So, as many of you know I dropped my old V710 (see how nice and simple that name is) phone (left) in the Atlantic ocean on my trip to the Outer Banks. Luckily I’d managed to hold onto my old phone for 2 years and as such was eligible for my $100 new every two discount from Verizon. I researched it a little bit and I found a phone that seemed like it had more or less the same abilities as my old one. The new phone has the most overly marketed name I can think of on an actual product. It (right) is the Motorolla KRAZAR Maxx Ve. Yep so RAZAR is a cross between razor (sharp) and laser (cool), and KRAZAR is a cross between that and crazy, and its not only whatever the fuck KRAZAR actually means to the max its that to the maxx! And then, well, they have to differentiate the crippled phone for Verizion from the non crippled one for those GSM networks (more on this later) so you get the Ve part.
First, and foremost, among the capabilities required that drove my research is the ability to connect to a custom, free wap server. This allows the phone to use free (airtime minutes only, no monthly fee) wireless web, well its not free, you must leave a computer on at all times running a little perl script. The new phone does this, after going into its OS memory and flipping a bit. Its a hack, but its well documented online, and it worked. This couple with the ability of the newer browser software on the phone working better with Google’s mobile services means that in the end I am happy with the phone. But I feel the need to list the features that I enjoyed on my old that are missing on my new phone. A screen shot for reference.
- The new phone can not change the color of those big red bars. The old one could do blue, green, red, or yellow, or silver. Also the old bars were shaded, and nice, not big red and ugly. I’ve read that it may be possible to change them to other solid colors by hacking into things.
- See the text for the “soft buttons” on the lower red bar, the left one says “Messages” and the right one says “Contacts.” So the whole idea behind soft buttons is that they can change, otherwise you’d save your screen space and write the text on the keypad. Nope these can’t be changed, but they could on the old phone. One click access to recent calls was way more useful than messages, and in fact it used to be the default, but no more.
- The old phone had a bright exterior LED that could be used, and was often used, as a flashlight. It was actually the flash for the camera, but since it didn’t flash (was either on or off and that was set manually) it was really much better as a flashlight. The new phone, well they got the flash right, but I don’t need a flash on my phone camera, but the flashlight was super useful and now its gone.
- The old phone could use predictive typing by default for all text entry, there was even a menu to change this. The new phone keeps different defaults for all different sorts of entry, and well sometimes those defaults are to non predictive and can’t be changed. Wow does that suck, I grant, neither solution is perfect, perfect would have a menu for setting the default for each type of entry, but at least I didn’t have to use up 2 key pressed to get to the predictive entry every time I went to add a contact.
- Speaking of predictive typing, the new phone seems to be worse at it. Its fine in the contacts and text message sections, but it’s interface in the wireless web and mobile IM sections can’t learn new words. The interface in the other area’s and the old phone, was the same everywhere, and could learn new words anywhere.
- The new phone can’t vibrate and then ring, which is the most useful ring setting I can think of; yup, used it on the old one all the time.
- The new phone can’t change volume level while closed, now this was implemented annoyingly on the old phone, it could change in your pocket by randomly hitting buttons, but its not there at all on the new phone. I guess if at first you don’t succeed, better scrap it all together next time.
So the new phone does do some new tircks that I like, but mostly no thanks to Verizon.
- The new phone interfaces directly with Motorola Phone Tools and is fully functional without a hack, well unless you think that telling MPT that it is a V6 model phone and not a Maxx Ve is a hack. Yup its got the same everything as the GSM Motorola V6, so despite that it would not be fully functional if MPT thought it was a Maxx Ve, it is as the V6. Fully functional means that I can set my own custom (from mp3 or midi files) ringtones for free without file size limits. With my old phone those cost $0.25 a pop and were limited to 300Kb. I can also backup my contacts and such, but that part is available in the limited Verizon functionality.
- It uses a mini USB port to charge, and hack, which I have thanks to my new camera (post coming soon). So I don’t need to drop $10-$30 on a cable. I haven’t yet opened the wall charger it came with. I’ll also be able to use it continuously on road trips charged by the laptop (which plugs into the car) for internet, expensive if its not a weekend internet.
- The ringtones are louder, I had problems hearing my old one.
- The battery life is way better, and the screens are bigger. Oh and you can change the background on the outward facing screen. Thats actually something people complained about with the old phone.
- The new phone also supported the bluetooth stereo headphone and audio control profiles so I can use it as an mp3 player with wireless head phones. This is something my old phone could almost do, if only it had the bluetooth profiles. I’m currently looking for a cheap pair of good bluetooth headphones. I was never one to want into the iPod world so I think this will work well for me.
- The new phone is smaller, volume wise, although it is longer (if you don’t count the antenna on the old one) anyways its definitely slicker than the old one and I like its feel, at least until those big red bars are staring back at me.
Oh I almost forgot, the things both phones do that I really don’t want either of them to do at all.
- Have a camera.
- Locked to BREW software (no homebrew development)
You see, I really want my cell phone to be my MythTV remote via bluetooth. Luckily things such as the iPhone (its getting hacked into a decent development platform) and openmoko are working on the homebrew problem. Hopefully in 2 years when my next new every two is up something like this will be available on a network that doesn’t suck. Then I won’t have to be nearly as pissed off about how my next new every two credit will only be $50 instead of $100, because all I want in a phone will be available. And heck I might actually not mind paying retail for something that does exactly what I want it to do.