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Motorola C390

 Motorola C390 Discontinued
24th February 2005

Most headline grabbing phones tend to be high-end handsets, pushing back the boundaries of things like camera resolutions, screen sizes and other clever features. However, the truth is that most handsets that are bought these days are much more mundane, but probably a lot more significant.

Enter the Motorola C390, a mundane looking handset with no groundbreaking features, but one that's actually rather interesting for different reasons.

The Motorola C390 is a tri-band GSM handset with GPRS. It's a fairly light handset at 91 grams, and at 107x45x21mm in size it's more-or-less the standard candy bar format that's very common at the moment. The screen is just 128x128 pixels, but as it's a 65,000 colour TFT unit it should be reasonable enough. Crucially, the C390 does have Bluetooth, plus it has a WAP browser, Java and polyphonic ringtones, some basic personal information management functions and built-in handsfree. And that's pretty much it - no camera, no removable memory, no MP3 playback or any other fancy features.

It looks at first like just another value handset, but the inclusion of Bluetooth hints at Motorola's strategy here. The C390 is aimed primarily at businesses as a handset that will do just what most businesses want - and no more. Cameras in particular cause support issues for businesses and incur additional costs, and things like large screens tend to be expensive, heavy and suck up the battery life.

In fact, the Motorola C390 seems to be the spiritual successor to the Nokia 6310i, a handset that is still greatly in demand by businesses even though it is out of production - indeed, all the C390 really adds is a better screen and polyphonic ringtones which is the bare minimum for a handset these days. As a result, the C390 should have a talktime of about 5 hours and up to 8 days standby.

If you look around at the competition in this particular niche, then you'll see that there really isn't any. Almost all new phones come with cameras, but most of the phones without cameras don't have Bluetooth. Possibly the closest competitor to the C390 that we can thing of is the weird and wonderful Siemens SK65 which is pitched at a different market. It's quite likely that many organisations will see the C390 as exactly the handset they want to roll out, and may even get them to switch from Nokia to Motorola.

We think the Motorola C390 is a triumph of market positioning and packaging, and it might well revitalise competition in this sizable but largely forgotten market segment.


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Motorola C390 at a glance




Tri-band GSM




128x128 pixels




Standard "candy bar" size
107x45x21mm / 91 grams




Not specified





Battery life:

5 hours talk / 7 days standby

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