Leading the first of many new handsets to come from Motorola before the end of 2002, the new V60i takes all the strengths of the retiring V60 and adds a few more as well. Before, the V60 was just another variant in the V-series of clamshell-based phones which seemed more appealing in the inside (with its feature set) than its somewhat bland looks.
The V60i seems to have redefined what “a good quality phone” really is, and its other improvements are sure to help in assisting Motorola reclaim position in offering good quality handsets.
The external aspects of mobile phones in general are becoming increasingly important than just what one has to offer. For the V60i, the exchangeable alloy covers probably gives this phone the required variations in the “looks” department, while complementing a set of new features on the inside - including Java (J2ME) support, Motorola’s own version of the WAP 1.2.1 browser, screen savers, and more ringtones (up to 74 built-in/custom supported).
The V60i has exactly the same core structure as its V60 predecessor, with the only differences being the ability to exchange the front and back covers and a new shorter antenna design (removable via unscrewing it).
On the inside, the V60i is exactly the same as the V60. A large numeric keypad allows for easy dialling and messaging whilst using either standard multi-tapping or iTAP predictive text input. Alike other Motorola phones, the positioning of the ANSWER (green) and END (red) buttons have been swapped around. A set of up/down scroll buttons are located in between these two, with the “menu” button sitting above it and two soft keys on both sides of this.
Using the V60i with one hand was effortless, where I found most of the buttons to be appropriately spaced out and positioned so they can be pressed without a great deal of thumb movement (for example, the T-pattern set of menu navigation keys).
Alternatively, the two volume keys and smart key (located under the lower volume key) can be used to navigate menus and provide quick access to the phone book. This will depend on what situation these three buttons are used in.
Wondering how to remove the front cover? There is a little silver release button on the right hand side of the phone which, when pressed, will disable the lock on the front cover allowing for it to be slid off. To replace, simply slide the cover in place until you hear a “click” sound, which indicates that it has locked itself in position.
User Interface (UI)
Again, the V60i retains the user interface (UI) and menus used on the V60. Although the Synergy UI is quite flexible in terms of menu navigation and the ability to customise various access options, I still found the menu tree to be somewhat complicated and confusing at times - especially for the very-large SETTINGS menu. Once you get too deep into a particular menu system, you start to lose your way and get confused. Although practice does help, most would agree that an average user wouldn’t want to waste his/her time in spending too much time in this department.
The aqua-blue EL backlight provides sufficient backlighting to both the small external and primary internal displays. Although the V60i’s main screen can display up to four lines of text while being feasibly readable (the top line is always used for both signal and battery meters), I still found it small when compared to other clamshell phones currently in the market.
Making and receiving calls
The V60i is generally like any other clamshell phone when it comes to call management - calls are taken and concluded by respectively opening or closing the active folder. If the phone is on a mode other than silent, you can mute the ringer on pressing either volume buttons - but cannot reject an incoming call without opening the active folder.
A headset socket is located at the top side of the phone, which allows the V60i to sit in your pocket without having something sticking out of its base.
Support for both SMS (text only) and EMS (text plus the ability to include pictures, sounds and animations) messaging are available on the V60i. Motorola’s proprietary predictive text system, iTAP, aims to provide for an easier-to-use and more complete text input system than the likes of T9, a more widely-used standard by other handset manufacturers.
One of the downsides about small screens is the inability to physically fit more text on a single screen. As I stated previously, the V60i’s screen has the ability to display up to four lines of text - five if they decided to remove the signal and battery meters temporarily. This would be quite sufficient if the available screen space was used appropriately.
But the unfortunate thing is that the message composition interface of the V60i only uses two lines to display the message’s text - while the other two lines are used for iTAP’s list of possible words and the functions for the two soft keys.
The V60i could possibly be one of the best-built phones currently available in the market. Even with removable alloy covers on both front and back, the phone felt very solid when the active folder was either opened or closed. Although the phone did weigh in at 109 grams, I didn’t find this to be much of a bother - which incidentally contributed to the overall rigidity and sturdiness of the V60i’s build.
Performance of the supplied lithium-ion was excellent - where it was able to provide for around 3-5 days’ worth of standby and 2-3 hours’ of talk time on average use.