Motorola V300 (Unlocked) review: Motorola V300 (Unlocked)

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The Good Integrated camera; great sound quality; world phone; vivid 65,536-color display; built-in speakerphone.

The Bad Short standby battery life; poor keypad layout.

The Bottom Line If you can overlook a few flaws, this Motorola mobile is an impressive camera phone.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Review summary

If you're a T-Mobile customer with a yen for camera phones, until recently your handset selection has been limited. Now T-Mobile rounds out its lineup with its first Motorola camera phone, the V300. Armed with world-roaming capability, an integrated VGA camera, a speakerphone, and a rich color screen, the cool, blue V300 has enough features and style to please those in search of a hip phone. But if you're interested in a more subdued version of this mobile, we suggest checking out the similarly priced (with service) V400 for Cingular. Measuring 3.5 by 1.9 by 1.0 inches, the Motorola V300 is almost the same size as the business-centric Motorola V600 but weighs slightly less (4.3 ounces). Instead of the usual flip-phone silver, the V300 is covered in an attractive, smooth, almost rubbery blue material that feels soft to the touch. But while it is solidly constructed and comfortable to hold while talking, its overall design has a hipper look and feel than that of the more straitlaced V400.

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Big blue bundle: The V300 will fit only bigger pockets. Supersmall: The mobile's tiny keys made misdialing easy.

Like the V400, the V300 has a small camera lens and a miniature mirror (for self-portraits) above a two-line, blue-backlit external display that shows the date, the time, network strength, battery life, and caller ID (where available). On the phone's left side are two buttons that navigate the menus, adjust the volume, and change the ring style. Though it's not marked as such, the lower button also launches the camera app and acts as a shutter control when the phone is in camera mode. On the right side of the mobile is a key for activating voice dialing and making voice recordings.

Inside the handset is an eight-line, 65,536-color display. The spacious 2-inch diagonal screen's clear, crisp resolution makes it visible under all lighting conditions. Navigation consists of two soft keys, a four-way toggle with an OK button in its center, and Talk and End buttons. Additionally, as on most Motorola mobiles, the center key provides one-touch access to the user-friendly menus. While the four-way toggle and the soft keys give single-click access to other applications, we noticed these buttons weren't very responsive. In addition, the keypad buttons are barely raised and far too small for the V300's compact size; they're also spaced too far apart.
The Motorola V300's features are similar to those found on the higher-end V600. Frequent talkers will appreciate the 1,000-entry phone book, and there's room for an additional 250 names on the SIM card. The handset also comes with an alarm clock, a voice recorder, a calculator, a date book, text and multimedia messaging (MMS), AOL instant messaging, two Java (J2ME) games (Stuntman and Bejeweled), and WAP 2.0 wireless Web access via T-Mobile's high-speed GPRS network. One quibble: You can't turn on the speakerphone until you place a call.

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See me: Use the mirror next to the camera lens for a self-portrait. We like the V300's image quality.

Also included are 21 polyphonic (24-chord) ring tones, 4 MP3 tones, a vibrate mode, and an application called MotoMixer that lets you compose your own sounds. You can set ring tones and pictures for specific callers, and you can personalize the V300 further with wallpapers, themes, colors, screensavers, and menu styles. Additional selections, ring tones, and games are available through T-Mobile's T-zones service.

The V300's integrated VGA camera operates with as few as two clicks. When taking photos, you can choose between three picture resolutions (160x120, 320x240, and 640x480), five lighting tones, five exposure settings, and six shutter sounds, including a silent option. The camera also has a self-timer and a 4X zoom. You can store images on the phone's 5MB of shared memory. A convenient meter in the Photo Viewfinder mode displays free memory. We sent photos and voice recordings via MMS and rarely encountered a problem.

You can purchase Motorola's Mobile Tools software ($60 with USB cable), which allows you to sync Outlook contacts and calendars on your handset. When we tried this feature, syncing seemed easy, but we noticed that the handset's calendar didn't support all the fields, such as Notes and Location, that we used in our version of Outlook. We remedied this by combining location details in the subject area in Outlook, then syncing, but this isn't an ideal solution.
We tested the Motorola V300 triband (GSM 900/1800/1900) world phone in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Atlanta using T-Mobile's service. Call quality was generally excellent, and we had no problem hearing, even in a crowded convention hall. While callers occasionally said that our voice was echoing, they couldn't tell for the most part that we were using a cell phone. The speakerphone also sounded good, and the MP3 and polyphonic tones were clear and rich.

Battery life faltered, however. While the 5 hours of talk time we achieved in our tests is decent, it fell short of the promised 6.5 hours. Standby battery life was just 3.5 days, barely half of the rated 8 days.