Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Motorola Barrage, of Merde

Last week, before sojourning to Arizona, my son replaced his broken Verizon cell phone with the Motorola Barrage V860. Hailed as "sporting a submersible design that is built to survive in 1 meter of water up to 30 minutes" (on Motorola's own website, link here, seriously). Motorola claims that it meets MIL Spec 810F (link here to the spec) for humidity, salt fog, sand & dust, altitude, high & low temperatures, thermal shock, vibration, impact (shock). Editor Kent German at CNET is ardently in-love with Motorola (link here). Perhaps he's never actually used one, or he gets massive kick-backs from Motorola? I don't know. I do know my son's experiences, my friends' experiences, and my personal experiences are not congruent with Motorola's claims, the MIL spec, or Kent German's perspective.

Since first mass manufacturing the StarTAC phone in 1993, Motorola has sunk to a new global standard for lows in quality and reliability. Their RAZR phone in 2004 broke within the first 2 years (mine and several of my colleague's experiences), usually much less than a year (my family's and their friends' experiences), yet it was hailed as a product development and global manufacturing break through. Many other companies tried to follow it's example. To keep costs down, Motorola compromised on design, materials, durability, and produced a small, thin, flip phone that did not last. It "looked cool" but like so many products Americans embrace, it was vacuous, low quality, disposable junk. Now, the Barrage is out, and it should be called the "Garbage", following in the RAZR's footsteps.

I do not understand how a 1 week old phone, made in China, that is supposed to be SUBMERSIBLE in up to 1 meter of water, can SHORT OUT when the key pad is pressed with wet fingers, poolside, at the Show Low Arizona Hampton Inn on Monday night. The Verizon lackey at the local Phoenix store said "oh, it was the steam" (adjacent to the hot tub). Really?? 50 C is 122 F, scalding temperature for most humans. The steam, by the laws of thermodynamics and heat transfer will not be hotter than hot tub's contents that produced it. The phone was Not submersed. It was not even pushing the limits of MIL Spec 810F.

The store clerk began to give my son resistance, and Dr Desert Flower was 'loaded for Bear', when the store branch manager pulled up our "VIP" Verizon account, and said to our son "we'll replace the phone". You're damn right you'll replace it.

What's even more disturbing to me than this shoddy Chinese made, barely-capable US designed quality electronics, is that such pieces of garbage are being purchased by government agencies and sent to places like Afghanistan, to be given to locals ('call us if you see any Taliban') by the thousands. There's no convenient Verizon store, across from a COSTCO in Kandahar... but if the dern thing worked, there should be no need for one!

In contrast, my Nokia 6015i is now 6 years old (still has a retractable antenna) and still works just fine.

We're going on a our 2nd annual Christmas Eve afternoon hike, to look for a nesting pair of falcons. Enough Blogging for now!


  1. My 4-yr-old Nokia has been through a wash cycle, and baked at fairly high temp, and still works great. I had a startac in the 90s but gave up on Motorola many years ago.

  2. I've had the same experience with Motorola phones. Complete crap, both hardware and software. 3 RAZRs and 2 KRZRs later, I finally got an iPhone.

  3. It's really a shame when such a premier industry leader falls so low, able to only make complete crap, in consumer electronics. It's a fractal reflection of the vast majority of US Manufacturing / Corporate mindset I think. Churn out garbage for the Walmart crowds, that'll end up in landfills within the next 2 years, while the managers, marketers, and executives who make such decisions get promoted up and up.

    It's kinda sad. If it wasn't Christmas, I might get depressed thinking about it. But right now, I am very high on endorphins after a 3 mile mountain hike at Dreamy Draw ( ) followed by an hour of yoga on the pool deck, a 30 minute stationary bike ride, and free weights for 1/2 an hour in the 60F garage. No time (or neuro-receptors) for being glum =)

  4. Oh, and this whole post, is ACTUALLY Dec 24th. I STARTED it on the 23rd, but Google Blogger is not smart enough to advance the date to the PUBLISHED date, and retains the ORIGIN start date.

  5. Not a bad point, Joe. The US has "managed" its way onto par with Kazakhstan in actually making things. TI just read this today, thinking along those same lines.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.