Review: Motorola E815
The e815 has a 176 x 220 screen similar to the one found in all their high-end models. However the screen on this model performs better in bright sunlight than past Motorolas we've tested. Other than improved performance in sunlight, the screen is of quality equal to other recent Motorola handsets that have the same resolution. The screen has excellent color and clarity for reviewing photos and is responsive when being used as a viewfinder.
It's no surprise the e815 displays excellent signal strength in almost any location, considering its large external antenna. However even the large antenna was not enough to overcome one of San Francisco's most notorious dead spots. Other than network weaknesses, which no one can blame Motorola for, it was rare for the phone to show less than 3 or 4 bars of signal. Unfortunately signal strength seems to bear no relation to call quality. There were many places where we got a full 4 bars of signal and the calls were not nearly as good as in the bank vault where we barely had 1 bar.
The e815 was plenty loud, and the speaker was rather clear. During conversations, it was rare that we ever needed to turn up the volume beyond half of what the phone was capable of. The shape and size of the e815 as well as the speaker placement allow you to firmly place the phone against your ear and block out most external noise instead of having to continually boost the volume.
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The speakerphone and ringer volume are not quite as impressive. We needed to keep the volume up pretty high (6 out of 7) in order to hear the phone ring in noisy environments. The high volume is necessary because for some reason this phone does not feature the "vibrate and ring" style found on most Motorolas, only a "vibrate then ring." If you do not feel the phone vibrate during the first few seconds, you'll need a loud ringer to get your attention. The speakerphone is just loud enough to use outdoors without being annoying or deafening.
The e815 battery lasts an impressive four days... as long as you have solid EV-DO coverage or Verizon has not launched VCAST in your area yet. There is a bug that causes the e815 to chew through the battery in about 1 day if the PRL says that the phone should have EV-DO coverage but the phone can only find 1xRTT. So if EV-DO coverage is spotty in your area or Verizon is in the process of rolling it out, expect no more than 1 1/2 days of battery life. Motorola is evaluating solutions to fix this problem. However even if they come up with a fix, Motorola says it will take some time to test the upgrade against the current software before it can be approved for release.
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