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Motorola V220 (AT&T) review: Motorola V220 (AT&T)

Motorola V220 (AT&T)

Kent German

Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has 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).

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4 min read


Motorola V220 (AT&T)

The Good

Compact design; integrated camera; speakerphone; USB port.

The Bad

No infrared port; small screen; patchy sound quality; poor standby battery life.

The Bottom Line

The pocket-friendly Motorola V220 comes packed with some attractive features; we just wish it offered better performance.
Earlier this year, Motorola rolled out a trio of new camera phones that ranged from the high-end V600 to the low-end V400. Now the company builds on its success with the V220 for Cingular Wireless. Sporting a feature set not unlike the V400's, the new mobile offers a slimmer and more attractive package, but beware: the sound quality isn't the greatest. The handset is well priced at $199, but you probably can find it cheaper with service. In terms of style, the Motorola V220 doesn't try too hard. But that's probably a good thing, seeing that simplicity is part of its appeal. Outfitted in silver and black, the flip phone has a soothing shape with a smooth surface and rounded corners. At 3.3 by 1.7 by 0.9 inches and 3.7 ounces, it's small enough to fit in almost any pocket and light enough to carry around. It also benefits from solid construction and is comfortable to hold while you're talking. A rectangular external screen shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). Though it is monochrome, the display is easy to read in most lighting situations. Below the screen is the camera lens, with a mirror for self-portraits surrounding it. However, since the lens occupies the center of the mirror, the resulting reflection is a bit distorted and looks like something from a fun house. Completing the outside of the phone are a volume rocker, a camera-shutter key, and a USB port on the left spine, while a voice-dial activation button sits on the right spine.
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Low-key: The V220 sports an understated but pleasant design.

Inside the handset, you'll find the main display set in a mirrored frame. Though it supports 65,000 colors, it wasn't the most vivid screen we've seen, and its small size (1.5 inches diagonal) didn't help things. Also, since you can't adjust the brightness, the display always looks washed-out. That said, the animated menus were easy to navigate and the navigation controls were a cinch to master. Surrounded by an illuminated ring, a four-way toggle gives one-touch access to messages, sounds, AOL Instant Messenger, and the address book. Though you can't change the options, you can assign shortcuts to numbers on the keypad. There's also an OK button in the middle of the toggle, while two soft keys activate the camera and the instant messaging.

The keypad buttons are spacious, considering the mobile's diminutive size, and are lit by a bright backlight. With the exception of the recessed 5 key, they are set flush with the surface of the phone. Because of this, it was a bit difficult to dial by feel.

The Motorola V220 comes with a standard set of features that are similar to the V400's. The phone book holds up to 1,000 contacts, with room in each entry for up to six phone numbers and an e-mail address (you can store an additional 250 names on the SIM card). Contacts also can be assigned to caller groups or paired with a picture or one of three 24-chord polyphonic ring tones. Be advised, however, that the pictures do not show up on the external display. Other offerings include a vibrate mode, voice dialing, text- and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a call recorder, and AOL Instant Messenger. The speakerphone is a bonus, though it can be activated only after placing a call. We also liked the dedicated menu for checking or paying your Cingular bill and for reviewing your minute balance. Data features weren't terribly extensive. You get a fax modem and USB support, but there's no infrared (IR) port.

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Take a look: A mirror surrounds the V220's camera lens.

The integrated VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions: 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120. You can choose from six lighting effects, six color tones, and five exposure settings for the more creative shutterbugs out there. Other tools include a brightness control, a 2X zoom, and a self-timer with a 5- or 10-second delay. You also get a choice of five shutter sounds and a silent option. Operating the camera was straightforward, but we did have one complaint. Unlike the V400, the V220 doesen't have a convenient meter for checking how much storage space is available for saving photos. You get only 1.8MB of memory, which is shared with other applications. Once shot, pictures can be saved as wallpaper, sent in multimedia messages, or assigned to contacts for caller ID. Video playback also is available, but recording capabilities are noticeably absent.

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Sweet shot: The V220 has average photo quality.

The V220 comes through with personalization and multimedia options. You can customize the handset with a selection of wallpaper, screensavers, themes, or color styles. More choices are available via download from Cingular's Media Mall service, where you also can get more ring tones (the mobile is MP3-capable). To channel your inner musician, you even can use the integrated MotoMixer application to compose your own ring tones. For gamers, there's a demo version of Bejeweled, but more Java (J2ME)-enabled titles are available for download.

We tested the dual-band (GSM 850/1900) Motorola V220 in San Francisco using Cingular Wireless service. Sound quality was somewhat patchy, with occasional fuzziness and static. Also, callers said they could tell we were using a cell phone. The speakerphone was mostly satisfactory, though somewhat tinny at times.

Battery life was mixed. To the positive, we beat the rated 4 hours of talk time by an extra hour. But on standby time, we went 7 days on a single charge--3 days short of the promised time of 10 days. According to the FCC, the V220 has a digital SAR rating of 1.23 watts per kilogram.


Motorola V220 (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 6
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