Motorola VU-204 Review: Minimalist Flip Phone
The Motorola VU204 is a dual-band CDMA, basic, camera flip phone with a minimalist design and features, but its easy-to-use, well-made controls and good construction make amends for its dearth of features. Having basic communication as its central theme, the cell phone appeals to those seeking a phone for texting and basic voice calls. The phone also offers some useful features and functions that give it an edge over the competition in the same price bracket.
With Bluetooth, VGA camera, GPS navigation and support for IM and e-mails, the Motorola VU204 outdoes most budget phones but never threatens the high-end smartphones. The price factor remains the major attraction at just $29.99.
Design (3 out of 5)
The flip design, toy-like oval shape and candy bar form of the Motorola VU204 may mislead you to the conclusion that it’s capable of nothing more than receiving and making calls. What demarcates it from the other basic phones on the market is the dark roast color that gives a luxurious touch to the understated design.
The Motorola VU204 measures 3.54 x 2.09 x 0.76 inches and weighs 3.4 ounces. The handset has rounded edges and is made of soft material that is pleasant to the touch.
Users can see battery life, time and date, caller image, and signal strength on the external display of the phone. However, a 65K-color display and a resolution of 96 x 80 pixels is quite limited. The left spine of the phone features a USB 2.0 slot, speakerphone controller, voice dial button, 2.5mm audio jack and volume rocker. A 3.5-mm audio jack would have been much better here.
The 65K-color internal display is bright with a resolution of 220 x 176 pixels. The phone provides support for 65,000 colors and brings them out in sharp detail. Backlighting time, brightness and font size on the display can be adjusted. In addition, there are the soft keys, clearkey, camera shutter, talk button and end button around the central silver toggle and OK button. The numeric keypad is situated below the circular toggle.
In terms of design, the Motorola VU204 can be graded 3 out of 5.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
Intended to make calling and texting an easy affair, the Motorola VU204 has the numeric keypad adorned with tactile buttons large enough for smooth and fast texting. Backlighting facilitates dialing and texting even in the dark. The central toggle responds quickly to commands, thus making the phone primarily very easy-to-use.
The iTap technology predicts the word you are entering for text messages and reduces the amount of hassle involved.
For the hassle-free user interface, 4 out of 5 for the Motorola VU204.
Features (4 out of 5)
The Motorola VU204 can hold up to 1,000 contacts that can be organized into groups. Callers can be assigned images as well as any of the 21 polyphonic ringtones hoarded in the cell phone. Emergency numbers can be stored in a separate contact list. Some other standard utilities that the Motorola VU204 has are calculator, calendar, alarm, world clock, stopwatch, notepad, call recording and speakerphone. The phone also offers support for multimedia messaging.
Quite overwhelming is the list of additional features that includes POP3 e-mail, IM, voice dial, voice recorder, VZ Navigator GPS by Verizon, Verizon Media Center, caller ID and voice readout. The Bluetooth works just for file transfer and responds quite slowly. The VZ Navigator delivers detailed turn-by-turn audible directions via maps.
The Motorola VU204 features a 4x optical zoom VGA camera that captures images in up to 3 resolutions. With brightness control, white balance control, three color effects and nine fun frames, the VGA camera does what’s expected of it. The drawbacks remain the lack of flash and video recording facility. Although the shutter sound isn’t dealt with, the handset wins the show with life-like colors. The 26MB internal memory provides the user with a lot of space to store their images and files.
Customizable wallpapers, themes and alert tones allow you to exercise your creativity. In addition, you can download ringtones and games from Verizon. Well, that compensates for the absence of integrated games.
For the excellent performance of the VGA camera, the phone deserves 4 out of 5.
Performance (4 out of 5)
In terms of call quality, the Motorola VU204 delivers a decent performance. Right from the strong signal to clear and loud audio output, everything is up to the mark. The voice is clear even when the speaker is put on. Calls attended on the Bluetooth headset also provide satisfactory results without any interruption from background sources. Compatibility with M3/T4 aids for hearing is yet another advantage. The only drawback is the need to unlock the phone first and then answer any incoming call, which most phones don’t require.
Talking about the battery life, the Motorola VU204 offers 5.23 hours of talk time and 18.63 days of standby time. The fact that other handsets in this category last for days makes the VU204 undesirable in terms of battery performance.
Keeping in mind the pros and cons of the phone’s performance it can be rated 4 out of 5.
Verdict (4 out of 5)
The Motorola VU-204 is targeted at those who want a taste of all the standard features of a well-to-do smartphone, but cannot afford the intricacies involved. Engulfing every such feature in its chubby body, the Motorola VU204 is sure to appeal to entry-level users. So, if you can deal with the slow response of the Bluetooth and afford to handle the battery cover every now and then, then a sum of $29.99 isn’t too big.
Thus, in total, the Motorola VU-204 deserves a 4 out of 5 rating.