Mobile market around the world is getting heated up with many devices using Android OS. LG, Sony Ericsson, HTC and Samsung release devices that rival smartphones of strong players in this segment, such as Apple and Nokia.
In this increasingly crowded market, the latest iteration of Motorola Milestone has come out, offering attractive features like advanced social networking app and pull-up keyboard. But, are these features strong enough to shine in the highly competitive market or will this gadget just become another forgettable item in the Android crowd?
It is common for Android handsets to use dark plastic finish, Milestone 2 has a big touchscreen display on the front and simple plastic on the back. If you put it on the shelf along with other touchscreen phones, it certainly won’t stand out. Even so, you may appreciate many of its little touches.
For starters, the beveled edge make holding the gadget easier and you may like the material used for its back. You may find the velte, suede-like feels nice to the touch. The ports are located on the sides and top of the devices and can be used for charger/USB and headphones connection, while the speaker is located on the back.
When the device is held vertically, you’ll see that the keyboard can slide out on the left-hand side easily and get a nice click when it is fully extended. The keyboard is firm enough that you won’t accidentally slide it in again. Users will certainly welcome the four-way cursor, which replace the directional button in the first Milestone. You can instantly whizz the cursor on text boxes when making edits, while the Back button can make things even easier. The backlit keyboard also ensures that you can still use the phone in the dark. You will immediately wish for another shift key at the right-hand side, as using the left shift key is a bit cumbersome in some cases. The keyboard is not a perfect solution for a mobile QWERT keyboard, even so with a few days of exercise you still can use it effectively and quickly.
The keys are comfortable to your touch, but can be too tiny for most adult males. Those little buttons have small raised bumps that can tell you that you’re touching a key. On the back, you’ll get a 5-Mp camera and flash. You’ll also find a volume control that is located on the same place like the previous Milestone. Size-wise, it is 12cm long and 6cm wide. It weighs 169g and is quite thin at almost 14mm.
The device is a huge improvement over the previous Milestone. The new phone is currently powered with a zippy 1GHz processor (overclocked from 550 MHz) and a 5-Mp camera (with flash) that can create 720p videos. It has an internal option to act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, by connecting to up to 5 other Wi-Fi capable devices to utilize the 3G broadband access.
The phone uses a 8Gb internal storage and can be supplemented with a MicroSD memory car. It has a 3.7” display with 480 x 854 pixels resolution. The milestone 2 is currently using the Android 2.2, the most up to date version for non-Google smartphone manufacturers. Android 2.3 is currently still used by Nexus S.
You shouldn’t have any problems getting the phone work on most countries as it supports all GSM frequencies and support the latest 3G standards. The MOTOBLUR app can allow you get a single unified interface for popular social networking sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and also your favored e-mail provider.
Unfortunately, MOTOBLUR can be your worst experience with Milestone 2. First of all, it demands users to set up a MOTOBLUR account just after you turn on the phone for the first time and there is no option to set it up later. If you often use Android apps for Facebook, Twitter and so on, you may not see the point of having a native app with limited feature. Worse, if you try MOTOBLUR, the app is noticeably slower in delivering and receiving messages than most stand-alone client apps.
Design- and feature-wise, you may consider that this gadget is just another run of the mill smartphone. You won’t find breakthrough features that are currently available in high-end phones like HTC Desire HD. Even so, the actual design is quite attractive and some people will love the physical keyboard and the svelte form factor.
Although it is powered by a fast 1GHz processor and more than enough RAM, you’ll experience sluggishness at times. Occasionally, the in-screen features performance simply didn’t measure up to phones with similar CPU and RAM, like HTC’s and Samsung’s devices. So, perhaps the problem is not on the hardware, instead the phone interface may have some optimization issues.
Some early users and reviewers find some issues with the touchscreen display. Although the device can be considered as a high-end model, you don’t get a smooth experience when navigating the interface. Occasionally, you need to tap the screen a few times to achieve the desired result. Some people may consider this glitch as tolerable, even so, Apple users will find the phone as insensitive and unpolished.
Battery life is definitely a mixed bag. Some reported that with standard charge, the battery can only last for one day. But you can significantly improve the battery life by turning off most MOTOBLUR widgets and turning the sync down to minimal. With this minimal effort, you can get a full two days of battery life.
Undoubtedly, Milestone is still a solid Android smartphone with features that can satisfy most users. It has decent performance, acceptable specs and solid design. Of course, you’ll find some quirks here and there, but many people won’t consider them as deal breakers. In the end, we can’t completely recommend potential phone buyers go out and grab this device from the shelves due to one glaring fact, it is already obsolete!
The phone market is now full with better phones, for example HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S. You may also need to delay your buying decision to wait for the launch of Motorola Atrix 4G handset, which will be available on AT&T and Orange.
LG, Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers have demonstrated their new flagships at CES a few weeks ago and a batch of newer devices will also be released in the upcoming Mobile World Congress. So why settle for a mediocre device like the Milestone 2, which is obviously 2010-ish phone.