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Motorola MILESTONE review

Motorola MILESTONE review
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Retail Price: RM 900
AP Price: RM 790 - 805
Motorola MILESTONE sets new standards for how fast and smart a modern, multi-tasking smartphone should be with a rich mobile web experience, superior messaging and top-of-the-line multi-media features.
Review On : Motorola MILESTONE
By Zam Karim
Unlike other Android 2.1 smartphones, the Motorola Milestone is the only one that has a physical Qwerty keypad.
Motorola Milestone Review
REAR VIEW: The Milestone has a 5-megapixel Camera and dual-LED flash as well as built-in stereo speakers on the back.

We have certainly seen a lot of Android phones released in the past few months.

The latest we managed to get a hold of is the Motorola Milestone which runs on the latest Android 2.1 operating system.

In the United States, this slider phone is known as the Droid and only works on the CDMA network. In countries that rely on 3G and HSDPA networks,we get the Milestone.

Also, unlike the Droid, the Milestone has multitouch capability and comes with Motonav navigation application.

Not so boxy

As it is a slider phone, the Milestone is made of two parts - the top is taken up mostly by a 3.7in capacitive touchscreen and the bottom holds the Qwerty keypad.

The screen, which has a resolution of 480 x 854-pixels, is bright and clear. We had no trouble viewing it under bright sunlight.

If not for the cascading Design, the phone would look boxy and boring. Also, the phone weighs 165g which is slightly heavier than other Android offerings. For instance, the Nexus One tips the scale at 130g.

The Milestone's body is made of brushed-metal which felt solid, durable and nice to hold.

Just like other Android phones, below the screen are four standard touch-sensitive buttons - Back, Menu, Home, and Search.

Located around the edges are the volume control rocker, dedicated camera button, mini USB port and audio jack.


Motorola Milestone Review
REAR VIEW: The Milestone has a 5-megapixel camera and dual-LED flash as well as built-in stereo speakers on the back.

On the back you'll find a 5-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash. Also, the built-in stereo speakers are visible under the strip of gold crosshatch pattern.

Field-test

The Milestone started up in 45 seconds which is pretty fast in our book. It runs on Texas Instrument's OMAP3430 600MHz processor.

Although the display is very quick to register even the slightest touch but the phone itself is a little laggy.

It's particularly slow when too many things are done at once, such as scrolling too fast or switching between several apps.


Motorola Milestone Review
SAME SETUP: Just like other Android models, the Milestone's screen has four touch-sensitive buttons for Back, Menu, Home, and Search functions.

Of course, the user interface is the same as other Android 2.1 models. Having tested the Nexus One recently, we were quite disappointed to see that the animated wallpapers are no longer interactive.

The water does not ripple when touched and the Nexus neural network wallpaper is conspicuously missing.

At least the swirling galaxy, blades of waving grass, and an analogue sound meter with a needle that moves to the music you're playing, remain the same.

The Milestone has five homescreens, which you can populate with shortcuts, folders and widgets. Also, the upper left hand of the homesreen is reserved for notifications.

As the toucscreen is capacitive, the phone supports multitouch and one of the apps that takes advantage of this capability is the web browser.

The web browser has a clean interface and is fast but has no Flash support. However, viewing YouTube videos is not a problem as the device comes with a standalone app for it.

Also, like other Adroid smartphones, the Milestone is also loaded with a suite of Google mobile applications for accessing Google Search, Google Maps and Gmail services.

Additionally, users can also access thousands of applications and widgets from the Android Market directly from the device.

Since our Nexus One review in April, the marketplace has expanded rapidly and now has over 50,000 apps.

However, we are still very disappointed that it's still not possible to purchase apps as this limits our choice.

alternative input

We have said this many times and we'll say it again here - the virtual keypad found on most phones are just not as good as the one on the iPhone.

The Milestone's virtual keypad is too crammed especially in portrait mode and it is easy to hit the wrong letters, so expect to make lots of mistakes.

In landscape mode the keypad fared only a little better.

However, this isn't really a problem for the Milestone as it is the only Android 2.1 phone that has a physical Qwerty keypad.

The keypad's sliding mechanism felt a bit stiff but this probably just means that it won't get loose very fast and will last longer.

When the keypad is slid out, the display changes orientation to landscape automatically.

The keyboard certainly gives the Milesone an edge over other Android phones but sadly you won't be winning speed typing competitions any time soon with it.

Just like the virtual keypad, we found the spacing for the keys too tight.

More often than not we resorted to using our fingernails to type.

Still, having a Qwerty keypad has its advantages - you can now view the fullscreen when typing as there won't be a virtual keypad blocking it. Also, the keyboard comes with a large navigation pad on the right.

Loud and clear

The built-in stereo speakers are really outstanding, they are loud enough to be heard even when the phone is in another room.

In fact, setting the volume anything higher than medium was earsplitting at close range.

Equally good is the 5-megapixel camera which shoots decent pictures. However, it's a little slow to focus but as long as you have a steady hand this won't be a big deal.

The camera is especially good in broad daylight and the colours turned out pretty decent.

Also, the built-in A-GPS can geotag all your photos which will make it easier to categorise them later.

What really surprised us was the quality of the video recording. The device is capable of shooting at up to 720 x 480-pixels and produces decent quality videos.

However, we detected two problems - videos sometimes look a little over sharpened and the built-in image stabiliser doesn't seem to work in video mode.

Also, the audio quality was good in all of our test shots.

The Droid which is available in the United States, includes Google Maps Navigation - the free GPS navigation system with voice guidance - but it is a shame that we don't get it with the Milestone.

Yes, the Milestone supports the Google Maps application but if you want the voice guidance feature then you have to pay for the Motonav Software.

A trial version of the app comes preinstalled with the Milestone and it expires after 60 days. To continue using the application you will have to pay a hefty sum of US$60 (RM198) per year.

With normal usage, the Milestone's battery lasted up to two days which is decent for a smartphone.

Conclusion

Android phones come in many shapes and sizes but the latest batch of phones have one thing in common - all of them only have virtual keypads.

So, technically the physical Qwerty keypad of the Milestone gives it an edge over the competition. However, that's not really the case as we were quite disappointed with the keypad.

While the keypad helped, it just wasn't as useful as we expected it to be. Or perhaps our fingers were just too fat for the keys.

Also, the phone is let down by its user interface which is a bit laggy. However, the Milestone is not all bad - we like the design, the really loud stereo speakers and the 5-megapixel camera.

In the end it all boils down to if you really want a physical keypad with your Android 2.1 smartphone. If you do, this phone may be ideal for you.

Pros: Nice screen; solid sliding mechanism; really loud speakers; decent camera and video recording functions.

Cons: Physical keypad could be better, no Flash support; laggy user-interface.

Motorola MILESTONE
Android smartphone
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS/EDGE, HSDPA 900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.1
DISPLAY: 3.7in capacitive touchscreen (480 x 854-pixels)
CAMERA: 5-megapixel with autofocus, dual-LED flash
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, microUSB
MEMORY: 256MB RAM, 256MB storage
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (8GB card included)
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 350 hours/6.5 hours
OTHER FEATURES: H.263, H.264, WMV playback support, proximity sensor, accelerometer, magnetometer
DIMENSIONS (W X D X H): 115.8 x 60 x 13.7mm
WEIGHT: 165g
PRICE: RM2,299 (Latest Price List)
RATING: 3
Review unit courtesy of Motorola Malaysia, (03) 7800-7026


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