Pros: good voice quality, easy to use, nice features
Cons: average battery life, tiny icons
Some people change their wireless plans about as often as they change their sheets, though for confirmed bachelors I guess that's not really very often. I, on the other hand, had stuck with my first wireless provider through thick and thin. After getting off to a rocky start, I ironed out my disappointment with Sprint and kept the service - it didn't hurt that my monthly charges were pretty cheap, since I'd refused to upgrade to PCS Vision. The Ms, too, had stayed with AT&T from the get-go - about seven years in all.
A recent move, though, left us in a quandary: though my Sprint coverage was quite good in our new area, AT&T's coverage was even worse than what she'd been complaining about in Austin. She couldn't even pick up a signal in her office... We were both on month-to-month contracts by this point, so why not switch? Our employer gives us a discount, so we pulled the plug on both accounts and switched to Verizon. Irritating "Can you hear me now?" advertising or not, so far we're pretty satisfied. One reason is the phones - we sprung for a matched pair of Motorola T730s.
Out of The Box
The T730 (which operates on the CDMA band) comes packaged with its battery and not one but three owner's manuals: a 20-page quick-reference guide (specific to Verizon), a CD-ROM version, and Motorola's 200-page user's guide, replete with troubleshooting instructions and more information than this graying head can hold. An AC wall "travel" charger (it's quite small) and a hard plastic holster-style belt clip are also included. Headset (standard 2.5mm plug), leather case, and travel charger are available accessories, as is a data cable and spare battery.
Does Size Matter?
Strenuously opposed to carrying a large purse, the Ms required a small phone to replace a minuscule Nokia 8625. The T730 - a flip phone as opposed to the Nokia's solid body - measures in slightly larger than the Nokia at 3.6 x 1.9 inches (66mm x 48mm) and one inch (25mm) thick. It's still pretty small. At a paltry 4 oz (120g) weight, it's not going to be confused for a brick, either.
Do Features Matter?
A confirmed networker, the Ms required that her phone have a capacious phone book and text message capability. The T730 can store 500 different entries in its phone book, an entry being a number, email address, or website - not a name and all associated information. Entry of names and numbers is simple - simpler than with either the Nokia or my now-retired Sanyo 4900. The "1" key on the keypad lets you enter common punctuation marks (period, comma. @ sign) without having to "shift" into symbol mode. There is a symbol mode, though, for smileys and the like when you're text-messaging.
Another feature of the keypad is "intelligent" software (iTAP), which uses predictive technology to guess which word you're attempting to tap out on your keypad. It's intended for text-messaging, and can't be engaged for making entries to your phone book. Unless everyone you know is named Smith or Jones, it probably wouldn't work, anyway. ITAP seems pretty smart on short words, but it has a vocabulary that would give the Grammar Curmudgeon a fit of the giggles.
The phone has dual displays, the same as the Motorola T720, to which it is identical (you can tell them apart because the 720 has a solid-color faceplate and the 730 has a two-tone faceplate). The external display (visible when the face is closed) has two lines to display time and date or, when a call comes in, caller ID. The upper line displays icons for signal strength, battery status, voicemail, roaming, and the like. The main display - visible when the phone is open - is 120x160 pixels of full color. The keypad is back-lit (with a power-save shutoff), and makes heavy use of onscreen menus. You navigate the menus with a four-way disk and three selection buttons, one of which calls up the next menu level on many screens..
An odd feature of the phone book is that every entry is assigned a speed dial, which defaults to the lowest available number. Personally, I question that logic - if you can't remember someone's phone number, what makes you think you'll remember their speed dial code? Plus, unlike other phones I've had, voicemail isn't automatically assigned to speed dial 1, though that might be Verizon's doing instead of Motorola's.
Now for the fancy stuff that supposedly differentiates one phone from the next:
* The T730 has a polyphonic speaker for high(er) fidelity - you can use it to show off those ring tones you downloaded (at a fee).
* There are 32 different assignable ringers. You can navigate the menu screen to change volume or simply use the volume controls on the left side of the phone, including shifting the phone to vibrate only.
* The T730 is "Get It Now" enabled. Verizon's program allows you to buy and download ringers, games, and other applications. Get It Now access requires but one push of a button - since you pay for everything you "get now," of course it's easy to get to!
* The T730 is web-enabled, with a built-in micro-browser. It also includes a calendar/datebook, with an alarm clock and also event alarms. This datebook can be synched with your personal computer using the accessory data cable and Motorola software.
* You can record short voice notes with a one-button feature.
* For an extra charge from Verizon, you can get voice dialing. I'm either too cheap to do this or not lazy enough - or perhaps both. Push-to-talk is not available, nor is this phone available with a camera (the T720, with identical features, is available). You can receive and view pictures, though.
The life of the lithium-ion battery is rated at 90-225 minutes talk time and 69-343 hours of standby. Those wide number ranges are pretty weaselly, if you ask me, and so far my battery performance seems to be on the low end of the scale. This may be a function of signal strength in my area or the fact that I'm prone to playing around with the phone. Entering numbers in the phone book and composing text messages both seem to wear down the battery quickly.
So far I haven't gone anywhere that's off the grid, though the Ms called last night from the wilds of the Wabash River Valley and broke up quite badly. That might have been because she's prone to forgetting to extend the antenna, since her series of Nokias have never forced her to remember this trick (unlike my Sanyos). Voice quality is very good, on par with the Sanyo and considerably better than the Nokia she retired.
The keypad, which is large enough to read even without my specs, takes a little getting used to. Luckily, I make so few calls that just about anyone important enough to be in my phone book is on the first ten speed dials - hold down one number, and we're chatting. The menuing system is intuitive for the most part, though it also takes some getting used to. One problem I see is the identification of numbers in the phone book - multiple entries for a particular person are identified by little icons, and I do mean little.
Is It a Keeper?
This isn't a phone for the phone-atic among us: it's not Bluetooth enabled (not that I give a rat's patootie) and doesn't have a camera (ditto). On the other hand, it has a decent-sized display in a small phone, holds plenty of entries in the phone book and calendar, is web-enabled, and can send and receive text messages. For a few extra bucks, you can send enhanced text messages, with pictures (though the need to do so seems unlikely without a camera). It has reasonable battery life and isn't so complicated that I get lost all the time. The quirks it does have are livable, so all-in-all I think I'll keep it.