Motorola PEBL U6 & RAZR V3i review: Fashionable duo

Jan Horalνk, 08 June 2006. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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The RAZR successor the Motorola V3i strives for continuing the legend its predecessor set the beginning of. Motorola has also another highly stylish clamshell, PEBL U6, which has a lot in common with the RAZR models and attracts attention equally well. It's been some time that these phones are out there in the streets and we thought that it would be a shame not to have a review of these two highly acclaimed phones. So we decided to present you both handsets in a joint review.

Motorola Pebl U6

Key features

  • Original oval design
  • "Rubber" surface
  • Automatic opening
  • Outer monochromatic display
  • Top-class TFT main display with 262K colors
  • Plain keypad made of glossy metal
  • Email client
  • Built-in VGA camera
  • Bluetooth

Main disadvantages

  • Increased weight
  • Keypad surface catches fingerprints
  • Poor touch orientation on the keypad
  • Limited internal memory of 5.8MB with no card slot
  • Illogic distribution of menu items

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Motorola PEBL U6

Motorola PEBL U6 is not any phone; it resembles a true pebble. The handset attracts one's attention not only with its untraditional design, but also with its material, which feels like hard rubber. Motorola PEBL U6 is so stylish that it could hardly remain unnoticed by the people around you. It has dimensions of 87 x 49 x 20 mm and weighs approximately 110 g. Besides the black version we had the opportunity to test, the manufacturer is currently offering other color versions.

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Comparison to a key • Looks like a pebble in the palm • First-hand originality

Totally round

The front cover is decorated with an oblong oval glossy plastic cover, under which one can find the VGA camera lens, the state LED, the manufacturer's logo, and a rather narrow outer display of 32 x 96 pixels. The low resolution of the latter, however, is not a reason to get worried since it is with inverted colors; that means font becomes light if background is dark, tuning-in with the overall concept of the phone. When on stand-by the outer display shows signal strength, battery state, and an analog or digital clock. Of course, it also alerts the user about incoming calls or received messages. Letters are displayed vertically in order to fit into the display screen. To read them easily you need to turn the phone to an angle of 90°. Font can be orientated towards right or left. This option is selected from the main menu. Under worse light conditions the display gets back-lighted in white.

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Outer display is only monochrome, but still pretty legible • VGA camera lens

The state LED is located beneath the display. It blinks in green when the phone is being charged and in blue when Bluetooth connection has been established. It has no further functions, which I find rather regretful. For example, it could have been used as an alert of incoming messages or missed calls.

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A flat display made of glossy metal welcomes you when you open the phone

The left side of the device features a standard swing volume key and the so called "Smart key", which has a user configurable function. This key helps change current ringing profile without having to open the phone. On the right side you will find a single key meant to activate the voice-dialing application.

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Motorola PEBL can hardly be mistaken with any other mobile phone

Do not waste your time in searching the data connector on the bottom of the device. The cable and charger connector together with the eye-let for the hanging stripe are smartly hidden in the top edge of the handset. The connector is a miniUSB one. It works with any common cable, like the one of your digital camera, for example.

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Data connector is unusually mounted on the top edge of the device

The rear cover protecting the battery is decorated with a white Motorola logo. Here you will also find the loud speaker grill and the release button. The battery is Li-Ion one, with a capacity of 820 mAh. According to the information published on the official site of the manufacturer, it is able to supply the phone with 400 minutes call time or 250 hours of stand-by time. The SIM card is located under the battery and is easily taken out when needed.

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Rear side of the phone is made out of thin cover • Loudspeaker • Removing the battery

Simplicity means beauty

Motorola PEBL U6 opens automatically, which is another specific feature in favor of the exceptionality of this device. The opening mechanism is literally expert, even if rather simple. The top half of the phone is kept closed through the use of magnets of reversed polarity located by both the keypad and the display. To open the phone one has to only slide the top half by a few millimeters downwards. This shift makes the magnet next to the display touch another magnet of the same polarity, which then results into a slight uplift of the top half of the phone. The full-opening path is completed due to two strong springs. When opening make sure you hold the handset firmly as the strong push of the springs may make it fly out of your palm. I have to confess that Motorola PEBL U6 got me here. Opening is so flashy and impressive that I kept repeating it during the entire testing.

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The top half gets displaced by a few millimeters in order to be automatically opened • Magnet detail

The keypad is a true surprise. It is completely flat, except for the four-way navigation key with its confirming central part, which is slightly elevated above the surrounding surface. The keypad is made out of glossy silver metal featuring etched border lines. In general, typing on Motorola PEBL U6's keypad is rather uncomfortable because the border lines are confusing when trying to write fast.

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Magnets attached to the keypad • Writing is rather uncomfortable

Located above the numeric part of the keypad are the navigation key and the standard keys for call reception and termination, three soft keys, and the keys for direct access to WAP and the message menu. All keys are big enough. They are all characterized by a low uplift and good press reaction.

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Keypad details • Navigation key with its central confirming area is slightly elevated above the rest of the keypad surface

Keypad is illuminated in cream white. Backlight intensity is however much too weak.

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Keypad backlighting is weak

Fineness & quality

A major part of the top half of Motorola PEBL U6 is occupied by an active TFT display, which glares in 262K colors. The display features a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels on a surface of 30 x 37 mm. It is very fine and the colors are good, both in terms of quality and visualization speed.

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Display is fine and good; yet it could have been a little bit bigger

To my taste, however, there is too much free space around the display. The manufacturer could have skipped the black frame in order to enlarge the display by a few millimeters in all four directions. Above the display you will only find the speaker grill with the typical "M" character and the standard Motorola logo.

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