UTStarcom and Verizon Wireless have often partnered to come up with solid basic phones for the budget-minded buyer, and the UTStarcom CDM-8905 is no exception. It is not a fancy phone by any means, which is not necessarily a bad thing especially for those who just want to make calls. That said, we weren't crazy about the phone's design, and it isn't the best basic phone in Verizon's lineup. You might want to opt for the Verizon Wireless Coupe or the PN-300 instead. The CDM-8905 is available for $19.99 with a two-year contract. To find accessories for this phone, see our cell phone ringtones and accessories guide.
The CDM-8905 is definitely no fashion phone. In fact, it looks like it came out of a time machine from the mid-'90s. It's blocky, clunky, and wrapped in a decidedly boring silver-and-black finish. Measuring 3.2 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.8 inch, the CDM-8905 isn't too large, and at 3.5 ounces it isn't that heavy either, so it slips in a pocket or purse with ease.
Since basic phones like these are often without an external screen, we were thankful for the tiny 0.9-inch black-and-white display on the CDM-8905. It displays all the basics like date, time, battery, and signal strength, as well as caller ID. Of course, since it isn't a color display, it doesn't offer photo caller ID; but that's fine considering the phone doesn't have a camera anyway. The volume rocker is on the left spine, and a headset jack sits on top of the phone.
The internal display of the CDM-8905 was low key and quite disappointing. Measuring 1.5 inches diagonally, the screen supports only 65,000 colors. Graphics looked washed out, and menu icons were a tad too small for our tastes. You can adjust the screen's backlight time as well as the contrast.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a four-way toggle that can be mapped to four user-defined shortcuts, a middle OK key, a Send, and End/Power key. There's also a Clear key that doubles as the speakerphone key. The overall keypad on the CDM-8905 is fairly middle-of-the-road; the keys aren't too spaced apart, nor are they too crowded. And while we liked that the keys are raised slightly above the surface for easy dialing, we would've appreciated it if the keys had a little more "give" when pressed.
The CDM-8905 has a pretty small address book with room for only 500 contacts. Each entry can hold five numbers and two e-mail addresses though, so it's not that bad. You can then organize the callers by groups and assign each entry with 1 of 16 ringtones or 1 of 20 alert tones. Features on the CDM-8905 are pretty limited, as to be expected; it includes text messaging, a speakerphone, a vibrate mode, a calendar, a calculator, and an alarm clock. There's also dedicated folder just for emergency contacts, if you want instant access to a certain phone number.
Personalization options are pretty limited due to the lack of a wireless Web browser. However, you get a limited number of wallpapers, color themes, and sounds to choose from.
We tested the UTStarcom CDM-8905 in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless network. Call quality was outstanding; there was little to no static or fuzz in the background, and callers thought we sounded very close to landline quality. Speakerphone quality was also quite good, though callers said we sounded a bit more muted.
The CDM-8905 has a rated battery life of 3.16 hours talk time and 12.9 days standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 3 hours and 33 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the CDM-8905 has a digital SAR rating of 1.32 watts per kilogram.