The W490 offers a 1.3-megapixel camera that takes pictures in four resolutions. Other camera options are limited; they include three quality settings, five lighting modes including a night option, exposure metering, an 8x zoom, five color tones, and four shutter sounds plus a silent option. Unfortunately, there's no flash. The camcorder shoots clips in three resolutions with sound. Editing options are similar to the still camera, and clips only last 15 seconds. On the whole it's a rather underwhelming camera, and the photo quality was disappointing. Images were blurry with muted colors. With only 5MB of internal memory, you aren't allotted much room for saving your work. The W490 doesn't offer an external memory slot.
You can personalize the W490 with a variety of wallpaper and screensavers, and you can write your own greeting. You can download more options from T-Mobile's TZones service using the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Gaming options are limited to two demo titles--MidnightPoolJukeBox and World Poker Tour--but you can buy the full versions and additional games.
We tested the W490 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was decent on the whole but voices were a bit on the tinny side. It wasn't a huge problem, but our callers' voices tended to sound high and sometimes rather robotic. On the other hand, the signal was clear and free of static and we enjoyed enough volume.
On their end, callers reported few problems. They could tell we were using a cell phone but they reported that we sounded natural and that they could hear us plainly. Their only issue was that they had to strain to hear us when we were talking in a noisy environment. We found the same to be true when we phoned automated answering services. The systems could understand us when we were speaking in a quiet room but not if we were walking along a loud street. Speakerphone calls were decent. On our end the sound was loud and callers could hear us as long as we talked close to the phone.
The Motorola W490 has a rated battery life of 7.5 hours talk time and 14.6 days standby time. Our tests revealed an impressive talk time of 8 hours, 10 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the W490 has a digital SAR rating of 1.08 watts per kilogram.