I bought a Motorola v600 GSM phone. I bough it because I needed a quad-band device (there are remarkably few on the market) with Bluetooth support. I have other requirements too, but those top my list. And so I bought the v600. And I just returned it. Here’s why:
The v600 is feature rich. I have no complaints whatsoever when it comes to the range of features, from very flexible phonebooks to the obligatory camera (with digital zoom) to the ability to define cover glowing colors so as to distinguish incoming calls to … this phone packs a lots of functionality into a relatively small device.
But as powerful as the device is, the software is appalling, to the point of making the device unusable. For example:
* To import phone numbers from a SIM card, entries must be imported individually. (The manual refers to an Import All option, but it does not exist, or did not in my model).
* And then, once numbers have been imported, the all show up twice, once on the SIM and once on the phone. A call to Motorola verified that there is no way to show just phone entries, and so I had to delete each and every entry off of the SIM card (one at a time of course, there is no Delete All either).
* The SMS client is about the worst I have seen, behaving more like an e-mail client than an IM client, requiring that I close any received message before I can type a response or read a follow-up message. If you use SMS extensively (and I do) you will find this client just about unusable.
* Motorola’s concept of profiles is completely unintuitive.
* Flexible phonebook entries is a good thing. But voice activated (and Bluetooth) dialing only being able to call the default number is ridiculous.
These are just some examples of great features hampered by terrible software. Motorola UI engineers would do well spending some time with Nokia and SonyEricsson devices.
But beyond software:
* Bluetooth is an absolute requirement for me, and the v600’s Bluetooth support is sub par at best. Pairing it to my Acura took several tries (although it paired with my HBH-65 headset on the first try). It broadcasts less data than any other Bluetooth device I have used (it omits the battery indicator, cell strength, and even the roaming signal). And worst of all, the phone will not hang-up via Bluetooth, when I ended a call in my car (hitting the End button on my steering wheel) the phone remained connected until I disconnected from the phone too! Unacceptable.
* Quad-band support was the primary reason I bought this device. And the phone worked really well throughout Europe as well as here in the USA. But while the phone did indeed connect to different networks and providers on different bands, band switching is not clean at all. Almost every time I arrived in a new country the phone reported “No Network” until I forced it to scan for networks, that should happen automatically.
* Every phone I have ever used has the “Yes/Answer” button on the left, and “No/Hang-up” on the right. Was it really necessary for Motorola to reverse these buttons? I know I could have gotten used to it, but hanging up on people inadvertently is very frustrating.
* The v600 has a “smart button” on the side, kind of a context-sensitive action key. The problem is that it is far too sensitive, the device kept switching profiles on me while in my pocket.
Now to be fair, there were things I liked about the device:
* Sound quality is great, several people who regularly complain about not hearing me commented on how much better the call quality was, without knowing that I was using a different device.
* The T9 user interface is very clean and highly usable.
* The screen is large and very clear, even in direct sunlight.
The bottom line is that the v600 could have been an incredible phone, and maybe a subsequent device will be. But for now, this one gets a failing grade from me.

10 thoughts

  1. I actually really like this phone, but I dont use bluetooth as much (only to get internet access on my powerbook when I travel).
    However, just to add to your list of complaints, you cant sync with Macs via iSync via Bluetooth. You have to buy a USB cable to sync with Macs!
    mike chambers
    mesh@macromedia.com

  2. Try nokia 6600 ( or 6620 or 6630 )
    I have one, and the sybian OS is the best thing a mobile can have 🙂

  3. I can’t believe Motorola hasn’t fixed the UI issues yet.
    In 1998 I was unfortunate enough to experience the really awful Motorola UI for a brief time. After that for a while when I saw someone with a Motorola handset I always thought: ‘Is this guy too smart to be able to actually use that phone, or is he too dumb to purchase it in the first place?’
    I went with Nokia all the way, never regretted: 8110, 8210, 7110, 8250, 8310, 7650 and now 6230, though I never needed even a triple band device. Nokia UI has been the best (nobody argues with that). And feature-wise Nokias, at least higher end models, are always OK (admittedly not the best).
    So what will you be getting as a replacement? Quad band phones are really rare…
    Best regards,
    Burak

  4. I upgraded to the Motorola MXP200. Worst piece of junk I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Battery life is terrible, OS bombs regularly while syncing with my laptop. Connectivity is terrible. Sound quality is dire. All the UI issues you mentioned SMS is nigh on un8seable. After 4 weeks it went back in its box and I’m using my old Nokia which has half the features but about 30 times the battery life.
    Trust me it will be Nokia all the way from here on in.
    Not so much "Hello Moto" as "Push off Moto"
    The Nokia 6600 my colleague uses has got me drooling with envy.

  5. I second that. I’ve used both Motorola and Nokia phones, and the Nokia interface smokes Motorola’s. I like some things about Motorolas, but overall I’ve been much happier with Nokia’s.

  6. I am currently using Motorola phone, and it will be the last one for me. The only thing I like about it is small size. For me functionality counts and broken battery meter in my series just drives me mad (replacing the phone didn’t help much).

  7. I spent a few days with the Nokia 6620 and loved it. Bluetooth worked quite well (paired with my PowerBook and headset). Even though I loved the phone, I ended up settling on the Sidekick 2, which is an extremely cool device, but wouldn’t work for your needs.
    Christian

  8. I love my V600, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can see your points though, they’re just not something that I’m concerned about.

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