unique rotary design. When it was first released, it cost upwards of $400. Now you can pick it up for less than half that, and at that price, it approaches bargain territory despite a couple of shortcomings that may make certain--dare we say more practical--buyers think twice. The Motorola V70 is by far one of the sleekest mobiles we've seen to date. Its innovative design; silver casing; compact size (3.7 by 1.5 by 0.7 inches; 2.9 ounces); and inverse-image (black background, white letters), five-line circular display all contribute to this mobile's "wow" factor. But the real eye-catcher is its 360-degree rotating keypad cover.
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To make a call, you rotate the cover 180 degrees and expose the V70's blue-backlit keypad. The phone takes on a candy bar-style look and feel that's fairly comfortable to talk on for long periods of time. True, the keys are a tad small and may not appeal to those with larger fingers, but we didn't suffer any misdials. However, we had a little trouble pressing the two-button, rockerlike, internal-navigation key since it was so closely located to the LCD's edge. Conversely, we didn't have any difficulties with the identical rocker key found on the outside of the phone that's used to navigate menus when the keypad is covered.
The V70 is pocket and purse friendly.
The V70 is also customizable; the circular silver bezel that frames the menu is interchangeable with gold, silver, or white accessories. You can even wear it around your neck by inserting a lanyard (such as the one made by Gucci) into the hole at the top of the phone. The menu is customizable as well, so you can reorganize the menu list and program shortcuts. Motorola has also made it much easier to use and make changes to the 500-name phone book. In terms of features, the V70 has its fair share, though not nearly as many as Sony Ericsson's compact T68. You'll find a calendar, a currency converter, a calculator, voice-activated dialing, 64 ring tones (32 of which are customizable), vibrate mode, two-way SMS, caller ID, conference calling, three games (Blackjack, Mindblaster, and Paddleball), wireless Web access, and the ability to sync PIM contacts with the phone via TrueSync software.
Easy access: browse the phone's menus when the keypad cover is closed or open.
Like the T68, the V70 (GSM 1900) is also GPRS ready, so you'll have always-on access to the wireless Web at rates of about 26Kbps. Since this feature works only in areas with GPRS service, we were unable to test this functionality at the time of this writing. According to Cingular Wireless, GPRS is expected to be available nationwide in all its markets by early 2004. We were impressed with the phone's battery life. Motorola rates standby battery life at 145 hours and talk time at 215 minutes. In our tests using Cingular Wireless service in San Francisco, we got five days of standby time and close to 4 hours of talk time.
Just charge it.
As far as call quality goes, it was acceptable, though less than stellar. The phone is loud enough, and we could typically hear callers fine, but callers said they occasionally heard static on the line. Additionally, in areas where we didn't get a strong signal, call quality was hit-and-miss.
Overall, the V70 is a compact, stylish phone that's a pleasure to use; you may just find yourself opening and closing it just for fun. If there's a downside, it's the hefty price tag. But those who want the phone of the moment will probably be able to overlook that minor obstacle.