You can’t just walk into Motorola’s CES booth and pick up the $2,000 Motorola Aura: They’re all locked up in glass cases. But if you ask nicely, someone will slip in back and gingerly bring out a model for you to play with.
It all feels a bit like a jewelry store, and I suspect that’s part of the Aura’s carefully calculated, well… aura. The materials, craftsmanship and even gears (there are some inside which control the opening mechanism) all seem to be derived from watch making, and Motorola likely wants to borrow that industry’s mentality in building the reputation and image of the Aura. It’s not a tool, it’s a display piece.
In the hands, the watch comparison is quite apt. The Aura feels cool and solid in the hand, has heft unlike nearly any phone its size, and flips open with the precision of a fine pocket knife. The tactile appeal is definitely there, and its complemented perfectly by the circular LCD planted like a gem at its pivot point. Not only is it remarkable for it’s unusual shape – it’s the world’s first circular LCD in a phone – it’s one of the brightest and sharpest phone displays I’ve laid eyes on yet.
The OS, which uses a circular array of icons for navigation, didn’t strike me as particularly unique, or even particularly user friendly. The buttons for interacting with soft menu options, especially were a little confusing. But then, that’s never been Motorola’s strong point.
If you’re the kind of person who’s willing to pay $2,000 for a watch even though it tells the time precisely as well as anything else, the Aura might be right up your alley. Just don’t expect it to hold its value like that vintage Rolex.