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Motorola EM330 review: Motorola EM330

It is yet another clamshell phone from yet another phone company. So what sets this mobile phone apart from the others? Not much.

Irene Mickaiel
When Irene's not finding reasons to go globetrotting, with a camera almost permanently fixed to her face, she's reading up on all the latest gizmos and gadgets or trying her hand at adventure sports.
Irene Mickaiel
4 min read

What has a touch-sensitive external display for music playback? That is, besides Sony Ericsson's W380i. OK, let's try that again: what is (at the time of writing) AU$200 cheaper than the W380i (though slightly less fashionable looking)? The Motorola EM330. This small and unassuming clamshell mobile phone has an external display with touch-sensitive screen, and is framed by a brushed metal aluminium casing.


Motorola EM330

The Good

Affordability. Simple design. Touch-sensitive display. 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Bad

Average sound quality. Interface can be slow in some areas. Awkward placement of headphone port.

The Bottom Line

The EM330 does most things well, but nothing that stands out in this ever-increasing market of music playing phones. For each positive aspect to the EM330, it has its negatives. However, for just AU$99 it's a great deal for teenagers or adults that just want a simple phone that can play their MP3s.

Along the left side of the EM330 are two clear plastic buttons for the volume and a smart key function. Just below these, hidden under a rubber flap, is the mini-USB port for charging and connecting to the PC. On the opposite side is the 3.5mm headphone port, which is great should you want to use your own stereo headset, but unfortunately due to the placement of this jack it makes it a little awkward to put the phone in your pocket while you're listening to music.

Inside the EM330 is your standard keypad — in almost all black. The keys are large enough for big stubby fingers and are to easy find without looking at the keypad. The five-way navigation keys have music playback controls and just beside them is a prominent red button for quick access to your music library.

Motorola's supplied headphones are of decent quality and also enable hands-free phone operation, which is nice to have ... if the button on the headset to answer calls wasn't so slow to respond.

The EM330 has an internal memory of 30MB with an option to expand to 2GB with a microSD card. Unfortunately to insert a memory card, you have to remove the back cover.

The phone's target market is the music crowd, and so is able to play most music formats (eAAC+/MP3/MPEG-4/H.264/3GP/WAV/AAC/AMR/XMF/AAC+/H.263/MIDI). With drag and drop capability, it doesn't take long to transfer music files to the EM330, so you'll be bopping to your music in no time.

There is also the customary 1.3-megapixel camera which most phones wouldn't dare neglect to include.

One great feature of the EM330 is its ability to record FM radio in mono, which you can then use for a ringtone. We wouldn't recommend using the recordings for anything else because the quality is pretty poor.

The music shortcut button on the phone's keypad was helpful in getting us to the music quickly. Another great feature about the EM330 is that you're able to access your music without having to flip open the phone. The smart key on the side of the phone gives you quick access to your music which activates the touch-sensitive keys on the external display.

Once you've activated the external display, the play/pause, fast forward and rewind keys appear on the faceplate just above the Motorola logo. On occasion we had to press down hard for the phone to acknowledge that we were touching the indicated area, but at other times it accepted our light taps. This may in part be due to the slow reaction time and our impatience at the slightest hint of a sluggish interface.

There are seven equaliser settings to choose from, but we found the best listening experience to be in Flat mode. The other settings sounded gimmicky and didn't make the sound any better. However, there is a manual equaliser setting where you can choose to increase the bass levels by up to nine decibels.

Sound quality in Flat mode came out clear with no noticeable distortion, but it was a little lacking in bass. The highest volume can be deafeningly loud so you'll be able to hear your music over most environmental hubbub (though, of course, we don't recommend turning music up to ear-splitting levels).

Phone calls came through clear enough with only a slight echo, but this was barely noticeable. When we put the caller on speakerphone, we came through loud and clear when the phone was held about half a metre away from our face, any further and our voice became hard to hear. We had no problem at all hearing the party at the other end.

Battery life with constant music playing and the occasional calls lasted for almost 10 hours which is two hours longer than Motorola's estimated time. On standby, however, it lasted approximately 335 hours (around two weeks), which is well short of the quoted time of 465 hours.

The EM330 does most things well, but nothing that stands out in the rapidly growing market of music-playing phones. For each positive aspect to the EM330, it has its negatives. However, for just AU$99 it's a great deal for teenagers or adults that just want a simple phone that can play their MP3s.