Sunday, June 22, 2008

Motorola w175g, Motorola w260g (Tracfone GSM)

Sorry for the lack of reviews, everyone! Have been a bit on the busy side lately but I really wanted to get a bunch of material out before going on a two-week trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in new Mexico. Thus, a first look at some phones. Starting with the Motorola w175g and w260g, showing just how much $10or $15 can get you...

You may wonder why I'm reviewing two phones at once. Easy: the phones, aside from their form factors, are identical. Same screens, same interface, same everything. Though the w260g carries a $5 premium due to the flip versus bar design.

First, the differences between the two phones: the w175g is the typical featureless black bar phone while the w260 is a slightly less featureless black flip. The w175g does have a textured pattern on its back, but since the unit is made of hard plastic it doesn't really help your grip any. The keypad mimics that of the Motorola Razr, albeit at a much lower quality. It's essentially a big piece of rubber with ribbing to differentiate between rows of buttons. It's moderately useable. In terms of size and durability, the phone isn't exactly small or thin, but it's absolutely pocketable and the featureless black plastic probably makes it seem larger than it is.

The w260g doesn't have the textured back of the w175, but it does have a shiny black clamshell front. Similar to the w370, LEDs will light up for incoming calls and messages, and as a low battery alert or when the battery is charging. It's not caller ID but it's cool-looking and shows up better in the sun. Size-wise the phone is aagin not the smallest one out there, with a nearl-suqare, wide footprint, but it is pretty thin for a phone that doesn't have an antenna bulge at the bottom. The keypad on the w260g is quite a bit larger than that of the w175g (you have more space for such things on a flip phone) but it is also made of a single sheet of rubber and is thus not ideal for much more than typing in phone numbers and menu navigation.

Now to the stuff that is the same across both phones...

First off, the phone ringers get LOUD. Not quite as loud as the Nextel phones of old, but you won't be missing your phone ringing if it's turned up on high. However there is plenty of range on the ringer settings so if you want a quiet phone you can do that. The vibrate motor on both models is decent as well. One complaint I have about the ringer speaker is that it tends to distort at higher volumes and there's no bass response, but for $10-$15 I'm fine with ringer quality.

Call quality is decent as well. While in the little bit of informal testing I did actually experienced a cut-out in a good signal area (basically all of town) on the w260g call quality was solid. No call quality problems like the Motorola c155/c139. Voice quality on both ends was fine as far as I could tell, even when using the speakerphone; this is probably due to the CrystalTalk enhancement software on these phones, which I believe first came out for Tracfone on the Motorola w370. Again, no complaints here, though I wouldn't say these phones win any awards for clarity.

I'm not really sure about battery life as I only got the units in Wednesday but this type of phone tends to have really, really long life (a few weeks even) since there isn't much running and GSM is generally (or seems to be) more power-efficient than CDMA.

For user experience Tracfone has added a few more newbie-specific prepaid features. When you turn these phones o, before activation, you get a message telling you to activate, where to activate and the information you need phone-wise to do so. This information has now been whittled down to the phone serial number (no SIM ID anymore), and no code entry is needed. Once you click past the activation instructions you'll get a messag telling you, on the home screen, to turn the phone off and on again. This message disappears once your phone gets activated, the replacement being "You have 60 days until you need to refill" or similar, depending on today's date and the date you need to add more minutes. Nice touches for people new to prepaid, though for old hands a quick trip to the Prepaid menu to turn these notices off may be required.

For the rest of the UI, you're looking at a typical Compal-made Motorola: close to the old Synergy interface but with slightly larger fonts so some options have to scroll, and a menu system where you have to be careful not to press the center button if you think that's "select" (it usually brings up another menu). Since these phones are basic units you don't get a media gallery to play ringtones and view garphics, nor do you get web, multimedia messaging or MP3 ringtones. You do, however, get quick access to most phone features either from the home screen (by pressing the shortcut-triggered softkeys or arrow keys) or the main menu. I wouldn't say these phones are as easy to use as the Nokia models but they're not all that difficult either.

Two things that stick out as user-unfriendly are volume changing and text entry, however. On the first point you don't have a volume rocker on the side of the phone, and neither do you have dedicated keys at the home screen. So it's a trip into Ring Styles (by a shortcut button if you have one set up), then a few more steps, to change ringer volume. There may be a quicker way, but I haven't found it.

For text entry, the problem is that Motorola uses their old iTAP system on everything with their branding on it. This exclused iDEN phones but includes the phones available on Tracfone. The implementation on these phones is particularly clunky; you don't hit "space" to accept a word and go on, you hit the "menu" key. Or something like that; guess I'm much too used to the smooth experience that is T9. The problem is that the alternative, multitap input, is downright arduous on the keypads these phones have.

So that's about it for the Motorolas w260 and w175. They're certainly worth the $10-$15you pay for them if you buy from Circuit City or the like, and they're fine "free phones" if Tracfone feels the need to bundle them with an airtime card or two. You even get a good signal and a boatload of MIDI ringtones in the package. But these phones ahve "basic" written all over them and their lack of any service other than voice and (rather hard-to-use) text pin their value squarely below $20.

Two phones down, a zillion more to go. Up next: the Motorola i425 from Boost Mobile (finally!).

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great review. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, I'm debating over these 2 phones to replace my old Nokia tracfone and I was thrilled to see a review comparing them both!

Marc said...

thanx
i was first with a contract service (VERIZON) but they're too high. i will remain with them until i find a prepaid phone that i will buy. I went on tracfone.com and saw a lot of fones but these to just standed out. so it was between W260g and W175g. this review has help me out and gave me a starting push on this decision. I think i will get the W175g. Thank You

Anonymous said...

We just bought the W260g and are really confused. There are basically no instructions. For all you experienced cell phone users this might not be a problem, but we are senior citizens with little knowledge of cell phones. We can't figure out how to enter phone numbers, change ring tones or use the speaker phone feature. The instruction manual (ha) is mostly devoted to buying more air time cards. It took us 7 phone calls to get activated. No one could get it right. They sent us a new SIM card and we finally could send and receive calls. If anyone has any basic instructions, or knows where we can find them online (we are not amature computer users) please let us know. You could post such information to this site.
Thanks
BK

Ian said...

Try this...

http://www.motorola.com/consumer/v/index.jsp?ps=y&itemID=4041586a336a0110VgnVCM1000008206b00a____§ionName=SEC_TYP_00012&vgnextoid=38b5f7c0c1a0b010VgnVCM1000008206b00aRCRD&show=globalSupport&catID=6de76a7ce2ea0110VgnVCM1000008206b00a____&pg=PG_TYP_00002&productID=9c0cd8fba4789110VgnVCM1000008206b00aRCRD

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ian for the link. It didn't work, but it did get me to a place to write to Motorola. I asked them for a manual.
We did find a manual online and have been using it. It is 72 pages and I just might print it.

Thanks
BK

PM said...

I have a pretty stupid question... but how do you chage the date and time settings on the W175g? I just bought 1 and I have no clue on how to change the date and time.

Ian said...

75g *should* get the time from the cellular network, and it probably won't let you change the time since that's how it keeps track of when your airtime is set to expire. 99.9% of new phones will, upon startup and then every so often thereafter, ask the cell phone tower what time it is. If you're seeing 01/01/2001 or similar as a date, that's the expiration date of an unactivated Tracfone. That'll be fixed once you activate.

Hope this helps!

By the way, Tracfone has manuals for all their current phones online. Just go here:

http://tracfone.com/phones.jsp?task=phones&subTask=allPhones

pm said...

ohhhhhhh ok. thank you so much! I'm having problems activating it and its still unactive so thats probaly why the date and time isnt correct! Thanks again!!!!!

Dave said...

I just got the w175g and really like it, but I'm just a casual user. It suits me fine. Do you know if it's possible to text to an email address? I can't enter characters in the phonebook.

Ian said...

I don't have the Motorola w175 with me right now however it doesn't mention e-mail in the manual anywhere, so you may not be able to send e-mail via text on the phone. If the phone book won't accept e-mail addresses (there should be a field to enter them in aside from the regular phone number), your best bet is to try the "one time entry" option, but even that probably won't work.

You can, on the other hand, receive e-mails on your phone, as text messages. Send 'em to your10digitnumber@teleflip.com.

Dave said...

Thanks for the help!

Anonymous said...

How do you turn off the "tone" it emits while charging? This is the W175g phone.

Anonymous said...

Am satisfied with the w260g but it apparently does not have voicemail capabilities, unless I'm missing something. After entering the serial # it advises "this unit does not allow voicemail ? ? Can anyone shed some light on this apparent disappointment. .? Thanx. . Jake

Ian said...

Actually, voicemail is a network-dependent feature, not a phone-dependent one. So just dial 1 on the phone and it should get you there. If not, dial your phone number from your phone and it'll get you there.

Duke said...

Is there a way to write upper case letters? Thanks

Ian said...

The * key or the 0 key should change the case of your typing. The other key of the two changes the input method. Hope this helps.

Duke said...

That didn't work either. Thanks anyway.

Anonymous said...

I have the Motorola w260. I use text message all the time. Yet I am unable to go back and re-read text messages once I have already read or sent them. My inbox says how may is there. But when I hit enter it gives my 4 or 5 different catagories instead of just showing my my sent/read messages. Where did my txt go?

Ian said...

Makre sure you're hitting the "Select" softkey and not the center "Menu" button. Motorolas are weird that way.

Cancer said...

Hi Duke

You can press the "up" navigation key to type uppercase letters

Cancer said...

Hi Duke

What Ian meant was that you type in a letter first, then you press '0' to change its case. Once you do this, the case will be the same from that point on. When you want a specific letter upper or lower case afterwards, just type that letter and press '0' again.

Duke said...

Thanks Cancer, that works. Too bad the manual doesn't explain anything.

Anonymous said...

To change case, the letter has to be highlighted. In other words, when you enter a letter and want to change its case, you have to move fast - just press the 0 (zero) key right after typing the letter and it will change. Everything after it will also be changed, until you reverse the process. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

the 260g sucks if you text a lot.

mikemoore123 said...

i have a w175g and some how i've pushed something i should not of had. now,when i try to make a call out;it goes directley to phone book like it wants to store the number i'm trying to call. i talked to tracfone for 45 minutes but was not able to resolve this issue. can anyone please help?! thanks!-mike moore

Anonymous said...

how do i download a ringtone to the w260g? thanks

Anonymous said...

hi,
Im interested in buying a w260g tracfone...I was wondering if it cost to recieve txt messages?Thanks!

Ian said...

On ringtones, as far as I can tell, you can't add them to the phone.

On text messages, yes, there is a charge (0.3 units) per message received.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
im interestes in buying the w260g and i was wondering if it cost to receive txt messages?

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much is there a cost on the Motorola W376g too?

Anonymous said...

oops im sorry i thought you were reviewing on the w376g too.thanks again for the help though!

Anonymous said...

I have just got the W260g christmas and there is a place where you can make your own ringtones i tried that but it wont work and there is no hook up to a computer so you can download a Ringtone to it. if you go to tracfone.com how much does it cost to buy a ringtone from there do you know?

Anonymous said...

I have the W260g is there any possible way to get ringtone's or different wall papers on it because im new to a cell phone this is my first one and i do not understand on how to get them. thanks

Ian said...

Sorry, but to my knowledge you can't download ringtones onto the w75g or the w260g Tracfones. Pretty sure that you have to take what you;ve got, nothing more...

Taylor said...

I just got a new W260 and I was wondering how to change the date. It's not the airtime info date I'm sure of that. We tried calling tracfone support but it was no help. Even though the date is only one day behind it it is still bothering me. Anyone know how to change the date on a motorola W260?

Anonymous said...

RE: Date change on the W260g. My wife and I each have a W260g. Sometime within the past week the date on our phones are off by one day. I missed an apointment because my alarm/reminder was a day late. Tracfone emailed me incorrect info on how to change it. Any suggestions?

Taylor said...

We tried taking the battery out and putting it back in but it set itself to the same date. The guy we called at tracfone support said you have to buy airtime for it to correct itself. I'd rather not spend 20 bucks to change the date on my phone and might not even work. HELP!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Was celebrating the arrival of 2009last night. Slept late. When I picked up the phone this morning, ta-da.. the phone has the correct date (both phones). Maybe the new year date change corrected our problem. ??? Did yours change ?? Unfortunatley I can't trust my reminders anymore. Who knows when or if this will happen again and I'll miss another appointment.

Taylor said...

Mine did the same. We got an email from tracfone support and they are still trying to figure out how to fix it. Atleast it is at the right date for now.

NV said...

Thank you, thank you! This is the first AND ONLY place that tells you that the ZERO is the toggle between upper and lower case!

I've been going nuts since Sunday!!!!

Anonymous said...

I just bought a motorola w175g and i thought i would get free minutes like my brother did right off the bat and i didn't so i'm a little confused the phone is not activated yet either so plese tell me what to do.

Anonymous said...

I like the W260g,I upgraded it from an old Motorola. I got it at Wal-mart with double minutes for life. Just can't figure out how to cut the corny start up tone off any ideas ?

Anonymous said...

Here's your link to the 260g manual in pdf. Works great. 68 pages, small. Good details.

https://www.tracfone.com/Common/English/Digital_Assets/DAPC1008~9.pdf

Anonymous said...

Do you happen to know the SAR level of the W260g? I recently found out that most Motorola flip phones have high levels, but I can't find specific info for that particular model.

MR said...

I have the 360g phone and I can't figure out how to change the text input from caps to no caps and vice versa. It seems like the iTap method only offers lower case letters unless it's the start of a sentence.

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Anonymous said...

have a w260gfor a while..came with some ring tones supplied...used "boogie woogie"..grandson played with phone..ringtone changed..cannot get back installed ringtones...just "empty rings"..help.....

Anonymous said...

I bought a motorola w260g tracfone and took it outside of the USA. can i use it with local sim. Can you please advise

Anonymous said...

can i use a tracfone motorola w260g, outside of the US, with a valid sim of the country i'm in?

Ian said...

Not unless you flash the firmware, which is pretty much impossible. Tracfones have special osftware (to do the unit-counting thing) so they won't "just work" on ohter carriers.

Anonymous said...

i wont be in the US for a long period. is the phone good for anything?

Ian said...

Works on AT&T in the US. But as state, it wo't work internationally. Not only because the Tracfone software is on it, but also due to the fact that it is dual-band North America only. You need a tri- or quad-band phoe to go internationally, and this one isn't.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ian for all the info. Been trying to download ringtones and find a way around the tracphone website to do just that for the w260g, but have been unsuccessful. Then found you and have second opinion that it's not an option. I appreciate what I have and will enjoy it, although humans are greedy and always want more. :) Thanks again for your site and for helping others.

Anonymous said...

Ian and all the posters - thank you all for your information and questions. We upgraded our two cell phones from very old Tracfone Nokias to the Motorola W260g, and it has been a time-consuming frustrating experience. I was ready to give up and do without a cell phone (and I am an experienced computer user). But after hours on the phone with Tracfone's CS, one of the phones, though activated, still would not receive calls, ring or vibrate, but would allow one to leave a voicemail message (although we could not retrieve it). With the info on this site, and the link to the 72 page manual, maybe we can get this phone to work!

Anonymous said...

To change the date or time, go into SETTINGS, then OTHER SETTINGS, and choose INITIAL SETUP and change your time or date.

To change from capital letters to small ones or vice versa, type a letter then quickly hit the zero key. From then on, all the letters will be either caps or small, whichever you chose.

To only change one letter to a capital letter or small letter, just hit the up key for capital letters, or the down key for small letters.

Hope this helps. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

To put a space between words you just need to hit the number one key, and it automatically will move one space over to the right.

This website is the only one I have found that actually helps you find these type things on a Tracfone. Don't bother calling Tracfone's Customer Service because they will just keep repeatedly putting you on hold without resolving your questions.

If you type your problem in on this page, you will more likely get an answer.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I have a W260. I understand how to toggle from capital to small case letters during texting. I either use the up or down arrow or the "0". When I first began texting the letters began with capital letter and followed with small case letters. Then I found the toggle keys and began toggling. I must have hit a key that switched the mode to all capitals. I want to go back to the mode of one capital followed by small case letters. I want this to be the mode when I open up a new text message box. What did I hit to switch it to all capitals when I open the new text message box? thanks

Anonymous said...

I just answered my own question on the texting on w260. The "0" switches the texting into a "permanent" mode of beginning with a capital letter and then the rest of the message in all small case letters. It will stay in this mode until you toggle with the 0 into all capital mode and then it stays in that mode "permanently". So I must have accidently hit the 0 and toggled during a text message and didn't realize it.

Anonymous said...

I have the W260g.

For some reason, I can NOT enter a name with the first letter "J" when using the address book. I can get an ' , then the number 5, k, l, but no J.

I have no problem with other letters?
I do not use the phone for texting, just regular phone calls. I've never messed with settings.

I hope someone out there sees this and can help me.