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The C650's silver, beveled keys look great and are easy to press, but we had some trouble with the five-way joystick; whenever we tried to press down to select a menu item, we almost always nudged it by accident. We were also disappointed by the lack of dedicated volume and camera buttons. In fact, there aren't any dedicated function buttons on the sides of the phone at all. To adjust the volume when on a call, you must remove the phone from your ear and use the joystick. Shortcut options were also slim; two soft keys activate the camera and T-Mobile's T-zones service, while nudging the joystick up or down open the phone book. On the plus side, the keypad buttons have blue backlighting, and the joystick is surrounded by an illuminated ring.
The back cover of the C650 looks snazzy--we like the circular Motorola emblem around the camera lens--but once you snap the cover onto the phone, it's almost impossible to take off. We resorted to using our house key to push down on the stiff latch, then pried off the cover with our fingernails, leaving some ugly scratches in the process.The Motorola C650 packs in a solid set of features for an entry-level phone, including a 1,000-entry address book (each of the five phone numbers and the e-mail address--even those for the same contact--counts as an entry) with space for an additional 250 names on the SIM card. Contacts also can be assigned to caller groups or paired with a picture or any of 3 polyphonic (24-chord) ring tones. You also get a vibrate mode, a speakerphone (which you can activate only when starting a call), a WAP 2.0 Web browser, text and multimedia messaging, voice dialing, a calendar with monthly and weekly views, AOL Instant Messenger, an alarm clock, a calculator, and 16 polyphonic and 3 MP3 ring tones (more are available from T-Mobile's T-zones service).
The phone's VGA camera snaps pictures at a resolution of 160x120, 320x240, or 640x480, and the photos we took looked relatively sharp, although the color was a little washed out. A self-timer gives you either 5 or 10 seconds to jump in front of the camera for group shots. You can adjust for various lighting conditions such as sunny, cloudy, or indoor; add color effects (including black and white, reddish, greenish, or antique); and even adjust the exposure, a feature we don't see often in camera phones. You also get a 4X zoom, an adjustable brightness setting, and a choice of five shutter sounds, along with a silent option. About 1,350K of the C650's memory is devoted to pictures, and high-resolution photos take about 30K of RAM each. Once you've snapped some pictures, you can send them to your friends via a multimedia message, store them in the phone's gallery, assign them to a specific contact (in the case of headshots), or use them as the C650's wallpaper or screensaver. There's also a video player for the short, low-quality clips that are downloadable from T-Mobile's T-zones.
The C650's customization options are pretty extensive. In addition to choosing different pictures for the phone's wallpaper, you can pick from six themes: Moto, Silver, Midnight, Jade, Tangy, and Solar. You can even compose your own ring tones with the easy-to-use MotoMixer. Just pick a base track and a tempo, then tweak the synth, organ, drum, and bass settings--we composed our own ring tone in about five minutes. We also enjoyed the phone's Fun Lighting feature, which flashes the backlit keys as well as the ring around the joystick. You can pick from seven settings (Funky, Pulse, Rhythmic, Flicker, Energized, Beats, and Mania). Also included are a couple of Java (J2ME)-enabled games--Billiards and the demo of Bejeweled--but you can download more if you want them.We tested the triband Motorola C650 (GSM 900/1800/1900; GPRS) in New York City using T-Mobile's service. We had no trouble hearing the friends we called, and they told us that we sounded loud and clear. Speakerphone quality also was good, with plenty of volume.
Motorola promises nearly six hours of talk time on the C650, as well as nearly nine days of standby time. In our tests, we managed to meet the rated talk time and fell short of the promised standby time by just half a day--both times are more than satisfactory. According to the FCC, the C650 has a digital SAR rating of 1.38 watts per kilogram.