The interface itself is… okay. Ultimately it’s Android so does all the requisite basics as well as you’d expect. Calling, contacts management, texting, email and web browsing are all easy enough to do, so long as you have a little patience.
Unlike some previous Motorola handsets, the company hasn’t tweaked things too much, though it has had a bit of a rummage. Possibly the first features you’ll notice are a couple of widgets. Both of a similar visual style, they highlight your most oft used apps and contacts, arranging them in a smallest to biggest spiral of icons. They’re a neat application of the idea of widgets; giving you instant access to something that would otherwise require taking a few steps within an app. That said, we didn’t find ourselves using them.
Another tweak is the lock screen. As with a number of other Androids, you can drag the key to unlock straight to the homescreen or pull an icon onto the key to open the phone to that app. It’s a useful addition though we couldn’t work out how to customise it, and found the default selection not quite to our liking – no camera?!
Something definitely not to our liking is the zoomed out homescreen view. Like the HTC range, if you tap the home button when already on the homescreen, you’re zoomed out to a grid of thumbnails showing all the seven homescreens. We’ve never found it useful and it’s particularly irritating here as the sluggishness of the phone means you often aren’t sure if you’ve pressed the home button or not, so end up pressing twice then shooting to this view rather than the main homescreen.
Elsewhere there are minor tweaks to the keyboard and contacts but there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. The phone will automatically link up your contacts in Gmail/email, Facebook and Twitter but it won’t pull in information from these services into the contact page like on some phones – it just provides links to the apps. Speaking of Twitter, we had constant problems with it crashing once we’d input our details. We couldn’t get to the bottom of it in our time with the phone.
Given this phone’s performance, it’s no surprise it isn’t a total multimedia powerhouse. In particular video playback is very limited with HD files not playing ball. Browsing your photos and listening to music is a cinch, though. We would’ve liked to see easier access to music controls – say from the lockscreen – but we got by. It’s also easy to get your files on the phone, with you not needing to install any software before being able to just drag and drop your files on.
The MHL capable microUSB socket means you can hook the phone up to a TV’s HDMI input with the help of a compatible cable and either browse your phone or watch video on the big screen, though again the mediocre video performance will limit the occasions where this is worthwhile.
If you prefer the wireless route, the MediaSer and MediaSee apps come in useful. The former lets you share your phone’s media with any DLNA compatible devices – i.e. a TV – while the latter will lets you play content from a DLNA server on your phone.