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Motorola W385 - black (Verizon Wireless) review: Motorola W385 - black (Verizon Wireless)

The Motorola W385 is a dependable cell phone without confusing bells and whistles.

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Kent German
Kent_German.jpg

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

7.6

Motorola W385 - black (Verizon Wireless)

The Good

The Motorola W385 has a sturdy, user-friendly design, great call quality, and integrated Bluetooth support.

The Bad

The Motorola W385 has a low-resolution internal display and average photo quality.

The Bottom Line

The Motorola W385 is a dependable cell phone without confusing bells and whistles.

If at first glance the Motorola W385 reminds you of the Moto Krzr K1m, then we'd consider you to be a very observant person (either that, or you need to get out more). Though the Verizon Wireless handset doesn't carry the Krzr name and lacks its glass front, there's no escaping that the W385 is basically a repackaged--and slightly downscale--version of the K1m. It borrows the Krzr's slim shape while adding a few design touches of its own, and it offers a respectable feature set minus support for Verizon's EV-DO network. The result is satisfying, functional phone with decent call quality. You can get it for a reasonable $29 with service.

Design
The similarities between the W385 and the Krzr will be obvious to any cell phone fan. Its dimensions are almost identical (3.9-inches tall by 1.8-inches wide by 0.71-inch thick vs. 4.05-inches tall by 1.73-inches wide by 0.67-inch thick for the Krzr) even if it looks a little more boxy. As 3.8 ounces, the W385 is half an ounce heavier than its predecessor, which gives it a somewhat sturdier feel in the hand. As mentioned earlier, the W385 does not sport the plate of hardened glass found on the Krzr; rather, it's covered on its front and rear face with black, rubbery material. Yes, the W385 isn't quite as stylish as its sibling--but we felt more comfortable banging it around.

The W385's vertical display is set in a mirrored frame just below the camera lens. Though the rectangular display wins a couple points for style, it is very small (96x32 pixels) so users with visual impairments should test the phone first. The text size is even tinier, and you can't customize any options such as brightness. The display shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID, but its monochrome resolution does not support photo caller ID. Completing the exterior of the W385 are a volume rocker, a speakerphone shortcut, and a mini USB port on the left spine, while the voice dialing button sits on the right spine.

The 65,000-color internal display on the W385 is somewhat smaller (1.8 inches) than on the Krzr, and it offers a lower resolution (160x128 pixels). The change is noticeable as graphics, games, and photos looked a bit fuzzy. But frankly, that's the price you pay for a less-expensive phone. Unfortunately, the text is also rather small; particularly the font used in Verizon's much-maligned menu interface.

The W385's navigation array and keypad buttons also take cues from the Krzr, but instead of metal, the controls are covered in a soft-touch material similar the phone's exterior covering. We approved highly of this design; the keys were tactile and easy to grip, even though they're flat with the surface of the W385. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a clear button, and the Talk and End/Power controls. There's also a camera shortcut, and you can program the toggle to give one-touch access to four user-defined functions. Both the navigation array and the keypad buttons are brightly backlit.

Features
The W385 has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can save callers to groups or pair them with one of 22 polyphonic ringtones and alert sounds. You can save a photo as well, but remember that it won't show up on the external display. Other essentials include a vibrate mode; text and multimedia messaging; a speakerphone; a calculator; a calendar; an alarm clock; a world clock; and a notepad. Bluetooth and voice commands are present as well, and you can use the former to send photos wirelessly. The W385 also offers Verizon's VZNavigator GPS application and the company's Chaperone service (see the LG Migo review for a full discussion of Chaperone).

The Motorola W385 has a simple VGA camera.
The Motorola W385 has a simple VGA camera.

The VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and a special Picture ID size), and offers a self-timer, a digital zoom, brightness and white balance controls, three color effects, 10 fun frames, and three shutter sounds (plus a silent option). There's no flash, though you can use the mirrored strip on the phone's front face to take self-portraits. Photo quality was standard for a VGA camera; fine for displaying on a computer but nothing you'd want to print out. Our pictures were much too bright and colors looked faded. The W385 offers 30MB of shared memory for saving photos. Video recording is not supported.

The W385's photo quality is typical for a VGA camera.
The W385's photo quality is typical for a VGA camera.

You can personalize the W385 with a variety of banners, wallpapers, screensavers, and clock styles. You can buy more options and additional ringtones from Verizon using the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The W385 does not come with any games, but support for BREW titles is included.

Performance
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Motorola W385 in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was very sharp with no static, fade-outs, or interference. What's more, voices sounded natural, and there was enough volume. On their end, callers reported no major issues save for a minor amount of wind noise. Speakerphone calls were satisfying as well and had more than enough volume.

The W385 has a rated battery life of 4 hours talk time and 18.3 days of standby time. Our tests reveal a talk time of 4 hours and 5 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the W385 has a digital SAR rating of 1.54 watts per kilogram.

7.6

Motorola W385 - black (Verizon Wireless)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 9
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