Motorola's E1000 is an entry-level 3G phone with a liking for all things multimedia. Its bright clear screen is well suited to activities such as video viewing and gaming. Built-in AGPS means that location-based services are available, assuming your network offers them.
The E1000 is available free with a £15 per month contract on 3, or a £25 per month contract on Vodafone. This pricing makes it an ideal handset for those looking for a first 3G experience and wanting to emphasise multimedia.
It isn't likely the Motorola E1000 will win any prizes for its looks. There's a certain chunkiness about it that we aren't sure we like. There are some design features that stand out, however.
It has vertical rows of buttons on either side of the screen. We tested the E1000 on 3 and one of the buttons on the right edge was emblazoned with the 3 triangle, ready to shortcut you straight into the company's 3G services.
On this edge you'll also find the End call/Power off key, a Back key and a button that drops you straight into the built-in 1.2-megapixel back-mounted camera. On the left edge, a pair of buttons control volume. Another is for placing voice calls and the fourth is for initiating video calls.
There are two consequences of putting these buttons away from the main number rows. The first is purely aesthetic and means the E1000 has a look almost all its own (Siemens used a similar approach with its SX1 phone). The second is entirely practical: it means the numberpad keys can be large, making them easier to hit than is often the case on a candy-bar phone. Nestling between the 2 and 5 number keys is a joypad that offers five-way navigation.
Despite the large number keys, more than half the front of the casing is dominated by the screen, which bodes well for video calling and access to multimedia 3G services. The camera you'll use for video dialling sits above the screen -- this is in addition to the main camera on the back. There's no self-portrait mirror but there is a square LED-style flash unit near the lens.
There is little by way of connectors around the edges of the phone. The headset goes into a jack on the bottom right edge, and the power port is on the bottom along with a USB connector. The phone will share information with your PC, but both the USB cable and software are extras.
The mostly black colouring makes the E1000 look dull and functional, and you might wonder if its 114 by 52 by 23mm size and 140g weight are justifiable. But when you power up, the screen changes all that. Offering 262,000 colours and a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels, it's clear and sharp -- just what you need for the high-quality video calling, multimedia and gaming that is the E1000's forté.
Motorola's clever menu system makes the E1000 very easy to use. From the main screen you can jump to a few items such as your phone book, 3G services and multimedia content by using the joypad to move between icons. A Quickmenu soft key provides access to more.
To access the rest of the software and services on the E1000, you use the centre soft key to drop into an icon-based listing of the phone's contents. Once you've chosen an application, that same key provides access to different options as appropriate. It's all pretty intuitive. We like the big buttons for texting too, but found the joypad fiddly by comparison. As for the side-mounted buttons, some people will find them pesky, but we rather like them.
The camera captures images at resolutions up to 1.2 megapixels, which is more than enough for emailing or viewing on your own computer. There's an 8x digital zoom feature so you can get closer to your subject, but remember digital zoom loses definition as you zoom in. There's help with dim indoor shooting conditions in the shape of a light you switch on and off as needed. However, you must remember to turn the light off after shooting to avoid battery depletion, which doesn't make for quick snapping. You can also use the phone as a torch and it performs suprisingly well.
There is a simulated 3D stereo effect from the back-mounted internal speakers. We found it difficult to get our heads around during testing. We didn't hear a great deal of 3D stereo, but audio quality in general was good, with plenty of depth. It did distort when the volume was cranked right up, though.
You will want to keep some of the images and videos you shoot, as well as some of the multimedia you download through 3G. The 16MB of built-in memory is a fair start. To add more you'll need a TransFlash card, which goes in a slot under the battery cover.
Video fans will like the ability to flip the screen into landscape mode. Doing this enables you to view downloaded videos in full screen mode on a 4:3 screen. Combined with the good sound, it works a treat.
The E1000 also supports AGPS (Assisted GPS), a system that uses a GPS receiver and the mobile phone network to determine your location. It's great for built-up areas where GPS signals alone might not be sufficient. Some 3G operators use AGPS to provide location-based services, such as finding restaurants near your current position.
Audio quality during voice and video calls was good, and visuals in video calls were also strong. The twin switches allow for easy volume adjustment mid call -- perfect when you wander from busy street to quiet room during your chat. 3G performance courtesy of 3 was also good during our test period.
Battery life is quoted by Motorola as 155 hours on standby and up to 130 hours talk. 3 adds a 70-minute capacity for video calls. We did a fair amount of 3G-ing of various types during a 24-hour test period and drove the battery down to a single bar of charge. If you're buying this phone for its multimedia and download features, plan on recharging it daily.
Edited by: Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by: Nick Hide