00.58

Nokia Nuron

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Nokia's first affordable touch screen phone, the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music, sold like hotcakes in Europe and was available unlocked with AT&T 3G in the US. No love for T-Mobile folks and no contract subsidies in the US meant not very wide distribution for this touch screen phone. The Nokia 5230 followed more recently in Europe as a "Comes with Music" phone, a subscription all you can eat music service that isn't available in the US. The Nokia Nuron shares much of the 5800's DNA and almost all the DNA of the Euro 5230 with an almost identical design and the same resistive 360 x 640 touch screen. The price is nice at $69.99 with contract given the phone's low to mid-range smartphone feature set that includes a GPS with Ovi Maps free navigation, Bluetooth with A2DP stereo, a 3.5mm stereo jack and a 2 megapixel camera. Alas there's no WiFi and that camera resolution is at the low end for a Nokia phone.
Nokia Nuron
The Nuron (Nokia Nuron 5230) is a Symbian OS 9.4 smartphone running Nokia's S60 5th Edition software. If you're already a Nokia S60 user, you'll likely feel right at home, even if you've never used the touch screen 5th Edition version. The icons, menus and metaphors are largely the same. That's great for familiarity, but the user interface still isn't ideally touch optimized as it is with the iPhone 3GS and Android (two mobile operating systems that were designed from the ground up for touch rather than being ports of d-pad centric product lines). Since Nokia has released six 5th Edition phones, starting with the high end Nokia N97, we'd hoped they'd have evolved the UI more. But the new ^Symbian phones are coming later this year, and we assume Nokia didn't want to spend much more development time with S60.
What exactly bothers us? It's not just the resistive touch screen, which has its good points: you can use it with gloves and fingernails and it's more precise. Yes, you do have to press a bit harder than on the iPhone or Motorola Cliq XT, but it's not a wretched task. What we don't like is that you actually have to use skinny scroll bars in some places, and those are certainly not finger-friendly and are terribly dated. In some cases you have kinetic scrolling and in others you don't. Since this isn't a capacitive display, there's no pinch zooming. In some places you must single-tap on an item and in other places a double-tap is required. Good gosh, these kinds of things should have been sorted out long ago. The on-screen keyboard isn't the easiest to use, but once you remember it's not capacitive and that you must pay attention and precisely tap the key you want, it's passable.
Nokia Nuron
But there are things to like as well: once you get used to how the UI works, it's easy enough to fly around the screen and get things done. It's a fun phone to use, though it gets sluggish at times running on an ARM11 434MHz processor with a lean amount of available RAM. The smartphone is compact and very light at 3.98 ounces, and it makes the Cliq XT look like a battleship.
Like the Nokia 5800 and 5230, the phone's hardware is laid out a bit differently from most phones. Nokia ships the phone with a sticker over the display that lets you know that the SIM card slot and microSD card slots are under rubber doors on the side of the phone instead of under the battery door.
Nokia Nuron
The Nuron has a screen lock slider on the right, a feature common in recent Nokia phones. It's easy to operate and saves you from the two step touch the power button then slide on the screen to unlock method that we find tedious. There are dedicated hardware call send and end buttons and a center key that opens up the programs window. These are mechanical buttons and work easily. A touch sensitive button lives at the top right corner above the display and this launches a shortcut bar to the multimedia apps. There's a standard 3.5mm stereo jack up top (music is one of the phone's strong points) and a dedicated camera button. The volume buttons are on the right and they control everything except ringer volume (you must use the Profiles settings to change the ringer volume which seems a little silly).

As we've come to expect from Nokia phones, the Nuron has excellent voice quality and strong reception. If making calls and holding a signal are important to you, the Nuron is definitely a good choice. It has better reception than the Cliq XT and Nexus One Android phones. Again, like most Nokia phones, the Nuron plays well with Bluetooth headsets, car kits and stereo headsets-- it's not finicky in the least. The contacts application is the usual Nokia affair with plenty of fields. The PIM applications sync with Outlook on the desktop, but there's no iSync plugin (at least not yet). Using the Ovi Store application, you can download Mail for Exchange which supports syncing with MS Exchange 2003 and 2007 as well as Google contacts and calendar.
Nokia Nuron
We're a bit disappointed that the phone has only 3.6 Mbps 3G HSDPA when most T-Mobile smartphones are now shipping with the faster 7.2 Mbps flavor. The Nuron is a quad band GSM world phone with 3G on T-Mobile's US 1700/2100MHz bands. It features Nokia's usual webkit-based web browser that really impressed us 3 years ago but now looks a little weak compared to the Android and iPhone browsers. It's not bad though and does a good job of rendering desktop sites (and it's much better than RIM's BlackBerry web browser). Email comes in the form of Nokia Messaging, which is functional but not sexy. The phone works with POP3, IMAP, Gmail and MS Exchange email (Exchange support is a free download).
Nokia Nuron
Video Review
Here's our video Nokia Nuron video review where we cover physical design, compare it with the Cliq XT and iPhone, demo Ovi Maps, test the web browser and more.

GPS
T-Mobile markets the Nuron as a navigation phone since it has a GPS, TeleNav and the now free Nokia Ovi Maps. Ovi Maps has come a long way for US navigation and it does a good job of providing turn-by-turn directions for driving and walking. The POI database is weak though and we couldn't get the phone to reliably find popular chain supermarkets and stores like Walmart and Safeway. It did guess at stores located 6,000 miles away in Europe though! For POIs, we suggest Google Maps and TeleNav. Note that TeleNav is a $10/month subscription service but it does have an excellent POI database and excellent spoken driving directions.
Nokia Nuron
The GPS hardware performs well and the phone got a quick fix and it held onto it with aplomb. The display is moderately visible in sunlight, but if you use a dash mount and locate the phone where it catches lots of sun, the screen will appear washed out.
Battery Life
The Nuron has a 1320 mAh Lithium Ion battery that performs better than higher end smartphones on T-Mobile. The Symbian OS and Nokia's old school ARM 11 CPU are easy on the battery and there's no WiFi to drain power like mad. With moderate use, the Nuron should have no problem lasting at least two days on a charge. If you use navigation the draw of the GPS and 3G will shorten battery life and we suggest a car charger.
Conclusion
The Nokia Nuron is a pleasant entry level touch screen smartphone. The touch screen and UI aren't up to Android's level but the phone is easy to learn and use, and it's more pocketable than most smartphones. There's social networking for Facebook and MySpace on board, a good web browser and decent email support and you can download more apps from the Ovi Store. The Ovi Store doesn't have the wide selection of apps you'll find on iTunes or the Android Market but the staples are covered well enough. We're a little disappointed that there's no WiFi on board to compensate for T-Mobile's relatively smaller 3G coverage area but the phone performs decently enough on EDGE for email, web browsing and navigation.
The screen's resolution is good at 360 x 640 and it's sharp and clear. It's hard to beat the Nuron's one-two punch of great voice quality and reception too. But the 2 megapixel camera is a let down, especially from a company like Nokia who makes such impressive imaging phones.

Price: $69.99 with a 2 year contract, $269 retail with no contract.




Specs:
Display: Resistive touch screen, 360 x 640 pixels. Screen size diagonally: 3.2". Supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer. Has proximity sensor.
Battery: Nokia BL-5J Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1320 mAh.
Performance: 434MHz ARM11 CPU. 128 megs RAM, 256 megs flash ROM.
Size: 4.37 x 2.03 x 0.57/0.61 inches. Weight: 3.98 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands with EDGE. 3G HSDPA 3.6 Mbps on T-Mobile's US 1700/2100MHz bands.
Camera: 2.0 megapixel, no flash.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10 included for your MP3 pleasure.
Networking: Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, headset, handsfree, AVRC, MTP, printing and syncing profiles.
Software: Symbian OS 9.4 with Nokia S60 5th Edition software. Apps include Ovi Store, Ovi Maps, Nokia Messaging, webkit web browser, Gallery, music player, TeleNav, MS Office viewer, Video Center, Audio PostCard, Visual Voicemail, RealPlayer, Camera, PIM applications, unit converter, IM client and sample games.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot, 4 gig card included

14.12

Motorola Cliq XT

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T-Mobile was the first to adopt Android smartphones in the US, and they currently offer the most models. The Motorola Cliq, launched in November 2009, was the first US MOTOBLUR Android phone, and the Cliq XT is T-Mobile's second MOTOBLUR phone, this time without the hardware keyboard. The Cliq and Cliq XT share similar specs: a 3.1" HVGA capacitive touch screen, a 528MHz Qualcomm CPU, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. But the Cliq XT adds more custom software, and we're talking good stuff rather than bloatware. These include a very capable music player that integrates with TuneWiki and can download album art and lyrics on the fly, SoundHound (a free music ID app), Slacker Radio, Shazam and a player for Internet video and radio. Motorola has also enhanced the stock Android web browser to add pinch zooming and Flash Lite.
Motorola Cliq XT

The Cliq XT, like the Cliq is a bit outclassed among Motorola's Android offerings when it comes to looks. The Motorola Droid is of course a high end phone and it looks the part. Even the Moto Devour's casing is metal and the Motorola Backflip on AT&T is made of alloy and plastics that speak of quality. Neither the Cliq or the Cliq XT try to dress it up: they're 100% plastic phones. The Cliq XT is the odd man out, neither resembling the small, rounded Cliq and Backflip nor sharing the angular, modern design of the Droid and Devour. In fact, it looks more like an Asian market phone, and if the branding were gone, our first guess would be that Samsung made this phone.
The Cliq XT is a bar style touch screen phone that's surprisingly large given the relatively small 3.1" display. It's almost as big as the high end, high res Nexus One whose screen is a half inch larger. All that space allows for large buttons and an oversized trackpad that sit below the display. These are mechanical buttons that go "click" rather than touch sensitive buttons: a relative rarity on Moto Android phones. Once you become accustomed to a good touch sensitive button implementation, it's hard to go back to mechanical buttons, especially ones with lots of travel like the XT. The trackpad works like a tiny version of a laptop trackpad, and given the small size, it's not that easy to use (but easier than the super-tiny trackpads we've seen on some Samsung Windows Mobile phones).
Motorola Cliq XT
Like all Android phones, the Cliq XT has an excellent webkit web browser, email (POP3, IMAP and Gmail) and it can sync calendar and contacts with Google's services. MOTOBLUR adds good MS Exchange support (email, calendar and contacts) and contacts integration with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. You can download free and paid applications via the Android Market application on the phone and it has support for Amazon's MP3 store. We particularly like the custom music and video application that can download album covers and lyrics on the fly. It integrates with TuneWiki and also comes with SoundHound (a free music ID service). The application also handles music video playback (YouTube and GoTV channels), FM radio (a 3.5mm standard stereo headset is required but not included) and locally stored video playback. Given vanilla Android's bland handling of multimedia, the Music app is a blessing.
Motorola Cliq XT
Both a textured black back and a purple back are included with the phone.

Motorola Cliq XT
Video Review
Here's our video review of the Motorola Cliq XT covering physical design, comparisons with other phones, Telenav, the Music application and more:

Phone and Data
Motorola knows how to make a phone, and by that we mean a product that's good for calling (you do still use your smartphone to talk to folks, don't you?). The Cliq XT has excellent incoming and outgoing voice quality and it sounds a bit better than the Cliq and markedly better than the Nexus One. Voice is land line clear with no significant background noise and no voice feedback. The DSP and dual mics do an excellent job of canceling ambient noise, even in cacophonous big box stores. Volume through the earpiece is a bit louder than average and the speakerphone is loud and clear (it's great for voice navigation using Telenav in the car). If calling is important to you, the Cliq XT scores big.
Reception on 3G is something of a disappointment, especially for a Motorola phone. In places where our Nexus One gets -81 db the Moto gets -99 db, and the Nexus One isn't an RF demon. If you live in a weak coverage area, keep this in mind. If you have moderate to strong coverage, the phone works fine and we had no problems with dropped calls or overly slow data.
The Cliq XT has 3G HSDPA 7.2 Mbps on T-Mobile's US bands (1700/2100MHz). It's quad band GSM with EDGE and it will work anywhere in the world GSM service is available. Motorola has enhanced the stock Android web browser with pinch zoom support and Flash Lite. The drawbacks are that even Flash Lite can slow down web page loading and pinch zooming isn't as fast and fluid as it is on the iPhone 3GS, Nexus One or even the HTC Hero. The distinctly midrange 528MHz CPU doesn't help, but even the Hero does better which leads us to believe that Motorola's pinch zoom driver isn't as polished as HTC's.
Motorola Cliq XT
The iPhone 3GS, Nexus One and Motorola Cliq XT.
Motorola Cliq XT and Motorola Backflip
The Motorola Cliq XT and Backflip.
Camera and GPS
Like the Backflip, the Cliq XT is a mid-priced Android phone with a better than middling camera. The 5 megapixel camera with autofocus lens takes nice shots, though they're a bit over-sharpened. Colors are saturated and natural and images don't look terribly over-processed other than the sharpening. The camera can also shoot video, though at a less impressive CIF 352 x 288 pixel resolution. The camera can geotag images and the GPS managed to get a fix quickly.
Motorola Cliq XT and Motorola Backflip
The textured black back.
The GPS performed adequately with Google Maps and Telenav, though Telenav warned us every few miles that the GPS had lost its fix for about 15 seconds at a time. This didn't cause navigational mishaps but it was curious since we were driving under clear skies in a suburban setting with no tall buildings or looming trees. Telenav is a $10/month subscription service that gives excellent spoken directions and has a good POI database. Since the Cliq XT runs Android 1.5, it doesn't have the newer version of Google Maps that has free spoken directions (that requires OS 2.0 or newer). Since the Cliq XT should get the 2.1 upgrade at some point, it should also get the newer Google Maps. Google Maps has the usual map and satellite views as well as street view.
Motorola Cliq XT and Motorola Backflip
Battery Life
Though MOTOBLUR phones haven't done well in the battery department, the Cliq XT does the best so far. While we had to charge our Motorola Cliq and Backflip nightly with just moderate use, the Cliq XT actually make it 1.5 days. We know that's not great, but it's a step in the right direction. More important, we found it could make it through a business day on a charge even when checking our various social networks and email.
Conclusion
No kidding, it's not a Nexus One. But then it costs much less and you can take it to your local T-Mobile store if you have problems. The Cliq XT isn't a power user's phone, but it's a solid Android handset. We confess that we prefer the Cliq on T-Mobile and the Backflip on AT&T, not just because of their hardware keyboards but because they're a bit quicker and look much better. The Cliq XT doesn't look Motorola, it looks more like a cheap Asian handset. But it does run Android-- a very powerful yet fun OS that's easy to expand with apps, and it has excellent call quality. We like the added multimedia software and still enjoy MOTOBLUR, and the camera is quite decent. But Motorola's web browser enhancements, which sound exciting on paper, in fact slow down the browser when viewing full HTML sites.
Pro: Reasonably priced Android smartphone, MOTOBLUR is great for you social networking types, good camera, excellent voice quality, good added software like Swype and the Music app.
Con: Large and not very attractive, mediocre 3G reception, just OK battery life (that's an improvement for MOTOBLUR), sometimes laggy, especially the web browser when viewing rich HTML web sites.

Price: $129 with 2 year contract

Specs:
Display: 3.1" capacitive touch screen. Resolution: HVGA 320 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer. Has proximity sensor and haptic feedback.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1390 mAh.
Performance: Qualcomm MSM MSM7201 528MHz CPU. 256 megs RAM, 512 megs flash ROM.
Size: 4.6 x 2.4 x 0.49 inches. Weight: 4.2 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz. 3G HSDPA 7.2 Mbps on T-Mobile's 1700/2100MHz bands.
Camera: 5.0 megapixel with autofocus lens and LED flash.
Audio: Built in speaker, dual mics, FM radio and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth with A2DP stereo profile.
Software: Android 1.5 OS with MOTOBLUR software. Custom music and video player, Shazam, Slacker Radio, Amazon MP3 Store, Swype, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Voice, Google Talk, YouTube player, Android Market, Telenav, visual voicemail, voice dialing and more. Mail and IM: Exchange support (email, contacts and calendar), POP3/IMAP email, AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo IM.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot under the back cover, 2 gig card included.
In the box: Phone, charger, battery, USB cable and a 2 gig microSD card pre-installed in the phone

12.00

Motorola Backflip

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Was it a severe case of iPhone-itis that kept Android phones off AT&T shelves for so long? Whatever the reason, AT&T was certainly selling itself short by being the only big 4 US carrier to not offer one of the hottest commodities of 2009, an Android smartphone. 2010 is here and perhaps their first Android phone, the Motorola Backflip, signals the end of the drought. The Backflip is an attention getter thanks to its unique design where the keyboard and display face out when the phone is closed. Think of it as a reverse clamshell. This isn't a bad design: the display is always available, just like bar form factor touch screen phones like the iPhone 3GS and myTouch 3G. That means no fiddling, folding or flipping to gain access to the phone. The keyboard is simply humongous since it need not fit inside a clamshell or fold against the display: Moto had the freedom to let the keyboard be all that it could be. Yet the Backflip is surprisingly compact and certainly much smaller than its beefy and industrial looking sibling, the Devour, on Verizon.
The phone can flip at 90 degrees and turn into a desk or nightstand alarm clock with weather and slide show functions (no need to pay $50 extra for a dock to get this feature as with the Nexus One). This is a smart flip: it knows the hinge position and disables the keyboard when closed and it turns on clock mode when the hinge is at approximately 90 degrees (it's a little fiddly finding that position). But we're sure the design isn't for everyone-- just as there are those of us who crave novel designs, there are those who hate oddball phones. And though Motorola says the keyboard is sturdy enough to survive life in your pocket, phone conservatives will worry.
Motorola Backflip
The Backflip is Motorola's third Android smartphone with their MOTOBLUR social networking software. If you hate Twitter, avoid Facebook and think MySpace is for your kids, not you, then look elsewhere... or disable the MOTOBLUR social networking software. You're still left with Motorola's added MS Exchange support and a few other goodies. Motorola's MS Exchange support is better than average for Android and you can sync email, calendar and contacts two-way via Exchange Activesync.
The phone has caught some early flak from the likes of Engadget and Gizmodo for not being a super phone like the Nexus One and Motorola Droid. To be fair, those sites cater to technology addicts and early adopters, so their target audience likely craves high end devices. But to the rest of the world, the Backflip is a pretty cool phone, in fact a great one for the price. While us techie types might wish that AT&T's first Android phone was one that could smack down the Motorola Droid on Verizon, a mid-range phone makes sense not just because it doesn't threaten the iPhone's supremacy on AT&T's lineup, but because this is a phone that the huge midrange of customers can appreciate and afford.
Motorola Backflip
The Backflip's feature list is respectable: an HVGA 320 x 480 capacitive touch screen (the same resolution as the iPhone 3GS, Droid Eris, myTouch 3G and Motorola Cliq among others), 3G HSDPA 7.2Mbps, WiFi, Bluetooth, a GPS that works with Google Maps and AT&T Navigator, and a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash. The build quality is solid and the phone looks nice. While the Cliq looked plasticky and cheapish, the metal alloy and plastic Backflip looks like a nice piece of tech (granted not as high end as the metal-clad Moto Droid and Nexus One). It's not a phone that would embarrass an adult, though its social networking features should appeal to teens as well as cyber-social adults.
Motorola Backflip
The Moto turns into a desk and alarm clock in the 90 degree position, and the screen stays powered on if the phone is plugged in to AC power. It can also do an impersonation of a photo frame via slide show and it handles media playback.






Like the Motorola Cliq and Devour, the Backflip has Motorola's MOTOBLUR social networking software running on top of an older version of Android. And that's a sore point: power users and upgraders won't be getting a new version of Android if they purchase the Backflip since it's running the original 1.5 Cupcake OS. Motorola and AT&T have indicated that an update to 2.1 is coming in approximately 2 months, which bodes well for the Backflip. That said, if you're an Android newbie or even a moderate user, the difference between Android OS releases is subtle. The 2.1 OS adds necessary support for spoken navigation in Google Maps and 2.0 adds support for multi-touch (pinch zooming, though only the Nexus One supports this natively), and these are the two biggies that separate the new from the old. MOTOBLUR and Motorola's/AT&T's software make up for some of the older operating system's deficiencies anyhow. For example, Motorola adds MS Exchange support that's better than the fairly weak Google implementation in 2.0, and AT&T and Moto have added multimedia software that's better than Google's also weak default players. That said, we miss the updated OS' convenience features such as favorites for calling and more features in the Android Market.
Motorola Backflip
Android mug shot: The Nexus One, Acer Liquid, Backflip and Motorola Devour.
MOTOBLUR extends the standard Android home screens from 3 to 5 and it has widgets for Happenings (an aggregate of all social networking tweets/posts/whatever), a Twitter widget where you can Tweet, a Messages widget (ties to the universal inbox that handles text messages, email and direct/private messages in your social networks), Social Status (you can send updates to your social networks all at once if you like) and more. It's cluttered if you turn everything on, but you do have 5 screens to spread things out and you can remove any widget that bugs you. As we noted, MS Exchange 2003/2007 support is on board and MOTOBLUR adds a few other handy services. Using your computer and a web browser you can log into your MOTOBLUR account and locate your lost or stolen device (using its GPS) and remote wipe the phone. The bad news is that you must create a MOTOBLUR on the Backflip before you can use the phone (yet another account in your life). That account will sync with only 1 MOTOBLUR phone, unlike Gmail and Google sync which allow you to sync one account to multiple phones. If you get a new phone, you'll have to delete your MOTOBLUR account from the old phone (the nice part is that you can use MOTOBLUR to transfer your data to your new phone).
Motorola Backflip
That pad on the back behind the display panel is a trackpad
which works quite well though we don't see why one is needed with a touchscreen phone.
Video Review
Given the Motorola Backflip's unique design and MOTOBLUR software, it's much easier to give you a feel for the phone using video. We show you every twist and bend, and take Google Maps, AT&T Navigator, the web browser, YouTube player and AT&T Video through their paces. We also do comparisons with the Acer Liquid (an unlocked Android phone with high end specs and AT&T 3G on the 1900MHz but not 850MHz band), the Motorola Devour, the Nexus One and the iPhone.

As you can see from the video, the 528MHz Backflip is a decent performer but it's not as fast as the 1GHz Nexus One. It's just slightly slower than the Motorola Devour. Despite the added burden of Motorola's software, the Backflip is no slower than the myTouch 3G which runs vanilla Android on the same CPU. For $99, you don't get high end Snapdragon or Cortex-A8 CPUs, sorry. But we find it tolerable enough. The phone has 256 megs of RAM which is enough to run Android 2.1, and it has 512 megs of flash storage. The SDHC microSD card slot is compatible with cards up to 32 gigs and a 2 gig card is included in the phone. The card slot is under the battery door.
Motorola Backflip
Phone and Data
The Moto is a quad band GSM world phone and triband 3G HSDPA 7.2Mbps world phone with 3G on AT&T's bands and 2100MHz for Europe and Asia. Here in the Dallas area we have solid HSPA 7.2 coverage and the phone averaged 3,000kbps via the Speedtest app available on the Android Market and 750kbps on DSL Reports' web-based beta iPhone speed test. Web pages load quickly (thanks to the fast connection rather than the slowish CPU) and apps download quickly on the Android Market. Note that AT&T requires a data plan with smartphones, so you'll have to pony up $30/month for their smartphone personal plan if you buy this phone with a new contract.
Voice quality is loud and clear via the earpiece, though on some calls we could hear our own voice transmitted back. Our callers said we sounded very clear and the phone's DSP did a good job of whacking background noise. The speakerphone is fairly loud and fuller than average, and made for clear calls on both ends. The phone worked well with the Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth headset as well as the Jawbone Hero and as you'd expect music sounded good with the Motorola S9 HD stereo Bluetooth headset. The phone has a 3.5mm stereo headset jack, but no headset is included in the box. The Backflip has both speed dialing and voice dialing.
Display and Keyboard
The 320 x 480 pixel capacitive display is very sharp, clear and bright. There's no auto-brightness setting but the phone does have a proximity sensor (no cheek dialing) and an accelerometer (which you can turn off if you one want the phone to switch orientation when the keyboard is deployed). The 3.1" display suits the resolution and text is readable but not overly large. We'd love a higher resolution display but that would make the phone larger and more expensive, and we do appreciate the Backflip's small size.
The keyboard is very large and backlit in white. The keys are slightly domed and don't have a huge amount of travel (but more than the Moto Droid's). They're large and easy to type on using the pads of your fingers and there's no need to poke carefully with fingernails. This is definitely a good keyboard for large-handed guys, while those with small hands might find it hard to reach the center keys. There are dedicated keys for menu, search, back, home, email and the web browser. The camera lens and LED flash are embedded in the lower left corner of the keyboard.
Motorola Backflip
Software and a bit more about syncing
Like all Android phones, the Backflip cloud syncs to Gmail for email and contacts and Google Calendar. There's no cable syncing to Outlook on the desktop since the OS doesn't support that (HTC's Sense UI enhanced Android phones do come with HTC-developed desktop syncing software). As we mentioned, you can work with several other popular social networking services, MS Exchange and get POP3/IMAP email too. MOTOBLUR integrates all synced services in your address book and does its best to avoid duplicates. Photos for caller ID are pulled from your Google, Exchange and social networking services.
Motorola Backflip
Given AT&T's relationship with Yahoo, they've chosen to override the standard Google search with Yahoo search-- what a strange concept; a Google phone that uses Yahoo search. All other Google Android goodies are intact: Google Maps, Gmail, Google's YouTube player, Google Talk and more. And you can of course use the excellent webkit web browser to get to Google's search page. Still, we're less than pleased with the switch.
AT&T has loaded the phone with their usual mess of software, some for good and some for bad. We'd say this is the most carrier customized version of an Android phone yet, but thankfully they haven't done more than add apps and switch the default search. The "good" apps are AT&T Music-- not that we're 100% in love with this app but it does improve upon the weak Android 1.5 music player. The AT&T Radio seems nice since it aggregates a variety of popular Internet radio stations into one easy to use app, but somehow AT&T sees fit to charge a monthly fee for content you can otherwise get for free using other Android Market applications or the phone's web browser. AT&T Mobile Video is on board for streaming video and it works quite well on the Backflip. Likewise, we still like AT&T Navigator (powered by Telenav). It gives excellent spoken turn by turn directions and has a good POI database. The service costs $10/month and augments Google Maps which doesn't have spoken directions (at least not until the smartphone gets Android 2.1).
The rest are the usual AT&T bundled apps and junk: MobiTV, Mobile Banking, Where, Yellow Pages Mobile and MusicID, all of which require a monthly subscription and many of which can be replaced with free apps or the phone's web browser. They make some sense on a feature phone but none on a smartphone.
Normally you'll use the Android Market application on the phone to download new free and paid applications. And you can indeed do this unfettered on the Backflip. But you can't install applications that come from other sources since the usual setting that allows you to install non-Android Market applications is missing on the Backflip. While the overwhelming majority of applications are available on the Market (getting approval isn't the mind-bogglingly difficult experience that it is on the iTunes store for iPhones, in fact it's a quite easy and open process), there are some beta applications that are available off-market. Also Android developers may want to test their developing applications on the device rather than in a PC emulator. They can't do this with the Backflip because of that missing setting. Yet again, we'll say that this isn't the phone for power users who want to test beta software that's not available on the Android Market, nor is it a good phone for Android developers. OK, I partially take that back: developers, you can load apps over USB using adb (part off the developer SDK for you normal types reading this). Is this an AT&T conspiracy to make the Backflip more iPhone-like? Did they simply want to lock down installation of potentially iffy software? Did Moto just have a dim moment and forget to turn this setting on? Who knows. Will this matter to the average user? Nope. Will it matter to you? If you understand what I'm talking about and it bothers you, then the answer is yes.
Camera and Battery Life
The Backflip has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus lens and LED flash. That's a relatively high end camera for a mid-range smartphone, and it takes decent but not wonderful photos. Photos have good color saturation and accuracy but you can see digital artifacting at 100% zoom. Images are better than the Moto Droid and HTC HD2, but they can't compete with Nokia Nseries phones that rival a dedicated camera. The phone can shoot video at an unimpressive max resolution of 352 x 288 pixels, 24 fps.
Battery life is MOTOBLUR's sore spot-- all that keeping in contact of social networks takes its toll on battery life since it keeps the data connection active. The Backflip has 3 power settings and ships with the performance mode as the default. This gets you the best performance and provides timely social networking updates and GPS location updates, but battery life is just a day with only moderate use. The middle "smart" setting turns off the 3G connection after a few hours of inactivity and sleeps the GPS and that does improve battery life. But we did notice that upon rising in the morning our social networking hadn't updated for the past 5 hours (no surprise) and it took 30 to 45 minutes for the phone to catch up on social network updates. That's something of a bummer if you want to check out what's going on in Twitter and Facebook while you down your first cup of coffee.
Conclusion
The Motorola Backflip will either have you doing backflips or calling it the "Backflop". We can't and shouldn't try to change your mind since design is akin to personal statement these days. If you dig the Backflip's design and are looking for your first smartphone or just want to get into Android on AT&T, it's a solid choice. If you're the high end phone type, the Backflip probably isn't for you since the CPU, resolution and OS version aren't state of the art-- hold out for the Nexus One with AT&T 3G or consider the Acer Liquid. We like the clear and sharp capacitive touch screen and relatively small form factor. We appreciate that the backflipping design allows for a larger keyboard in a smallish smartphone. Voice quality and reception are quite good as are HSPA download speeds on AT&T's network in our area. We have no qualms with the unique design and find the phone usable and different. While MOTOBLUR isn't for you cyber-unsocials, it's great for those who are into social networking and the MS Exchange support is solid. We could do without the AT&T bloatware-- please stop that AT&T! Give us the useful stuff like AT&T Navigator and AT&T Mobile Video but axe the insulting Mobile Banking and Where apps that seemingly are there to dupe smartphone newbies into paying for services they can get other ways for free.


Price: $99 with a 2 year contract after rebate, $349 retail with no contract ($249 after AT&T's $100 rebate).


Specs:
Display: 3.1" capacitive touch screen. Resolution: 320 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer and keyboard deployment. Has proximity sensor.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1380 mAh.
Performance: Qualcomm MSM7201 528MHz processor. 256 megs RAM. 512 MB Flash ROM.
Size: 4.5 x 2.0 x 0.6 inches. Weight: 4.7 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz. 3G HSDPA 7.2 Mbps on the 850/1900/2100MHz bands compatible with AT&T's network and Europe. Phone has speed dial and voice dialing.
Camera: 5.0 megapixel camera with autofocus lens and LED flash.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth.
Software: Android OS 1.5 with MOTOBLUR software. Standard Google Android apps including webkit web browser, GMail, Google Talk, Google Maps, Android Market and more. Custom video and music player software installed. AT&T apps: AT&T Navigator, AT&T WiFi Hotspots, AT&T Music, AT&T Radio (streaming Internet radio that AT&T charges for though you can get the same content free using other apps) and AT&T Mobile Video. Bloatware: Yellow Pages Mobile, Mobile Banking, AllSport GPS, MobiTV, MusicID and Where.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot. 2 gig card included.
In the box: Phone, battery, compact charger, USB cable, 2 gig microSD card pre-installed in the phone and printed guide

11.54

Acer Liquid

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To say that AT&T's selection of Android smartphones is underwhelming would be an act of kindness. The first Android phone hit the US in the fall of 2008 and now there are more than 10 available from US carriers. AT&T didn't have a single Android phone until March 2010. That phone, the Motorola Backflip, appeals more to newbies and midrange folks-- it's almost as if they avoided a high end, powerful first Android phone to not threaten the iPhone 3GS. Android phones appeal to a range of folks, but we'd wager that techie types and early adopters are still a significant segment of the market for these powerful, Linux-based Google phones.
Acer Liquid
Despair no longer, Acer has the answer with the Liquid. Yes, it has AT&T 3G HSDPA up to 7.2Mbps on their 1900MHz band. No, by unlocked phone standards, the price isn't astronomical at $420. Acer has a strong rep as a PC maker, but less so as a phone maker, at least in the US. Their acquisition of E-TEN (maker of Windows Mobile smartphones) has accelerated their product line development and Acer has added that touch of quality that E-TEN phones lacked. So where do you buy the Liquid? It's available online from importers and ours came from eXpansys USA. They're an established, reputable e-tailer of import phones and their prices are competitive. Unlike small eBay shops, they actually have customer service, support and business locations, including one in the US (they're based in the UK).
Acer Liquid
The Liquid has high end specs that include a Snapdragon processor (underclocked from 1GHz to a still impressive 768MHz), 256 megs of RAM, a 5 megapixel autofocus camera, WiFi, Bluetooth and a GPS that works with (what else?) Google Maps. The 480 x 800 display puts it on par with high end adversaries like the Nexus One and Motorola Droid (Milestone in Europe). The only disappointment here is the Android 1.6 OS-- with phones like the Droid shipping with 2.0 and the Nexus One with 2.1, 1.6 seems a bit old. And this is a vanilla Android phone-- we can understand when Motorola's highly customized MOTOBLUR Android phones take some time to work up to the new OS, but the Acer is pretty much stock Android. We do hope they offer an update to 2.1, so folks don't have to buy the Liquid E to get it (that new Liquid isn't yet for sale but Acer announced it at Mobile World Congress in February 2010).
Design
The Liquid looks pleasingly different from other Android phones, in fact its curved lines and colorful yet tasteful plastic casing look different from most phones of any sort. We have the Liquid in white, and Acer also makes it in red (something close to burgundy) and black. It's a little wider and thicker than the Nexus One and about the same size as the iPhone 3GS, which means it's a large slate phone. The curves make it comfortable in hand, and the added thickness relative to the Nexus One means it's easier to hold and pick up without dropping.
The side controls are out of sight from the front view since they're behind the curve. That puts them closer to your fingertips when holding the phone, though the camera button is too hard to press when holding the Liquid like a point and shoot camera (resulting in camera shake if you're not careful). The four touch sensitive buttons aren't my favorite: there's no haptic feedback and you really have to lay your finger across the button to activate it; a quick tap with the fingertip won't do the trick. Acer uses different button icons than do most Android phones: the rectangle is the home button, search is the normal one with the magnifying glass, the < is back and that stack of 4 horizontal lines is the menu button.
Acer Liquid
The phone has a peel-off back: stick your fingernail in the groove at the top right and pull off the back to access the battery, SIM card slot and SDHC microSD card slot. A 2 gig card is included.
Phone and Data
The Acer Liquid A1 is an unlocked GSM phone that's sold without a contract (eXpansys may offer contract and pre-paid SIM deals as well). It's a quad band GSM world phone with EDGE on the 850/900/1800/1900MZ bands, and that means it will work anywhere GSM service is available and you can use any GSM SIM card with the smartphone. It has 3G HSPA 7.2MBps on the 900/1900/2100MHz bands: it works in Europe, Asia and in the US where AT&T has 3G coverage on the 1900MHz bands. AT&T uses both the 1900MHz and 850MHz bands, and in most 3G locations they have 1900MHz coverage. Here in the Dallas metroplex, the Acer Liquid managed 3,000kbps average download speeds on AT&T's 3G network (that's fast!). We used the speedtest.net application available on the Android Market to test the phone's data speeds.

Voice quality was good with crisp and clear audio and slightly better than average volume. Our call recipients said we sounded good and the phone's DSP kept background noise to a minimum. The Liquid has a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and a stereo earbud headset is included in the box. The phone has Bluetooth 2.0 with support for headset, handsfree and A2DP stereo profiles.
Acer Liquid
Video Review
Here's our 8 minute video review of the Acer Liquid with comparisons to the Nexus One.

Performance and Display
The Liquid's Snapdragon CPU is currently cream of the crop, and even though they've underclocked it from 1GHz to 768MHz, it's a fast smartphone. It doesn't feel quite as fast as the Nexus One (currently the fastest Android phone) but it's even more responsive than the Droid. The phone has 256 megs of RAM which is fairly standard for a current Android phone and it has 512 megs of flash storage. You'll put music, videos, photos and documents on the microSD card while applications must be installed on that 512 megs of flash storage (Android currently can't install apps to a card).
Acer Liquid and Nexus One
Above: the Nexus One and Acer Liquid A1.
Below: the Nexus One, Acer Liquid, Motorola Backflip and Motorola Devour Android phones.
Acer Liquid
The 480 x 800 pixel capacitive display is simply lovely. It doesn't have the incredible color saturation of the Nexus One's AMOLED display but it's equally sharp and bright. The 3.5" display has a proximity sensor and automatically rotates using the accelerometer. This is the first capacitive display we've seen that offers 3 pressure sensitivity settings.
Camera and GPS
The Acer has a 5 megapixel camera with an autofocus lens and no flash. Photo quality isn't among the best and doesn't rival Nokia and Sony Ericsson high end camera phones. Outdoor shots have good color and reasonable clarity but there are JPEG processing artifacts that reduce image depth and reduce clarity of details (leaves on trees and grass that isn't in the foreground both look processed and indistinct). Foreground subject matter is generally quite sharp. Indoor shots are noisy and lack detail unless you've got very good lighting. As we mentioned, the shutter button is hard to press so be careful to not move the phone when pressing it.
Video max resolution is VGA at 20fps in .3GP format. The quality won't wow you if you've been using the iPhone 3GS or a high end Samsung or Nokia camera phone, but it's not bad and is certainly better than the Motorola Backflip's video.
The phone has a GPS that was quick to get a fix in our tests, and like all Android phones, it works with Google Maps. Google Maps has layers and even street view but there are no spoken turn-by-turn directions since that feature requires Android 2.0 or newer.
Acer Liquid
Battery Life
Though underclocked, the Liquid's 1350mAh battery is only good for a day of moderate use on a charge. This is still a fast CPU, and the large display and 3G wireless are power-hungry. It's no worse than Motorola phones running MOTOBLUR, but our Nexus One lasts about 50% longer on a charge. As 3G smartphones go, the Acer isn't going to win the Energizer bunny prize but it can make it through the day.
Conclusion
The Acer Liquid A1 is a solid high end Android smartphone. The no-contract price isn't bad, in fact it's less expensive than the Nexus One. We like the sharp and bright high resolution display, the overall design and fast CPU. We'd like to see a newer version of the Android OS, but that's a problem with many recent Android smartphones-- they just don't ship with the latest OS. Since the Liquid lacks heavy manufacturer software customizations vs. HTC Sense, MOTOBLUR and Samsung TouchWiz, the Liquid is good for those who want and like vanilla Android. If you're looking for a high end Android phone that works with AT&T 3G (in most but not all locations), the Acer Liquid is definitely worth a look. It's a phone we wouldn't mind using as a daily driver.

Price: approx. $420 unlocked with no contract


Specs:
Display: 3.5" capacitive touch screen. Resolution: 480 x 800, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer. Has proximity sensor.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1350 mAh.
Performance: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8250 processor clocked at 768MHz (max speed for that CPU is 1GHz). 256 MB RAM. 512 MB Flash ROM.
Size: 4.53 x 2.46 x 0.50 inches. Weight: 4.58 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band unlocked world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz. Triband 3G HSDPA 7.2Mbps on the 900/1900/2100MHz bands (works on AT&T's 1900MHz 3G band but not on 850MHz).
Camera: 5.0 MP with autofocus lens.
GPS: Has GPS that works with Google Maps.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo.
Software: Android 1.6 OS (Donut).
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot. 2 gig card included

18.10

Motorola Devour

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Now the Moto Droid has a little brother on Verizon, the Devour. The Devour is actually no smaller than the Droid, in fact it's thicker. But the price is lower ($50 less when buying direct from Verizon) and a few specs are weaker: HVGA 320 x 480 display vs. 480 x 854 and a a 3 megapixel fixed focus camera vs. 5 megapixel autofocus. The Devour runs Android 1.6 Donut, while the Droid runs 2.0, but the Devour adds MOTOBLUR for you social mavens.
Motorola Devour and Droid
The Motorola Droid and Devour.
Motorola Devour and Droid
The Social
As we said in our Motorola Cliq review (Moto's first MOTOBLUR Android smartphone), MOTOBLUR keeps you up to date with your friends and colleagues via the top social networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, email, LastFM, Picasa, Photobucket, Yahoo mail, IM and SMS) at the expense of a very busy home screen and diminished battery life. These accounts integrate seamlessly into the MOTOBLUR-customized Android OS, and you decide which accounts you want and whether you want to show their desktop widgets. Fortunately, the Devour has 5 screens, so there's plenty of room for all the social widgets. These widgets don't give you the deep experience of dedicated apps but they're good for updating your status and seeing the newest updates from your friends.
When you tweet, you can send the same update to other supported social networks if you like and your social network friends are integrated into the address book (I found that Twitter linked into the address book but Facebook didn't). The good part is that you can see your friends' Twitter status updates in their address book entry, but the bad part is that you'll get address book entries for everyone you follow by default.
The Design
The Devour is a solid and relatively heavy phone at 5.89 ounces. The casing is made of aluminum so it looks less cheap than the tres plastic Cliq. The design is industrial and modern, but we wouldn't call this a sexy phone. It's a bit plain and the large bezel around the 3.1" capacitive display makes it look a tad old-fashioned. The smartphone reminds us of a cross between the Droid and the Sony Vaio UX180 micro PC, which used a very similar wrap-around slider a few years back. The slider is solid and locks into position when fully open or closed.
Motorola Devour
The phone has the usual creature comforts including a proximity sensor and accelerometer (you can also slide open the keyboard to switch to landscape mode). The keyboard is a short travel model but the keys are large and well-separated. It's not our favorite keyboard but it's better than the Droid's.
We like the grippy textured sides and impact-absorbing large end caps that also help break up the Devour's stark lines. There's a large speaker under one end cap and the very prominently placed 3.5mm stereo jack is on the other end. There's a dedicated Nuance voice command button just below the volume controls on the phone's right side. There's also a dedicated camera button- yes! The bad news is that the camera takes unimpressive shots (how much can you expect from a Moto 3MP fixed-focus camera?).
Motorola Devour
The 3.5mm stereo jack up top.






The optical d-pad up front is a mixed bag. We found it hard to control and superfluous given the touch screen just above. You can adjust the touch pad's sensitivity and turn it off. The display itself works wonderfully with touch, but alas there's no multi-touch and thus no pinch zoom. The touch-sensitive buttons below the display require a firmer touch than the display which is as it should be, in our opinion.
Motorola Devour
That small square at the lower left is the optical d-pad.
The display is sharp, colorful and bright. The resolution is the same as that on the HTC Hero, MyTouch 3G and Droid Eris, and while it's not as impressive as the Droid and Nexus One, it's more than adequate. The phone is responsive both in terms of touch screen and performance, and we didn't find ourselves wishing for the Droid.
Video Review
Here's our 7 minute video review of the Motorola Devour that includes a comparison with the Droid.
The Usual Google Goodies plus Verizon
Like all Android phones, the Devour ships with Google sync for calendar, contacts and Gmail. It has Google Maps, Google Talk IM, Google search and Google's YouTube player. Moto adds their MS Exchange sync connector. The standard music player and photo/video viewer are on board and QuickOffice (MS Office document viewer) is included.
Verizon software includes VZ Navigator, V Cast Music and V Cast Video. VZ Navigator was a bit slow to re-route (it took 30 seconds for it to offer a new route) but other than that, it worked well.
Motorola Devour
Phone and Data
The Devour has very good voice quality for both incoming and outgoing voice, and the speakerphone is loud and clear. Motorola is known for their strong reception, and the Devour is better than average but not as good as the Droid which manages about 8 -db stronger signal when tested in the same location. Nuance's voice dialing works well and we're glad to see it on board, and the phone played well with several current Bluetooth headsets.
Motorola Devour
EV-DO Rev. A handles the Devour's fast data connection, and web pages loaded quickly. Android Market applications likewise downloaded speedily and email is a breeze. The phone supports Gmail, POP3, IMAP and MS Exchange email.
The phone comes with news and weather widgets, MOTOBLUR's collection of social networking widgets and and you can download more from the Android Market.
Motorola Devour
Battery Life
Ouch. A powerful smartphone that's always keeping up with myriad social network status updates? Don't expect this to be the energizer bunny of Android phones. Like the Cliq, the Devour takes a hit thanks to MOTOBLUR though it does have 3 battery conservation settings (go broke, middle of the road and miserly). On the least conservative setting, the phone lasted just a day with light use. Thankfully you can swap in a spare battery if needed. The standard Lithium Ion battery is 1400 mAh capacity, which is decent enough by smartphone standards.
Conclusion
The Motorola Devour is (literally) a solid Android smartphone with a strong set of features. MOTOBLUR is a big part of this package, and we recommend it if social networking is your thing. Of course, you can turn off most MOTOBLUR features if you just like the hardware, but then Moto's own Droid is worth a look since it has a higher resolution display and a newer version of the Android OS. Given the relatively close pricing, unless $50 over the course of your two year contract is that dear, you should choose between these two based on MOTOBLUR vs. vanilla Android, features and the look. The Droid is thinner, but some find the design off-putting (we think it looks better than the Devour).
We like the colorful and responsive display, fast performance and integrated Verizon services. The GPS is a bit less responsive than other current smartphones, but it doesn't drop a fix (the problem may be with VZ Navigator more than the hardware since Google Maps performed well after an initial slow first fix). The battery life isn't a selling point and the keyboard, though roomy, is low travel.

Price: $149 with a 2 year contract via Verizon ($99 at Best Buy and some other dealers)


Specs:
Display: 65k color, capacitive HVGA touch screen. Screen size diagonally: 3.1". Resolution: 320 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes. Has accelerometer and proximity sensor.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1400 mAh.
Performance: 600MHz ARM compatible CPU. Approximately 226 megs of internal storage.
Size: 4.47 x 2.78 x 0.53 inches. Weight: 5.89 ounces.
Phone: CDMA dual band digital with 3G EV-DO Rev. A.
Camera: 3MP with fixed focus lens.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR with headsets, handsfree and A2DP stereo profiles.
Software: Android 1.6 (Donut) with MOTOBLUR. Standard Android applications including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Voice Search, Google Talk, YouTube player, webkit web browser, music and video players. Verizon applications: VZ Navigator, Visual Voicemail, V Cast Music and V Cast video. Nuance Voice Dialing included.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot, 8 gig card included.

18.05

HP iPAQ Glisten

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The more things change, the more they stay the same, or so the cliche goes. It's apt enough for HP's latest business smartphone, the Glisten, whose form and function aren't so different from the 2008 HP iPAQ 910c. The looks have gotten more modern and trendy, with a flush display and a black soft-touch casing, but it's still your basic Windows Mobile Pro QWERTY-bar business phone. What has suffered is one-handed and touch navigation thanks to Windows Mobile 6.5. WinMo 6.5 was designed with larger screens in mind, and it attempts to be more touch-centric, neither of which matches with the QWERTY bar smartphone. That means the traditional Start Menu that looked just like the one on your Windows PC is gone. A shame because that was easy to navigate using the d-pad, while the hex grid of icons that replaces it is a nightmare with the d-pad. Thank goodness for the touch screen, you say? Well, not so much. The small, low resolution display is hard to navigate with a finger, making the included stylus a must, and that feels very dated and inefficient.
HP Glisten
What stands in the Glisten's favor are its sturdy build, grippable back and good QWERTY keyboard. Combine that with Windows Mobile's excellent integration with MS Exchange, and you've got a decent business phone. The HP Glisten is likely to appeal to veteran Windows Mobile users who accustomed to, if not fond of, that operating system's features and UI. It's otherwise unlikely that the HP would win in a contest against a BlackBerry. RIM's smartphones are easier to use one-handed and their UI is much better optimized to the hardware controls with myriad keyboard shortcuts and convenient home screen options.
HP Glisten
The Glisten at a Glance
The HP iPAQ Glisten is sold by AT&T in the US and it has 3G HSDPA on AT&T's bands as well as 2100MHz for Europe and Asia. It's a quad band GSM world phone with EDGE for those places that are devoid of 3G coverage. It has a 2.5" AMOLED touch screen and it runs Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional. The Glisten is powered by a 528MHz Qualcomm CPU and it has 256 megs of RAM and 512 megs of flash memory. There's a fixed focus 3.1 megapixel camera on board as well as a full complement of wireless: GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR and WiFi 802.11b/g.
Design and Ergonomics
The iPAQ feels solid and well made, and we particularly like the grippy soft-touch back. The QWERTY keyboard's keys are laid out in a smile configuration and are relatively large: both pluses. But their slick surface makes typing faster but less accurate.The embedded number pad is clear in contrasting white and there are shortcuts on the bottom row for the web browser, calendar, email and AT&T Navigator. The chromed plastic sides have relatively few controls and ports. A 3.5mm stereo headset jack and micro USB port are on the right and the volume controls are on the left. The not terribly good or loud speakerphone lives under a small grille on the back. The HP isn't a thin phone by any means, and it's about the same thickness as recent BlackBerry Curve 8500 series models. To our eyes, it looks less plasticky and higher quality than the BlackBerry 8520 and 8530.
The AMOLED display uses less power and is more vivid than traditional LCDs, though the HP's isn't as vivid (or over-saturated) as recent Samsung AMOLED phone displays. It's a resistive display (Windows Mobile 6.5 doesn't natively support capacitive displays) and that means you can use a fingernail, a gloved finger or the included plastic stylus with the touch screen.
HP Glisten







Phone and Data
While HP's smartphones have had excellent voice quality and volume since the hw6915 that preceded the 910c, the Glisten has average voice quality and its earpiece isn't particularly loud. Incoming voice is clear with very light background hiss but outgoing voice sounds digitized and this was augmented with many of the Bluetooth headsets we tested with the iPAQ. Volume is average for a GSM phone and it's fine for home and office but it can't combat very noisy public locations. The speakerphone isn't among the best we've heard, but it's suitable to increase volume in a loud place when the earpiece doesn't do the job, and it's fine for in-car navigation using the included AT&T Navigator's spoken directions.
HP Glisten
Like all Windows Mobile phones, the Glisten ships with Internet Explorer Mobile and the mobile version of Outlook which is comprised of Messaging (for email, SMS and MMS) and PIM applications (calendar, contacts, tasks and notes). These sync to MS Exchange over-the-air flawlessly and the phone can also sync to Outlook on the desktop via USB. Messaging is a solid email client that works with POP3, IMAP, Gmail and other accounts well, and the Exchange experience is top notch.
Though many Windows phone manufacturers include the superior Opera Mobile browser, HP thinks you can make do with IE. Honestly, the screen is so small and the QVGA resolution so outdated, that we don't consider the Glisten optimal for web browsing anyway. If web browsing is important to you and you plan to do a lot of it, consider a smartphone with a larger, higher resolution display like the HTC Tilt 2. For full HTML sites, you'll see only a fraction of the web page on screen at a given time and selecting links, even with the stylus, takes patience.
HP Glisten
The BlackBerry Curve 8530 and the HP Glisten.

Video Review
Here's our 7 minute video review of the HP Glisten:

Conclusion
The HP Glisten is literally a solid Windows Mobile QWERTY bar phone. It's well-made, sturdy and not bad looking as business phones go. But we can't say it adds anything new or enticing to the mix, and there's little that's changed since the HP 910c (which was a decent smartphone). What has changed is the OS, and unfortunately, Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional is less well suited to the QWERTY bar form factor than was Windows Mobile 6.1. One handed operation is limited and you often must touch the display to get things done. That wouldn't be such a bad thing if the display wasn't so small and the on-screen targets too tiny to easily tap with a finger. The iPAQ is definitely better suited to those who are comfortable with the stylus.
In terms of features and performance for the price, the HP does well and has all the bells and whistles you'd expect on a business smartphone at this or even a slightly higher price. The 528MHz CPU generally does a good job of keeping up with tasks and with 256 megs of RAM, you can leave several applications running simultaneously. Windows Mobile is often maligned, but it offers solid business features including strong MS Exchange support, a built-in Office suite, good security and compatibility with Windows desktops.


Price: $129.99 after rebates with a 2 year contract.
Websites: wireless.att.com, www.hp.com

Specs:
Display: 65K color 2.5" AMOLED color touchscreen. Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels.
Battery: Lithium Ion polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1590 mAh. Micro USB charging and syncing port.
Performance: 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A CPU. 256 megs RAM, 512 megs flash ROM.
Size: 4.44 x 2.47 x 0.53 inches. Weight: 4.66 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz. 3G HSDPA on the 850/1900/2100MHz bands.
GPS: Has GPS and AT&T Navigator.
Camera: 3.1 megapixel, fixed focus lens. 5x digital zoom, no flash or self-portrait mirror.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR.
Software: Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot.

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