Product Review: Motorola E815

I meant to write about this a long time ago, but fortunately I think this is still relevant. Back in August 2005, after much research and a failed attempt at using T-Mobile, I switched to Verizon and the Motorola E815. My basic requirements were as follows:

* Bluetooth that I could sync up with my Mac (phone numbers and calendar items)
* Good text messaging capabilities
* Good reception in my apartment here in San Francisco
* Decent battery life
* Clamshell form factor

I’m happy to report that the Motorola E815 has accomplished all this and then some.

Reception
After much research I discovered that the reception of the Motorola E815 was seemingly unparalleled. In practice this has proven to be quite true. I almost always have a full set of bars, and I can’t remember the last time I had a problem with reception. I believe this is for two reasons:

* The E815 just gets really good reception
* The CDMA network Verizon is built on is technically superior to other networks.

Bluetooth Sync

Syncing calendar and phone book items with a Mac is a snap using bluetooth. It works exactly as expected.

Bluetooth file transfer

This is a sore point with Verizon. Verizon seems to want to make a few extra bucks off of us by forcing you into using their ‘service’ to get pictures off the phone or use custom ring tones. The way they force you into using their service is by disabling the bluetooth file transfer feature. Lame! Fortunately, some smart people figured out how to hack the phone to re-enable the file transfer feature. It’s pretty risky, so you’re taking your chances if you implement this hack, but I’m glad I did it. Now I’m able to put any mp3 I want on the phone as a ring tone. (Got me some chill Toots & the Maytals as my alarm instead of some annoying ringer)

Also after the hack, I can easily transfer photos off of the phone via bluetooth. Pretty sweet, but it sucks that you have to jump through hoops to make this work.

Use your phone as a modem

Another nifty feature is the ability to use the Motorola E815 as a modem. Today I was taking CalTrain to San Mateo to meet up with my partner Clint , and on the way down I was able to use the E815 as a connection to the internet. The really cool thing was that I was able to connect from my PowerBook to the phone wirelessly over bluetooth. While the train was moving, I was able to surf the web, check my email, IM with Clint, and even ssh into our production server to check on some server logs. I’m not sure what the speed is, but I think it’s a bit slower than DSL, yet certainly fast enough to make the experience acceptable. Don’t forget to turn on DUN (Dial up Networking) to enable this feature. (It’s easy to do) I found some decent instructions on how to do all this here.

Bluetooth headset

I’m going to have to write another whole post on pairing the most excellent Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset with the E815. Suffice to say, I know of at least 3 friends of mine that have gotten this headset after trying mine out. I was very skeptical that a bluetooth headset would perform very well, but this one does the trick, and when paired with the E815, a handsfree experience with no wires is very much a reality.

Is there anything wrong with this phone?

Yes, I’m a big fan of this phone, but I do have a few minor gripes. The form factor of this phone is a little less sturdy than some comparable models…. nothing to shake your confidence too much, but it does lack the really tight hinge feel that some phones have. Another thing that bugged me when I first got the phone was the size. The Motorola E815 is a bit on the big side compared to other clamshell phones. The size thing probably bugged me the most about this phone when I first got it, but after using it a while I’m ok with the size… it actually is easier for me to hold since I have big hands.

In summary, I’m a big fan of the Motorola E815 and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this phone to anyone. Most importantly, the reception of the phone is fantastic. It’s got great features, and the price isn’t bad now that it’s been out for a while…. Amazon has some pretty good deals on the phone, too, with an excellent rebate.

5 thoughts on “Product Review: Motorola E815

  1. Pingback: chrisk » Blog Archive » Plantronics Voyager 510: A pretty darn good Bluetooth headset

  2. I was able to sink my E815 to my powerbook with a USB hookup, but now find myself in a work environment where PC is the only option. Have you had any success in syncing to both a PC and a Mac simultaneously?

  3. I’m anxious to get the pictures I’ve accumulated onto my mac, preferably via bluetooth, but the link above points to a page that’s been removed. Any help in getting that hack would be greatly appreciated.

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