Externally, the V1050 looks somewhat like the highly acclaimed RAZR V3, although with dimensions of 94 x 49 x 27mm, it's a somewhat thicker clamshell phone. The V1050 is a Vodafone exclusive 3G phone that would have made Henry Ford's heart sing, as it's wrapped in a chic black finish. The stubby antenna does rather detract from the otherwise smooth design. If you're a fan of larger phones that you can feel slip out of a shorts pocket, you'll find the V1050 quite appealing.
As with the RAZR V3, the external display on the V1050 can show time, caller information, signal strength and a photo of your choosing. The exterior casing also houses the 1.3-megapixel camera -- as this is a 3G phone, it serves double duty as both a camera phone and for video calls within 3G coverage areas. Flipping open the V1050 reveals a standard set of phone keys with an eye catching blue backlight, as well as the V1050's 240 x 320-pixel 262K colour display. Thanks partly to the screen's brightness, and partly we suspect to the contrast between the screen and its black framing, it's quite easy to see in any lighting conditions.
The V1050 connects primarily to Vodafone's 3G coverage area -- which for practical purposes limits you to capital cities only at this stage -- although it will drop down to regular tri-band GSM coverage outside of those areas. Being a Vodafone 3G phone, that also means you get access to the variety of services on Vodafone live!, including games, ringtone and music downloads.
The camera on the V1050 is a 1.3-megapixel model, suitable for both video calling and straight picture taking. Like many mobiles, the camera has a somewhat slow update, so it won't replace the digital camera in your life. The V1050's camera features a digital zoom feature, up to 8x. Unless you've got no other way to zoom images -- and bear in mind that it's perfectly possible to e-mail yourself pictures from the V1050 -- we'd suggest you steer clear and do any digital zooming in an environment where you can undo changes, such as a PC image editing suite.
We tested the V1050 both inside Vodafone's 3G coverage area -- specifically in Sydney -- and then well outside it, giving the V1050 a good run in a GSM environment. As a basic phone, it performs admirably, and unlike most flip-top phones, the headset speaker has a solid volume level, meaning that you're not constantly repositioning it on your ear if you're trying to take a call in a noisy environment.
Vodafone live!'s offerings include games and music downloads with a decent but not entirely stellar lineup of tracks on offer. On the plus side, they did have some very esoteric stuff -- we were able to download DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's seminal I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson from Vodafone live!, something that can't be done on the Australian iTunes Music Store at the moment. On the downside, it costs AU$2.79 to do so. More annoyingly, it took us more than a dozen attempts to finish the download. You're not charged every time, but it doesn't store any already downloaded material, and there's little more frustrating than a download that reaches 90 per cent and then bombs out. It's particularly the kiss of death for something like music which is, after all, a highly discretionary type of purchase. On the definite plus side, the speaker on the V1050 is appropriately loud -- within seconds we had an entire Adelaide tram wanting to kill us as the Fresh Prince launched into his supposedly funky flow.
Pricing for other Vodafone live! services varies, from $3 to $7 for games, $3.30/$4.50 for ringtones and $1 per week for live news or sports updates. Vodafone live! also offers video updates via Fox sports and Sky News -- either will set you back $2.99 per month at the time of writing.
Motorola rates the battery life of the V1050 at 145 hours standby and only 3.5 hours talktime, and we'd agree with that figure. In our testing, we averaged around three to five days between recharges.
Despite its design similarity to the RAZR V3, the V1050 doesn't pretend to be a truly flashy phone, and it carries a price tag that's appropriate to its functional feature set. If you're keen on Vodafone's particular 3G implementation and are on a mid-range budget, the V1050 is worth a look.