Reviewed Dec. 14, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The Motorola E815 has it all in
a large clamshell handset with a small price tag. The Moto
features a good 1.3 megapixel camera, EVDO, MP3 player, a vivid
inner display, TransFlash memory expansion slot, Bluetooth
was introduced in the summer of 2005 and sells for $199 or
less with contract, not bad given the feature set.
On the large side for a clamshell
phone, the E815 is bigger than the LG
VX8100 with which
it competes, though it's smaller than the relatively large LG VX9800 (The V) which houses
a QWERTY keyboard. It has a large, bright and colorful
inner display and a decent outer display. The phone uses
Motorola's standard UI (user interface) which features
large icons and easy to read text. Though not as incredibly
easy to use as the afore mentioned LG phones with their "Verizon-ized
who's used a Moto in the past few years will have no trouble
Design and Ergonomics
The Moto E815 is a standard clamshell phone,
no surprises in the design department. Like many Verizon phones,
the E815 sports a large external antenna— not a great
feeling when in the pocket, but it does nice things for reception,
and this Moto has fantastic reception. On
the front face you'll find the camera lens, front display and
nothing else. The phone's understated gray and silver finish
is attractive and business-like, with pleasing curves that
both look and feel good. the inner surfaces have a satin silver
finish that's classy looking and contrasts well with the large
numbers on the keys.
The TransFlash slot is located up top as is the
2.5mm stereo headphone jack. The volume rocker is on the phone's
right side (left, as you look at it), and the camera and voice
recognition buttons are on the opposite side.
Tiny phones afford tiny number pads; and thus
we're thankful for the E815's robust proportions and resulting
super-roomy number pad. The keys are large, well spaced and domed:
friendly to even the fattest fingered dialers. The menu navigation
keys, call buttons, clear and camera buttons that surround the
round directional pad are equally easy to use. The numbers on the
keys are black which contrasts well with the light silver
background. The keys are backlit and lighting is controlled by
a light sensor.
Reception, Data, Voice and Phone
Like the Motorola V710 (the old high end Moto on
Verizon), the E815 has superb RF. If you live or work in a weak reception
area, this phone should be on your short list. In places where our
LG VX8100, VX9800 and Samsung i730 on
Verizon got two bars, the Moto got four. Call quality is very good,
underscoring the strong RF and attesting to the good audio circuitry
in this handset. That said, when the E815 registered one bar,
audio distortion crept in, making for less than pleasant
conversations. The good news is that one bar will be less common
compared to several other Verizon phones.
The phone offers a good selection of high end features
such as a full duplex speaker phone, Voice Signal's excellent speaker
independent voice dialing, speed dialing and picture caller ID.
Messaging Center allows you to send and receive
SMS (text) messages and MMS. You can download applications such as
Soda- Pop Mail and Email Executive if you need to do regular emails
(POP3, IMAP, Hotmail and more). Mobile Web 2.0 (Openwave) is a WAP
and HTML browser (to go to non-WAP sites, bookmark them or select
Search, Go to URL) that's very fast thanks to Verizon's 3G EVDO data
service. The browser is great at rendering WAP sites and so-so for
standard HTML web sites, but it does get the job done.
The E815 and LG VX9800
Like all Verizon Wireless phones offered in the
past few years, the Motorola E815 is
a digital dual band phone supporting both the 800 MHz CDMA and 1900
MHz PCS bands. As with most recent Verizon phones, it does not offer
analog support. The Moto supports Verizon's V Cast service for high
speed download and playback of video and V Cast gaming. V Cast offers
programming from CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central, E!, Fox Sports and AccuWeather.
The phone has both EVDO and 1xRTT for data. 1xRTT is a 2.5g wireless
data standard that gets about 90k speeds; while the 3g EVDO, available
in many major metro regions, averages a brisk 450k with a range of
300 to 800k. As per usual, Verizon has disabled Bluetooth DUN (dial
DUN allows you to use the phone as a modem for a notebook or PDA,
though Verizon's terms of service prohibit tethering for use of EVDO.
Display and MP3
The Motorola E815 has a very good 176 x 220 pixel,
262,000 (18 bit) color inner display that's sharp, easy to read and
good for viewing VCast videos and photos taken with the camera. While
not as stunning as some of the LG and Samsung displays (currently
the best feature phone displays), the Moto won't leave you feeling
left out in the pretty screen department. The outer LCD is a more
pedestrian DSTN passive matrix 65,000 color display with a resolution
of 96 x 64 pixels. Still, it gets the job done, showing you the time,
signal strength, battery charge and call information.
You'll use the Sounds app in the Media Gallery
to play MP3 tunes through the built in speaker or through a set of
2.5mm stereo headphones. A stereo headset isn't included, so
we tested the E815 with an optional Motorola stereo headset and sound
quality was quite good. Sounds is a very basic application which
can play music stored on the phone or on a TransFlash card. It supports
playlists but little else. Still, it gets the job done when you're
sitting on the commuter train hankering for a bit of music to ease
the ride. Unlike the LG VX8100, it lacks dedicated external music
controls, and unlike the LG VX9800, it doesn't offer software EQ
Taking Care of Business
While the E815 might not be a threat to the ROKR
or even the LG phones mentioned, it is great for getting some serious
business done. If you wish to sync your phone to your PC and Outlook,
get a copy of Motorola Phone Tools and you'll be in business. Soda-Pop
and Email Executive will keep you in touch with your emails and the
address book supports 1,000 entries with six phone numbers per entry,
email address, distinctive ring and picture caller ID for each entry.
The Date Book offers alarms, repeat even support and duration but
no notes. The phone has 40 megs of internal memory, more than enough
to support a very large address book and busy calendar schedule.
megapixel CMOS camera takes good photos which look quite good
when resized down to QVGA or even VGA size from their 1280 x
1024 originals.The LED flash helps out a bit when shooting subjects
close to the camera and which helps a bit at close range
in poorly lit environments. You can adjust brightness and zoom
using the d-pad and set photo resolution and ambiance (including
night mode support) using the menus. You need not save images
and videos to internal memory and then move them to the card:
thankfully you can use the camera menus to set the TransFlash
card as the default storage location. Of course, you can send
your photos and videos via MMS as well. The video recorder can
shoot up to 5 minutes of video saved to phone memory or any length
you wish when saving to a storage card. Video resolution is 176
x 144 at 15 fps in 3G2 format, playable with QuickTime on the
desktop. Like most camera phones, the E815 takes videos that
are somewhat blocky, and the sound is not terribly loud.
Bluetooth and TransFlash Slot
The E815 supports both headset and hands free
profiles for Bluetooth headsets and car kits. We tested the phone with
Motorola's new H500 headset, the Plantronics
Discovery 640 and Parrot's
EasyDrive car kit and the Moto paired easily and connected reliably.
Voice quality, both incoming and outgoing, were quite good and the
phone offered average range.
If you thought that SD or miniSD cards were small,
the E815 uses the even more minute TransFlash (micro SD card) memory
cards. These cards are about the size of a pinky fingernail, and are
1/3 the size of a miniSD card. Motorola states that the E815 supports
up to 256 meg card capacities, which are pretty much the largest you'll
find in retail outlets as of this writing. We used a 128 meg SanDisk
card which worked perfectly for saving photos and storing MP3 tunes.
TransFlash cards come with an SD card adapter so you'll be able to copy
photos and MP3s to an from the card using a card reader on your computer.
EVDO phones with large color displays, camera and Bluetooth
need lots of power and Motorola includes a capacious 1030 mAh Lithium
Ion rechargeable battery. If you talk on the phone 45 minutes per day,
take a few photos, play games for 30 minutes and watch a VCast video
or two, the phone should last you two and likely three days on a charge.
That's decent for a high end feature phone, but if you need even more
power on the go, you can buy a spare battery. Note that if you live in
an EVDO transitional area where the EVDO signal comes and goes, battery
life will suffer because the phone will frequently attempt to acquire
the EVDO signal then drop back to 1xRTT, using plenty of power in the
process (this is an issue with all EVDO phones, not just the Moto).
A very strong offering at a reasonable price.
The E815 has very good build quality, is built like a tank and
has every feature you could ask for on a high end phone. It may
not be tiny or sexy, but its strong signal and feature set may
just win you over, even if looks are paramount.
Pro: Sturdy build,
great call quality and RF, EVDO for high speed surfing and VCast
content. Nice camera that shoots pleasing still shots, Bluetooth,
voice dialing, speaker phone and an expansion slot so you won't
have to email yourself photos and videos taken with the camera.
Nice display with easy to see icons and labels for those who can't
figure out what the icons represent.
Con: A bit large
and heavy by flip phone standards. MP3 player is short on features.
x 1.89 x 1.01 inches. Weight: 4.6 ounces.
megapixel CMOS camera capable of taking still photos
and video with audio. Photo resolutions: 1280 x 1024,
640 x 480, 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 thumbnails. 4x
digital zoom, various settings for exposure control. Video:
176 x 144 at 15 fps, 3G2 format.
in speaker, mic and 2.5mm stereo headphone
jack. Full duplex speakerphone, voice dialing, vibrate
feature and MP3 player included. Polyphonic speaker,
supports MIDI, MP3 ringtones.
(headset and handsfree profiles).
Web 2.0 Openwave browser (supports WAP 2.0 and basic
HTML sites), VoiceSignal 2.0 speaker dependant
voice dialing, Messaging Center (SMS
and MMS), Media Gallery (camera, image viewer, video
player and sound/MP3 player), Contacts, calendar,
calculator, alarm clock, voice recorder.
TransFlash slot which can take up to 256 meg card
according to Motorola.