Motorola Motofone F3 Review

posted terribly early in the morning by Constantinos. Filed under Review

I bought the Motorola Motofone after being introduced to it by this post on my friend Nick Baum‘s blog. For as long as I remember, I’ve been reading about how phones keep getting more and more complicated. Yet many people want their phone to do only one thing: make calls. The trick was getting a phone that was usable and friendly at the same time. When Motorola finally came out with the Motofone, it appeared that they had achieved just that. The only problem was that the phone was only available in India! Fortunately for me, I’ve been in India for the last 3.5 months. So I decided to buy one (or two), and write a hands-on review for it. Well, after writing a single-spaced narrative that spanned 3 pages and finding myself only half way through the things I wanted to say about this phone, my friend Nick came to the rescue with a list of questions for me to answer. So I’ll just break my unnaturally long essay into pieces and post the review in interview format-.

Update 2007-03-07: Cross-posted on

Update 2007-03-27: For those of you looking for a manual of this phone, I found two, in English. Motofone Draft Manual [pdf] is one, and Motofone Digital Manual [pdf] is another. The latter doesn’t contain the list of ‘advanced’ codes.

Without further delay, the brand new Motorola Motofone F3:


Nick: How is the packaging, the new user experience? What’s included in the box?

Manual Me: The phone came in a cylindrical container, aka a tube. Opening the box revealed inside the device itself (without any protective plastic bag/screen cover), a battery in a nylon bag, the back cover of the device, a charger, a user’s manual (in Telugu, Kannada and English), and the standard warranty papers. Motofone box Motofone box - rear The package is a standard cardboard tube with plastic tops, which makes it feel a bit cheap. However the finish is good, and if it’s sitting on a table it looks better than expected, so it might actually work in places other than India, like Europe or even the US. Most phones come in solid & glossy cardboard boxes with the phone securely tucked away in polystyrene or a plastic casing, but the Motofone’s case is different enough that it might get away with it.

Nick: Tell me about the physical design of the phone. How does it feel?

Me: The phone is extremely light. The face is completely flush, with no nicks or grooves for dirt to get into (not even around the screen, which is simply a transparent piece of plastic as far as the outer shell goes). Even the keys are completely flat, which I love. Motofone keypad I read somewhere that the phone was built for the weather in countries like India, where there’s a lot of rain and dirt in the air. I have not tested the rain claim, but I will take Motorola’s word for it. As for the dirt, the only place I can see dirt getting into is the speaker, but even that seems hard. Everything else is either completely flat or sealed with rubber. There’s still tactile feedback through the protruding rubber lines above and below the buttons. Both the buttons and the click wheel in the middle feel very natural. The clickable area is quite large, and you can easily feel the button being pressed.

The only input slot is the charger/headphone jack, which is smaller than any other charger jack I’ve seen. Motofone comparison However, the fit of the plug is extremely snug in the phone (it will not fall off if you dangle the phone from the cord, but at the same time it does not require much strength to push it in/take it out), and it seems that it uses the same plug for headphones, which I have not tested. The thickness of the phone is about the same as an Apple Remote.

Nick: How about performance? In practice, how long is the battery life? How is reception?

Me: Motorola claims 300h of stand-by battery life which, for the less mathematically inclined, translates to 12 days. That might be true if you turn on the phone, leave it on a table and never touch it or receive any calls. The screen consumes absolutely no power when it’s not changing the contents of the display, so on stand by the only power drain is the signal reception and updating the time every 60 seconds. However, I would not expect the battery to last anything more than 5 days under any circumstances where the phone is actually being used. I did let the battery run down completely, but I did get a solid 4 days of constant use from it before the 5-segment battery indicator dropped to a single line (just barely dropped below 2, where the last line can easily go for another day).

As far as reception goes, I only have one word: outstanding. I’ve been using this phone for 2 weeks, and I still have not seen the reception indicator fall below the full 5 lines (and no, reception is not generally this good in my area). In line with this, the excellent speakerphone is a feature I did not expect. Voice clarity on this device is up to par with any phone I’ve ever tried, including land lines. I have no problems understanding anything anyone says to me on this phone.

Nick: How does the screen perform in different light conditions? How does it compare to regular screens?

A Motofone Apart Me: The screen is definitely the most innovative power saving feature of the device. I already knew that the E-ink technology used for the screen requires no power to keep the screen on, but it’s a different feeling when you take out the battery without turning the phone off, and the screen keeps displaying the last characters on it! (Yes, it does reset without any trace when you turn it back on). The contrast is excellent and the characters are clearly visible in any light condition from any angle (unless there’s complete darkness).

This being said, it’s not all rosy. The character display is exactly like the old 16-segment LCD displays of yesteryear. 2 rows of 6 characters, that’s it. What’s even worse, only the first row is used for actual alphanumeric characters, which makes reading messages a big pain. I do believe there’s a valid reason for doing this (read on about the user interface), but it doesn’t stop it from being extremely annoying. Also since the characters are constructed from segments, there’s no notion of upper/lower case. You will see an upper case letter or a lower case letter depending on which one will make the most sense when formed by the segments.

Nick: Describe the user interface? Is it immediately intuitive, or does it take getting used to?

Me: The interface is by far the most interesting aspect of the device, even more so than the screen. The phone has a language setting, but not in the traditional sense as none of the menus have any text in them. Instead, any action you might perform on the phone and might need some instruction, comes with a voice-over, in the language chosen by the user. As this phone is targeted for the low-income family, there’s a good chance that a user of the phone might not even know how to read. For this reason, I believe the choice to preload the phone with voice messages in the native languages of the region it is being launched in instead of simply having text in different languages is an excellent choice.

Manual - Interface The first time I turned on the phone and entered my PIN, I was greeted by a man speaking in a language I did not understand. After a few seconds, the same man said, in English, “For English, press 3”. Since I bought the phone in the Karnataka district of India, the phone comes with 3 pre-set languages: Telugu, Kannada, and English, where the first two are the official languages of the district. These options come up whenever the SIM card is replaced in the phone, which makes sense. Once the language is selected, if you wish to change it you must either change the SIM, or go through the ‘advanced menus’ (read on).

As soon as I pressed 3, the same voice asked me if I wanted voice prompts while using the phone. 1 for Yes, 2 for No. I pressed 1 just out of curiosity. This option is presented to me every time the phone is switched on. Note that wherever I make a note of what the “friendly voice” says, this is always dependent to whether or not voice prompts are enabled. If they’re not, then the voice will never be heard from again (at least not until you turn the phone off and back on).

Since I had just powered on the phone, I was presented with the option for setting the time on the phone (with the voice telling me “Enter time”). After telling it the time and date, I was pretty much done with the setup.

Manual - Buttons There are exactly 6 menu choices. The menu can be accessed by pressing right or left on the click wheel. Pressing up or down while on standby changes the volume of the phone. The menu itself contains no characters, just icons. The same friendly voice tells you the menu you are on, which you can access by pressing the action key (top left). These choices are (as narrated by the friendly voice): Send a message, Read your messages, Call history, Change ringtone (7 possible pre-defined choices), Set alarm, Change time. Scrolling to the menu you wish to use you can press ‘up’ or ‘action’ and the menu will be selected, where the voice will tell you what you can do (“Write your message” for example).

There are a few other (advanced) options you can mess with: change language, select time format, set voicemail number, keypad tones on/off, auto keypad lock on/off, set SIM pin, SIM pin on/off, restricted calling – phonebook only, prepaid balance display, set balance inquiry number, and the obligatory reset factory settings. All of these options are accessible by pressing *** [3-digit number code] * [action]. These settings obviously require the manual which lists all the 3 digit codes, and are generally the kind of thing you would only set once and then forget about it. I haven’t tried to see if there are any easter eggs in there.

All in all, it took me about 10 minutes to get used to the interface. It did not immediately come to me (I spent a few seconds being utterly confused), but I believe the reason for that was because I’m so used to the standard interfaces that come on every phone. After getting the hang of this one (which was very fast to do so), it became almost second nature.

Nick: How does the address book work?

Phone Book Me: There’s a phone book button (top right) which takes you directly to the phone book. There is no memory on the phone itself for an address book, so it uses the SIM memory which is limited to 12 characters per contact name, and one number per contact entry. Pressing the phone book button will bring up the phone book, which you can navigate with up/down, or press a letter to jump to that point in the phone book. To scroll through the 6 character limit of the display you must press right. Pressing right multiple times will display the phone number of the contact, and then an option to delete the contact (shown as a trash can, you must press ‘up’ to delete it when the icon is shown). Furthermore, each contact has a number associated to it (the SIM card memory location), which can be used for speed dialing. If an unknown number is on the display, an icon appears above the phone book button which indicates that pressing it will let you add that number to your SIM.

The Call History menu has a memory of the last 15 dialed/received calls (the menu icon indicates whether the number was dialed or received, depending on the direction of the arrow).

Nick: How does text messaging work?

Me: There are two ways you can send a text message. The first way is to start writing a message by using the “Send a message” menu (first choice), then entering the number or going through the phone book. Alternatively, whenever a number or a contact (either through the phone book or through the Call History menu) is visible, a “Send a message” action is available and accessible through the action button, which will take you to the same “Send a message” menu. Writing the message and pressing send will send the message to the number you already selected.

Texting I already mentioned that only the top row is used for text, and that this makes reading messages extremely annoying. However, you do get used to it. If a word is less than 6 characters long, it will definitely be shown in its entirety. I.e. if you receive the message “hi how is california?” then “hi how” would be on the first screen, “is” would be on the second and “california” would span two screens, split at the ‘o’. The reason behind all this, in my opinion, is consistency. Browsing anything (messages, contacts, call history, etc) is a top to bottom action, and reading a message is a left to right action. If the message spanned two lines, it might be a bit more confusing, but the initial confusion might be worth the convenience. On the up side the response time of any action is next to nothing, so reading a message on this phone is NOT considerably slower than on any other phone, provided you’re not using T9 or any other sophisticated input method. The only way a message can be composed is by typing each letter in the standard way. Furthermore, there’s no ‘back’ button in the sense that you can navigate your message. If you make a mistake, you have to erase all the letters from the end of the message to the mistake in order to correct it, and then type everything again.

Nick: What do you like best about the phone?

Me: I’d have to say the large characters that display the time, the visibility of the screen, and the intuitiveness of the interface (after you take 10 minutes to learn it, mainly because we’ve all been conditioned to expect a lot of counter-intuitive interfaces from phones). Oh, and the price. You just can’t beat a $40 price tag on a phone that looks this good.

Also, I was surprised by the alarm. It’s quite loud, annoying, and must have a very well constructed sound loop because when it starts “chirping”, it appears as if the frequency/tone of the sound is slightly randomized, so it’s not a constant beat. Let’s just say it has more success waking me up than most other alarms I’ve tried (with the possible exception of The Matrix soundtrack CD starting at full volume).

Nick: What do you miss most? Is the simplicity a blessing or a curse?

Me: I think what I miss the most is the ability to synchronize my contact list with my mac, and slightly less I miss being able to connect my mac to the internet through the phone from wherever I am. However I still force myself to not carry my bluetooth enabled phone everywhere with me, because I believe having that kind of access to the internet should be reduced. As a computer scientist I spend a LOT of time on the internet as is, and having the ability to connect to the internet from anywhere at any time is just distracting. Feel free to disagree with me on this.

Beyond that, I do not miss the camera, the color screen, or the mp3 capabilities (I even have an iPod that I never use). If anything, I’d say the simplicity is a blessing. I never really used any of those features on my phones for any reasonable purpose, and simply having them there caused me to take ugly photos, waste time with 100px color photos, and suffer through low quality songs. Granted there are a lot of smartphones out there that get a lot of these things right, and maybe it is convenient to some to have a low quality 2MP camera in their pocket at all times. As far as I’m concerned however, if I believe I’ll want to take some photos, I’ll take a real camera. There’s just no way a phone can be designed to do all those things, and at the same time be small, light and usable. It always takes away from the primary purpose of the phone: making calls; which is why I believe the simplicity of this phone is a step in the right direction.

Nick: What are the greatest flaws of the phone? How would you improve it?

Me: I’d have to say the way the screen displays the characters. It seems that e-ink technology is able to create finer text, though I don’t know how that would affect the stand-by battery life (not that it matters much in real-life terms). Reading/Composing messages is troublesome at best, which is a problem concerning a lot of cellular communication now occurs via texting. I realize that a lot of the marketing around the phone is targeted to people who potentially don’t know how to read and/or write, but it’s a mistake to not consider the vast number of people who do and will be using this phone for that purpose. Other than that, I couldn’t be happier with it.

Nick: How popular is the phone in India? How is it marketed?

Me: I have not seen any ads for it, nor have I seen anyone else carry it or use it. That being said, I had a hell of a time finding a unit, as it was out of stock in every shop I went to. On the flip side, one shop owner I chatted up said they only brought 20 units total which sold in a couple of weeks, but they have no plans of bringing more. A few other stores hadn’t even heard of the device. I was finally able to locate a store that was having some stock brought in, and I reserved a device from them. The store attendant seemed to be very curious as to why I would choose a phone that had no features, and kept trying to get me to buy something else. Then again I’m in Mangalore, which is a city of 800,000 people in a country of 1.2 billion, and is also considered by many as a backwater village (i had to go to 4 different computer stores to find a 6-pin to 6-pin firewire cable). It’s extremely likely that Motorola has just not focused any marketing efforts in my parts of India, but I can’t confirm that.

Nick: Would you use this as your primary phone in the US?

Me: Probably. I’ve definitely given up a Nokia 6230 and an Ericsson K700i for this phone. Both of the other phones are turned off and stuck in my closet. That being said, I would not get rid of secondary phone with some more wireless capabilities, because I often find myself needing some mobile access which a simple phone cannot provide. I don’t know if I’d give up a blackberry for it, as I’ve never owned one (re: my comment on the simplicity of the phone).

Update 2007-03-28: Since some people have started adding undocumented key codes to the comments, I’ll try to maintain a complete list here and update it as more undocumented settings codes come up.

To access the advanced settings, press * * * [number code] * [action]

Phone Setting Number Code
Reset Factory settings 000
Restricted Calling (Phonebook only) ON | OFF 160|161
Keypad tones ON | OFF 250|251
Auto keypad lock ON | OFF 260|261
Set SIM Pin 300
SIM Pin ON | OFF 310|311
Select time format 470
Prepaid Balance Display ON | OFF 500|501
Voice Prompts ON | OFF
(can also be toggled by pressing
[action] on the volume menu)
Change Language 520
Set Balance Inquiry Number to # * 642
Set Voicemail number 644

Those are the ‘official’ codes, covered in the manual. Now for the experimental part…
Note: Use these at your own risk, even before these codes were posted here phone numbers were lost from a SIM card because of them, so back up your numbers before you use them!

Undocumented Codes – Use at your own risk!
Display total time of accepted incoming calls 111
Display total time of outgoing calls 121
Switch Audible call minute counter (beep) ON|OFF 130|131
Region Code display ON | OFF 400|401
List available networks with option to change to another network 402
Display network currently receiving service from 480
Display list of networks within range 481
View / Edit Service Cell Number (SMS Service) 643
Delete ALL stored messages 700
Enter SMS prepay query code (?) 701

The following codes work AS IS, i.e. without entering the * around them

Phone information details * * 9 9 9 9 * [action]
Cell phone serial number * # 0 6 # [action]

That’s it for now! If you find more, post them in the contents, I’ll pick them up and put them here.

394 Responses to “Motorola Motofone F3 Review”

Pages: [8] 7 6 5 41 » Show All

  1. 394. Comment by neil
    on 2010-02-19 @ 9.41 am · Quote #10999 ·

    When I charge my w230 it defualts to a loud ring, any way to silence it?

  2. 393. Comment by terry
    on 2010-01-29 @ 12.57 pm · Quote #10241 ·

    I bought the f3 about 2 years ago but only started using it when i moved to spain from the uk
    I put a spanish movistar prepay sim card in it and it seemed to work ok
    After a few days i noticed i wasnt receiving any calls
    When i checked the phone i had an X (error) on the phone and when i tried ringing my own number with another mobile it wouldnt connectThe voice on the phone also only speaks for a split second then goes off,but this worked fine before
    I do not jnow how to resolve this

  3. 392. Comment by Kevin
    on 2009-12-31 @ 3.35 am · Quote #9229 ·

    I got the F3 and put in a SIM card for Ireland and when I got their I get circle with a blinking x. How do I fix that. I got the sim card from Rebelphone? Any ideas how to fix?

  4. 391. Comment by SzEvy
    on 2009-11-28 @ 4.57 pm · Quote #7667 ·


    I have a problem. Can someone tell me how to make the number displaying? When I call someone, she can looks my number.
    I dont speak english well, so I hope to understand me.
    Thanks your help.

  5. 390. Comment by celia
    on 2009-09-16 @ 5.24 pm · Quote #5251 ·

    Hi, I need to unlock my motofone f3. I am in Brazil.can anyone help?

  6. 389. Comment by DIW
    on 2009-09-02 @ 1.04 am · Quote #4882 ·

    can someone tell me how to delete the phone log? and later how to de-activate this function? thanks

  7. 388. Comment by Annette
    on 2009-06-28 @ 2.22 am · Quote #3108 ·

    I’ve had this phone for 2 years..bought it in Costa Rica and so far it’s been ok. I had a problem with it not going to voice mail and got that fixed but now it’s doing it again. when I receive a call it rings 2 times and stops. On testing it I found that it wasn’t even going to voice mail, just dropping the call. Any ideas on how to fix this?

  8. 387. Comment by neenee
    on 2009-06-03 @ 3.30 pm · Quote #3084 ·

    I have no problems with my bars.

  9. 386. Comment by Matt
    on 2009-04-22 @ 9.26 pm · Quote #3034 ·

    I’ve had mine for 16 months and I’m having trouble with the battery and signal bars across the top. They turn mixed up shades of gray while the phone is sitting on. At start up and shut down they still turn black correctly, but once the screen finishes it’s start up routine they go gray. But the main screen is still functioning perfectly. Anyone else have this? It’s really annoying as I have to just guess what my battery level is.

  10. 385. Comment by John
    on 2009-03-04 @ 10.00 pm · Quote #2964 ·

    I’ve had the (unlocked) f3 for over a year on T-Mobile with no problems up to now. I’m experiencing the same issue as Joe (post #383).

    Here’s what I did: I dialed #31# + the number to block my ID. Success! My ID showed up as anonymous. I dialed the same number without the code and my ID is still blocked. I must dial *31# + the number (or *82 + the number) so the recipient can see my ID. This is the same for any number I dial now.

    My outbound caller ID is permanently blocked and I must unblock on a per call basis. I spent hours with T-Mobile level 3 engineering and Motorola level 1 support with no resolution. Each state that it’s the other’s issue and I’m stuck in the middle.

    The T-Mobile engineer has been very helpful trying to resolve this but it’s got us both scratching our heads. He manually configured the switch so my caller ID will show however, attempting to call a number then fails by the f3 displaying an “X”.

    I put my SIM card in another unlocked phone and all works normally so deductive reasoning leads me to believe it’s the f3 that’s the culprit.

    Checking the caller ID block status by dialing *#31#, the f3 responds with “ON”. I cannot find any GSM codes or advanced Moto codes to toggle the default outbound caller ID block to “OFF”.

    Any gurus have an answer to this?


  11. 384. Comment by Geanie
    on 2009-02-07 @ 7.21 pm · Quote #2926 ·

    I bought this for my husband over a year ago and he has been very pleased with it as he only wanted a phone, no camera, etc. and one where he could actually SEE the display. But now he wants to try text messaging. Sending is no problem. But, when I send him a text, even tho we scroll thru to READ Messages, he never has any. Are we doing something wrong ? Thanks as any help is appreciated.

  12. 383. Comment by Joe
    on 2009-01-28 @ 2.24 am · Quote #2910 ·

    I just received my f3 today in the mail. I ordered from Newegg for $30 – I was a little worried because of lots of comments I read, but I figured at that price it was worth a shot. It seemed exactly like the phone I wanted (good battery, rugged as shit, good reception, phone and text only).

    I have AT&T and I’m already very happy with the phone. I slipped the SIM card in and everything worked out of the box. The first time I turned it on it asked (through speech) if I wanted English(1), Spanish(2), or French(3). After that it asked if I wanted to use Voicemail Yes(1) or No(2). I selected English and Yes for Voicemail. That’s the *only* configuration I did.

    After that, I had a message I hadn’t checked yet and the indicator showed up. I held down 1, it called my voicemail. I listened to the message, deleted it, and hung up. The indicator went away.

    The display shows “AT-T” for the carrier (instead of a bunch of numbers) and the time was set automatically off the cell signal.

    I’ve only spent about 10 minutes with the phone, but so far everything I was concerned about is a non-issue. Now just have to see how well the battery does…

    So my phone continues to work fine. The battery is just alright, it lasts probably 4 days with light usage. The battery goes down several bars after having a long (around an hour) conversation though.

    The ONLY problem I AM having is my number does not show up when I call someone else. My friends say their phones display “Restricted” or “Unknown” when I call them. I’ve tried the ***161* option to turn off restricted calling, but that seems to make no difference.

    When I use the GSM Code *31#[number I want to dial] it properly displays my number. However, I don’t want to have to add this to every time I dial a number. Anyone have any ideas on how to fix this? I have AT&T…

  13. 382. Comment by Steve
    on 2009-01-17 @ 9.40 pm · Quote #2901 ·

    Love this little phone. Tough, simple, long battery life. My only issue is with the ringer. It vibrates before it rings, then only rings one cycle. Any way to ditch the vibration?

  14. 381. Comment by Joe
    on 2009-01-16 @ 10.54 pm · Quote #2898 ·

    I just received my f3 today in the mail. I ordered from Newegg for $30 – I was a little worried because of lots of comments I read, but I figured at that price it was worth a shot. It seemed exactly like the phone I wanted (good battery, rugged as shit, good reception, phone and text only).

    I have AT&T and I’m already very happy with the phone. I slipped the SIM card in and everything worked out of the box. The first time I turned it on it asked (through speech) if I wanted English(1), Spanish(2), or French(3). After that it asked if I wanted to use Voicemail Yes(1) or No(2). I selected English and Yes for Voicemail. That’s the *only* configuration I did.

    After that, I had a message I hadn’t checked yet and the indicator showed up. I held down 1, it called my voicemail. I listened to the message, deleted it, and hung up. The indicator went away.

    The display shows “AT-T” for the carrier (instead of a bunch of numbers) and the time was set automatically off the cell signal.

    I’ve only spent about 10 minutes with the phone, but so far everything I was concerned about is a non-issue. Now just have to see how well the battery does…

  15. 380. Comment by Jazmin
    on 2009-01-11 @ 7.59 pm · Quote #2888 ·

    Hi, I’ve just bought one of these… and when i receive text messages it barely rings… i was wondering if you know how can i adjust that in order to make the cellphone ring louder (when i receive text messages)
    (i’m sorry for my english. It’s really poor.)

  16. 379. Comment by AT&T F3 User
    on 2009-01-04 @ 2.19 am · Quote #2875 ·

    I bought a AT&T GoPhone with its prepaid SIM, and I moved that SIM into the F3 (which appears to be unlocked from some 850/1900MHz Latin American carrier). It works fine, no adjustments or setting changes needed. To confirm what others have been asking, the “31041” display is the GSM ID for AT&T…on a fancier phone, it would say “AT&T”. As for the voicemail indicator, this is not an F3 issue. My F3 voicemail indicator turns on when I have an unheard (new) voicemail. To get the indicator to turn OFF, you need to listen to your voicemail message(s), then, do NOT hang up until you press the * key to disconnect from the VM system. This same bug occurs with other brands of phones used on AT&T.

  17. 378. Comment by Unlocked GSM
    on 2008-12-19 @ 1.03 am · Quote #2821 ·

    This is a really cheap basic cell phone. It’s really good if you are in construction OR you have kids. It doesn’t have all the features like other cell phones, but it does have text messaging capabilities. It’s awesome especially if you need to get through your contract.

  18. 377. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-11-21 @ 2.36 pm · Quote #2767 ·

    Ricardo – if it’s truly frozen, it might be broken and can not be fixed without replacing parts.

    Whitney – if you had searched this thread, you would have seen the suggestion that they are networks corresponding to the provider you are using – instead of a name, it shows numbers. They can not be changed unless you change networks, nor can they be removed.

  19. 376. Comment by Whitney
    on 2008-11-18 @ 5.44 pm · Quote #2757 ·

    My F3 displays 5 numbers on my screen after ending and activity or ending a call, 78410 31041. what does this mean? and can i make it go away?

  20. 375. Comment by Ricardo
    on 2008-11-14 @ 5.08 pm · Quote #2740 ·

    Hi, my display froze. It displays the same hour even when taking away the battery. Is there any way to reset it or fix it?

  21. 374. Comment by Neil
    on 2008-10-06 @ 10.38 pm · Quote #2619 ·


    I just received mt F3 today Oct 6. I worried I had made a mistake because I was not aware of the voicemail issue until after I had bought it on ebay, and started poking around the web reading different reviews….but guess what…it works. Lucky me. As you all know my old carrier “cingular” was gobbled up by AT&T. The included holster has the cingular logo on it and the manual is in English. I can only guess that this phone was preprogramed for the cingular network? The ebay seller is monstercellular. I really like the phone so far…but to be honest 3 hours is a little soon to call it. Everything I read before I bought it was positive. I just didn’t catch the voicemail issue. I guess for once in my life I lucked out:-) and for 30 bucks plus shipping it does just what I want…It Phones

  22. 373. Comment by flucky
    on 2008-10-04 @ 2.28 pm · Quote #2610 ·

    bought the F3 in leipzig/germany at conrad electronic store for euro 8.95 with euro 10 call credit (e-plus)
    good thing over there is that you do NOT pay for incoming calls or SMS – that made the credit last for the whole vacation (haha onyl 5 days because i am from the us)
    liked the phone a lot.
    when people tlak about battery life they really would need to run it down to 0. most people don’t do that

  23. 372. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-09-03 @ 10.17 am · Quote #2530 ·

    I suspect there are no alternatives from other companies, because the majority of consumers wants more from their phone than just a phone. To you and me, that may sound a bit odd, but ah well – it seems that texting, e-mailing, listening to music, playing games, has taken the spotlight over what the device was initially created for. I love my Motofone F3 though and I hope they’re working on new versions, with a longer battery life for instance.

  24. 371. Comment by Richard Lloyd
    on 2008-08-25 @ 7.04 pm · Quote #2526 ·

    Just ordered an F3 from the UK Ebuyer Mobile site – is this the cheapest price for it ever: 2.99 pounds! You have to buy it with 10 pounds Orange airtime (but you’d be buying some airtime anyway surely?), but still at this price, *everyone* should get this as an emergency or second mobile phone…

    I’ve ordered the phone for my mother because all she wants is to make phone calls (nope, she doesn’t even want to SMS, which seems to be a weak point of this phone), mainly in “emergencies” (e.g. car breakdown and the like). What surprises me is that only Motorola seems to be catering for this “does one thing and does it well” approach that the F3 takes – why aren’t there equivalent models to the F3 from Nokia et al?

  25. 370. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-08-19 @ 9.43 am · Quote #2519 ·

    annabel – International calls do cost more than local and European calls. The Motofone F3 is a dual-band phone, and you’d need 850/1900 for the US, whereas the one you bought in Germany is a 900/1800 phone, which does not work in the US. Try getting a 850/1900 version online or a store in the US and you should be fine.

  26. 369. Comment by Neal
    on 2008-08-19 @ 3.42 am · Quote #2518 ·

    Ok…so I’m having the same problem with five digit numbers flashing across my screen. I have read the entire thread, and tried the 131 code to ‘disable’ searching, as well as the code to select my service provider – both to no avail.

    I too am experiencing less than fantastic battery life, and I am betting that these two problems are linked. My display is constantly turning on and off, and it is hurting my standby time.

    Anyone found a solution to this yet?

  27. 368. Comment by potrzebie
    on 2008-08-14 @ 4.55 am · Quote #2500 ·

    On the advice of a few people online, and after googling the phone (this page being one of the prime results) I decided to pick one up. $30, better sound quality than newer phones (the 3 3g phones I’ve tried upgrading to on at&t have been too quiet for me), better batter life than…well, any phone I’ve ever had. And it’s small. I never text, so that’s no prob. Pulled the sim card out of my current at&t phone and slid it in, with the battery, turned it on. Bought it from TigerDirect and it came right on, speaking english and found the network immediately.

    Also…it does seem that at&t have worked out the voice mail icon issue. I get voice mail and the icon pops up, and check it and it goes away. That was one thing I was worried about and turns out it isn’t a problem.

  28. 367. Comment by annabel
    on 2008-08-13 @ 10.09 pm · Quote #2497 ·

    hi. i bought the f3 in frankfurt, planning to use it while traveling in france. paid 35 euro, plus more for a “100 minute” sim card. as a us citizen, i have no experience with sim cards.
    unfortunately, we were able to make only a couple of calls before we started receiving messages, in german, saying either the number we called was in error, or we had no more time on our sim card. we tried every possible variation on dialing numbers, with no luck, only a repetition of the same message. and we had made only 29 minutes of calls, nowhere near the 100 we should have had. (biggest problem was the fact that i speak no german, and all messages and instructions were in german, through BLAU telefon.)
    questions: some of those 29 minutes were a call from france to the us – do international calls cost more minutes?
    and most importantly, can i get a sim card that will allow me to use the card here in the us? when i enter the code to show me which service providers are available to me, i get a “FAILED” message.
    help! i want to use this lovely little phone but i am constantly stymied!

  29. 366. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-07-30 @ 10.55 pm · Quote #2441 ·

    You can not disable the backlight, but it will switch off by itself
    when you are not using your phone.

    You can’t. The promotion pictures are not based on the retail Motofone F3. I myself think they’re just for show.

    You can’t remove the ‘house with the X’. Because your provider makes use of others’ networks, it will show the icon. I myself use Lebara, so I am faced with the same ‘problem’. However, as I do not spend a lot of time looking at my phone, I do not mind.

  30. 365. Comment by Brian
    on 2008-07-29 @ 6.31 am · Quote #2436 ·

    Hey guys, firstly excellent review. Okay just a few things:

    Has anyone figured out how to disable the backlight?

    How do I get the date in the standby screen like all the promo pictures?

    I use Fido which is basically a rebranded version of Rogers, which is the only GSM provider in Canada so how do I get rid of the house with the X on it?

  31. 364. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-07-28 @ 3.58 pm · Quote #2434 ·

    Please tell us how you are setting your alarm, during which step is it failing? Or can you set the alarm but won’t it actually go off?

  32. 363. Comment by j.bloe
    on 2008-07-25 @ 1.13 am · Quote #2419 ·

    Just bought an F3(unlocked) and my alarm won’t work! All I get is an”error failed” message every time. I’ve tried resetting time, date, restarts…… any help would be appreciated. Other than this it is a great little phone. Alas I do need the alarm, one of the few functions of this thing!

  33. 362. Comment by R. Sneed
    on 2008-07-19 @ 3.48 am · Quote #2403 ·

    A great phone. It’s simplicity and durability are what sets it apart. One only hopes that Motorola continues building on the success.

  34. 361. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-07-14 @ 7.01 am · Quote #2386 ·

    Hm. Well, you got me there. It’s just that my experience is the opposite of yours – no dropped calls and good reception where I had problems with other brands before.

  35. 360. Comment by PB
    on 2008-07-13 @ 2.01 am · Quote #2383 ·

    @ neenee: I’ve had an old Nokia 6061 for several years and in the same environment, never dropped a call or had any other issues. My Nokia 1600 is also performing very well. If it’s not the phone, I wonder why the Nokias are playing so nicely with my provider and the Motofone is not?

  36. 359. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-07-12 @ 12.52 pm · Quote #2381 ·

    I doubt the dropped calls, being temporarily unavailable and calls going to voice-mail are related to the phone though.. sounds like a service provider issue.

  37. 358. Comment by PB
    on 2008-07-11 @ 5.21 pm · Quote #2376 ·

    Oh well! I gave up on this phone. Too many dropped calls, missed calls, service temporarily unavailable messages, and calls going directly to voice mail without the phone ever ringing. Too bad! I got a Nokia 1600 to replace it. Not as cool but it gets the job done.

  38. 357. Comment by R. Sneed
    on 2008-07-08 @ 10.18 pm · Quote #2366 ·

    Thanks! Is there a headset available for the F3? Or can a 2.5mm male – 3.5 female adaptor be utilized instead?

  39. 356. Comment by neenee
    on 2008-07-07 @ 8.37 pm · Quote #2362 ·

    There is no way to show both at the same time.

  40. 355. Comment by R. Sneed
    on 2008-07-06 @ 4.59 am · Quote #2358 ·

    Great info! Does anyone know how I can get the date displayed along with time?

  41. 354. Comment by PB
    on 2008-06-25 @ 2.08 pm · Quote #2337 ·

    Just press the little metal latch in with your finger nail and lift up. The back door will pop right out. To put it back, align the tabs and just push until it snaps in.

  42. 353. Comment by nakadude
    on 2008-06-25 @ 1.26 am · Quote #2336 ·

    Just got one on my trip to Guatemala. It came already with the SIM and battery in place. How does one get the back battery cover off? The chrome latch won’t move in any direction that I can figure out. For the less that mechanically inclined, walk me through getting the battery door off. Thanks…

  43. 352. Comment by Homer
    on 2008-06-22 @ 8.07 pm · Quote #2333 ·

    Bought this excellent little phone in the UK yesterday on Tesco (£15) but it seems to have one major problem. Tesco have filled up the first 18 phone numbers on the Sim card with their service numbers and used up all the speed dial setting etc so if I want to scroll thru my numbers, I have to wade past Tesco’s 17 numbers! These numbers cant be deleted or moved so There seems to be no way around it. Does this happen on other UK networks or is it just Tesco?
    I think the phone is widely available on Orange or O2 so I may have to swap networks to get get one without this ‘feature’!


  44. 351. Comment by PB
    on 2008-06-11 @ 4.25 pm · Quote #2303 ·

    Never mind. I figured it out. It means that there no messages in memory. I just deleted them all and that triggered it.

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