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Motorola V551 Cellular Phone

© January 2006 Anthony Lawrence
January 2006

Yes, I kept my Nokia 7160 far longer than I should have. It was December 2005 when I finally bought this Motorola V551. I've had the Nokia for years and was reluctant to give it up because the darn thing worked no matter how many times I dropped it on concrete and because I had $400.00 hands free kits installed in both of our cars and none of the newer phones will fit those cradles.

But in December I apparently dropped the Nokia one too many times and while it still worked, it would often go dead if I just shook it slightly - sometimes just picking it up to answer it would cause the shut-off. It was time to give it up.

I stopped by a Cingular Kiosk in the mall and asked for the physically largest, least featured, least expensive phone they had. I don't want a tiny phone, and while this Motorola isn't too bad, it does get lost in my coat pocket and I sometimes have trouble getting it out to answer it. Sure, I could get a belt clip, but I've tried that before and somehow I'm always smashing the phone against something or it falls off the belt when I'm undressing or dressing - I'd just rather carry it in my pocket. The Nokia was big enough not to get lost in there; this Motorola isn't.

Apparently a lot of folks think that the battery life of this phone is simply marvelous. Maybe it is compared to other phones of the same generation, but the Nokia beat it hands down - of course the Nokia battery alone is bigger and heavier than this whole phone, so that's obviously why, but now I find myself running out of charge before I run out of day. I did buy a car charger, but I haven't been able to use that yet because there's a fuse blown in the car, and I can't seem to pry the cover off the fuse panel, so that repair has to wait till the next time the car goes in the shop.. consequently I often find myself driving home with a dead cell phone. Of course that could never happen with the Nokia because the hands free kit would recharge it - though it never needed to anyway.


Hands free is a major annoyance. I bought the BlueTooth ear bud accessory and dislike it intensely. First, it hurts my ear after a very short period. Second, pushing the ear bud button to answer a call sometimes doesn't work reliably - often I fumble with it several times before I can answer, and of course press it harder which hurts my ear more. I find it impossible to adjust the volume with the ear bud also. I'd much rather have a cradle kit.

When placing calls using the voice dial, I find that the phone often misinterprets and starts dialing the wrong number - and hanging up with the ear bud isn't easy either. It takes far too many key presses to find a stored number that isn't set up for voice dial, and would be dangerous to try while driving, so I just don't initiate calls at all now. The Nokia was much easier, and of course again was in the hands free cradle so it was easy to get at without taking my eyes off the road for more than a split second. They do make a www.smoothtalker.com/products/kits_index_bt_mot.php (link dead, sorry) car kit, so I guess I'll have to get it. I'll have to wait until my wife agrees to give up her Nokia though..

The phone does have a speaker phone mode, and I've tried that as a subsitute for the Bluetooth ear bud - but the sound quality is poor and it just drains the battery even faster.

The biggest annoyance of this phone is the external side buttons. These can do various functions, including triggering a voice dial and changing the ring style volume or changing that to vibrate rather than ring. As I hit these buttons by reaching in my pocket, or even sometimes just from external fabric pressure caused by twisting my body, the ring style is constantly changing and accidentally hitting the voice dial button often ends up with the phone dialing my sister without my knowledge. It took me a while to figure that out - my sister called me several times asking "Did you call me?". I'd profess innocence, but my number was in her caller id, so obviously I had. Apparently random wind noises get interpreted as her name and the Motorola obligingly places the call.

Other than all this, the phone is fine. Probably the Bluetooth earbud is the biggest annoyance, though I'd like a voice dial mode where I could just speak a number and have it dialed. Next time I buy a cell phone, I'm going to look for that feature.

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Sun Jan 22 16:09:54 2006: 1543   BigDumbDinosaur

I'll keep my Motorola Star Tac as long as it will continue to work (which is five years now). It has only the features I want -- no camera, musical ring tones or other silliness -- and because it closes up on itself when not in use, it is surprisingly resistant to damage from being dropped or banged into things.

Cell phones seem to have fallen victim to serious creeping featurism -- they have far too much crap for their own good. The more features are added, the greater the likelihood that something won't work right, or at all. Like Tony, I can't see going the ear bud route and most of the currently available phones have such small buttons I have a difficult time operating them (I have short but blunt and thick fingers, better suited to poking out eyes than dialing cell phones). I surely don't need a camera in my phone, any more than I need a phone in my camera. It has often been pointed out that new technology isn't necessarily good technology, an observation that surely describes many of today's cell phones.

Tue Jan 24 16:09:22 2006: 1547   rbailin

Tony, the obvious question for you is: Why didn't you just go on eBay and buy a replacement used Nokia 7160 for $10 + s/h? Are your carrier's activation fees extortionate?


Tue Jan 24 18:35:55 2006: 1549   TonyLawrence

Slap me up the side of the head - I never thought of that.. duh!

Oh well, too late now.

Fri Jan 18 19:14:34 2008: 3492   NorminNorthCarolina

We had Motorola V551 hands free mounts installed in all of our vehicles. When it came time to do another we decided against the mount because, as you pointed out, when you change the phone you end up with another expense - replacing the mount!

We accidentally ran across the company that installed all the cell phone equipment in the Disney World vehicles - around 500! We asked what they used and they said not to use the Motorola offering but to use a Parrot CK3000 Blue tooth system instead! All we can say is incredible!

On the battery issue, we found replacement batteries that last twice as long! Unfortunately out of five of these Chinese made batteries only four were good!

Also, there are probably later models of the Parrot CK3000 available now. Oh, on the Macs - my wife has used Macs since 1984 and I got my first one in 1986! We have always run our business using Macs and have not gotten rid of the old ones as we upgraded - we have stacks!


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