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Motorola C168i (AT&T) review: Motorola C168i (AT&T)

Motorola C168i (AT&T)

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read
Motorola C168i
AT&T's Go phone service has long been a solid source for basic cell phones that just make calls. Handsets such as the Motorola C168i aren't complicated by a fancy design or expensive features; rather, they bear a simple design and do exactly what a cell phone is supposed to do. Some basic features were lacking, but the call quality was reliable despite a slight fuzzy sound in the background. And with a bargain-basement price of $19, it's hard to pass up. To find accessories for this phone, see our cell phone ringtones and accessories guide.

The C168i has an uncomplicated candy bar design. With straight lines, rounded edges, and an unassuming black-and-silver color scheme, it doesn't call attention to itself. At just 4.1x1.8x0.55 inches and 2.75 ounces, it's compact and portable so it slips into a pocket with ease. The phone feels comfortable in the hand, even if it's a bit small for users with big paws, but we couldn't help noticing that the plastic battery cover felt a tad flimsy.


Motorola C168i (AT&T)

The Good

The Motorola C168i is an easy-to-use cell phone, and it offers decent quality. It also has an impressive battery talk time.

The Bad

The Motorola C168i lacks a speakerphone, and you can't assign ringtones to callers. Also, the audio sounded fuzzy at times.

The Bottom Line

The Motorola C168i is a basic functional phone, but it's almost a little too simple.

The display on the C168i is low-key. It measures 1.5 inches diagonally (128x128 pixels), which is somewhat small for the phone's overall size, and it supports 65,536 colors. Normally we'd gripe about such a low-resolution screen, but on this caliber of phone we don't mind. Just remember that graphics aren't very sharp and colors are somewhat washed out. You can change only the backlight time.

Motorola C168i
The Motorola C168i is quite compact.

The C168i's navigation controls are a mixed bag. The toggle and central OK button are raised above the surface, which gives them a tactile feel. They are slightly cramped, however, so you may want to give the controls a test run first. The toggle can be set as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. On the downside, the soft keys are flush with the surface of the phone and appear to blend in with the black border surrounding the display. We'd like more tactile definition.

Fortunately, the backlit keypad buttons and the Talk and End/power keys are raised, which made it easy to dial by feel. The numbers on the keys are small, but that's understandable on such a compact phone. Yet we're really disappointed that the C168i doesn't have an external volume rocker. That means you must remove the phone from your face during a call to adjust the volume. The only features on the exterior of the phone are a charger port on the left spine and a headset jack on the phone's top end.

The Motorola C168i has a small phone book with room for 600 contacts. Each entry holds five phone numbers as well as a single field for a note, an e-mail address, a postal address, or a Web address. You can save callers to groups, but you can't assign any of the 27 polyphonic ringtones to specific callers. Features on the C168i are strictly functional. You're limited to a calculator, a calendar, an alarm lock, text and multimedia messaging, and a vibrate mode. There's no speakerphone, unfortunately.

You can personalize the C168i with a variety of wallpaper, color styles, and alert sounds. You can download more options and ringtones with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. You get three Java (J2ME) games--Soccer, Rebels, and Crazy, but gameplay on such a phone isn't very fun.

We "="">tested the dual-band (GSM 850/1900) Motorola C168i in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was decent on the whole, but the audio quality was fuzzy in the background. It wasn't too distracting, but it was noticeable just the same. Callers didn't report any problems on their end except for a slight amount of wind noise. That said, automated calling systems could understand us.

The C168i has a rated battery life of 9.1 hours talk time and 14.1 days standby time. Our tests revealed an impressive talk time of 8 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the C168i has a digital SAR of 1.44 watts per kilogram.


Motorola C168i (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 5Performance 7