Can a phone serve as a workable media player?
The XT’s new anti-smudge resistance coating doesn’t diminish the phone’s beautiful and bright high-res 320 x 480 pixel LCD, but slightly lowers reflectivity, which helps when you’re watching videos or snapping shots in the sun or under other bright lights.
Motorola’s biggest addition is the social networking aspects of its music player. Motorola has pre-installed both FM and Internet Shoutcast radio, along with SoundHound to identify unknown songs playing on the radio or other locale, and TuneWiki, which lets you know what your friends are listening to – but not on the phone, as far as I can tell. TuneWiki on the XT gives you Music Maps, which lets you know what other TuneWiki users are listening to in your area, searches for music lyrics, and supplies TuneWiki most-listened-to charts. As a music social networking tool, you need to convince your music-listening friends to sign up to the service.
Subjectively, the XT sounds better than the C1, thanks, it seems, two dual earpieces and dual mics are cleverly hidden in the seams around the edges of the phone, with less echo and better ambient noise cancellation.
With the all-encompassing Motoblur social networked address book, Motorola and T-Mobile have eliminated the redundant myFavs feature. Otherwise, the XT’s phone dialer looks the same as the C1’s large easy-to-tap number keys, but adds reassuring haptic feedback to surprisingly faint key tones.
For texting, the Cliq XT includes Swype technology, designed to speed text input via a combination of predictive text and dragging your finger across the keyboard from letter-to-letter instead of tap tap, and likely the reason Motorola felt it could amputate the C1’s slide-out QWERTY. Swype adherents say it takes a couple of days to get used to the new input method, but this reviewer is an admittedly old dog who could not (or would not) learn this new trick. We allow, however, that others more digitally adept might find Swype wonderful.
Like the C1, the XT offers an intuitive browser that automatically seeks the quicker-loading mobile version of Web sites such as The New York Times, CNN and ESPN. As with all T-Mobile phones, you’re limited by the carrier’s growing, but still stunted 3G network. In a northern Manhattan apartment, we got only T-Mobile’s EDGE service, and so Web sites took 10 to 12 seconds to load, instead of 4-6 seconds in 3G territory.
For most social networking functions, T-Mobile’s EDGE service, however, is not a huge roadblock. Our initial social networking bubbles take about twice as long – maybe 10 seconds – to load when initially turning on the phone, but once loaded, EDGE’s speed is completely adequate for most social networking needs.
The Cliq XT’s flash makes its 5-megapixel camera far more functional for indoor shots than the non-flash imager on the C1. Photos inside and out are colorful and bright, but details and edges are smudgy, as if they’ve been digitally interpolated, especially when zoomed.
By using its own photo gallery app, the XT no longer has a direct-access Gallery app – you have to go through the camera’s menu to get to your pictures. But the XT’s photo gallery lets you pinch-and-zoom photos, and has a lively page-turn animation when swiping through photos.
Unfortunately, Motorola has not upgraded the camcorder – you still get tiny QVGA clips.
In our unscientific tests, we got a little more than half of the XT’s rated 7.5-hour talk time, but that may be a result of living out of T-Mobile’s 3G coverage area.
The Cliq XT’s merged social network address book is a great drawing card for this phone, even if you don’t spend all your socializing time in cyberspace. If you’re not constantly Facebooking, you can eliminate the bubbles to acquire more screen real estate for other apps. In other words, while the XT is designed for the Twitter generation, it will help you get acclimated while performing as a well-designed regular phone.
- Motoblur aggregates social network, texting and e-email accounts, music player and address book
- Google Android OS v1.5
- 5-megapixel camera with flash
- Anti-smudge screen reduces reflectivity
- Motoblur bubbles cover home screens
- Poor video recorder
- Back battery cover difficult to remove