Motorola V600 quad-band handset
Motorola is the second company, after NEC (see the August 2003 e-journal), to venture into the world of quad-band GSM devices, with three current offerings, the V400, V500, and V600. We are looking here at the V600.
The primary virtue of the V600 is that it is a quad-band GSM device, with what appears to be a very good radio. If you do not travel outside of North America you can stop reading here, since a quad-band device only makes sense for an international traveler: You would be better served with an 850/1900 MHz dual-band GSM handset for use in North America.
Where do you need which frequencies? In general you need 900 MHz and 1800 MHz to get widest GSM coverage outside the Americas. You need 850 MHz and 1900 MHz to get widest GSM coverage in North America now that Cingular and AT&T Wireless have implemented GSM 850. You need all four bands to get complete GSM coverage in Latin America and the Caribbean, where some areas have implemented one or more frequencies from both the 850/1900 MHz frequency pair and the 900/1800 MHz frequency pair. If you travel frequently between the Americas and any of the other places having GSM coverage, the V600 could be a good choice.
In terms of the handset itself, the screen is very readable, and the ring tones are the loudest we have heard. As mentioned, the RF portion of the V600 is excellent, and the battery is actually better than most that Motorola has offered. The 750 mAh battery is rated to give you between 3.5 and 7 hours talk time, depending on what power level it is using internally. This means if you want to be able to talk through a blackout you need to plan on carrying at least a second battery with you, which, by today’s standards is considered to be quite acceptable.
The V600 has Bluetooth, so you will be able to use a wireless earpiece/microphone and car kit, thus sparing you the inconvenience of wires. It is GPRS enabled, but is not EDGE enabled. This is not a big deal, because data in handsets is currently limited by SAR rating (which at the ear is 1.09 W/kg (we prefer it to be under 0.5), and on the body is 0.25 W/kg. The SAR value for this product in its data transmission mode (body-worn use) is 0.50 W/kg). If you want a wireless connection to your laptop you will be better off with the data speed available with current 4/2 timeslot EDGE technology in a PCMCIA card, without worrying about emission levels.
For those who want easy access to the features of the handset, the V600 should work well with Motorola’s Mobile PhoneTools, allowing you to connect it to your laptop to enter phone numbers, send and receive text messages, and use the calendar function.
The bottom line is that GSM 850 has now become a necessity, and if you travel from North America to GSM 900/1800 areas you need all four bands.
Nokia, which does not make a quad-band terminal, says:
“Assuming that a traveler who has occasion to visit markets in which they need each of the 4 possible GSM bands, there are really 2 basic solutions.
1) If the user prefers to carry one device, then a quad mode phone may be the best possible option.
2) If the user would rather be able to choose from the much larger universe of tri-mode phones, he could choose to buy a GSM 850/1900/1800 handset along with a GSM 900/1800/1900 handset. For consistency, he would probably want to buy the same basic handset, just in different flavors so as to not need to learn 2 UIs, use common accessories and to facilitate backing up the information between handsets.”
The bad news is that, unlike the NEC 515, the V-600 includes a camera, which immediately disqualifies it for the business user. This is because there are an increasing number of schools, businesses, health clubs, retail clothing stores, restaurants, and facilities where camera phones are banned. In some cases they are confiscated, and in others they are destroyed, and we understand that some businesses will summarily fire any employee found with a camera phone. For the traveler for whom the camera is not an immediate disqualifier, who travel extensively, and who don’t wish to carry two dual- or tri-band handsets, the V600 is worth serious consideration.