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Motorola V195 (T-Mobile) review: Motorola V195 (T-Mobile)

Despite varying call quality, the Motorola V195 is a solid choice as a basic cell phone.

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
4 min read
With all the hype over Motorola's Razr, it's easy to forget the company still produces handsets that aren't all about style. Take T-Mobile's Motorola V195 for instance. Designed with simplicity in mind, it makes no effort to chase the thin-phone phenomenon. Yet for what it lacks in design and wow factor, it makes up for in features. Armed with a speakerphone, world phone support, and Motorola's new Screen3 technology, the V195 makes a respectable showing. And not only that, we're always glad to see a phone that has Bluetooth without the bother of a digital camera. Calls could have static at times, but overall, the V195 is a good basic phone. T-Mobile charges a reasonable $129 if you pay full price, but service rebates will lower the cost to as low as $39.

Make no mistake, the V195 isn't aiming to win a fashion show. Rather it bears a minimalist flip phone form factor in the tradition of models such as the Motorola V325 and V557. However, that's not to say it's unattractive. We like the clean lines, rounded edges, and the lack of an external antenna. T-Mobile sells the version with the smooth silver finish, but the phone is also available with a more colorful blue face.


Motorola V195 (T-Mobile)

The Good

The Motorola V195 has well-designed controls and a decent feature set, including Bluetooth, world phone support, and a speakerphone.

The Bad

The Motorola V195 audio quality had static at times in our tests.

The Bottom Line

Despite varying call quality, the Motorola V195 is a solid choice as a basic cell phone.

The V195 has a simple, ordinary design.

Measuring 3.6 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches, the V195 isn't the most compact flip phone out there, but at 3.6 ounces, it won't weigh you down. What's more, it enjoys a solid construction and feels comfortable in the hand. Like many Motorolas of its class, the V195 has a rectangular external display. It's monochrome, of course, and relatively small (96x32 pixels), but it shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. Though you can't adjust the backlight time, you can switch it on with a flick of the volume rocker on the left spine. Below the display is a dim light behind the Motorola logo that flashes for incoming calls.

The phone's internal display also holds no surprises. With support for 65,000 colors, it's not the most vibrant cell phone display we've seen, but at 1.75 inches diagonal (128x160 pixels) it's well proportioned for the phone's size. The two available menu styles are generic Motorola, which can be a bit confusing to first-time Moto users. You can change the backlight time, the brightness, and the contrast, but you can't alter the font size.

The navigation array is reminiscent of the Motorola E815. Here again, we enjoyed their spacious layout and tactile feel and we liked the generous number of shortcut options. Besides dedicated keys for the Web browser, the main menu, and the messaging folder, you can designate shortcut options for the four-way toggle, the two soft keys, and the smart key on the left spine. Other controls include an OK button in the toggle's center and the talk and end/power buttons. The backlit keypad buttons are also designed well. They're big and easy to press, and the middle row is raised above the surface of the phone for dialing by feel.

The 1,000-contact phone book has room in each entry for six phone numbers, a street address, an e-mail address, a birth date, and a nickname (the SIM cards add 250 more names). You can organize callers into groups, pair them with one of 50 polyphonic ring tones or alert sounds, and assign them a photo for caller ID. Keep in mind, though, that the phone has no camera and the image won't show up on the external display. Basic features include a vibrate mode; text and multimedia messaging; AOL, Yahoo, and ICQ instant messaging; a calculator; a datebook; an alarm clock; voice dialing; a wireless backup service for your contacts; and voice memo recording. On the higher end, the V195 offers a speakerphone, a mini-USB port, Motorola's user-friendly Screen3 technology Web browsing (see our V557 review for more information), and Bluetooth. The latter feature is an especially nice addition to a phone without a camera, particularly as more businesses are restricting camera phones on their premises.

You can personalize the V195 with a variety of wallpapers, color styles, screensavers, greetings, and alert sounds. If you'd like more options, you can download them via the WAP 2 wireless Web browser. You can also buy more ring tones from T-Mobile, use your personal MP3 files, or create your own tones on the phone. The V195 comes with demo versions of three Java (J2ME) games (Bejeweled, Midnight Pool, and Pinball). Total memory on the phone is 10MB of shared space.

We tested the quad-band, dual-mode (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS) V195 world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was good overall, though we noticed some static from time to time. It was quite random, so it never got too annoying, but it's worth noting nonetheless. Callers reported the same conditions on their end, but volume on both sides was quite loud. Speakerphone calls were about the same as were calls made over the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset.

The V195 has a rated talk time of 3.4 hours and a promised standby time of 11.5 days. In our tests, we eked out a respectable 4.25 hours of talk time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola V195 has a digital SAR rating of 1.6 watts per kilogram (the highest amount allowable).


Motorola V195 (T-Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7