Which quad-band GSM phone should I start a T-Mobile account with?
February 14, 2007 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Which quad-band T-Mobile (U.S.) phone should I buy?

I'm primarily trying to decide if it's worth the extra money to get a RAZR v3t or a v195 (of course, NOT a regular v3 - I've heard about people having all sorts of problems with the old ones, but have heard that everything is in theory basically fixed with the v3t/c/m/i).

I don't really see myself using the camera or mp3 player on the v3t much, since I've already got both a better camera and an iPod (and besides, I've seen both its photos and some video on YouTube -- they're crap), and honestly, I couldn't care less about it being that much slicker a design, but if it could handle J2ME programs (Google Maps, inter-language translators etc.) better, that might be good, but I'm not planning on getting a data plan unless there's such a thing as an always-on Java SMS program that would work as well as regular SMS (notify me when I get a message and so on). Plus, I've heard that the battery lasts longer on the v195.

At the same time, I've heard that the RAZR's got better sound quality. It looks like the Samsung t519 Trace is the only other quad-band that T-Mobile offers, and I've heard that it's quiet and has poor battery life. So, question of the moment: Motorola RAZR v3t, Motorola v195, Samsung t519, or some unlocked quad-band GSM phone from another company? Any recommendations or horror stories? Thanks!
posted by stleric to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you want a quad-band for international use, you might as well get an unlocked one from the get-go.

As an alternative to the v195, you might want to look for an unlocked v551 (or v300/v400 if you don't need bluetooth). Those should be available for less than $100.

My wife has had the v300 for some time now, and we've both been impressed by its ruggedness, sound quality, and battery life (12-18 months of constant use after purchase, it still only needs a recharge every 6 days or so). She bought it from Tmobile, and has used it with SIM cards from Movistar in Mexico and Vodafone in New Zealand.

It's a bit on the heavy side, but considering how many times it's been dropped, thrown, kicked and otherwise abused, that might just be a side-effect of its ruggedness.
posted by toxic at 9:20 PM on February 14, 2007

If you want it to handle Java stuff, test it in the store before you walk out with it. They have alot of phones locked down so that they can't launch Java apps or access the network. I have a Nokia e61 (which is was like 390) unlocked that I lurve so so much. It runs on the t-mobile network with no problems and has no problem using gmaps, opera mini etc. Oh and you don't need their internet package (20 dollars or so) to use thses apps you just need t-mobile web (7 dollars).
posted by bigmusic at 9:58 PM on February 14, 2007

i love my v195. bought it and had it overlocked for overseas use. worked great, battery lasted a long time, and it has bluetooth. i don't need fancy stuff like a camera, email, mp3 ringtones, so it was perfect for me.

for what it's worth, my friend with a RAZR who was with my overseas was jealous of the reception i was getting.
posted by sharkfu at 11:32 PM on February 14, 2007

I have a Samsung t619, which I think is very similar to the t519 but in flip form factor and without the memory card slot. I would recommend against it for two reasons: (1) it doesn't play well with my Mac (I can sync the address book after buying a third-party app called OnSync, but not calendars or anything else). (2) Java apps are not allowed to access the network, so no Gmail, Opera or Google Maps.
posted by nowonmai at 8:11 AM on February 15, 2007

Response by poster: Is there any advantage to buying a phone unlocked versus buying it with a 1-year T-Mobile plan and having them unlock it after the initial (3?) month period? And for that matter, most of the internet-based Java apps require a data plan, right? A T-Mobile store employee kept reassuring me that the mobile Gmail app would only use text credits, but that seems pretty doubtful...
posted by stleric at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2007

Is there any advantage to buying a phone unlocked

For one, you get a much wider choice of phones, if it doesn't seem like one of their offerings is something you'll be happy with for the next two years.

Also, if it's a generic phone that has never been locked (rather than one that was another carrier's and then unlocked), then you don't have to worry about carrier-imposed limitations on things like Java apps or data proxies. Having a phone that only connects to my-tmobile isn't very useful when you're on Movistar's network.

On the other hand, you won't get any support from Tmobile's stores -- if your phone breaks, you can't just go into a Tmobile store and expect that they can do anything about it.

It's all a compromise. It just depends on which aspects are more important to you. I've got no fewer than 4 SIM cards in a small envelope taped to my passport (including a T-Mobile one for when I finally go home), so interoperability was the primary factor in my decision.
posted by toxic at 12:04 PM on February 15, 2007

Response by poster: If anyone's still reading this, should I be worried about the v195 having a 1.6 SAR (the maximum allowed by the FCC in the US)? Thanks!
posted by stleric at 4:06 PM on February 20, 2007

Just enter your specifications on gsm arena.

But basically you've got two phone directions: sexy look or sexy software (features & convenience). Motorola has the sexiest looking phones. Symbian phones, like Nokia, have the sexiest software.

Imho, the sexiest looking phone with good software potential is the Linux based Motorola ROKR E6, a beautiful stylus/touch screen phone designed for music quality. And it's the only sexy looking Motorola phone with a document reader.

But you should avoid other Motorola phones if you don't just *need* their sexy looks. Instead get a phone with a document viewer. Java apps can't view documents.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:35 AM on February 25, 2007

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