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      07.04.2010 16:05
      Very helpful



      Low-cost handset with a good clear (non-colour) display.

      Motorola W156.

      Long gone are the days of small mobile phone handsets with basic screens and next to no functionality, apart from being able to make phone calls and send SMS text messages... Then Motorola release the Motorola W156.

      It's a lightweight candy bar design with a clear monochrome LCD screen.

      I won't start by saying what it lacks (which by today's standards is quite a lot). There's no camera, music player, web browser, etc.
      However, it does what mobiles were meant to do some years ago - Talk and text.

      I primarily got this handset because I needed a cheap, simple handset that I wouldn't mind losing or breaking (for backup use during water sports).
      Importantly, I wanted an LCD display - The colour ones on cheap phones are next to useless, especially outdoors, so a suitable phone HAD to have a clearly visible display in sunlight.
      The LCD display IS very legible in bright sunlight (the viewing angle isn't great, i.e. >30 degrees), but it serves its purpose very well.
      Don't worry about display legibility in the dark - There is a very bright LED(?) backlight which illuminates the entire display exceptionally well. (Not like the previous green backlights of yesteryear.)

      The phone is encased in standard plastic, but it doesn't creak like some models.
      The rear battery cover slides on and off easily. The SIM slides in to the phone beneath the battery, and is easily swapped over with another SIM, which is quite useful.

      The phone looks pretty good considering it's lack of specifications, with a flat, plastic keypad which has just enough "give" to provide a positive feedback when pressing the keys. The two softkeys are strangely located a little bit lower than expected, and I have never quite got used to pressing them in the right place!

      Call quality is good, but the phone has built in call volume technology, which adjusts the volume according to the ambient noise. This IS a problem, as in most cases (especially outside) the speaker volume is a little hard to hear. There is no way to increase the volume. Inside, it's not so much of an issue. If necessary, the loudspeaker can be turned on.

      Texting uses Motorola's unusual method of inputting digits, then selecting the correct word from the list of words that appears. There is no T9 predictive texting on this phone. Maybe I could get used to it, but it seems awkward and long-winded. I don't text at all using this handset.

      Ringtones are built in. New ones cannot be added. The built in ringtones are plentiful, but most are pretty terrible. I've chosen one that I can't miss when out on the water, and the speaker volume is loud enough. There is also a vibrating alert function that can be used when in silent mode, or used in conjunction with a ringtone.

      Memory. This is limited to onboard storage of the phones' own data. Contact can be stored in the phone's memory, but it's easier to use the SIM.

      Navigation of the settings menu is very difficult. It's obviously been designed for mass market appeal overseas, so it isn't obvious where to look to change call settings (most useful settings are found under sub menus of "Initial Setup"), for example. It's a minor niggle, but makes a simple handset quite un-user friendly.

      There are a few features, such as a basic calendar and some very simplistic games, but nothing more.

      Really, this is simply a talk and text (not easily) phone which is fine for making phone calls and serves as an excellent out of doors or backup handset.
      Display legibility out of doors is excellent, even in strong sunlight, which along with the low price was the main reason for getting this handset.


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