Motorola T720 Review| By Allen Tsai
Hellomoto. Motorola's new catchphrase coined by their marketing department to appeal to the new, modern, chic crowd that is the American teenager. Released in October of 2002, the phone is set to compete with phones like the Sony Ericsson T68i, and Nokia 7210. Motorola has put out a camera-enabled edition, the T720i. While the T720 comes in 3 versions, 2 dual-band GSM, and a CDMA.
The Motorola T720 is kind of a fusion between Motorola's old school StarTAC and the popular V60. Motorola, as many of its commercials are demonstrating, is trying to cater to the young, hip crowd offering a slew of features and a large, vibrant color screen.
The T720's slim body is comparable to other small phones out on the market today in terms of both size and weight. Taking a page from most other clamshell phones available, the T720 has an external LCD display which shows the time, battery level, signal strength, and in some cases, caller ID.
Continuing to with what's popular, Motorola added changeable faceplates as well -- a nice touch and smart move judging from the popularity that similar Nokia's have garnered. However, the plastic does seem to be a bit light and fragile. I'm really not one to abuse my phones but this phone definitely should be treated with kid gloves. Good looking design but maybe they should have considered going with a lightweight metal instead sacrificing weight for durability.
Internally, the 4,096 STN color screen is beautiful. Everything shows up wonderfully bright and very easy to see. The screen is also slightly larger (8-9 lines of text) than the standard 5 lines offered by similar phones.
This extra space really comes in handy if you're a messaging or gaming fiend -- especially games in my opinion. While not as good as the Samsung S105 display, it is still nonetheless a great screen. Also, in sunny weather don't expect to see much.
Inside, the icon-heavy interface makes things intuitive for the novice user and expert alike. The user interface is exceptional. It makes full use of the directional keypad and the buttons under the display. You even have the ability to customize shortcuts to the numeric keys for quick access to the menus.
If that wasn't enough, you can configure your six favorite functions to be accessed in standby mode. One for each of the 4 directions, and 2 from the soft keys. Assigning voice tags to shortcuts is possible too! The combinations are almost endless.
Even easier to use are the phone's large buttons for dialing and menu navigation. While the enlarged number keys makes dialing a breeze, the directional keypad is no good for those that like to play games which was actually the highlight of a few of the T720 commercials on TV.
The 550 mAh Li-Ion battery charges quickly; just about an hour to fully charge. Unfortunately, using up the battery life is quick as well.
Our tests came nowhere near the minimum rated talk time of seven hours. It was more along the lines of two hours, but standby time was relatively on target.
Meeting its rating aside, two weeks hours of standby is still pretty substandard nowadays. And two hours of talk time is almost downright unacceptable. It should also be noted that the CDMA phones seem to drain batteries faster than GSM models. Beware Verizon users.
The T720 has a dedicated 1.75 MB for storing its games, wallpapers, screensavers, and applications downloadable via BREW -- Motorola's proprietary service for sending multimedia content. 1.75 isn't that bad since many of the things you'll be storing are relatively small. It's slightly roomier than some of its competitors like the T68i which only has 1 MB of storage space, and dwarfs Nokia and Samsung's storage space.
Most of the connection slots for the T720 are on the bottom. A place for the charger, a place for the synch cable. Synching leaves a lot to be desired when compared to other phones. Depending on your plan and provider, you might not be able to download all those fancy games. Some providers -- Verizon, for example -- restrict all multimedia content so that you can only get it from them at a price. That's pretty ridiculous if other phones can download as much as they want, when they want, for free.
The main feature left out from the T720 is probably an infrared port. If you want to download multimedia to your phone, your only options are a data cable or through WAP (Depending on your service provider). Thus with all the great multimedia on the phone, you might be paying a lot of money for each picture or ring tone depending on your service provider. Definitely something to consider if you like to change the look of your phone often.
If you've owned a v60 or v66, you'll already be familiar with the phone book structure. You can store up to 1000 contacts and emails.
The only interesting thing here is the addition of a PIN number. While I say again that it may not really be all that useful for most people, the fact that it can store a unique 32 digit PIN for each entry is pretty impressive. You can even have it pause and wait to connect the call before having it dial the PIN.
Very standard as well with the exception of the Notepad. This is by far my favorite feature. I remember many times jotting down a phone number by dialing the number only to lose it after 30 seconds because I never actually called the number. Notepad solves this by allowing you to go to the temporary memory space those typed numbers are stored in and you can edit that number and save it to your phonebook.
The Media Center is pretty straight-forward. Picture Viewer and My Times allows you to create your own pictures and ring tones. The radio feature is a little unnecessary -- especially since you have to have a special headset just for that purpose.
While there isn't a menu for this option, it is an incredibly handy addition. Hold down the side key and talk into your phone. Great for reminding yourself of things you have to do or recording important phone calls. Or if someone denies saying something, you can hit play for them and rub it in their face.
Here you can select from different ring styles. Customize for rings, messages, or alarm clock. You can also have it on mixed mode which vibrates first, then rings.
The T720 has 4 toned (16 instrument) polyphonic ring tones. The sound is pretty good, although not as pretty as the Samsung's. The format is MMF instead of SP-MIDI. It's not a big deal, just that you have to convert them.
Too bad the ring volume is quiet. Don't expect to hear it if you bury it deep in your pockets. Good thing is has a strong vibrating alert though.
Get It Now
This deserves mention despite its lack of a real menu simply because this is where all the fun stuff is. It's strange how in all of the menus, there is no direct mention of games even though there was so much emphasis placed on it in the commercials.
Games and other applications are stored in the "Get It Now" folder where your downloads reside. This is where Motorola's intentions become very clear. The majority, if not all, of the content for the T720 is available through subscription only. Meaning that in order to get the fun stuff, you have to pay for it and it gets sent directly to your phone.
The synching that is available for the phone is only used for PIM/PDA purposes. It's really not that bad I suppose but I'd like more out of it without really having to pay more money.
Calculator and Currency Exchange
Calculate simple math problems and currency exchanges. Same as all the other phones. We're still waiting for the phone that can do integrals.
Settings is where everything can be changed. Personalize your phone with your own ring settings, backgrounds, screensavers, etc. You can adjust a few network settings and have features like the Auto PIN Dialers although that feature is sort of useless. How long could a PIN actually be? For most purposes it's that 4 digit code for banks. Adding a feature specifically for that purpose seems like kind of a waste.
Up to 500 entries can be stored in the datebook. You can view the calendar by week, day, or event. Also set alarms to remind you when events happen.
One drawback of the phonebook is its inability to view an entire day's events without scrolling. The screen is broken up into 12 hour chunks. So if you have an appointment in the morning and have something else scheduled at night, you'll have to painstakingly scroll through. Another problem is the choice of duration for events. Increments of 1/2 hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, and so forth. Sometimes meetings don't last in exactly one hour chunks.
TrueSync is Motorola's accessory product for synchronizing phonebook and datebook information between the T720 and a computer or PDA.
Messaging capabilities are standard at best. Create, edit, and view all your text and voice messages here. One interesting offering is the "Quick Notes" which provides message templates to help save you time if a lot of what you have to say is pretty standardized.
The much anticipated multimedia messaging (MMS) has arrived. With MMS you can send color pictures, animations, and sounds. Not to mention tons more text. They range in size from 4 to 10 thousand characters, compared to the 160 characters allowed by SMS. The T68i comes with 5 preinstalled samples already in the MMS-Inbox. One shows an animated Sony Ericsson logo, another plays a song with pictures, and yet another sends an animated greeting.
The GSM model didn't seem to have the "noise" problem that have shown up in some other models of GSM phones or at the very least it was not noticeable when making calls.
Also, as expected, the CDMA phone had slightly better reception than the GSM phones. This is mostly likely that CDMA technology has better noise resistance properties within the multiplexing encoding than GSM. The result, cleaner, clearer voices.
The speaker was also very respectable and sufficiently loud when it had to be. The usage of headsets demonstrated no decrease in sound quality. The FM radio headset even performed pretty well.
Overall, the reception on this phone was very good for both outgoing and incoming calls. Of course service does vary from location to location, service to service, but the phone itself is a solid performer, independent of the network it's on.
The external antenna makes a difference. Smaller signals were able to be held, and signals were held more consistently, and longer.
The T720 held onto its calls very well and although data transfer rates were a bit sluggish, they were stable. The static, garbled speech, and other random noises that seem to be common in all cell phones nowadays is still present but was not horribly distracting. It performs better than the average phone out there nowadays.
- Beautiful color screen. Many colors, vibrant, and absolutely gorgeous.
- Larger than normal screen size which is great for game players and messaging fiends alike.
- Stylish design that is aesthetically pleasing. Interchangeable faceplates depending on what color fits your style.
- Roomy storage. 1.75 MB is actually a very respectable amount compared to most phones out on the market today.
- The Notepad. Saving what you've dialed but haven't called is great. No more writing things down on my hand for me.
- Large keypad. Makes typing anything much easier.
- Battery life. 3 hours of talk time is very low. Factor in those beautiful games you'll be playing and you're looking at probably 1.5-2 hours of talk time. Go buy an extended life battery.
- Directional buttons, although good for menu navigation is a little questionable for gaming applications.
- Lack of an infrared port. Motorola's attempt to charge you for multimedia.
- Subscription services for multimedia content. Making a few dollars off of premium games is fine but don't limit everything. Leave screensavers and wallpaper to the little guys.
- Flimsy, fragile design. The desire for less weight and cost has its drawbacks. Be very careful with this phone.
- Sometimes laggy when running applications. Long start times when you turn on the phone.
- Slow net transfer rates.
Stable, albeit slow, connection. Stylish yet you have to pay for content. Amazingly beautiful screen but short battery life. What doesn't get accounted for is the lack of content out there. What good is such a beautiful screen when the variety and availability of multimedia is limited?
Aside from that, the phone has a great screen, good reception, and awesome games. The icon based menus are easy to navigate, and backgrounds are large, and ring tones are polyphonic.
Agree or disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Share your experience and leave a comment below. ♦
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