The colour evolution is definitely here - for everyone. It’s not just all “expensive” or “trendy” - but colour screens on mobile phones are quickly moving towards the trend of being a necessity or requirement.
To prove my point, Motorola’s new E360 colour model provides an affordable option for those wanting “a bit more” from their mobile phone. It doesn’t give you everything under the sun… but it is sure close in doing so! :)
Apart from having a colour screen, the E360 comes with most of the trendy features that many would utilise apart from simply talking. Some of these include polyphonic ringing and message tones, SMS and EMS (enhanced messaging service) capabilities, SMS chat, and voice dialling. To top it off, a not-so-noticeable feature of the E360 is the ability to exchange its front cover to a different colour.
The E360 comes in a capsule-like form - thanks to the use of an internal antenna. Although slightly longer than most other phones, it does maintain good width and depth, and has a very reasonable weight of 85 grams. A lanyard hole is provided at the top of the phone enabling the user to wear the phone around their neck - instead of having to find a pocket for it to reside in.
A smooth surface material is used for the phone’s overall casing - which feels kind of different when compared to other phones. Don’t worry about the phone sliding all around the table - a rubbery Motorola logo at the top part of the back helps keep the E360 still. But do make sure you don’t have oily hands when you grab hold of this phone… :)
One feature that wasn’t as apparent (on initially going over the E360) was its removable front housing. On the outside, the only thing that looked removable was the back battery cover. Further inspection of the back revealed two latches on either sides of the battery. When pushed inwards, it allows the front cover to be slid off after pushing it downward. A plus about this design is that you would need the battery out of the phone before the two clips can be disengaged - discouraging the practice of removing and reapplying the front panel while the phone is turned on.
User Interface & display
Surprisingly, out of the many colour displays that I’ve come across on mobile phones, the E360 is probably one of the best in terms of having high resolution, and good levels of screen brightness and sharpness. Ultimately, this all equates to a very easy-to-view screen in most lighting situations.
Maintaining consistency with some of its other newly-launched models, the E360 comes with a 4-way navigational key and pairing up its functionality with the set of menu keys directly above it. While using the menus, up/down were the only two directions that I could use - probably to avoid confusion of having left/right being used for entering/exiting menu levels. But when using functions - such as writing a message, this is where the 4-way button becomes useful.
The E360’s menu does share similarities with other models, with the exception that it incorporates an icon-based main menu which properly houses all the phone’s features. A quick menu can be set up for frequently-used features and functions, and can be launched from the standby screen by pressing “up” on the 4-way navigational key (while pressing “down” will launch the voice dialling feature).
Decorating an E360 is easy, and there are up to three features that could be used for this purpose. Apart from the screen saver and wallpaper features that most would know about, this phone also allows its colour themes to be modified so that it can suit each individual’s taste. On the other hand, one may just want a different colour scheme for every different profile used.
Making and receiving calls
Sound quality on the E360 is good, while the polyphonic ringtones provide a sufficient volume level when set to its maximum possible setting. I found the built-in tones sounding more like harmonic tones instead - similar to those found on the Panasonic GD90 and GD92 models, and couldn’t really pick up much polyphonic effects on any of the tones. Probably the downloadable ones will have more ‘umph’ in them?
As for people who use headsets, you will be glad to know that the ones available for the E360 (as an accessory) do come with a button next to the microphone - allowing call handling directly from the headset.
The E360 comes with support for basic text messaging plus the ability to attach objects along with the text. Where SMS is for basic text, the EMS (enhanced messaging service) message format allows pictures, sounds and animations to be inserted into messages where it can be received by an EMS-compatible phone. The colour screen on the E360 means that you can send and receive colour pictures as well as those black and white ones!
iTAP, Motorola’s proprietary text prediction system, is used on the E360. Similar to T9, this allows text messages to be created quickly through matching each letter inputted and predicting the possible word/s by comparing them with iTAP’s built-in dictionary. There was, however, a little issue I had - particularly with the E360’s iTAP system (see the “Problems/issues” section of this review).
With the exception of the keys on the keypad feeling somewhat “hollow”, the E360 felt quite solid when in the hand. I also found the concept of the removable face plate to be a very practical one. No more broken nails and aching fingers!
On an average usage pattern, I was able to obtain approximately 2-3 hours talking time and up to 3-4 days standby. These numbers will vary depending on the amount of time you spend actively using the phone where the phone’s backlight and colour LCD become active (both these tend to drain the battery more quickly than other features).