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Motorola DEXT - first look

First thing that I'd like to mention is that the Motorola DEXT won't land on many markets outside the US and some European countries. As you might have already guessed, it'll be distributed exclusively by operators for 1 Euro with contract (or 150 Euro without one). In fact, that's probably the most disappointing thing about the DEXT, with it being the cheapest Android-powered solution to date (from a known brand at that!), it could've set the bar to a completely different level, but alas! What do we need to know about the DEXT (which is, by the way, its European codename, both American continents will know it as the CLIQ) then? First, it compes pre-installed with Motorola's very own MOTOBLUR user interface - an add-on to Android's default interface that allows the user to gather all his or her favorite social networks in one place. On first launch you'll need to enter not your Google account details, but rather Motorola ID; it seems there'll be some section on their official site where all registered users will be able to input their login details for social networks. All in all, it's a great things for social networks aficionados and Google's services; although it's a pity we haven't had a chance to take a close look at MOTOBLUR, and that's not because we were that lazy, the reason is that we simply couldn't register (and it seems there is no place to register yet)!

The DEXT was originally revealed to the web as "Morrison", but its real codenames are, like we already said: DEXT for Europe and CLIQ (CDMA) for the US and Canada.

Design

Now for the DEXT's design. Despite it being one of the most affordable Android-based devices to date, it least quite a favorable impression. It has a distinctive youthful appeal and combines white with bluer colors (indeed, a black-and-white color scheme would have killed the "spark" in it). The build quality of the DEXT's prototype seemed sturdy during our hands-on session with it. The phone is on the heftier side, the backside of the slide is made of metal. What I like about its design ,though, are the captions of the side-mounted buttons - haven't seen anything like them before. Housed on the top end is the 3.5 mm audio jack. The battery cover slides down effortlessly, it's made out of plastic and doesn't look particularly durable. Noticed the pattern? Pretty offbeat, if you ask me. By and large, the DEXT's design isn't what are used to see from Motorola - too much color, for one, and then a variety of materials, such as white glossy inserts. I suppose there'll be many more color schemes available when it hits the shelves.

While the DEXT is somewhat chubby, I wouldn't say it's overly large at 114x58x15.6 mm; there's still no official data on its weight, but I'd say it's around 120 grams.

Motorola DEXT vs Nokia N97, HTC Hero, Apple iPhone:

Display

The phone sports a 3.1 inch display with capacitive technology inside and a 320x480 pixel resolution. Since we didn't manage to delve into its interface, I can't say much about its picture quality, so I'm going to reserve my final judgment. One thing I noticed, though, was its sensitivity - the DEXT's display was pretty good in this regard. As soon as we get activate the phone, we'll post screenshots of all core applications here, so stay tuned.

Controls and QWERTY keyboard

Located beneath the display are three mechanical buttons, and I believe by now pretty much everyone knows what they mean. There is the Mute switch on the left, further down is the volume rocker. On the opposite side there are the Lock/Power button and dedicated camera key. All in all, the DEXT boasts a very plain and user-friendly setup, unlike some of the latest Android-based phones - it doesn't have any joysticks or fiddly trackballs, plus it allows to do some things without having to open the main menu (silent mode and camera app activation).

I wouldn't say that the DEXT's thumbboard is particularly comfortable. It's okay and is more or less in line with that of the Nokia N97. The thing I got bewildered by was the five-way joystick on the right that wasn't very handy. On the bright side, the keyboard slides open seamlessly and with a satisfying click. While the metal slab on the back of the top part is definitely good news, I think they could've made out of plastic just as well - the DEXT's target audience couldn't care less.

Camera

The phone comes equipped with a 5 MP camera, although I don't know what model they've carried it over from. But it does have autofocus and if the DEXT really utilizes the ZINE's camera module, then we can expect some top-quality imaging experience from it. But for the time being, these are nothing, but my guesses - we'll need to take a closer look at it to make sure.

Connectivity

The DEXT features a comprehensive selection of connectivity options, plus GPS: Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, USB 2.0 support. Despite it being a phone for the younger audience, it offers quite a punch in this department. On top of that there is the microUSB socket.

Platform

The handset is based on Qualcomm 7201a platform and runs on 528 Mhz CPU, which has been around in communicators for quite a while now, so no surprises here. Even though this platform isn't the best choice for watching non-converted videos, it handles day-to-day tasks with ease.

Now for the bundled memory: 512 Mb of flash memory, 256 Mb of RAM and a microSD memory card slot onboard (up to 32 Gb, located beneath the battery cover, but doesn't require you to actually remove the battery to swap cards), coupled with 1 Gb of memory for user data. As far as I'm concerned, the DEXT packs in enough RAM to cope with any task.

Operating system

The DEXT makes use of Google Android 1.1 operating system with MOTOBLUR tacked on top of it - we'll definitely see it in other Motorola-branded phones down the road, so we'll post a separate review of it as soon as we manage to access the OS itself.

Conclusion

It's obvious that one of Motorola's highest priorities these days are operator-related activities, both in their native market, the US, and other regions too. But if we get outside the framework of the DEXT being an operator-branded phone, is it really a likable phone? I think the answer is yes. Below is a bullet point list of the good things about it.

  • Reasonable price - most Android-based phones from other top-notch manufacturers are overpriced, so very people venture to try out this new OS.
  • A likable design with a strong youthful appeal
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Decent display
  • MOTOBLUR - we haven't seen it yet, but sounds promising, plus any modification of Android's default functionality is definitely a plus
  • Pretty comfortable QWERTY keyboard
  • 5 MP camera with autofocus
  • A complete set of connectivity options

But naturally, the most crucial point is its price - you could find a lot of shortcomings in the DEXT, but all of them will be negated by its magic "150 Euro" price tag. All things considered, it looks like this phone will be great value for its money.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 11 September 2009

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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