Motorola E398 review: A small stereo jukebox
Motorola E398 freely follows all company's previous V-models but the construction is classic and besides other functions it comes up with a revolutionary feature: it has two speakers and can play MP3 loud and in stereo. Its control is identical to those of V600, V500 or V80 models. Therefore we won't deal with functions that are common for all models and we'll focus more on design and the aspects that differs E398 from its colleagues.
With its dimensions of 108 x 46 x 21 mm Motorola E398 belongs to mid big handsets. The construction is classic, with a keypad on the front. The front side is dominated by the active colour display, which sizes respectively are 30 x 37 mm. It features resolution of 176 x 220 pixels and displays 65k colours. This top class display offers very good brightness and contrast and is well readable even in outdoor light.
The display window is placed quite deep under protective glass framed by silver-grey border. The border is bent to an arc on the upper part and you can find a round metal silver Motorola company sign on the top of the arc. The lower part of the front side consists of control handset elements - a numeric keypad, joystick and function keys separated from the display by a blue partition.
Right below the display there are four keys, which are situated tightly beside each other. The two side keys are the soft keys. The left middle key is printed with a T-Mobile logo and it automatically connects the phone to t-zones if you press it. The right middle key is marked with four horizontal lines and is used for entering the menu.
Under these four keys you can find a slightly bent silver strip with two oval chrome keys used to make and receive calls (in classic configuration). There is a small five-directional joystick - in chrome as well - placed between them. A recessed hollow is designed around the joystick to make the joystick usage easier and effortless. The hollow stretches a bit up to both middle keys and down to the "2" key.
The remaining space on the front side is taken by the numeric keypad organized in a standard square matrix form with twelve keys. The whole grid is slightly bent down, which gives it some kind of dynamic and boost appearance. The white illuminated keypad shines enough in the dark.
Below the keypad, on the interface between the front and the bottom part, there is a model mark decided in striking blue letters. It's overlaid by a silicon pillow and is appearing quite unsuitable on the elegant phone.
Everything is set on the side
The phone is trimmed by a silver stripe almost all around. On its both sides, approximately on the display level, there are two symmetrically situated speakers, protected with ribbing. The colour LEDs are hidden under the speakers and blink in some situations. As symmetrically as the speakers, a silver Motorola logo is imprinted on both phone sides into the silver trim. It represents a nice complement and is really not obtruding the overall appearance of the mobile.
In the upper part of the left phone side you can see a two-directional key for setting the ringing volume, the speaker volume during calls and for browsing the menu as well. In the middle, below the speaker, there is a chrome button, which will help you reaching the sound bank. On the right side, above the speaker, a camera release is located.
A headphone connector protected by a grey rubber cover is placed on the topside of the phone. The headphones are delivered as an accessory. Comparing to the headphones, which have very attractive design, the rubber cover looks very unsightly when you uncover it. It extends from the phone and freely sways. The bottom part of the phone is equipped with a standard system connector.
The backside of Motorola E398 consists of a blue battery cover with a big M (Motorola) mark imprinted on it. On the bottom part of the battery cover there is a safety lock, which enables you to take away the cover if you press it. The remaining part of the backside is silver. It contains camera lens system and a mirror for self-portrait taking both placed in a chrome oval. Below and apart of them, there is a flash light diode. In the corners of the silver part there are - quite illogically - two uncovered screws, holding the cover. An external antenna connector, hidden under a grey rubber cover, is placed asymmetrically in one of the corners.
Below the back cover and the battery removal, there are two slots with metal covers in the bottom of the mobile. The classic SIM slot is not really interesting - unlike the second one. It's designed for a miniature memory card with 64 MB capacity. Removing and inserting of both cards is easy and won't make you any difficulties. The attached cover doesn't fully tightly fit and that's why creaks.
The overall design impression is very nice, but the ribbed speakers cover reminds me an ancient time TV set. It's a pity that designers spoiled the - otherwise very good and well-balanced - design adding the big model mark on the bottom of the front side and the half-baked cover of the headphones. Yet, those are only details and so I would evaluate the handset design as very good.