Motorola PEBL U6 & RAZR V3i review: Fashionable duo
Messaging: poor iTap and unpractical keypad
Message menu is accessed through a press on the envelope button. In it you will find SMS, MMS, and emails. The display offers 8 lines for both typing and reading. The phone memory can receive and save up to 150 SMS, alerted by a melody of user's choice. As usual, typing is supported by the iTap dictionary. Once you have started to type a message, do not close the phone or you will lose what's been written. Both models feature EMS support and thus allow for a melody or a tiny picture to be attached to SMS.
Message menu • Composing options
When SMS is being created, both PEBL U6 and RAZR V3i start to count from 450 available characters. User is informed about the total number of split messages only after the number of the recipient is inserted. Messages can be sent in bulk. Delivery notification is not received automatically, but has to be activated every time before a message is sent. Old messages can be automatically deleted in user configurable intervals.
Typing a SMS
MMS share an editor with SMS. They may contain a picture, a voice record, a sound, a video, and details about the corresponding contact copied from the phonebook. A preview is available, too. The maximum MMS size is 100 KB. Received MMS are saved into a folder common for both MMS and SMS.
Both new Motorola models offer an email client, which works with attachments as well as SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 protocols. It manages more than one account at once, and can check for new mail either automatically in preconfigured intervals, or manually.
Neither of the phones offers comfortable typing, so I do not recommend them to users who type messages frequently. The iTap dictionary has a rather poor dictionary, so its worth is up to the user who should teach it plenty of new words. Both models respond fast. PEBL's keypad is quite attractive, but also rather unpractical, while keys on RAZR are distributed more successfully.
Organizer: no task or note organizer
The calendar application in both devices offers a month, a week, and a day view. Events can only be of one particular type, but they can include a legend, start time, duration details etc. They can be repeated daily, weekly, monthly, or once a year. Alert time is user configurable.
Month, week and day view at the calendar
There are five alarm clocks, which also serve like a "reminder". Any melody can be used as an alarm. The alarm would go off even when the devices are off. Alarm is not repeatable though. The built-in voice recorder saves records of maximum 1-minute, which I consider to be rather low capacity with respect to the overall memory available in both phones. Among java applications in PEBL you will also the so called password memory available that is only available in English. Both models feature a simple intuitive calculator, which does not give priority to mathematical operations.
Neither of the phones features a task or note organizer, which once again comes to prove that Motorola remains far behind in comparison to current top mobile handsets.
Fun: MP3 and Java
One of the java application available in Motorola RAZR V3i is its MP3 player. It sorts MP3 files by album and artist name and allows for creating one's own playlists, but cannot be minimized. Music can be minimized and still listened to by the use of a simple file manager, which however requires that you switch songs by yourself. Loudspeaker quality is good in both phones. I could not test earphones quality though as I did not found any in either of the original packages. In any case, earphones are to be plugged into the miniUSB connector or wirelessly through Bluetooth (Motorola RAZR V3i). Considering the fact that Motorola PEBL's memory is not expandable and that its 5 MB do not meet even the minimum requirements for music listening, the phone can hardly ever be used as a MP3 player. What a pity that Motorola has failed to implement a FM radio.
Music player can be minimized
Java music player is able to order items, but cannot be minimized
Java 2.0 is available in both models. In Motorola PEBL U6 you will find 3 applications already put by the manufacturer: a password storing application, a fitness program for tracking calories, weight etc, and a fighter plane shooting game. This game is also available, together with a card game, in Motorola RAZR V3i. According to jBenchmark results, Java is relatively slow in both devices, which results into cuts in animation flow.
Data with GPRS only
Should you want to transfer data, you will have to make do with GPRS Class 10 as neither Motorola PEBL U6, nor Motorola RAZR V3i has EDGE. GPRS is useful for WAP browsing (version 2.0) or for connecting a PC to Internet. Both phones can be easily connected to a PC via Bluetooth or through a data USB cable. Neither of the phones has an Infrared port. Synchronization and data transfers between PC and each of the phones require the installation of the new version of the software Motorola Mobile Phone Tools, which has to be bought additionally.
Does the design make up for the rest?
Both Motorola PEBL U6 and Motorola RAZR V3i are highly stylish devices of attractive design and top-quality construction. Owning one of these phones guarantees you an ever-present attention on behalf of people around. Yet, in order to achieve originality Motorola has sacrificed a number of important functions, offering at the same time rather low levels of user-friendliness in interface in general. It seems as if Motorola failed to catch up with technological innovations as it still uses interfaces from models like V300, V500, and V600, which are three-year old now. In the mean time other manufacturers have made a huge progress in making their interface more user-friendly, leaving Motorola far behind.