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Motorola Milestone review

Niall Magennis



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Motorola Milestone


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The Milestone has been hyped up as the best Android phone since the HTC Hero. Seeing as the Hero has been around since July last year - a lifetime for a smartphone - it’s about time that someone came up with a serious challenger. The good news is that despite some drawbacks, the Milestone really does live up to the hype and betters the Hero in a number of areas.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. When it comes to design, Motorola recently seems to have wandered off in the wrong direction. This was very much evident in the bulky and ugly Dext, and unfortunately with the Milestone its design team still seems to be lost in the wilderness. To put it mildly this is a strange looking phone. Like the Dext the handset has a slide out QWERTY keyboard, but unlike that model the screen here doesn’t fully cover the bottom half of the phone when it’s closed. Instead it leaves a lip jutting out at the bottom. This lip feels quite odd when you’re using the keyboard, is a magnet for dust and, well, just looks plain wrong. Even without this odd lip, the phone wouldn’t exactly be a looker as the overall design has a very boxy and industrial feel to it. However, at least the sturdy build quality and smooth sliding mechanism for the keyboard do give you the impression that the phone will stand up to a fair number of knocks and scrapes over its lifetime.

The keyboard is also far from the best we’ve seen on a phone. There’s no space between individual keys and, as they are also completely flat and have very little travel, it’s quite difficult to get up a decent typing speed. To the right of the keyboard there’s a rather large four way D-pad controller. Presumably this has been added to make text editing that bit easier, but we found we didn’t use it all that much and couldn’t help feeling it would have been better if Motorola had dropped it completely and just increased the size and space between the keys.

Thankfully, things improve dramatically when you get to the screen, as it’s one of the best displays we’ve ever used on any mobile. It really is that good. At 3.7inches it’s very large, but unlike the display on HTC HD2 it doesn’t make for an overly chunky phone. It’s bright too and colours look beautifully vivid, with the result that pictures and videos practically leap off the screen. And the pin sharp 854 x 480 resolution means that even when you’re zoomed out on a webpage, the tiny text is still crisp enough to read in landscape mode.

Furthermore, because the screen uses capacitance technology Motorola has been able to support the multi-touch pinch to zoom gesture. When the handset first arrived pinch to zoom only worked in the web browser, but during our review period Google released a new version of Google Maps which added pinch to zoom support too and the Media Gallery was also updated to support it. The zooming isn’t quite as smooth as on the iPhone, but it still works well and is especially useful in the browser where it makes it easier to navigate pages and position columns of texts on the screen for better readability.

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February 19, 2010, 5:49 am

Bit of a late review no? Wouldn't you have been better off doing one for the Nexus?


February 19, 2010, 6:34 am

That is the weirdest 9/10 ever....if you look at the tone in the review and the individual scores it hints at maybe at a 7 - 8.

Other then that, a very good review, like always:D


February 19, 2010, 7:12 am

Having tried out a motorola droid and my current phone is the htc hero, I don't think if I were offered the milestone, I would trade in. I prefer trackballs than D-pads and I don't even use the trackball that much. Aesthetically I would agree with Niall that it could be a factor which can seriously put off potential buyers. Going to wait for the HTC desire to come out before putting down my hero.


February 19, 2010, 7:23 am

The Hero is getting updated to Android 2.1 very soon. What does that do to the comparison with the Milestone?


February 19, 2010, 1:58 pm

I agree the reviews a bit late but better late than ever. I ordered one of these just before christmas then panicked and cancelled haha. Got a Nexus one instead and its so damn good, bit buggy though


February 19, 2010, 2:12 pm

I'd be interested in a comparison with the iphone, the nexus and the n900.....


February 19, 2010, 6:28 pm

Good review! @ Kaurisol i think its about time the I phone comparison debate is over. Its not hard to see that this phone is better in quite a few areas....


February 19, 2010, 7:36 pm


I disagree - I only included the iphone for the sake of completeness. I have an N900 and am interested to see a comparison between Maemo/Meego and Android. I quite agree that the Milestone is better than the iphone in some areas - as is the N900.


February 19, 2010, 7:56 pm

All I know is that the market is getting hotting, Apple and Google have shaken things up, smart phones are more ubiquitous than they ever were and competition is improving the various OS's in leaps and bounds. It's good to be a consumer!


February 19, 2010, 8:36 pm

To me the milestone still suffers from the probmlem that affects all modern touchscreen smartphones, physically (especially as the screen size increases) the phones are too big to put in your pocket IMO, something that i dont think can be fixed until the foldable LCD screens come onto the market, where have they all gone?

Just think, a standard candybar phone with a keypad for easy and fast texting, that you could open out to show a touchscreen for web browsing, thats what id like please!


February 21, 2010, 4:39 am

I think Motorola will need to come up with something new and fresh, especially considering HTC's newest offerings (Desire & Legend) Which may also give Apple a run for it's money.


February 22, 2010, 1:53 am

I don't know how big your pockets are, but my Motorola Milestone fits in mine, in a case too. :) I am really happy with it as it does everything I want. The screen is big enough to read, the slide out keyboard is easy to type on (once you get used to it) and the way it coordinates with Google has made my workload a lot easier to manage.


February 22, 2010, 6:51 am

I think the look of the Milestone is a bit Marmite. I like it, though I'm not a fan of the gold accents. I definitely think it looks better than the stuff HTC has been designing lately.

I didn't buy one though. As said in the review the keyboard isn't great and since launch I've heard mixed reports about the battery too. Add in the images of the Motorola Shadow (possibly the Google Nexus 2) and I'm hanging on in the hope Motorola perfect the handset the second time round.


February 23, 2010, 12:07 am

The Droid has long since looked like the first true iPhone killer. So the phone's great. It's not the product I have a problem with. It's the 'organisations' Motorola decides to do business with that concerns me.


February 23, 2010, 2:19 pm

I have a Milestone for sometime and it is a very good phone. The two main issues are looks and battery life.

Adam Foreman

February 27, 2010, 2:34 pm

Is it me or have most people here lost the point of the Milestone completely? You can't compare a QWERTY keyboard based phone with that of a touchscreen only version. The point of the Milestone is that is provides the customer with choice and more importantly the ability to type on a physical keyboard than use a touchscreen of that of iPhone, HERO to name just two.

I have used a number of touchscreen phones and it does need a lot to get used to the phone each time. At first it causes frustration due to the number of mistakes you make. This phone gives the customer choice but still provide a full QWERTY keyboard should they so choose and lets face it, they will buy this phone for that very reason.

@Stelph: A candy bar smartphone with a touchscreen? Have you tried the Palm Pre?


August 13, 2011, 3:04 am

guys hey im new on your site but i like your work and so i have a question : im am looking for a phone very good for games,music and movies i dont mind the design and so is the motorola milestone good for me and if not pls tell me a good phone for me pls (pls cheep:):) ty allot and i hope u can help me ty :)

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