Motorola MOTOFONE F3 review: Budget wonder

Jan Horalík, 25 March 2007. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Motorola Fone F3 or Motofone is a unique mobile device. It unites the latest modern trends, on one hand, and a very basic functional menu, on the other.

Key features

  • modern slim design
  • good keypad
  • solid construction
  • high contrast display with large font
  • long lasting battery
  • voice help
  • alarm clock
  • very basic functions
  • extremely low price

Main disadvantages

  • segmented display – only six letters in line
  • certain characters and symbols are difficult to read
  • does not make difference between upper and lower case letters
  • some basic characters are not possible to type
  • uneven backlighting of the display and the keypad
  • 7 pre-installed, non-configurable, and unpleasant polyphonic ringtones

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Motorola FONE F3 or Motofone

All developed European, far-eastern and American markets are already thicken with mobile phones, so no more turbulent increase of the number of mobiles sold there can be expected in the future. That is why phone manufacturers start to slowly turn their attention towards world destinations of slower-path economic growth, like Africa and India, for example, where mobile phones are still considered expensive. In fact, only very cheap phones with basic functions and simple controls can gain ground in these regions due to their poor economical situation. In this sense, Motofone (its full name is Motorola FONE F3) seems to be the ideal solution for the purpose.

The official presentation of Motofone in the middle of the last year raised a huge wave of public interest. It is a part of a mobile communication development project that is to be carried out in the developing countries. The name of the project is „Connecting the Unconnected“; along with Motofone it also embraces the construction of BTS stations (Base Transceiver Stations) powered by an alternative energy source such as wind energy, solar energy, and biomass.

The slimmest Motorola ever

Motofone’s design follows the latest fashion trends. Certainly nobody had expected the cheapest phone on the market to be only 9 mm thin and thus being the slimmest Motorola ever. The other two dimensions are 114 x 47 mm. Its weight surprises too - meager 68 g. Despite of looking fragile the phone stands bending pretty successfully thanks to the solid and resistant plastic material used for its covers.

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Motofone is truly extremely slim • comparison to a credit card

The phone is a little bit more resistant than standard average devices, both in terms of firmness and structural design concept. All electronic parts are encapsulated so the device could even resist a mild shower. The latter was demonstrated at Motorola’s presentation show, where mineral water was poured onto the phone; even so it continued to function without problems.

The sides of the phone do not feature any control elements, just the engraved logo of the manufacturer. The only element hidden on the left is a small slot for a charger and a headset. On the top there is a large eyelet for a wrist band.

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On the left side there is a connector for a charger and a handsfree set • wrist band

The rear part of the phone consists of a battery cover, four tiny screws, one in each corner, and the manufacturer’s logo. Once released, the battery cover opens up to the side. It discloses a standard 700 mAh Li-Ion battery. According to the officially published information, after a single charge, the phone should be able to back up 270 minutes of call time or 300 hours on stand-by. We had the opportunity to test Motofone for about a week so we cannot provide you with an objective valuation of its true durability. Nonetheless, our short experience allows us to estimate Motofone might quite successfully last for a week if used moderately. We were quite surprised by the long charging time, though, about 4 hours. The SIM card is inserted in a slot next to the battery; it is very easy to get in or out.

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The rear cover is rather boring • battery removed

Flat keypad with rubber strips

The front cover is made of a metall-looking plastic different from the one used on the rest of the phone. Motofone is coming on the market in three color versions: black, red, and blue. We had the chance to test the modest among them: the black one. Red and blue look far more interesting.

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The red color version of the phone was presented at a Motorola show

All keys but the navigation button are integral parts of the front cover and are therefore activated by a press straight onto the plastic area. This eliminates any fear regarding dust under the keys. A protruding rubber strip separates each line on the keypad facilitating orientation. On the whole, typing on Motofone keypad is quite comfortable. When you press on a certain plastic area,the key feedback is sure and positive. Keys are large; typing errors happen seldom.

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The keypad is flat; the keys are separated by rubber strips

The functional part of the keypad is dominated by a four-way navigation key without a confirming center. It is made of glossy silver plastic material with eye-catching concentric circles and is slightly exerted above the surrounding surface – much like on the Motorola SLVR L7. The four ways are accentuated by small plastic arrows made of the same rubber material like the strips between the key lines. Next to the navigation key you will also find a call-control key, a key referring to the phonebook, and an arrow-marked context key for option confirmation. Not even here, considering keys manageability, have we got any negative remarks to make.

Backlighting is of worse quality. It is heavily uneven, being the strongest under the lowest key line. The rest of the keypad is illuminated in dazed white. When the phone is moved, one can see how fast backlighting twinkles. However, this does not have any great impact onto common usage.

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