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Review GSM phone Motorola C261


  • Handset
  • Battery
  • Manual
  • Charger

The company of Motorola is well known for its low-end solutions, and very often the launch of this or that model determined the whole development vector for years. A recent example is Motorola C350, which is not the first phone with a touchscreen, and the screen quality is not the best in its class. But the price/quality ratio was so profitable that even today the device is still on the market and keeps stable sales. The only similar example is Nokia 3310, which also was a long-liver and sold in great quantities on the market.

Now Motorola longs for making a model that would strengthen the company's prevalence on the market, and will have a long life circle. And it's quite reasonable to get a tested platform for such a device. Well-known to everybody triplet platform served the basis (the first models were v300, v500, v600). The second thing besides making a successful product is to position it well on the market, give a good price to it. A trusted way was used to solve the tusk. The order was passed to a partner company. Besides producing several models the partner accesses the hardware platform. Technologies used by Motorola, which may give many profits if the company wants to make own phone samples. The company of Compal is a Motorola's partner in making the C261. This company has recommended itself well as an ODM-maker. In fact, the assembly quality and the number of denials seems acceptable for Motorola's level, and the price is less, which brings profits and makes an end product cheaper. In the С261's case Compal not just makes the model, besides, it develops the software for it. This is some kind of a Compal's contribution to the С261, and refusal from own software is dictated by the license agreement. Considering the phone is a low-end solution, we do not expect surprises from the soft. An obvious change is font-size, not all the lines are shown on the screen, they are scrolled then. In some items icons are changed and the rest all looks like a real Motorola.

Motorola C261 is a sign model, as for the first time the principle of "three meters" is used in a low-end phone. This Motorola's principle can be shortly described as phone's recognizability in a user's hands in a distance of three meters. We can easily assign this feature to a high-end model, like Motorola RAZR. Later the company created models for other segments as well following this principle. And SLVR, L2, and L6 are much different from other models on the market. However till today we couldn't say the principle was used for low-end models, Motorola C115/C116 do even pretend on unique design. The low-end segment has the main problem of artificially worsened material quality to make the appearance plainer, and make a high demanding user chose a more expensive handset. The margin of low-end models is low, and thus giving expensive material to them is unprofitable, as well as making them rememberable and attractive. And this very model is a turning point: The market saturation made the company offer an unordinary solution and change the appearance of a low-end phone, as well as its functional saturation. It's not hard to guess Motorola C261 will become the same product like the C350 was in its time, other makers will orient on it and try to represent own similar models.

The phone dimensions of 89x49x15.5 mm allow assigning the device to "thin" solutions that Motorola promotes on the market. The weight of 112 grams is caused by using Softtouch plastic (soft velvety covering) and some metallic elements (in particular, the edging of the middle of the device is metallic). In the very beginning of the shipments only one body colour will be available. At the same time, operator versions of the model will gladden with colour variations and other names (C26x).

The keypad is plastic with projecting pleasant to touch buttons. Working with it is pleasant, the backlighting is red and well seen in various conditions, it doesn't irritate and gives some extra charm to the model. In contrast to the triplets, there is no standard miniUSB connector; only a side surface holds a connector for usual earphones, headset and a charger (needle). The refusal from a standard miniUSB connector is dictated by the fact the model is positioned as a low-end phone only for calls. And by the way, the same reason caused refusal from Bluetooth: the manufacturer decided on deactivating the function in order to avoid competition with other company solutions. Physically Bluetooth is present in the phone; however, it is closed wit software means. Maybe in some time a modification of С261 supporting Bluetooth will appear, or some skilled people will activate the function.

There is a strap hole on the top. No side buttons are foreseen, the camera is controlled only with usual buttons. The camera itself is placed on the back, that is a VGA module known by other devices. Due to the absence of communication means, transferring the data is only possible vi a MMS. Video is not supported due to small memory size.

The screen in the model equals the triplets - that is TFT with the resolution of 128x160 pixels (Sharp). As for the screen quality the model is one of the best on the market, it has no copies in its class - and the screen is readable even in the sun.

The battery module is hidden behind a back cover. A 820 mAh Li-Ion battery is placed here. As the manufacturer claims, it is capable of up to 80 hours in the standby mode and up to 3 hours in the talk model Averagely in Moscow the phone worked for about 3 days in case of 45 minutes of talks. Full recharging takes 1.5 hours.


Only about 1.2 MB of memory are available to a user (from the very beginning a part of 2 MB is reserved for content). The menu is organized typically of Motorola, no changes. You can access the Main Menu by pressing the Menu key centered into the navi button. The main menu is traditionally presented with 9 icons; each of them uses tips on the top of the screen. You can switch the main menu's appearance to the list mode. Then everything will be presented with lists. Half of the menu is presented with lists and half with icons (if you use the appropriate menu look). The user can customize the order of following for the icons in the main menu (or the items in list view mode). The menu doesn't support fast number navigation, but you can setup shortcuts for almost every menu item or function. The navigational key can be assigned various actions to during the stand by mode. Moreover, you can adjust it in order not have corresponding icons on the screen but they would appear on pressure. Two soft-keys can be bind to various actions as well, apart from the default ones. With such menu personalization flexibility the lack of the fast number navigation is not so noticeable.

Phonebook. Unlike other models the phone book is of the old design here. Totally a bank of names can contain only 500 names with only one number or e-main address for each. At the same time name grouping is preserved, then many numbers can be hidden behind the same names. Traditionally any graphical file, own melody, voice mark (up to 20) can be bound to a name. The reason of he cut phonebook functions is the device belongs to the low-end segment.

Messages. The default memory capacity for 100 SMS is provided; it may also vary depending on the software version. As a rule, operator versions are limited by 40 messages. The device works with EMS. Automatic cleaning of the whole message list should be mentioned as an extra possibility; there is a list of templates. Delivery report may be on permanently or switched on/off for a message.

Working with MMS doesn't bring any inconvenience; everything is simple and easily understandable. The messages can be attached with pictures made by the built-in camera, sound files. The ten predefined templates are really great, be sure to check them out, however, they copy the previous models.

WAP. The phone has WAP-browser v2.0 and its possibilities are standard so nothing special can be said. GPRS (class 8) is present, the settings are rather simple, just follow your operator's instructions and everything will be done in a matter of minutes.

Call log. The phone has a list of received calls; it includes the missed ones as well, they are noticeable due an absent tip in a list. You can also see the list of the 10 last dialed numbers; you can access it by pressing the Call button. Everything is rather simple and traditional, nothing special at all. Each entry features the date and time as well as duration.

Also phone life time, calls of various types, connection time and data seances are available from this menu.

Office applications. This menu features a whole bunch of office applications including a Calculator. It's convenient, the full digital keyboard is present on the screen and it reproduces the real keyboard perfectly. The menu features memory options and the unit converter. Stopwatch is also present.

Shortcuts are located in the same menu. You can create shortcuts not only for various menu sections, but for a definite wap-site as well.

Alarm clock. You can create several alarm clocks and choose a custom ring tone, name and volume, type of reoccurrence (daily, single time) for each of them. This phone was designed for continuous, that's why entering names and titles for the alarm clocks is required. The alarm clocks are activated in one touch and tips ease working.

Games and applications. The phone supports Java MIDP 2.0; all applications that are located in this menu are based on this technology. The number of games and their title depend on where the phone was bought. In the majority of cases you'll find such games as Rebels, here called Space (space arcade), Soccer, Crazy (a variant of Worms). Only over the air download of new games is possible.

Multimedia. The phone doesn't support themes. An end user can only change the menu colour..

MotoMixer - original sound file editor that allows mixing the tracks. You can play with it from time to time; the results may come out rather unexpected and nice. However as the practice shows, these sound editors are nothing more than a toy for most of the users, only few of them take use tool seriously.

Sounds - information about all sound files located in the phone's memory is stored here. Finally, they may be listened to.

Settings. Here you can setup all Display settings including the color schemes.

Ring tone type and notification mode (mixed mode, when the vibrating alert works at the same time with the ring tone is present) is here as well.

I don't think there is any need to describe the network and security settings since they're all similar to any other phone.


The integrated 32-tones polyphony sounds well and can be heard in various conditions. You can set an mp3 files as a call melody, but considering the memory size, we can say not many of such samples are possible (2-4 at the most). The poser of vibra is average; however the call is well-felt, mainly due to the phone thickness. Speakerphone is realized well, and data transmission quality seemed acceptable.

In the beginning of November the C261 will be shipped onto the market. The average price may form about 130-135 USD. Pleasant design unusual for rival models and perfect screen crumble the high price for a model with no synchronization means. Due to a little memory size, entertainment capabilities turned very poor.

Considering material quality and unordinary design, we can suppose the model will be demanded by a wide range of customers. The phone sets new laths for budgetary solutions, and first that concerns design and screen. Bluetooth is very possible to appear, due to which the handset will become even more attractive. Now this model should be treated as ideal for ones searching for a stylish cheap with minimal functions, intended primarily for calls.

P.S. I'm sure our readers will feel an ambiguous feeling. And I'd like to note future users of this phone are people, who only call, though want to have a good, readable screen and attractive design. In this very aspect the C261 seems the most successful.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Mitina (maria.mitina@mobile-review.com)

Published — 27 September 2005

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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