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Motorola E815 for Verizon Review

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Reviewed Dec. 14, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

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 and speakerphone. It 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 UI", anyone who's used a Moto in the past few years will have no trouble getting around.

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.

Motorola E815

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.

Motorola E815 Motorola E815

Reception, Data, Voice and Phone Features

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.

Motorola E815 and LG VX98900

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 up networking). 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 settings.

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.


The 1.3 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.

sample photo

sample photo

sample photo

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.

Price: $199 with contract

Web Site:,



Display: Outer display: 96 x 64 pixel CSTN 65,000 color display. Inner display: 176 x 220 262,000 TFT color.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1030 mA. Claimed talk time: 180 minutes. Claimed standby: 121 hours.

Phone: CDMA 850/1900 MHz bands, all digital (no analog). 1xRTT and EVDO for data.

Performance: 40 megs internal shared memory. TransFlash (MicroSD card) slot (card not included).

Size: 3.69 x 1.89 x 1.01 inches. Weight: 4.6 ounces.

Camera: 1.3 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.

Audio: Built 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.

Networking: Bluetooth (headset and handsfree profiles).

Software: Mobile 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.

Expansion: 1 TransFlash slot which can take up to 256 meg card according to Motorola.


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