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Motorola E398

Motorola E398
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Retail Price: RM 379
AP Price: N/A
It was a long time ago that I predicted that Samsungís marketing aggressiveness, both here in the USA, would wake a sleeping giant. Everybody wrote Motorola off for the last two years, but finally here is the Motorola that I would like to own.

At A Glance:

Price: RM 1,499
Local Distributor: Mobile Distribution (M) Sdn Bhd.
Contact: 03-8026 7188
Build quality: 10/10
Applications: 8/10
Interface: 9/10
Value-for-money: 9/10
Overall rating: 9/10
+ Surround Sound Loudspeakers
+ MPEG4 support
+ Camera & Flash
- Slightly heavy
- No Infrared
- No videocam

Starting at the top
Over the last couple of years, Motorola has introduced a whole slew of phones, both with and without colour screens. Even though those were good phones, somehow few of them were actually memorable. Motorola had set too high a standard on products bearing its logo.

However, if the E398 is an indicator of things to come, then the other phone manufacturers better sit up and start taking notice. The review unit we got came in a jet black ceramic casing with silver buttons and silver side strips.

It was a tad heavy, but that gave the phone a solid feel which I really liked. The camera lens looked just fine on the back of the phone, and a little window beneath it hid the bright flash for the camera. The battery took some effort to get out at first try, as you will have to grip the small edges of the battery and just lift it out of the well into which it fits.

Using the hardware
The menu is in an icon style with text menus on the second level. However, the multimedia menu showed a second level of icons again, and was really enjoyable to use. The E398 resembles a Sony Ericsson phone with its large screen and large buttons.

Simply amazing! Despite not being a smart phone, this Motorola screams sheer class in the way they built and made it. As said earlier, the phone might be a little heavy, but you need to take into account that the phone was built to play quality music as one of its main features.

Therefore, it does make sense that the hardware has got to have a little more weight to stabilise the handset when both surround speakers start pumping out the rather loud music. The battery lasts a really long time on standby, and even blasting a lot of music through it didnít do much to reduce the battery. The only hang-up I might have here is that the rubber plug on the top of the phone is rather difficult to pry up to plug the earphones in.

Light and Sound Show
This is one of the first phones on the market to support MPEG4 codecs. For those of you who donít know, the MP4 is the next level for MP3 music, whereby the audio track carries video as well, and the size is just about the same as one of the current MP3 songs. This is to say, a full video clip will be about 3-5 MBs in size.

This phone support the haptics response which was first found in the E380, which was the disco-type Motorola with the funny-looking flip. This feature lets you set, for up to 10 minutes, a certain pattern of lights to flash when the phone picks up any sound. In the E398, the lights are found behind the grills on both sides which contain the speakers as well. In addition to that, the keypad and the screen form part of the flashing pattern as well.

Editor,s Opinion
To be frank, this one was a long time in coming. This is truly a great product from Motorola, eclipsing even the hype of the V66, the MPx200 and the V80. Those models enjoyed a good marketing campaign, but if the initial indications are anything to go by, the E398 will probably be Motorolaís best seller this year in terms of individual units sold.

Rarely is it that a phone has Bluetooth but not Infrared. I wonder why Motorola left that out but the Bluetooth was a little difficult to use. With the E398, you will have to install the CD to configure the phone for Bluetooth before you can move any MP3 clips to it. That is an unnecessary inconvenience and there should be no reason why a Bluetooth connection from PC to phone should not be automatic. The data cable plug-in kept hanging in the middle of the data transfer process as well.

The price is just about right, as the RM 1,499 given in the press release in June might have been just about right, but the word on the street now is that you could get the E398 for a little bit less.

I must say that the E398 has the best ever loudspeaker (16mm, 22Khz) found in a phone so far. It totally eclipses the Nokia 3300, but to be fair, that phone was from nearly a year ago. So go right out and get yourself a Bluetooth interface to your computer if you do not already have one. There is 4MB on the phone and 60MB on the transflash card that is provided in the box. That is good for about an hourís worth of MP3 music.

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