Audiovox CDM-9500 review: Audiovox CDM-9500

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The Good Color screen; external LCD; works on 1xRTT networks; can download apps and games; built-in speakerphone.

The Bad Some unnecessary security features; lackluster battery life.

The Bottom Line With its color display and built-in speakerphone, the CDM-9500 is a nice addition to Verizon's lineup, but it falls short on battery life.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

With the Audiovox CDM-9500, Verizon Wireless adds another color unit to its roster of handsets. Like the Motorola T720, it's an attractive, feature-rich unit. Though the CDM-9500's performance isn't quite on a par with its appearance, it offers a wealth of features that make it a worthwhile option for users who need a mobile that supports important extras such as a built-in speakerphone. However, if you don't need that feature, LG's VX4400 is worth a hard look.

The 9500 is a tad too big for a pocket.
An attractive flip phone, the CDM-9500 is a bit too bulky (3.8 by 1.9 by 1.0 inches; 3.8 ounces) to fit in the pocket of your pants but compact enough for a purse. It features a bright, sharp, 65,000-color screen with room for nine lines of text. Smartly, the cover itself features a two-line display; even when the unit is closed, it displays caller ID, date, time, battery status, signal strength, and network mode. Overall, the unit has a sturdy, comfortable feel.

The five-way navigational mouse button, while useful for wading through menus, takes a bit of digital dexterity. We kept accidentally touching the center Select key when we wanted to move through the menu choices and vice versa. The navigation buttons double as earpiece/speakerphone volume controls. For this feature, we would have preferred separate switches on the side of the unit. As it is, you must move the handset from your face during a call to adjust the volume.

Menu maneuvers: There's an array of buttons for accessing the phone's features.
Users who need heavy-duty contact management will appreciate this handset's 300-name phone book. You can input up to five phone numbers and three e-mail addresses per entry, and you can search for entries alphabetically, via the keyboard or by location. The 9500 is packed with all the usual features, such as voice-activated dialing, caller ID, SMS, 27 ring tones, and a vibrate mode. There's also a built-in speakerphone, and the mobile supports two GPS modes: Location On, which allows the system to track your location at any time, or 911 Only, which measures your location during emergency calls.

The phone is 1xRTT compatible, so you can browse the wireless Web at relatively high data rates (about 56Kbps). The CDM-9500 is also BREW and J2ME (Java) enabled, so you can download applications, ring tones, wallpaper, and games (which will come in handy with the color screen) via the Get It Now menu selection. We were able to deck out the phone with a Lord of the Rings tone and background, though we should mention that it took a couple of attempts to successfully add the former.

One thing that we weren't thrilled with was the fact that you have to enter your security code to access such basic functions as erasing the call-history log or resetting the timers. It's nice to know that certain functions are unavailable to unauthorized users, but this is taking security a bit too far.

Compact and portable: The charger won't take up a lot of room in a suitcase or a bag.
We tested the tri-mode phone (CDMA 800/1900, AMPS 800) in the Chicago area. The call quality was acceptable if not exceptional. We occasionally experienced a few minor dropouts, and callers said we sounded "clear, considering it's a cell phone." Additionally, the speakerphone delivered fairly crisp audio quality on our end, though it was a bit annoying to callers on the other side.

We matched the rated 1.5 hours of talk time and beat the rated 100 hours of standby time by 12 hours. Nonetheless, this is fairly weak when compared to other color mobiles, such as LG's VX4400 and Motorola's T720, both of which provide at least 2 hours of talk time.

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