I remember this conversation I was having with my friend the other day about how mobile phones have come a long way in how they are used, perceived and designed. Before, a mobile phone is a device to simply enable communications outside the home or office (where there was coverage, of course). Today, they are not simply devices to give us communicative freedom - but also to give us self-identification or status within society through design and to assist us in the swift and more complex world thanks to those added features we now take for granted.
We have seen much innovative design concepts over the past couple of years - with phones looking like toys or something like a lady’s compact, and ones that seem to complement the living room furniture.
Now it’s Motorola’s turn to bring out something that will have people talking (for a while). A new addition to the V-series of phones, the V70, encompasses a completely new design concept whereby in order to operate the phone you would need to turn open the cover (which is also the earpiece for the phone) to access the keypad. Another striking feature is the LCD - which, instead of having a white background, is now black with white lettering. I was pretty excited to get hold of the phone for review, and my hopes on this phone were pretty high that it would be a winner.
The V70 has a silver casing design, where the front cover (the one with the earpiece on it) is plastic and the back cover being made of some kind of light alloy. Taking this cover off to put the SIM and battery into the phone, I found it slightly difficult to “lock-in” the cover into position. After using it for a while, I realised that you need to keep the whole cover down while sliding the cover back into the slot - otherwise, you will find it slightly raised at the base of the phone.
After turning on the phone, I found the display to be quite clear considering that it does have a black background. Although the display supports up to four lines of text, the first line doesn’t really count because the signal and battery indicators are permanently shown. In addition, when you are typing an SMS message or you’re using the WAP browser, you only really get to use two lines because the bottom line also gets taken up by the menu key indicators - telling you what the left and right is used for!
"The keypad &
menu system layout is similar to the one used on the V60"
The keypad and menu system layout is pretty much similar to the one used on the V.60 - with the positions of the answer and reject keys swapped around (that is, reject on the left and answer on the right). Additionally, the two menu keys uphold the same concept - where the clear/cancel key is usually the left key and the confirm/select key on the right. Some may think this is something different, but I find this a somewhat inconvenience since most of us have gotten to know that the “answer” key is always on the left-hand side, and the “reject” key is on the right. Therefore, it took me quite a bit of time to get use to the keypad layout.
Although I find the keypad to be too close to the casing, the keys are not very difficult to press. If they were a bit more raised, then it would be perfect! The electro-luminescent backlight on the MotoGlo keypad is one of the things that I really like about the V70 - especially when it contrasts the silver keys with the dark keypad backing. Sounds from the keypad were quite different from other mobile phones - but I thought they were too soft (especially in a standard street environment) even when I’ve set the volume up to maximum.
The menu system was not really all that easy to use either (but definitely better than the ones on the old StarTAC phones!) - as there were submenus under submenus under menus. One example is when I try to go and adjust the ringtone for the phone I still somehow get lost and have to start over to know where I am. This problem is partially contributed to the fact that only 2 lines are used to display the menus.
If you’re a person who has grown very accustomed to typing with T9 on (like me), then using the V70 with iTAP (Motorola’s version of a T9-equivalent) will be something you have to get use to as well. For each word sequence you type in, the iTAP feature will show a list of the words that you can choose from - and after finding it, you have to confirm the word by pressing the right menu key. I find using iTAP more time-consuming and there are more keystrokes involved (especially the part when you’re looking for the word you wanted!) Furthermore, typing words such as “we’ve” and “they’ve” becomes even more difficult. I personally prefer T9.
Talking on the phone was quite alright - with the earpiece having a loud-enough volume and the reception being very clear. Holding the phone up against the ear for a prolonged period didn’t bring up any discomfort either. I also managed to try using the headset with the FM radio headset that had two earplugs. Now, the funny thing with this was that when you listen to the radio, there would be sound coming out of both earplugs. But when you talk on the phone, only one side would be audible. Why can’t they just make it so you can listen to the caller on both ears - like the ones from either Nokia or Siemens?
The battery lasted for around two days with average usage (three with minimal). It’s a good idea to have a spare battery with you when you start seeing the battery meter falling.