Motorola w376g – A TracFone with Bluetooth is finally here!
If you are on the fence about buying the new Motorola w376g bluetooth TracFone, but are waiting for a review to make a more informed decision, here, it is. This post is Part 1 of my in-depth review of this phone. You can find part 2 here, and the final section, part 3, will be posted soon. To stay informed, though, you may also want to subscribe to receive my future blog posts automatically in your email. To subscribe click on the link to the right of the title of this post – it’s free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Okay, here’s the review: I bought this phone two weeks ago as an upgrade to my wife’s V170. We were both quite impressed with the appearance right off the bat. It is silver, slim and shiny, a very stylish design resembling that of the very popular, but much more expensive, Motorola Razr. The screen is clear and bright; a drastic improvement over the V170. Overall, I’d have to say this phone looks less like a TracFone handset than any other model offered by the company. I know there are TracFone users out there who maybe take a little ribbing from friends over the appearance of their inexpensive phone, but I promise that won’t be the case with this attractive device. Click on the picture for more details on this phone:
Beyond the beauty of the exterior, the dimensions and controls appealed to me as well. The size and weight of this model are the same as that of the earlier w370 model:
Size: 3.90” x 1.8” x 0.7″
Weight: 3.35 ounces
It fits in my pocket more easily than the v170, v176, or c139, all of which are bulkier. The w376g is also similar in size to the Nokia 1100, 1112, and 2126 models.
Click on the picture above get more details from TracFone about this phone.
When you flip open the clamshell, you’ll see that the button options are the same as on the w370. I actually liked the feel of the buttons on this model better than on the w175g, which I reviewed in an earlier post on this blog. While the w175g has a very glossy keypad, the 376 actually has a slightly more user-friendly surface, in my opinion. I’ve found that my fingers didn’t slip around as much on this keypad, and I like the slightly raised lines separating the individual keys. I also found the phone to be well-balanced in the open position, making one-handed texting easier with this phone than the w175g.
One complaint about the buttons, though – the single-touch web browser key seems unnecessary to me. No matter where you are on the menu system, if you inadvertently click the web browser button, the application will launch. If you don’t cancel, and then confirm that you want to cancel this action, the browser will open and start deducting units. While I have quickly grown accustomed to the keypad and don’t accidentally open the browser any more, I would prefer to have the option of disabling this key to prevent unexpectedly deducting units.
Now, on to the function of the phone:
I was able to EASILY transfer the old phone number and remaining minutes from the V170 in about 5 minutes using TracFone’s website. I had done the online transfer in the past using phone numbers that I didn’t care all that much about, but I was a little nervous this time since I would have been in hot water with my wife if I lost the number she’s had for 3+ years. But, everything worked flawlessly again and within five minutes my test call to her number went through to the newly activated w376g.
I’ve made several calls with this phone, as has my wife, and we both been very happy with the sound quality. It is on par with the recent w175g TracFone, which features “Crystal Talk” technology from Motorola. Another positive of this model is that the elongated flip phone design results in the mouthpiece being positioned very close to the mouth of the user. In my opinion this feels more natural than many of the previous “candy-bar” style TracFones, which leave the receiver several inches from your mouth and give the feeling that you need to shout in order to be heard.
Signal reception was also very good on this handset, comparing favorably to my old reliable Nokia 1100. In fact, the signal on the w376 was always as good as, and sometimes better than, the 1100. I did encounter one particular hiccup in the reception, when I stepped from an AT&T dead spot into an area with a very weak signal. At that time, the Motorola did not immediately find the network, instead responding with a “Call failed” error message. However, as soon as I canceled the error message, the handset once again connected to the network and was ready to make calls. I’ll continue to monitor this error and report again on this blog if the issue continues to cause problems.
I also had the chance today to talk to my wife while she was using the w376g at her office. The phone worked perfectly, whereas her old v170 sometimes didn’t even receive calls while she was in her office. At best, she’d have to get up out of her desk chair and stand next to the window to have a decent conversation. With the new phone, our conversation was perfect as she sat comfortably at her desk, without having to move around to try to get better reception.
Now, as I mentioned at the top of this post, I am breaking up my review into two parts. My plan was to focus on the more functional aspects of the phone with this first post, then come back in part two to go over the more “fun” topics such as the camera, games, etc. But, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the ringtone capabilities, so I’m going to address that here before I wrap up this post. Next time, definitely by the end of the weekend but hopefully sooner, I’ll come back to cover the extras: bluetooth , camera, radio, web browser, office tools and games.
I’ve never really been that concerned with getting a phone based on the ability to get cool ringtones. But since the w376g gave me the option of getting mp3 tones, I had to try it out. I first went into the web browser to look through those offered by TracFone’s mobile web storefront. The how-to steps are included in the phones packaging (and surprisingly well-done by TracFone’s standards), so I won’t go over the instructions. However, I will say that I found that everything worked as described. I was able to download a ringtone in a few minutes. If you want to buy a ringtone from TracFone, you’ll have the option of either paying $2.99, or deducting 8.97 units from your phone. I chose to have units deducted, after that I just had to follow the instructions on the screen to set up my new ringtone.
As someone who has always used the stock tones on all of my past phones, I was pleased to have these extra options. There are a few things that might concern others, though. The only way to get an mp3 ringtone on your phone is to buy it from TracFone, either using the w376g’s built-in web browser, or on TracFone.com. You’ll have to pick from the nearly one thousand options they have available. But if you’re looking for a very specific song, you might not get exactly what you want.
And you won’t be able to download your own tones, as both the USB port and the bluetooth functionality on the Motorola w376g are crippled by TracFone. So you’ll have to choose from what they offer if you want mp3 ringtones. I have heard reports that you may be able to get custom polyphonic ringtones transferred to your phone by sending them as email attachments from your PC to your phone, but I haven’t been able to get this to work personally.
So, I guess the bottom line on the TracFone ringtones for the Motorola w376g is this: if you’re buying the phone mainly for the mp3 ringtones, you may be disappointed with this model. But if you want to have the newest, most feature-rich TracFone available, I’m willing to bet that you’ll be able to find at least a few ringtones from TracFone’s offering to meet your needs.
Okay, that’s it for part 1 of the review. I’ll be back with part 2 before the weekend is over. If you can’t wait, you can check out more details from TracFone.com by clicking on the picture of the phone higher up on this page.