Two year's down the track and it's great to finally see some 3 phones that aren't major clunk-fests. Motorola has applied its rediscovered sense of style in spades to the latest addition to the local 3G phone stable, the E1000.
At first glance the Motorola E1000 bears a striking resemblance to Siemens' SX1 smartphone from last year. Both feature a large vertical LCD with buttons on either side of the screen, and both have a similar sleek rectangular shape. But where the SX1 arrayed the numerical buttons on the side (an awkward layout we weren't fond of), the Motorola E1000 wisely keeps the numbers below the screen where most of us are used to having them. The buttons on the side are the more occasional use buttons, such as the power switch, camera, direct access to 3 online content and volume controls. The phone features a five way control joystick, but in an unusual design decision it's placed between the 2 and 5 keys, as opposed to above the 2 key as in most other joystick phones. We initially thought that this might impede texting, especially if you press the joystick accidentally while trying to put in something on 2 or 5. But the buttons themselves proved to be sufficiently big enough for us to have avoided that result (bigger fingers may have to be wary).
The phone has an extremely professional and stylish look to it, thanks to its sleek mix of graphite and black colours. The slightly raised ridges on the numerical keys give the E1000 an art deco edge, and it sports a decent heft that makes it feel like a serious bit of kit. It's not the smallest phone out there (measuring in at 114x52x23mm), but its dinky for a 3 handset. The E1000 is in our opinion the best looking 3 handset currently available.
The E1000's large LCD screen is the first thing that leaps out at you, measuring in at 35x45mm. It pumps out a great image that's easy on the eye (for video as well as stills), with a screen resolution of 240x320 QVGA and being able to show 260K colour.
The phone has a 1.2MP integrated camera with 4x zoom which can be easily switched between facing outwards (to take shots or videos) or inwards (for video talking). It's also a decent multimedia beast, with the ability to play a wide range of different file formats. On the audio side, that includes MIDI, MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA and AMR. With video, the E1000 supports WMV, MP4 and 3GP, with GIF, JPEG, PNG, WBMP and BMP for still shots.
As befitting its multimedia muscle, the E1000 has a pretty beefy speaker which replicates stereo sound fairly decently. While it's no boombox, the E1000's speaker can serve as your mobile stereo in a pinch, and certainly does well enough when doing a hands-free call. When it comes to connectivity, the E1000 has most bases covered. It's a tri-band GSM model, but can also support WCDMA and GPS. It connects to PCs via USB or Bluetooth. Its built-in calendar and address book can be automatically synched with Microsoft Outlook.
The E1000 certainly does all the basics well, but where it particularly shines is with multimedia. The high detail LCD screen makes watching downloaded videos from the 3 network a real eye-pleaser, and its sound quality when playing music files (particularly through the included earphones) is on par with plenty of dedicated MP3 players out there. It's a real pity, then, that the E1000 only comes with 16MB built-in memory out of the box, plus the fact that you don't get an external memory card bundled in (it takes TransFlash cards, which come in 64MB or 128MB sizes). For a phone with such a strong emphasis on entertainment applications, larger memory or an included expansion card should have been mandatory.
Standby and talk time are decent but not outstanding (the colour screen can zap power quickly) - we were able to leave it on for three days, talk for about 2.5 hours and use various multimedia functions (music and video) for about half an hour before it conked out. Unusually, the phone's back got rather warm after extended phone calls. We experienced a noticeable increase in temperature after a half hour conversation.
Overall, the E1000 is a good performing handset that's sure to turn heads. It's another design winner from Motorola that packs decent performance and specs.