Motorola Cliq Review

The Cliq features fantastic social networking aggregation and is arguably the best Android phone thus far.
The Cliq features fantastic social networking aggregation and is arguably the best Android phone thus far.
The Cliq features fantastic social networking aggregation and is arguably the best Android phone thus far.

Highs

  • Google Android OS; MOTOBLUR aggregates social network
  • texting and e-email accounts; slide-out horizontal keyboard; 5 MP camera

Lows

  • Heavy and bulky; message windows obscure screen; no camera flash; 3-line (rather than 4-line) QWERTY keypad

Summary

Are you an active Web 2.0 socialite? Do you Twitter and Facebook (or whatever the verbal form of Facebook is)? If you are, the Motorola Cliq is for you. This first Android phone from the company that invented the cellphone aggregates all your social networking accounts and contacts and delivers updates right to the home screen in ways both intuitive, clever and potentially overwhelming. And with its slideout QWERTY, it’s easy to respond and message and post to your favorite sites. Aside from this social networking aggregation, Cliq is a classy device, well-designed, well-built and for this brief shining moment, arguably the best Android phone thus far.

Features and Design

Via an Android overlay called MOTOBLUR, Cliq intuitively organizes everything on your phone that doesn’t involve phone calls, which today is considerable. You no longer have to go to separate social networking or news sites to keep track of what all your friends and twits (if that’s what people who use Twitter are called) are up to and what’s going on in the world.

Cliq includes all the critical cell phone and Android verbal and non-verbal communications conveniences including the aforementioned horizontal slide-out QWERTY keyboard, as well as a 5 MP camera, but no flash.

Cliq also includes two key security features; locating a lost or stolen phone using its GPS signal, and you can permanently erase your personal data remotely.

Motorola Cliq

Form Factor

With all that Motorola included, it’s no wonder the horizontal sliding black Cliq is physically hefty – it weighs nearly 6 ounces, about third more than most cellphones. Two ounces doesn’t sound like a concrete, but a shirt pocket will unsightly sag uncomfortably under its bulk.

Cliq’s QWERTY has three rows of keys rather than four, which means you have to annoyingly hold down the ALT key to get numbers. The keys are packed tight and require a solid press to register a character. The rear has a textured surface.

Ports & Connectors

Along with the microUSB jack, up top is the 3.5mm jack. When you’re holding the phone for typing with the keyboard slid out, a connected headphone could interfere with your left thumb.

Cliq has placed the microSD card slot under the battery cover with an annoying, weird – and completely unnecessary – plastic release clasp, something like the old erase tab on a video cassette that I thought would snap off if I applied too much pressure.

Motorola Cliq

Can a phone serve as a workable PMP?

Cliq has a beautiful, bright high-res 320 x 480 pixel screen for watching videos. But you’ll have to wipe the surface fairly often – it lacks iPhone 3G S’s smudge-resistance. There is no video out jack.

Cliq’s Android music player is, as usual, intuitive, easy-to-access and nearly as feature-rich as iPhone’s, and thanks for the convenient 3.5mm jack.

Sound Quality

Like most of Motorola’s phones, Cliq sounds near land-like at both ends of calls. On the rear is a powerful mono speaker that pumps out a surprisingly amount of music and voice volume.

Phone Functionality

With MOTOBLUR, there’s no need to keep track of multiple social networking, messaging and e-mail accounts. When you initially set-up CLIQ, it prompts you to enter all your e-mail and social-network user names and passwords. Cliq then creates one big, super phonebook. You can now initiate communication to anyone in your phonebook via any method – text, email, social network, phone call – right from their contact entry – but Cliq also maintains the original data within individual applications.

All your incoming messages from whatever sources can be accessed via one “Universal Inbox” or via onscreen dialog bubbles (at least that’s what they look like to me). Tap on the Facebook dialog bubble, for instance, and you can swipe through all recent Facebook updates. If someone writes on your Facebook wall, you can reply via e-mail or text. You can broadcast a blast to all your friends and relatives on multiple networks, or just one.

Motorola Cliq

A person’s phonebook entry also includes a “Happenings” button, which lists all messages from said entry from all sources. “Social Status” updates all your social networking sites in one fell swoop.

You also can subscribe to Yahoo Widget bubbles – news, sports, entertainment, etc. – that work the same way as message bubbles.

If you don’t like swiping through sequential dialog bubbles, you can view messages and alerts in a more convenient swipe-scrollable list. It’s all quite clever and flexible.

All these dialog bubbles can really crowd the Cliq’s five home screen panels, however. Any shortcuts you’ve dragged from the Android app menu panel to the home screen are apt to get buried underneath the mass of bubbles.

Motorola Cliq

Web

Cliq’s beautiful HTML Web browser rivals iPhone’s Safari in its intuitiveness. But T-Mobile’s 3G network is still sluggish, at least in Manhattan. Optimized mobile sites such as CNN and the New York Times often take 7-to-10 seconds to lead, although subsequent pages load faster.

Motorola CliqCamera

Motorola has replaced Android’s photo gallery with a far superior swipeable gallery with cool 3D transitions, not only from photo-to-photo but even as the accelerometer turns a photo to fill the screen. And of course you can broadcast one or multiple photos to some or all of your social networks.

Photos and nearly artifact-free videos are crisp, colorful bright and beautiful, even indoor shots, surprisingly considering there’s no flash. Beware of the approximate two-second shutter lag; moving the phone before your image pops on-screen will result in a blurry image.

Battery Life

In our unscientific tests, I got substantially more than CLIQ’s rated 6 hours of talk time, but then I’m in a T-Mobile EDGE-only coverage area.

Conclusion

Motorola’s multi-level “why didn’t someone think of this before” intuitive reorganization of the varying ways we stay in contact in the Twitter/Facebook age might take awhile to suss, but it’s well-worth the time. And its non-MOTOBLUR functions are equally well-designed. It’s just too bad it’s dependent on T-Mobile’s still under-construction 3G network.

Pros:

  • Google Android OS
  • MOTOBLUR aggregates social network, texting and e-email accounts
  • Slide-out horizontal keyboard
  • 5 MP camera

Cons:

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Message windows obscure screen
  • No camera flash
  • 3-line (rather than 4-line) QWERTY keypad
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