Hard to find, the Motorola L7c SLVR is exclusively sold in Best Buy stores. Verizon however is planning to put the same phone in their stores next week. But, is this phone the hidden gem in Sprint’s lineup? Read more to find out.
The Motorola L7c SLVR is an odd phone in Motorola’s lineup. It is modeled after its GSM counterpart, the L7 SLVR, which is a low-end phone. Likewise, the first CDMA SLVR is being billed as a low-end phone. However, in many respects, it’s just as high-end as the other new entries into Motorola’s Sprint lineup.
The phone does have a basic VGA camera, but it also touts Sprint TV, EV-DO, Bluetooth, and is the first bar-style phone on Sprint’s lineup to have Bluetooth since the Sony Ericsson T608. Combined with a microSD card slot, the Sprint Music Store, and On Demand, it is difficult to bill this phone as low-end.
Because of this, the phone has a very low after-rebate price for new customers, but a high at-retail price for existing customers. Supplies are beginning to trickle out beyond Best Buy retailers, but this phone is certainly an exciting combination of features and performance for a lower-end target audience.
First Impressions, Basic Phone Functionality
The first thing you notice with the SLVR is the great design. It carries everything over from the original GSM SLVR, and is lightweight while easy to hold in your hand. It even stands upright when placed on a desk… which is great for tuning into Sprint TV.
Also another positive for the Sprint variant is that it is in all-black. Verizon’s all-silver L7c SLVR stands out as an eyesore. Sprint’s sleek black version is much more relaxing on the eyes, and the keypad stands out great with the electrochromatic lighting. As to the directional pad, it is not as great as the RAZR, you can occasionally make an accidental click. But, for us, this was very rare. The directional pad resists accidental key presses while in your pocket very well. We never even felt the need to turn on the keyguard. However, the keyguard was also very easy to use.
Voice calling is great, crystal clear… the same experience as on any other modern Motorola CDMA or GSM phone. However, RF performance is probably the one thing that stands out as sub-par. Reception was weaker in fringe areas, and the phone would drop calls where the RAZR and KRZR on Sprint wouldn’t. Clearly the RF performance is not as good as more-expensive phones, but the reception is still good enough to watch Sprint TV with only one bar of service. In short, we wouldn’t not buy the phone because the RF is a little sub-par, but it is important to know if you live/use phones often in very-fringe areas.
Advanced Phone Functionality
Being the first Motorola Sprint PCS phone we’ve reviewed, it’s important to go over how a Motorola Sprint phone differs from the typical Motorola CDMA phone. Motorola has customized the operating system for Sprint… in some places heavily.
First, the phone uses Sprint’s MI-UI which is powered by uiOne on Sprint. However, you cannot download themes. The code to add downloadable themes just didn’t make the cut, but future Motorola phones will be able to download themes. This leaves you with the default theme, which is a Sprint-enhanced variant of the traditional Motorola user interface. In most ways, this is identical to Motorola, just with better images. Motorola handled uiOne/MI-UI very well, the phone acts just like a typical Motorola. Most users won’t even know that the user interface is different from a typical Motorola phone.
However, some things have been shuffled. Downloads for example. Preloaded ringtones are only accessible from Settings > Sounds, and are not available in the downloads folder. Same for images and videos. Certain settings are rather obscurely placed on the device, causing confusion at times when attempting more advanced functionality (for example, turning off confirm/deny requests for Bluetooth phone-as-modem are stuffed away in Headset settings).
One thing that surprised us was the Media Player in the device. Motorola’s Sprint Media Player performs just as well as seasoned, heavily revised media players on Sanyo and Samsung. The phone flawlessly streamed live Sprint TV, as well as our own 3GPP streams without any problem. Further, it offers excellent landscape view, making it easy to rotate the phone sideways for a larger viewing area.
As to camera performance however, it was rather dismal. While better than older VGA cameras, it only really rivaled high-quality ones such as on the Sanyo 5300… which was sold about five years ago. As such, we don’t have any photos to share… you don’t want to see them. It would have been nice to offer a non-camera variant of the SLVR, so that those in government and other institutions that don’t allow a camera could finally have an EV-DO phone. The extremely poor quality of the camera on the L7c just adds insult to injury in that regard.
Back by popular demand. We drop phones at the waist/pocket level, held vertically, onto typical sidewalk. The SLVR did fairly well, no denting or damage. However, there was paint loss on the front, running around the sides. For a phone made entirely out of plastic, it did well.
The Motorola L7c SLVR on Sprint is a great phone, inside and out. From excellent hardware to excellent software, this is a great combination of EV-DO and a “budget” offering. We only say budget because aside from the VGA camera, this phone is as strong a contender as the V3m RAZR and K1m KRZR.
While this may not be the most full-featured Sprint phone we’ve reviewed, credit for that goes to the Sanyo M1 (Review) and Samsung M610 (Review), the L7c SLVR on Sprint is certainly one of the best phones we’ve ever looked at.
Pros: Excellent form-factor, design, and performance in all general areas.
Cons: Some minor first-revision bugs, VGA camera.
Final Score: 5/5