I picked up the controversial Motorola Motofone F3 this week, and thought that I would do a short write-up on my expiriance with it since it's such an unconventional phone.
The F3 is a very simple, yet aesthetically pleasing phone. It's footprint is very similar to that of the Motorla SLVR, only the F3 is a bit thinner. It's dimensions are 114 x 47 x 9 mm. While it's not the thinnest phone on the American market, it's certainly up there in the top five or ten.
The top of the F3 is dominated by a large, frontlit (more on that later) "e-ink" screen. Unlike traditional LCD displays, e-ink screens do not require any power to display characters- they only draw power when the screen is reconfigured. In other words, the phone always displays the current time when on standby, but only draws from the battery when the time changes. Also unlike LCDs, e-ink screens can be read from any angle.
Rather than using a matrix of pixels like traditional phones, the F3 is only capable of displaying predefined numbers- like a digital alarm clock. While this is fine for reading phone numbers, reading text on this screen is a little difficult. In addition, there are also a few predefined icons at the top and bottom of the display, which indicate the current status of the phone (missed call, silent mode, keylock, etc). Two sets of bars above the screen indicate the current battery level and signal strength. The screen uses a dim frontlight, which makes the phone useless as a makeshift flashlight. Regardless, the screen is still fairly easy to read in total darkness.
Below the screen is a metallic four-way directional pad, an "enter/yes" button for navigating menus, and a phonebook button, in addition to the standard call/hang up buttons and number buttons. All buttons have a rubberized border, and give a nice tactile feedback when pressed.
This is the back of the device...not much to see here. The battery cover can be removed to take out the battery and sim card. There seems to be some sort of serial connection for reflashing the phone next to the sim slot.
The left side of the phone houses it's single input/output jack, which is used for charging the device and attaching a headset (not included)
While the F3 is incredibly simple, the lack of text output gives it a slight learning curve. When the phone is first turned on, the user is given the option of using voice help, in which the phone audibly guides you through the phones various functions. Once you get the hang of using the phone, you can turn the voice help off.
The call quality has been excellent in my experience, and the F3 generally gets better reception than my Sony w810i in my dorm. The earpiece volume is very good, and everyone that I have spoken to has been able to hear me fine.
The F3 includes seven polyphonic ringtones. Since it has no data options, more ringtones can't be downloaded. The included ringtones are decent, reminiscent of mid-90's Nokias. While the ring volume is acceptably loud, the vibrate function is weak, and I could barely feel it in my pocket.
In addition to sending/recieving calls, the F3 features a simple phonebook, call log, text messaging client, and alarm clock. While it's fine for short messaging, the screen and lack of T9 support make long messages a chore to type. Since the F3 has no internal memory, all text messages and phone numbers are saved to the sim card.
The F3 isn't a camera, isn't a music player, and it isn't an internet browser. It's just a phone. It does an excellent job of sending and receiving calls, which makes it a wonderful phone for going out to dinner, or for use in situations where you don't want to take your expensive and bulky Treo. Currently available for around US $50 plus shipping, the F3 is a great spare phone.