As with most of the latest higher-end mobiles, the handset has assisted GPS onboard. There’s no actual navigation software included (although with Google having announced that Google Maps Navigation will be coming to Android V2.0 devices, there’s always the possibility the phone could get this as an upgrade), so for now you’re limited to using plain old Google Maps. The phone also has a digital compass and this can be used in Google Street View to pan the street scene in real time as you move your phone around. Admittedly this feature isn’t really all that useful, but it looks very cool indeed!
The Dext hardware is based on a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A processor, which is similar to that used in many of HTC’s recent devices. The processor is helped along by 256MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM. There’s also a microSD card slot for adding more storage space for music tracks, movies and other files if you need. For most tasks the phone’s performance is more than adequate, but there is some noticeable slow down when you’ve got lots of widgets open on the home screen. It’s certainly not up to the lightning quick pace of the iPhone 3GS or the HTC HD2, that’s for sure.
As a result of the Motoblur interface additions there’s always plenty of data-pushing and shoving going on with the Dext and this obviously has an effect on battery life. Unfortunately, it’s a rather negative one as in our experience you’ll only get around a day’s worth of use from it before it needs a re-charge (in our in-house test, consisting of two hours mp3 playback with the screen off, two hours video watching with the screen on full, and one hour of web browsing, only 14 per cent of the battery was left – Ed.). However, if you’re not interested in social networking then turn off the Motoblur additions for easily double the battery life.
On the plus side call quality was very impressive. Whereas the iPhone demands you position its earpiece right bang in the centre of your ear so you can actually hear callers, the Dext earpiece is so loud that on full volume it almost sounds like a speaker phone. Equally the microphone isn’t as directional as some and is nice and sensitive, so even whispered conversations are not beyond its grasp.
The Dext has a great deal going for it. The capacitance touchscreen is reasonably good, the slide-out keyboard is excellent and the Motoblur social networking apps are a treat to use. However, the lack of multi-touch, ugly design and sometimes sluggish performance means it doesn’t endear itself to you in the same way as, say, the HTC Hero. It’s still a fine handset, but it’s far from being our favourite Android handset. Perhaps Motorola can go one better with the upcoming Droid, or Milestone as it seems set to be called in Europe.
Score in detail