Motorola's PEBL U6 is the second model in Motorola's high-end "four-letter word" line, following the super popular RAZR V3. The PEBL takes some of the same materials and technologies used in the RAZR, and packages them into a completely different kind of clamshell handset. While the RAZR is all about thin, sharp angles, the PEBL is more about design, making use of soft curves and smooth lines throughout.
Screen shots from the PEBL.
The graphite black finish on the smooth, rounded exterior of the PEBL U6 manages to appear very glossy while still having a visual texture to it. The effect is very cool in person, but the downside is that the phone is an absolute magnet for fingerprints. But that's just the cost of high fashion, isn't it?
The PEBL's biggest claim to fame is perhaps not its shape and look, but its unique opening mechanism. A series of custom hinges, a dampening device, and some magnets allow the PEBL U6 to be opened up one-handed in a very smooth, elegant manner. When holding the device, you simply use your thumb to pull the top cover towards the bottom of the device a bit, which releases the magnetic latch that keeps the spring-loaded opening mechanism at bay. At that point you simply move your thumb out of the way and let the spring do its job. The motion is smooth and slow enough for the device to maintain its balance.
Once open, the PEBL's unusual keypad is ready for use. The directional controller and its center select button are very typical of mobile phones, but the rest of the keypad builds on some of the unique design elements we saw in the RAZR's keypad. The PEBL's keypad and softkeys are completely flat. The actual buttons are hidden behind a single sheet of metal that has a bit of give to it, allowing finger pressure to make its way to the switches underneath. Thin strips of translucent material let light filter in from behind, just as they do on the RAZR's keypad. The net result is a very distinct-looking keypad that probably sacrifices a little too much functionality in the name of fashion. Individual keys are simply much easier to find and press, even if they don't look nearly as sharp.
The inner workings of the PEBL U6 seem to be stock Motorola. The handset comes in two variations, each of which supports three GSM frequency bands and EDGE data. The North American version supports the 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 Mhz bands. The internal display is a 262k-color unit with a pixel resolution of 176x220. The battery should be good for over 6 and a half hours of talk time, or up to as long as 10 days of standby time according to Motorola. Bluetooth support more than makes up for a lack of infrared connectivity. The only aspect that seems a bit dated is the PEBL's VGA camera. For a high-end handset like the PEBL, you certainly would expect more resolution in the camera.
Other highlights include 5 MB of internal storage that can be used for MP3 or MIDI ringtones, photos and video clips, and downloaded Java games and applications. The addition of speaker-independent voice dialing and voice commands are welcome, and the PEBL's relatively low weight of 3.7 ounces (110 g) makes it quite pocketable.
- Unique design
- Automatic opening mechanism
- Low-resolution camera
- Difficult keypad
Motorola's PEBL U6 is a unique handset. Where it goes, stares and longing gazes will follow. It might not have the full range of high-end features inside, but for the see-and-be-seen crowd, it probably has everything to get the job done.
--Reviewed by Michael Oryl, editor in chief of www.MobileBurn.com
Customer Review: My adorable little Italian pumpkin -- a great phone, too.
I bought the Motorola Pebl because it seemed to have loads of features, all while looking so cute.
To try and avoid any problems since there isn't a warranty on international Moto phones used in the US, I chose to get a new Pebl. It came in original packaging and pristine as you would expect for new. The charger was made to work in Europe, but it did come with an adapter and works as well as anything. The language was set to Italian, since that's one of the countries where they still sell them new. Changing it to English was simple, but that's most likely because I've had many Motos and am used to what's where on the menu. The user guide is in many languages, including English, and easy to use.
As far as how the phone works in general, it is very useful and reliable. It gets the best signal of any phone I've ever had, and I've never had trouble hearing anyone or getting calls. The battery life is great, it can easily go four days without a charge, and usually I don't charge it more than once a week.
For the price, its features are just great. The interface is clean, typical Moto. It has bluetooth, although I've never used it and can't say if it's reliable in that way. The camera is perfect for capturing quick moments - those times when you want a picture to remember something, but you don't have the or forgot it - both in still and in video. It has a voice recorder, good for quick notes. It comes with loads of good, preloaded ringtones that sound rich and get your attention. The couple megabites worth of memory is plenty for about twenty, 30-second videos or about 90 full-sized pictures. You an download and upload pics, sounds, and videos onto the Pebl, all you need is MobilePhoneTools 4.0 or higher, which I bought on Amazon for less than $5 including shipping. Also, the spring-open feature is kind of a neat little "trick." When you slide the front of it down, and release your grip on the front, it pops open to reveal the smooth inside of the little clamshell.
Despite being reliable and having many features, it does have a couple problems. First is the fact that it cannot send or receive files via MMS, which may have something to do with the fact that it thinks it's roaming (doesn't affect your charges, the Pebl is just made to think it's from Italy), but it could just be a problem with my pumpkin. Another problem is not having expandable memory, which, combined with a megapixel camera, would make this phone perfect.
Overall, my Moto Pebl has been an enjoyable and reliable phone. I absolutely love it, and have gotten many complements on its bright and fun color. If a good camera and expandable memory are top on your priorities, but you want the cute Pebl look, I would suggest the Moto Pebl U9, about twice the cost of the U6 but with improved features. Personally, the U9 will probably be my next phone because the Pebls are just too great to not get another one. :)
Customer Review: Fatally flawed
Motorola PEBL U6 Pumpkin Orange Phone (Unlocked Intl. Version) no U.S. Warranty The phone is fatally flawed. Fully charged it could only make two calls before it warned of low battery and then stopped working. This happened every day, no matter how long it had been charged for.
While it is possible I got a phone with a defective battery, I would avoid this phone given other complaints of short battery life (see Amazon reviews of this phone in other colors).