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Toshibo V9+i (Mobile phone)

Toshibo V9+i is a dual SIM card phone with advanced features and multimedia abilities. Produced by Toshibo and made in Korea, it has Nokia text in front and on the back of the phone. In fact it have nothing to do with Nokia, but some of the features are matched by the high class PDA Nokia phones, for the very cheap price, and it is not even under license from Nokia. I used Nokia N-Gage (the original version) for a period of almost 2.5 years and it started to show its age. I was searching for a replacement for a long time, not being able to find good enough mobile phone for my taste. I wanted phone with long battery standby and talking time, to have some games with it, to be able to play any music and movies, to have big screen and to be easy for handling. In May 2008 a friend of mine offered me this Toshibo V9+i and I was impressed by its capabilities. I bought it from him for 430 BGN along with 4GB microSD SanDisk memory card, power adapter, USB cable, headphones and blank Toshibo miniCD with some software on it.

First impression after seeing it was - What a big screen!

Toshibo V9+i phone with power adapter on A4-size paper for comparasion.


The phone is 11.5 cm long, 5.5 cm wide and 1,5 cm thick. The screen is 6.4 cm long and 4.5 cm wide. There is a touch panel with five icons on the bottom of the screen 0,4 cm long, which means the real display area of the screen without the panel is 6.0 cm long and 4.5 cm wide. Over the screen is visible the model number on the left V9+i, two wide holes, first of them covered and a small camera for video calls on the right. Under the screen is a Nokia text, keypad with 5 buttons and 16 keys, one of keys is with three green circles on the upper left and another with three red circles on the upper right. On the top side there is a small bed for the touch pen, on the left and a small hole on the center. On the bottom of the phone is small circular hole for the microphone and the antenna bed on the right. On the left side there is a rubber cover with USB sign on it, under which is the plug for connecting USB cable, headphones and power adapters.

Toshibo V9+i phone back view with antenna expanded and touch pen on A4-sized paper for comparasion.
click on pictures for higher resolution images...

On the right side on the center are buttons for volume up and volume down, under them are TV button and camera button. The antenna expanded is 27 cm long, while the touch pen is 8.6 cm expanded. The antenna is used only for TV and radio signal receive and it does not have effect during conversation. On the back is the loudspeaker with the camera in the center of it with the text 3.0 MEGA PIXELS DIGITAL CAMERA in the outer circle and DIGITALZOOM in the inner circle.

Toshibo V9+i phone close back view.

Under the loudspeaker and the camera is the back cover which have big vertical NOKIA text and four icons under it TVmobile, FM..., MPEG4 and Blue tooth. My version of the phone is with black and silver colors. The phone is very light, the N-Gage is much heavier than it. Removal of the cover on the back of the phone is very hard and need special technique with four finger handling the whole cover and sliding back while the fifth finger pushes the phone to front, which is a plus because the phone hardly can get opened while being in pocket and running or biking. After opening is seen the battery which is as big as the cover but thick only 0.6 cm and the antenna for the mobile phone which is not expandable. Upon removal of the battery are exposed the SIM cards and memory card beds:

Toshibo V9+i phone with removed cover and battery close view.

The memory card and the SIM cards are put in special sliders and then hold by metal covers for more stability. Text Made in Korea is seen on both the battery and the mobile phone main board. After placing my SIM card and the new memory card and returning back the battery I closed the cover which was much easier than opening it. It fitted nice.

The other parts coming together with the phone also have some specifics. The power adaptor is small and light and have a red LED for showing if it is working, which is useful if you are not sure if the power plug is powered, for example on airports. All the expansions of the phone are connected to the left side of the phone via the plug with the USB sign, and they are non standard, which means that you can not use gadgets from other brand phones. Sometimes the gum cover of the plug is not easily removed, and needs a sharp object to remove.

Turn on of the phone is done by pressing the red button for about 3 seconds. On startup blue welcome screen is shown with MobileTV logo and then Welcome text and PIN entry screen. Entering the PIN can be done either by the buttons, or with the touch screen. After successful PIN entry, a very loud jingle is outputted and the main screen of the phone is shown:

Toshibo V9+i phone main screen after startup.

On the screen are shown with big font the time, date, day of week and CITRON text which I was unable to remove, probably the creator of the phone firmware. On the upper left corner is shown how strong is the network connection, music, alarm and lock icons. They are shown/changed/hidden according to the settings of the phone. Unlike the Nokia phones, the Toshibo does not show the network provider or the mobile phone operator to which the SIM card is connected, which may be confusing for people using two SIM cards to different operators. On the bottom of the screen on the left is the Menu, small phone on the center, and Name on the right. These items are accessed by pressing on them on the touch screen or the left and right buttons. Choosing menus on the touch screen can be done either with touch pen or also with fingers while the first method being preferred for being more accurate and more safe to the touch screen, keeping it away from fat, dirt or even damage by sharped or improperly cut nails. Under the visible area of the screen is the touch panel with 5 icons from left to right: Home - same as pressing the Menu leading to the main menu of the phone, Mail for quick access of the messages menu, Book for fast access of the phone book, Phone for dialing numbers and Note for fast access of the music player. Other quick access is done by the buttons on the front or the side buttons. Pressing left on the keypad brings the Video Recorder, down starts the FM Radio player, right is shortcut for Tone Setup and up on keypad brings the Video Player. The keys on the right side are self explanatory - TV brings the TV Play and the camera is for taking pictures with the camera.

After clicking on the Menu, the twelve Menu Items are shown on the display:

Toshibo V9+i phone main menu screen.

First item from up to down and from left to right is the Business Zone where are options for Black List - useful if you wish certain individuals to not disturb you, SMS Firewall for blocking all the advertising SMS you receive, Theft Track - to track stolen phone, Private Protect to protect the phone from unauthorized usage with password, Switch SIM - the most useful function of all these - once you are finished with the one SIM (for example phone number used only for work), you switch to the other SIM and start receiving calls only from friends. Having two SIM cards in one phone is much better than two phones, especially when the first SIM is for work. You save the trouble of having to wear, charge, care and handle two phones, while having the flexibility of two phone numbers for different purposes. Even if both of the phones are private or for work and used to save money, for calling different people from different operators, dual SIM phone save the trouble of opening the phone and switching the SIM card, a practice which I see many times among the teenagers, which is a waste of time if they had the dual SIM card phone. Or handling two phones by one person, a common practice among business people. The last item in the Business Zone menu is the Email where a full featured E-mail client is invoked.

Second item on the main menu is with TV icon and is for the TV Play. The same can be invoked by simply pressing the right side button with TV inscribed on it. The TV tuner works and acts independent of the main phone functions. It can have up to 36 channels and can be set with 3 brightness levels. After expanding the antenna I found it easy to catch signal of all the local broadcasting TV stations and watch TV. The picture can be watched vertically and horizontally, which I found the better view, considering the wide screen display usage:

Toshibo V9+i phone playing TV.

The TV tuner have icon for the power of the antenna signal received, but it was not accurately refreshed. In fact it never moved which made me think that it is only icon and not a meter. In the TV tuner options is option for Channel List where 20 can be stored and then switched instantly. The Search and Setting function is to automatically set the channels, while Country and Zone is for some regional settings where 28 countries are present. The last function in the TV Play options is Restore which clears the changes made to the TV Play options.

The third icon of the main menu is for the settings where seven menu items are available: Pen Calibration - for the touch-screen calibration, Phone Setup - for internal settings of the phone. Time and Date, Schedule Power On/Off, Language, Preferred Input Method, Display Characteristic, Greeting Text, Speed Dial, Dedicated key, Auto Update of Date and Time, Flight Mode and LCD Backlight settings can be configured in this second settings option. Third option is Call Setup for setting the Caller ID, Call Waiting, Call Divert, Call Barring, Line Switching, Call Time Reminder, Call Time Display, Auto Redial, Closed User Group and IP Number. Fourth option on the Settings menu is Network Setup where 3 options are available, being Network Selection, Preferred Networks and GPRS Connection. Fifth option is Security Setup for setting SIM Lock, Phone Lock, Auto Keypad Lock, Fixed Dial, Barred Dial, Self Help and Change Password. Sixth option is for Restore Factory Setting where after entered password, all the default settings are restored, and is very useful if something is configured wrong. The last option in the settings menu is the Sound Effect option, where the Equalizer can be set to different music styles from Normal to Bass, Dance, Classical or Treble, Party, Pop, Rock.

Fourth icon of the main menu is Multimedia, where different multimedia functions of the phone can be accessed. First option is for Camera. Despite having 3 Mega Pixel camera, the shot pictures are very unclear. They can be shot in different resolutions from 160x120 to 1280x1024, but even in the highest resolution you can hardly see anything:

Toshibo V9+i phone picture taken shot with its built-in camera.

As seen on the picture taken with the back camera, part of the lens is covered, and the taken pictures are not with focus at all. Even shot in ambient light, the pictures are still unclear, and if taken during movement, they are distorted. The camera have options for selecting the Image Size, Image Quality, White Balance, Scene Mode. Tweaking these settings does not improve the picture quality much. Interesting are the effect settings, where fourteen effects are available being Normal, Greyscale, Sepia, Sepia Green, Sepia Blue, Color Invert, Gray Invert, Blackboard, Whiteboard, Copper Carving, Blue Carving, Embossment, Contrast and Sketch. All these effects can be previewed right on the display before taking the picture, but it is better to take the original picture first and process it with effects later. In the option Device Setting can be selected the use of camera - back or front. The front camera had no lenses covered but the quality is the same. The front camera can be used as a discrete mirror as well. In the Album (Image Viewer) part of the Multimedia menu, the shot images can be viewed listed in Matrix or List styles. The images there can be viewed, zoomed, sent over, renamed, deleted or sorted. Next in the Multimedia menu is the Video Recorder on which unlike on the camera, can be used the digital zoom to focus close objects, up to 3x. There is also EV setting. After the Recorder is the Video Player where the shot movies can be replayed, and after it in the menu is the Photo Editor which have many functions including Photo Artist with functions for effects, text, icons, frames, adjustment, flip and expand canvas. Image Tile is for tiling several images into one, having the selections for 2, 4 and 9 images. The Slide Show have options for music track, type of effects, speed, sound effects and Horizontal View. After the photo editor is the Audio Player option which is for music player. The player have support for auto generation of playlists, equalizers, shuffle, background play, bluetooth stereo output and even lyrics. All the features which can be expected from a modern audio MP3 player. With the headphones and the 4GB memory card the phone saves the need for MP3 players, and the best Amiga Remix songs are already there. The background play means that you can listen to this music while doing other job on the phone - full multitasking. Only small problem is the unability of the filesystem of the Toshibo V9+i to handle files with spaces in their name. For example the file "My Supercool Hit.mp3" can not be handled, renamed or played, so before copying it to the phone it is better to be renamed to "MySupercoolHit.mp3" or better "My_Supercool_Hit.mp3". Next after the music player is the sound recorder, which is simple with only setting for the File Format supporting AWB, AMR and WAV. After the sound recorder is the FM Radio. The radio and TV modules of the phone use the expandable antenna and are not related to the phone in a sense that they are not affecting its operations. Unlike the TV tuner, the FM radio receiver can record the output. The broadcast music or shows can be recorded. There is even a option after the FM radio called Schedule FM Record where record of radio broadcast can be set for a certain period, or for every day or particular days of the week. Very useful if for example you are sleeping, partying or working at this time, you can have the show recorded for later listening. Last option in the Multimedia menu is Melody DIY (Melody Do It Yourself) which is a simple music editor with 10 instruments available and note editor.

In the main menu next to the Multimedia icon is the Messages icon, where options for SMS, MMS, Chat, Voice Mail Server and Broadcast Message are available. The provided options are easy to understand, yet powerful for SMS, MMS and Chat junkies and make the messaging usage with the phone very easy and intuitive.

The Phone Book icon, next to the Messages icon is for the very powerful and advanced phone book manager. Options for Quick Search, Search Entry, Add New Entry, Copy All, Delete, Caller Group, Extra Number, Settings, Caller Picture, Caller Ring Tone and Caller Video are available. For each caller picture, video and songs can be associated, so you can know who is calling even if the phone is not close. The phone book entries can be in any language and alphabet and I easily added Cyrillic names for my contacts.

Seventh icon on the main menu, which also can be called by pressing 7 key on the keyboard is for the Organizer. All the needed for organizer functions are present and even some more. First is the most important for organizer - Calendar with options to View Tasks, Add Task and Jump To Date. The calendar works for periods of 1970-2030 and if you try to select 2031 year, error message shows saying Valid Date is 1970~2030!. Next on the Organizer menu is the To Do List options where tasks and planned jobs can be added. Next selection is the Alarm, where five different alarm settings can be applied. Very useful for the alarm is the Repeat - Days options which is for setting on which days of the week the alarm shall work. I have set it for Monday to Friday and it wakes me up only during work days, but not in Saturday and Sunday. Very handy, only getting me angry when it awakes me at some banking holiday. The Alert Type can be set to Ring, Vibration Only and Vibra and Ring. Vibration Only is very useful if you work for fixed hours and it will alarm you discretely that the period is over, without disturbing the others around. The World Clock function after the Alarm is giving your local time and you can select different time zone around the world and see what is the time there. For business guys this is handy to know when to call the abroad countries. Next is the Calculator which is calculator with memory functions like the standard calculators - M+ (Memory plus, M- (Memory minus), MR (Memory Recall) and MC (Memory Clear). After the calculator is the Unit Converter which can convert Weight from Kilograms to Pounds and vice-versa and Length which converts from Kilometers to Miles and vice-versa. Under the Unit Converter is the Currency Converter where the rates of the local and foreign currency are set and then it easily can be used for converting from the local currency to the foreign or vice-versa fast and clean. Next is the Health option which have simple BMI calculator with given gender, height and weight, outputs percentage of the fat in the body, shows if the person is thin or fat and displays the fat normal limits. In the Health option is also simple women calendar available. Next option is the E-Book Reader which have option for bookshelf and can display text files, but the PDF files I tested were not opened. Last option in the organizer menu is Bluetooth which is incorrectly placed here and I had a hard time finding it, when in need to turn off the bluetooth for basic security reasons (There are bluetooth spread viruses).

After the Organizer icon in the main menu comes the fun part with the Games icon which invokes the Fun & Games options - Games, Themes and Stopwatch. Themes is for changing the appearance of the menu slider and it is also incorrectly placed here. The Stopwatch can be used for real life games to measure time for running 100 m for example, but it can be also placed elsewhere. After selecting the games to my great disappointment only 3 games are included:

Toshibo V9+i phone games menu.

Mahjong is the classic addictive game of tiles where the player have to find and select the equal tiles - Select two brick with same pattern. If two bricks can be connected by making less than two turns, they will disappear and user may gain extra time. The game have time to compete shown on the right after the tiles and three difficulty settings. In the Easy Game Level the play board is consists only of 8 columns and 6 rows and much easier to play and see the matching tiles. On the Normal Game Level the play board is of 10 columns and 8 rows and on the Hard Game Level the columns are 12 and the rows 10. The graphic is simple, with small amount of colors, the tiles are easy to distinguish and select with the touch pen, but it can also be played with keyboard and only one hand. Records of the highest scores are kept in the Best Grades option, which have three separate numbers for the Easy, Normal and Hard games. Game Help option is also available giving small text describing rules and controls. The game is easy to implement for any platform and the availability of it is not proving anything about the capabilities of the phone, nevertheless it can be entertaining for many hours.

Puzzle is another classic game included, where the player have to arrange puzzled images. Describe text from the Game Help option is: Move the small pictures to make it become the original image. Touch the small picture around the blank block to make it move toward to the blank block. The game have three Game Level options - Easy, Normal and Hard. On the easy level the columns and rows are three (9 blocks total) and the picture to arrange is the famous Leonardo da Vinci portrait - Mona Lisa. During play the original picture is shown on the bottom of the screen along with the time passed on the left and the moves made on the right. After completion the time is measured and saved if it is good enough in the Best Grades option where the smallest is the best score. In the Normal Game Level the columns and rows are four (16 blocks total) and the picture is colorful painting with mountains, road, house, trees and human. On the Hard Game Level the picture is 5 columns by 5 rows (25 blocks total) and is another colorful picture with flowers and butterflies. The game is also nothing special, easy to implement on any platform, but the pictures are making good use of the color display.

Magicsushi is the third available game and the best of them, showing much better use of the phone capabilities. The Game Help text of the game says: Remove sushi before time runs out by the following ways: (1) Make three or more sushi with the same pattern align together vertically or horizontally by swapping one sushi with any neighboring one. (2) Click on the following three special blocks: Star block: Randomly remove sushi with a certain pattern; Cross block: Remove the whole row and whole column it resides; Ball block: Remove 8 sushi surrounding it. The game have no difficulty settings and only entry in Best Grades option is kept - my personal being 1283 points. The game starts with all the sushi falling from the top to the play field and if there is already some matching sushi they are removed,

Toshibo V9+i phone Magicsushi game.

after that the fun starts. The game requires fast reflexes as well as concentration, and good watch on the whole play board. Unlike the other games, in this game playing fast is vital also making up strategies for combine of more sushi. The additional blocks add spice to the game play where a cross block for example can ruin the strategy of more sushi combined. The game have Time and Remainder bars at the bottom. After the time is out (the time bar is empty) the game is over and Time's up screen appears with the score and some sushi. Time is gained by combining sushi or by removing sushi with the special blocks, which make the blocks very tempting to select, even if only for gaining more time to look for combining sushi. When the Remainder bar is filled Up level! text appears, the play board is cleared and the next level comes where the time bar is emptied faster. The graphics of the game are colorful and the different sushi are easy to distinguish and there is a nice tree drawn next to the Level and Score bars on the top of the screen. The animations are smooth and easy to watch. The advancing levels, the fast game play and addictive concept of the game make it a great one, compensating for the two other games installed. Also it makes use of the capabilities of the phone more than the previous games. This kind of game is not easily to do on all the platforms, at least not with fast animations and smooth game play as they are on the Toshibo V9+i phone.

Fourth option on the games menu is Game Setting, where changes made are affecting all the games. The options are Game Audio which can be turned On/Off and Game Vibration which can be also On/Off.

Next to the Games icon on the main menu is the Profiles icon represented by loudspeaker. Six profiles total are selectable being General with icon of G letter in square, Meeting with icon representing loudspeaker and stop sign, Outdoor with icon of sun, Indoor with icon of house, Headset with icon of headphones and Bluetooth with icon of bluetooth sign. All the profiles are easy to customize and activate.

On the bottom left part of the main menu screen is the icon for File Manager. The file manager is powerful yet easy to use with options to create folders, format memory cards and automatic file types recognition with association of icons representing the file type. For the photos it has small preview bar along with information about size and date of the file. Files can be sorted, renamed, deleted, forwarded, moved, copied and viewed which is what to be expected from a good file manager.

At the center on the bottom part of the screen in the main menu is the Call History icon where all the required information for the phone usage can be taken. It has Missed Calls, Dialed Calls, Received Calls, Rejected Calls options as well as Delete Call Log, Call Time, Call Cost, SMS Counter and GPRS Counter

The last icon of the main menu situated at bottom right part of the screen is for Services. There services installed in the SIM card by the operator can be called, as WAP and Data Account services. The WAP is for browsing the Internet, but because the phone have no Wi-Fi connection possibilities I was unable to test it. On the Data Account can be selected GSM Data and GPRS.

Along the advanced functions the Toshibo V9+i also have some other functionality which make its usage much easier. One of them is the possibility to charge it with USB cable. When connected USB cable to it, if it is connected to a computer it starts to recharge the battery, thus removing the need to take the power adaptor for recharge. Only needed is the USB cable. Another function when connect to USB is the ability to choose as what to connect the phone - as USB mass storage - using the memory card or as web camera, which can be used for web camera based online conferences, while the battery recharges. It can also be used as COM port.

Main problem with the Toshibo V9+i phone is that it is not widely available in Europe. That means it is hard to find spare battery, cables or recharge power adaptors, once the one I have are broke or disappear. I asked into several shops and they said that they do not support this brand and spare parts and batteries are not widely available. Still with some more research it is possible to find local shops and nice guys/ladies which can help you with the phone. The cables, the earphones and the charger have no standard plug in, so it is hard to use some off the shelf replacements. The memory card is standard though. The phone supports only 7 languages - English, French, Vietnamese, Russian, Persian, Chinese and Thai, but no Bulgarian or German, which help it not being so popular. Languages packs and firmware updates are almost impossible to find. I also searched for games, programs or applications for the phone on the Internet or locally without any success. The phone comes as it, without much expanding possibilities by software or hardware. Its Operating System is non standard, which means that it is hard to find any software for it. I also was unable to test if it can play Java games.

Despite the few annoyances of the phone, the misplaced options and the hard to find spare parts, the Toshibo V9+i have proven to be a very good phone with high quality, loud sound and extra features. In the future I hope it will continue to prove its reliability and functionality. The functions and features copied by other innovative brands and included in the phone as extra, make it a good for the price. Once I bought my Toshibo V9+i I forgot about my Nokia N-Gage and it stays useless with empty battery for some months now. Currently I do not plan to change the phone.


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