Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 Review

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, March 2010
Manufactured by: Motorola
Requires: A car or some other vehicle and any mobile phone with Bluetooth

MSRP: US$59.95 (most dealers sell for less)

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As we barge through the 21st century, it is becoming more and more apparent that many of the casual habits we developed toward the end of the previous century were not particularly healthy. No surprise there. Take for example the issue of driving with one hand on the steering wheel while the other hand is holding a mobile phone, with you glancing up and down between the road ahead and the dial pad of the phone. It's a recipe for disaster, or at the very least a minor fender-bender that essentially ruins your day and the day of whoever it is you happen to rear-end. Bluetooth headsets (Jabra, Jawbone, Motorola and many others) rode to the rescue as it were, with all their attendant irritations including in-ear pain, poor fitting ear pieces, really short range connection, and in some cases pathetic battery life. Now however, the trusty old speakerphone has been updated for practical use in the car (or truck, bus, camper, mobile home and so on).


The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 is a thin, rectangular device designed to clip securely to the driver-side sun visor. It's equipped with a remarkable battery (we tested it to 37 hours of use in a Volkswagen Tiguan under dense city and highway driving at all speeds and in all weather). The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 has an on/off switch, a mute button and two LEDs—one for on/charge indication, the other for Bluetooth connection indication. The right side of the device has a mini-USB connection to which the supplied car charger must be attached to charge the battery sealed inside the T215. During the three week test period, we took several measurements using a variety of phones and connection situations to judge usable range, compatibility with Bluetooth mobile phones, and usability/usefulness of features.
  • Compatibility: The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 works with all current Bluetooth enabled mobile phones compatible with Bluetooth v2 (all brand name mobile phones made within the last five years). We tried eight different phones including the BlackBerry 8330 Curve, BlackBerry 9700 Curve, BlackBerry World Edition, iPhone (original), iPhone (3G), two bargain basement Samsungs and one base model Nokia. Bluetooth pairing worked quickly and automatically in every case.
  • Range: The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 is rated Class 2 which provides a range of 33 feet (maximum). Basic tests showed rapid signal strength loss beyond 15 feet (4 meters), moderate signal strength loss between 8-15 feet (2.5-4 meters), and basically full strength signal at distances less than 8 feet (2.5 meters).
  • Features: Ambient noise reduction, echo cancellation, mute button, 2-watt speaker
    On/Off switch. Well hallelujah! It's about time we had the option of turning off these kinds of devices (while leaving them deployed) to save their internal batteries. Automatic power management rarely works as advertised and batteries in stand-by mode run down prematurely. A simple, inexpensive On/Off switch added to the design remedies all problems.
  • Functionality: Our tests and regular use in a couple of different cars (the rather quiet Volkswagen Tiguan, somewhat noisy Pontiac Vibe, raucous Chevrolet Cavalier, and an eerily quiet BMW 750 made no real difference to the Motorola T215 because its noise cancellation system works extremely well. People we spoke to during the review period noted that voice quality was dull when ambient noise was high, a normal effect. Other than that, call clarity depended mainly on the connection quality provided by the Carrier in any particular area or time of day.

The basic verdict is that the Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 works as advertised, but that doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, the device worked seamlessly with every phone we tried. With normal call connections in busy urban areas, we had few problems holding non-shouted conversations at 90 kph (55 mph) while it was raining fairly heavily. That situation can be noisy, but although we admit to having to lean forward slightly to get a bit closer to the speaker from time to time because of ambient noise, none of the people we were talking to at the time heard anything unusual at our end. That means the noise reduction and echo cancellation built into the Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 work extremely well without ruining call clarity. The best Bluetooth earpieces put audio right in your ear, but if you have a pair of ears which just don't take well to the form factor and its attendant aggravations (sore ears, sweat rash, hearing damaging volume, startling static spikes, etc.), then an in-car speakerphone is just the ticket.

Cons: I hate digital networks because audio fidelity is lousy most of the time. Analog telecommunications networks were never as pervasively distributed, but at least you could hear everything clearly. The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 is among the best of these sorts of devices, and although you can spend more money, the improvements have more to do with features you'll never use rather than better audio fidelity. That said, we could still hope for better amplification (more wattage) and a bigger speaker. I'd gladly sacrifice some of the long battery life for a bit more power-sucking volume.

Pros: Every jurisdiction that we know of around the world has either enacted or is about to enact motor vehicle legislation requiring drivers to use mobile phones hands-free. The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 is a great choice. Despite my gripes in the "Cons" section above, I've set aside all the other in-car speakerphones I've tried (including several more expensive models) in favor of this one. The Motorola Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone T215 is the best value on the market right now, and more important, it works well. Highly recommended.

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