Standard form factor phones are everywhere, hence the name "standard". But what happens when people get bored of this form factor everywhere? New form factors happen, that's what! The most common form of mobile phone that isn't the standard "bar" design is the clamshell. This has then been adapted to the slider range of handsets from various manufacturers, and now we have the new swivel handsets.
The possibilities are almost endless, and imaginations are running wild in the design area of mobile phone manufacturers.
The Motorola V80 is another example of a swivel-based form factor for mobile phones, and includes an assisted
180° rotating display. There is more to the Motorola V80 than just its physical side though… so read on!
The Motorola V80's swivelling design is the first outstanding feature to mention. It is also the first thing you use when you take hold of the handset. The V80 also has many outstanding features including rhythm lights like we saw in the recently reviewed Motorola E398. The handset has USB data-cable and Bluetooth connectivity options, and also the ability to capture VGA sized images using the in built camera. 5mB of internal memory is offered to store all your files, and the V80 also supports Java games and applications.
The rhythm lights on the Motorola V80 are activated in two different ways – either by music around the handset that is picked up, or by events occurring on the handset. When the lights are activated and set to respond to music played around the handset, they will flash in tune with the music. You can change the sensitivity of the lights and also the style of lights used, and there are many colours and colour combinations to be used. The event lights will light up when, for example, the phone rings – and these too can have a selected colour combination or single colour to flash.
Bluetooth Wireless Technology is supported on the V80, and to get started using Bluetooth straight away a Bluetooth headset is included in every sales package – which is a fabulous idea. The headset included in the sales package, or any other headset/Bluetooth enabled device can be paired with the V80 in a few simple steps. Bluetooth can also be used to connect the handset to your computer or laptop for data transfer.
The VGA camera on this new Motorola handset can only capture still images at a 640 x 480 pixel resolution. It is a shame it can't capture video but the memory would only allow for limited video clips if it was supported. The VGA camera is positioned on the back of the handset. An alternative to capturing images is to rotate the display of the handset
90°, where is will click into place and the camera application will start. Functions are limited in this mode, and you can read about them in more detail and view images of the V80 in action in the Camera Performance section.
A 65,636 colour TFT display is used on the Motorola V80. This size is used in a growing number of handsets on the market because it is large enough for almost anything the mobile phone can offer. The display can be used when the handset is closed, at a
90° angle or when it is fully open at 180°. This display is perfect for capturing and reviewing images, playing Java games, and browsing the mobile internet.
GPRS is the only supported wireless data protocol on the handset, and a WAP 2.0 browser is inbuilt into the handset. You can download ring tones and an endless amount of data and information using the browser at any time of day or night. GPRS also aids in the sending and receiving of MMS messages.
When fully closed the V80 is a very attractive handset. It is small and sleek, and the rounded edges give off an effective illusion that the handset is smaller than it actually is. The assisted swivel of the V80 allows you to 'flick' open the display without causing any serious damage to the internal parts. The swivel display clicks into a locked position at
90° and 180°. The V80 uses a simple colour scheme of black and chrome, with some grey on the back removable cover. The V80 weighs approximately 100grams and measures 45mm x 99mm x 23mm.
From the front the V80 will always have a small green light flashing behind the green directional stick. When the handset is closed, the directional stick is located above the display, and the earpiece below the display. The display is surrounded by a chrome plating with a small Motorola symbol at the bottom (at the top and upside down when the handset is open).
When the handset is flicked open a bright white light illuminates the directional stick and three buttons around it, and the numerical and hang up/pick up buttons which were previously hidden under the display. I found the numerical buttons to be too small, and there seems to be a lot of space which would allow for larger buttons. The user interface automatically adjusts to when the phone is open and closed so you don't need to rotate the handset to see the screen saver the right way around when it's closed.
The black around the outside of the handset is applied around the numerical buttons also, except for a small grey segment on the bottom which reads "V80". This is the same grey used on the back cover. The chrome border is around the hidden section of the phone as well as the display. The chrome however around the display isn't chrome. Although it looks like it is solid and opaque, it is not. The rhythm lights are hidden behind it and when activated it is clear (pun!) that the "chrome" is transparent. :)
Both sides of the V80 house external buttons – the left side has volume up and down buttons, and the right side has the dedicated voice record/voice phonebook button. The on/off button is located inside the handset; the hang-up button is used for that. The small headset jack is located on the right-hand side of the handset, below the Motorola logo.
User Interface & display
The Motorola V80 uses the same user interface as you would find in any other recent handset from the manufacturer. The main menu consists of 9 icons (or you can set it to show a list) and navigation around the menus and the general operation of the handset is achieved with use of the 5-way directional stick, and the 3 soft keys surrounding it. A single 65,536 colour TFT LCD is used also as the viewfinder for the VGA camera on the Motorola V80.
I found the general user interface to be quite slow and occasionally unresponsive. When messaging this way most apparent with the use of iTap predictive text – after you had finished pressing keys the phone would be lagging behind. There is more on the responsiveness of the handset in the Problems/Issues section of this article.
The navigational stick pokes out from the inside of the navigational pad, and is very easy to use even though it is not totally rounded. There are two major-use soft keys on the left and right side, which are used for the functions labelled on the display. The third soft key is below the navigational stick and usually brings up the menu of the function displayed on screen. You can push in the navigational stick as well as moving it left, right, up, and down.
The main menu of the V80 no longer has a messages icon. This has been for some reason placed at the very end of the settings menu, which is a bit of a hassle to get to – although this is overcome by the factory default setting of the right soft key programmed to open the messages menu when the phone is idle. The main menu icons are as follows: Office Tools, Web Access, Games & Apps, IM, Settings, Phonebook, Recent Calls, Chat, and Multimedia. The main menu can be reordered to your own preferences if you wish, via the settings menu.
Colour Styles can be applied to the user interface to change the colour, and full-screen wallpapers are supported also. There are three different screen saver settings. One is for when the handset is open and idle (the wallpaper), the second is when the handset is closed and idle, and the third is when the handset is idle either open or closed, a screensaver will show up full screen. You can select from animations or still photos stored on the 5mB of user-accessible memory.
The "Home Screen" or what is displayed when the phone is open and idle can be fully personalized. The navigational stick movements can be programmed to specific functions, and the clock displayed can be analogue or digital. Both soft-keys can also be programmed to a function, and the layout can be left-justified or shown in the centre.
Making and receiving calls
The Motorola V80 supports Bluetooth Wireless connections, has a headset jack and inbuilt speakerphone – so there are a number of different ways you can make and receive calls. A Bluetooth Headset is included in the sales package to get you started. Volume keys on the left side of the handset can adjust volume up or down when using the handset on your ear or the built in speakerphone.
When a phone call comes through you simply flick the handset open to start the call. If the handset is already open and a call comes through the hang-up and pick-up buttons are used to accept or reject the call. On this handset these two buttons have changed sides from the norm, so the pick-up button is on the right and the hang-up button on the left. I accidentally hung up on a few callers not realising that the buttons had changed sides!
I found no problems with the audio in either direction, and the inclusion of the HS820 Bluetooth Headset in the sales package was excellent, more manufacturers should follow suit! The speakerphone on the V80 was audible and clear at all times, and during my trial I almost never had the volume at full, there was no need for it.
The V80 has a picture phonebook which allows you to attach images you have taken with the
integrated camera or other images you have downloaded or transferred to the handset. The phonebook is also multi-entry, so you can store more than just a name and number. The only problem with the phonebook on this model is that you can't search for more than a single letter. For example, pressing "Ma" on a Nokia phone will show up all names with "Ma" at the start. If you entered "Ma" on the V80 it will quickly show the "M" names and then go straight to the "A" names, not "Ma" names.
The Motorola V80 supports MP3 and MIDI ringing tones, and the rhythm lights are absolutely wonderful. The rhythm lights can be set to your desired colour combination or just a single colour, and will light up to the ring tone selected. They light up the whole front edges of the handset.
SMS, EMS, MMS, Instant messaging, and e-mail messaging are all the options you have to choose from when messaging on the V80. iTap predictive text is used to predict the words your are typing, but is quite slow due to the lag of the user interface. The inbuilt VGA digital still camera can capture images for your MMS messages. Whatever it is you choose to use for messaging the V80 supports it.
The messaging menu on the V80 is factory set to be the right selection key when the handset is open and idle, but you can also find it at the very end of the settings menu (why it is there I do not know!). When you open this menu everything is displayed in a list form, from creating a new message, your inboxes, drafts, templates, and anything else message related. The middle soft key can be pressed to access settings, like MMS configuration and e-mail server setup.
When you select create a new message you a prompted to select the type of message you would like to compose. Short message, letter, multimedia message, e-mail, or message from MMS template. When you open the compose message window there are lines which the text sits on, and in the top left hand corner the text input mode selected will be shown as a small icon. The far right side will show the characters left in the message (will be 450 if you haven't inputted anything). This character counter really has no purpose because it doesn't show how many messages your message covers. You will have to remember that 450 subtract 160 (single message character length) is 290, and when typing your message watch out for the 290 mark. This really annoyed me with the V80!
SMS and EMS messages can be longer than 160 characters though, which is a good thing.
MMS messages that the V80 receives can contain video even though the camera does not support video capture. The built-in video player can play videos attached to MMS messages as well as videos downloaded from WAP sites or transferred to the handset via a PC-phone connection.
E-mail server protocols that the V80 can communicate and download/send messages from are POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4. You will have to manually set up these mail servers and make sure GPRS settings are also correct for the handset to successfully download your e-mail messages from your home or work server.
Three connectivity options are available on the Motorola V80, and these are Bluetooth, USB data-cable, and GPRS. The first two can be used to connect to a PC or laptop, and the second is used simply for wireless over-the-air data transfers like connecting to WAP sites or downloading/sending MMS messages. Bluetooth can also be used for connections to other devices like headsets – one is even in the sales package.
The interface port on the bottom of the V80 is used to charge the handset with the adapter in the sales package, as well as connect the phone to a USB compatible PC or laptop. A USB data-cable is also packaged in the V80's box, along with the software required to transfer data and synchronize with your PC (Mobile Phone Tools). The USB data-cable allows high-speed transfers of a number of different file types to and from the phone. Bluetooth also has this functionality.
The GPRS protocol allows connections at around 48kbp/s, which is great for downloading Java games and applications, images, tones, and whatever else you can think of!
The Motorola V80 performed reasonably well in this section, except for a few issues I noticed with it. The mechanism that helps flick open the top section of the V80 is well crafted and there were no problems with that. The issue that I noticed the most was that when you were holding the phone up to your ear and your hand moves, the display may start to move too, when it should be clicked into place. This doesn't affect your calls however and you just have to align the phone again.
The other was the actual shape of the phone and when in-call you cannot hold the phone with your shoulder as it slips out of place! This probably isn't very good for your posture though… maybe it's teaching us a lesson! :)
Other than those two things the V80 had a great quality of craftsmanship. The back-cover of the V80 is easily removed and replaced and the battery has a small indentation in the side where it can be easily lifted out and the SIM card insert accessed.
I had no problems with the Motorola V80's battery and it served me well! The battery meter shown on the display only has three bars but the colour of the battery icon changes to indicate how much battery life you have remaining. If you go into the settings menu and scroll down to "Phone Status" and select "Battery Meter", a better indication of how much battery life you have left is shown.
The single battery in the sales pack is a lithium ion at 820mAh. Motorola says that the battery should last the phone for up to 120 hours standby time and up to 190 minutes of talk-time.