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Welcome to the Motorola V3xx mobile phone review.  We’ve had this phone for at least a year now but due to various reasons haven’t done a write up.  However its 2009 now and about time we did something…

The V3xx is the 3G version of the V3 model range.   It was released back in  2006 when it was still one of the thinnest and arguably the best looking clam shell phone around.  In 2009 its still a good looking phone and one that should really sell better than it has.

The phone clearly has had decent software updates over the years because our latest version (Telstra) is obviously better than a Vodaphone version 18 months older.  So watch out and make sure you get the latest V3XX models.  Make sure your carrier has a stable phone software.

Construction wise it has a metal faced flip part and quality plastic base topped with the Motorola trademark aluminum keypad.  (The battery cover at the back also felt like it was made of metal) The Key pad is customized for whatever network is offering the phone.   It’s a very well built phone with no creaks.  The spring loaded flip works very well and reliably over the thousand or so open and close its been subjected to.  Overall a very well made phone that’s nice to hold. It is slightly bigger than the original V3 and subsequent V3i models.

The most important thing you should consider when buying is to get one which has multiple 3G and GSM network frequencies eg. 2100mhz, 850mhz or even 900mhz etc.. because get the wrong version it won’t work internationally.

The operating system is the ages old Motorola OS and it shows.  It has long menus and menu names which are not quite right.  Most annoying is the inability to personalize the OS with custom themes without spending a lot of time and with dubious certainty modding the OS.  Nevertheless the phone is quite stable with only an annoying backlight bug  for the external screen which we have yet to mod out of the OS!

The menu navigation and activating is very fast!  However a few options that you need to change are located in illogical places.  Eg. Open flip to answer is in the in-call options menu.  The dual naming of Skins and Themes.  Yes they are the same thing (except for icons).  Furthermore you cannot video call directly from the contacts menu!  You have to have already called the person by voice and then go to the call logs to be able to video call.

The best feature of the V3XX is definitely the internal screen.  It’s brilliant literally.  Very high quality display better than any mobile phone we’ve used to date (2008).  The external screen however is not very good too small and too dim – at least it’s color.

The keypad is very easy to use but feels stiff – after all it is aluminum!  The backlight is a nice iridescent blue and the keys if important enough have their own coloured backlight.  There are 3 keys on the flip part – one for volume, camera and one to activate the backlight.

The speaker volume is pretty decent on par with say most Nokia’s. Sound quality is a bit tinny as per most mobiles but fair enough.    However the call quality – microphone and earpiece quality is very good.  I dare say better than most other phones we’ve used.  The background noise reducer actually works in almost all instances!

The implementation of SMS or texting is not as good as the competition.  It requires several buttons and options before you can send a message off – specifically to someone not in your phone book!  Not good for those game shows where you need to be quick to enter.

The internet browser seems to have been updated and now using Opera 8 – better than many others I don’t care to mention for this type of phone.

Also missing is a File Manager.   You can’t create folders and organise files yourself it does it all for you.  Its good for those who can’t be bothered sorting out files or older folk who don’t want additional complication.  All you do is to go to the Multimedia – Media finder option and all the files are there.  Icons will only appear if it can read the file so easy to see what works or doesn’t work on the phone.

There are plenty of customization options . The standard options are wallpaper, tones and the most important soft key reassignment.  The installation of skins and JAVA software was easy enough but you have to be sure they are made for Motorola phones.  There aren’t too many because Motorola have not made a easy to access skin editor/designer.  That’s probably why Nokia and Sony Ericson are now more popular phones – which allow anyone with some determination to fully create their own.

Overall it’s got all the usual functionality including MS Exchange compatibility which was a nice surprise.  This software may not be available on phones from certain networks.  And I guess that’s the main issue – the V3XX is clearly heavily modified by whatever network you’re buying the phone for.  So some may have much better software than others…

As for other features the phone has everything a mid-range phone would have but at a cheaper price.  Although some V3XX do not have a airplane mode – the latest models finally have one!

Due to the very thin profile there’s only a mini-USB connector for everything including earphones.  That can be forgiven since it doesn’t have an FM radio but it does have a microSD slot for extra memory.

Battery life is a decent 7 days on standby.

Network reception is very good.  It was quite surprising especially comparing the signal levels to the Telstra branded and made for network ZTEs phones.  The V3XX kept full signal bars whilst the ZTE only had two less than 1/2 strength.

Conclusion: The V3xx is a very good phone – in particular the Telstra software version we tested.  It’s not embarrassing to show off to your mobile savvy friends and has all the latest functionality for 3G networks.  (Mind you if they don’t know it’s a XX they aren’t as savvy as you think!) If you get one it should keep you happy for a couple years that’s for sure. There are a few annoying things caused purely by illogical placement and/or naming but we got over it and you probably will too.

It’s a phone that has definitely gotten better with age.

Specifications

  • Motorola V3xx
  • Network
    Quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900
    3G 850/1900/2100 (Dependent on country)
    HSDPA 3.6 data speed
  • Design
    Flip or Clamshell
  • L102.9 x W53 x D17.3 mm
    Weight 108 grams
  • Display/s
    Internal TFT 240 x 320
    External CSTN 96 x 80
  • Camera
    1.3 MP
  • Video Camera
    480x 272 pixel video camera
  • Connectivity
    Bluetooth V1.2
    Mini-USB
  • CPU
  • Memory
    50MB available to user
    Micro-SD card up to 2Gig
  • Ring tones
    MIDI, MP3 and others
  • Features
    Menu Themes
    Image and Video viewer
    Organiser/Calender
    Video calling
    Voice memos
    SMS, MMS, IM, Email (inc. ActiveSync for some countries)
    JAVA MIDP 2.0
    Speaker Phone/Hands free
    Battery 940 mAh
    Up to 300 hours Standby
    Up to 3 hours Talk Time
  • Price history
    From $149-199 AUS 2009 (Pre-paid)
    From $499 AUS 2007 (Outright)

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