Motorola Motofone F3 e-ink handset
Can a phone this basic, this cheap be any good? Yes it can
Review Spiritual successor to Motorola's budget C113 handset, the new 'Motofone' F3 has clearly been designed with developing markets and the more technophobic among us in mind. All you get is a very basic phone that does nothing other than make and take calls and texts, and work as an alarm clock. That's it. No, really, that is it.
Coming in at 0.9cm deep - it's 11.4 x 4.7cm face on - this is one of the slimmest handsets around, and at 68g one the lightest too. Despite the lack of weight and thickness the whole unit feels very robust and comes clad in a reasonably scratch-resistant plastic, if the results of a few minutes of your truly prodding it with a small screwdriver are anything to go by. The battery cover clips on with a reassuring click, and when you combine that with the lack of a screen to smash - more of this in a moment - I'm fairly sure you could drop it onto a hard floor and watch it bounce right back up with little in the way of harm.
The handset itself is dominated by a large silver navigation button that along with the flush pressure-sensitive keypad works rather well. In fact, the keypad is one of the F3's real plus points - the actions are well weighted and the surface tactile, making keying errors is very rare indeed. Motorola has resisted the temptation to reduce the size of the handset by a few extra millimetres and ended up making the keypad too small for average adult fingers, and it gets a big podgy thumbs-up for that. The keypad looks well water resistant too - in fact I'd hazard a guess that it would come through a fair soaking in pretty good order, though with power and headset connections routed via a standard Motorola jack on the right of the handset it is clearly not that waterproof.
It's a great phone!
I bought from phones-4u because my old phone had a smashed display and since I really don't text, just make and recieve calls, I thought the F3 would be the ideal phone for me.
I walked into phones4u and they said they could do a Virgin or TMobile for £14.95 but I had to pay on the card. So I told them I wanted a Virgin one and that I would be quickly be skipping down to my bank to pay in cash so that I could pay in some cash to my account so I could pay on my debit card.
When I got back, they told me they had made a mistake and that they could only give me a TMobile F3 for £14.95 - If I wanted Virgin, it would be an extra £5.00 - After comparing tariffs, I plumped with the TMobile.
** This is when I noticed that the TMobile + Virgin phones are packaged differently and are stocked seperate as they have to change the Virgin phone for a TMobile one.
I can't get over the display on it and how durable the whole thing feels. You can give the display a good old whack, it doesn't get messed up like an LCD does and there is no glass to crack.
My old PayG phone was on Orange. To my total amazement I found that my Orange SIM card worked on this phone. So there you go people - if you want to use your Orange SIM card, it appears the TMobile version of this phone is unlocked.
As another poster said, I can see this phone becoming a cult. It's so affordable and believe me, if you get the phone and place it in the hands of someone who doesn't know about it - their first reaction is that it's not a phone because the display doesn't look real. When they start to play around with it and get a feel for the build quality considering how thin the phone is and how tough the display is - they'll tell ya that they think the phone is worth £100 - £150
Just like a lot of rich people like to have a mini for the hell of it, I can see a lot of people buying a version of this phone for the hell it - that and having a phone which can be left on standby for one and a half weeks!
The handset seems to function without issue. Functionality is limited, and the screen resolution is limited to displaying characters like you would see ona digital clock, but hey - £15 pounds for an unlocked handset.
Re. Always do your research before you buy
I have had the review handset for nearly a week now and so far it has been faultless, despite some deliberately rough and tough usage. Phones4u still seem to be offering the handset via their on-line store so hopefully whatever issues they are experiencing are not too dramatic or severe.
Always do your research before you buy
I didn't, and now live in fear that my newly acquired F3 will not be dogged by problems.
I've just bought it during my lunch break for no particular reason. It cost £15 + £20 Pay-As-You go credit on T-Mobile.
So far so good. In fact, So far I love it.
It has as basic set of functions, which is all you need if you're only after a phone that does phone things. The screen is very pleasant and yes, it looks a little bit like paper. The interface is easy enough to read and navigate, but a tad on the slow side.
I'm about to go to the bathroom and test whether the screen can be read in darkness. I might report back in 15 minutes or so.
In my opinion the F3 will become a cult-classic.
Good question, Ian. I can confirm that the F3 was tried with both T-Mobile and Vodafone SIMs, and it worked just fine with both.
No great surprise, perhaps, since Phones4U is offering the handset with airtime packages from different carriers and I doubt it would stock two versions of the same handset, one for each carrier. Especially when all past cheap Motorolas have been unlocked.