In 2003 I bought a Motorola E365. I hate it. Almost every day I discover a new thing I don’t like about it; finally, I couldn’t bottle up the bile any more, so I am venting my spleen here. If you are thinking of throwing your money away on this underengineered toy, please read this first, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Me and Mobile Phones
First, some history. My first mobile was an Ericsson thingy, which I bought in 1997. It was fine at the time, except it had no vibrating alert so I missed a lot of calls.
Next I bought a Nokia 3210 in 2000. Brilliant. I can’t say a single bad word about this phone — intuitive, responsive, a joy to use. The ideal gadget has only one button: you press the button and it does whatever you want it to do. The 3210 came about as close as a phone could come to this ideal.
After this I bought a Siemens S35 WAP phone. This was pretty ordinary: sluggish response, dim screen with tiny characters, fiddly keypad. I needed an Internet-enabled phone, and this was about the cheapest. At the time I thought it was rubbish, but I didn’t even know what rubbish was. I do now.
In 2002 I moved to Japan, where I had a beautiful NEC phone. With its snappy keypad, tidy design, seamless email and Web access, and bright, sharp screen, it was a pleasure to use. As Joanne had mentioned to me, Japan was several years ahead in terms of mobile phone design.
Later I moved to Hong Kong, and hastily purchased this Motorola E365. I have regretted it every day since. I have not yet replaced it because I feel I must punish myself for impetuously buying such a worthless gewgaw. Rest assured that when I get a new phone, I will ceremonially destroy my E365. Here are just a few reasons why.
Turning the phone on and off
Turning the phone on and off is slow. After you press the power key, there is a delay of several seconds before anything happens (the screen turns on). Then there a further delay of about 20 seconds before you can actually use the phone.
Similarly, when switching the phone off, there is a ten-second delay between pressing the power key and the phone switching off.
There is a loud shutdown sound that the phone plays as it being turned off. This is embarrassing when you are turning the phone off in a quiet place.
Response time is very poor. When pressing a key, there is often a delay of up to a second or more before anything happens.
After changing an option (e.g. setting the phone to Quiet mode), there is a little “OK” screen with an animated check mark. This is amazingly annoying as the animation runs for about 2 seconds and cannot be interrupted. Two seconds may not seem like long, but it adds up if you have to look at it hundreds of times a week, especially when it adds nothing useful.
Key lock doesn’t always work
You can set the phone to automatically lock the keypad. Very useful, you might think. Not really; the automatic lock only works when the phone is displaying the main screen. If you go to the phone and read a message, change the setting, check missed calls or anything else, and you forget to press the Back button to return to the main screen, then no key lock for you.
Unlocking the keypad is clunky and unintuitive
When the phone keypad is locked, it takes not one, not two, but three keypresses to unlock it.
- press any key to wake up the keypad
- press the man menu key
- press * to unlock keypad
This may not seem that bad, but this minor irritation happens every time I use the phone for anything. That’s dozens of times every day. That adds up to — you guessed it — a major irritation.
Like many others, the thing I use my phone for most often is actually to tell the time, since I don’t wear a watch. The phone has a default screensaver that displays the time, and can also display the time and date on its main screen. Both are awful.
The clock doesn’t appear when you want it to
Being a screensaver, the clock only displays when the screen is in energy-saving mode, which means it’s very dim. So in low light, you can’t read it. But to turn the screen on properly, you have to unlock the keypad. But one press on any key turns off the screensaver! You get the main screen, which does not show the time. To see the time, you have to press one of the arrow keys, which displays the time in a garish black and green font that cannot be changed.
So if you want to know the time, you may be able to get away with just looking at the screen. But if it’s dark, or you accidentally press one key, you’ll have to press four keys. You shouldn’t ever have to press more than one!
The clock is ugly
The screensaver clock uses ugly retro faux-digital numerals — it’s as if the last 30 years never happened. The main screen’s display is worse: it displays the time and date in a garish black and green font that cannot be changed.
The camera options are reset when the you turn off the phone
Every time the phone starts up, it resets the camera to low-resolution mode. So every time I want to take a hi-res picture, I have to click through the menus to reset it to hi-res.
The camera takes bad pictures in dark conditions
It doesn’t work well in low light. It does have a “night” mode, which is just a joke — it applies a filter to the image in a futile attempt to correct the colours. To be fair, you don’t expect great pictures from a tiny flashless camera.
Sending messages is way too complicated
It takes far too many key presses to send a message. If I’m out and about, and decide to send a message to Joanne (my most regular correspondent), here’s what I have to do.
- press any key to wake up the keypad
- press the man menu key
- press * to unlock keypad
- press “up” to show the quick menu
- press “up” to select Messages
- select Create
- select SMS/EMS
Now I can type the message. Then I have to send it:
- select Send
- press the menu button
- select Phone Book
- press “56” (“JO”) to select “Joanne home”
- press the down key to select “Joanne mobile”
- select Mark
- select Done
- select Send
That’s a total of 16 keypresses.
Typing response is extremely slow
I’m hardly Mr Lightning Fingers, yet the phone misses about every tenth click when I’m typing at a reasonable speed. I constantly have to slow my typing down, which makes writing messages very frustrating.
Entering text is clunky
You have to manually capitalise the beginnings of sentences. After selecting a word, punctuation mark, anything, the phone adds a space to the message.
Learning dictionary is stupid
The dictionary attempts to “learn”, so that it will remember words you type that aren’t in the dictionary. This is useful for things like names that you may type frequently but that aren’t in the dictionary. The trouble is that it doesn’t discriminate between things that are useful to learn and things that should be forgotten.
For example, these days when I want to type “can’t”, I type in “22618” and it gives me four suggestions, the first of which is “can’v”. The word I want is only second on the list. I have no idea where it got “can’v” from, but I’m sure that I never typed it.
Once you type a number in, the phone thinks you always want to type numbers. For example, to type “7142857” you hit 7, then right arrow past P, Q, R and S to select the digit 7, then type the rest of the number. Nice and easy. The stupid thing is that the phone learns from this; do it a couple of times and every time you hit 7 it thinks you want to type a number beginning with 7 rather than a word beginning with P, Q, R or S. You have to correct it several times on this before it figures out that you want to type in English again.
So the dictionary tries to learn, but it seems to be a very inattentive student; I’d give it an F.
I don’t know whether the dictionary on my phone is particularly bad since I got it in Hong Kong. It has traditional and simplified Chinese on it too, so maybe it has a second-rate English dictionary. (I mean, it definitely has a second-rate English dictionary, but perhaps there is a better one available.)
Message storage is flaky
I had about 50 or so messages built up in my inbox; it doesn’t take long to do. There is a “Clean up messages” command that will delete all old messages. Sometimes, this command works fine. Sometimes it does nothing for a very long time (30 minutes or so) until you give up and cancel it; occasionally it locks up the phone, requiring me to take out the battery in order to reset it.
And one in a while it will go temporarily mad and think one of the messages in the inbox is in Chinese. This is amusing, at least.
Picture messaging (MMS)
It’s extremely slow to display pictures — often 10 seconds just to display a picture.
While displaying a picture, the phone often displays “Play” and “Pause” buttons. These are completely inappropriate and confusing. I presume they are meant for playing video, but given how slowly it handles pictures I would never attempt to get it to play a video.
If the phone fails to send a message, it doesn’t tell you properly. For example, I often have problems sending emails (I am charitably assuming this is my network provider’s fault, not the phone’s). So I take a photo, then add a message and send (10 keypresses just to select my most-frequently-used email address). The phone then sits there saying “Sending” for almost a minute — then “Unable to send” pops up for one second before the main screen appears again. One second! So when sending a picture, I have to watch the screen unblinkingly for a minute lest I miss the brief error message; otherwise I will not know that the message sending failed.
This happens with SMS messages too, but it doesn’t matter so much since they fail much more quickly.
On the other hand
There are one or two good things about this phone. I mention them here in order to give the impression of objectivity.
The camera takes reasonably good photos in good light.
It’s rubbish! I will be updating this post every so often as I uncover new irritations and remember old ones. It’s good for me; kind of like therapy, only cheaper.
This phone is slow and clunky and ugly. Be careful about buying any other Motorola phone — it may have been designed by the same nincompoops who foisted the E365 on the world. Just to make myself perfectly clear: it’s rubbish.
Finally my employer bought me a new phone: a Samsung SGH-Z500. It’s better in almost every way, though it does have significant problems of its own… But the good news is that I was able to find somebody who seems to like the E365.