T-Mobile’s Motorola CLIQ XT with MOTOBLUR is the people’s feature phone. Powered by Android and teeming with social networking and multimedia features, it’s a solid device for first-time smartphone users upgrading from feature phones. Hardcore users may find it underpowered, and it’s not geared towards the corporate bunch, but it’s certainly worth a recommendation.
Motorola CLIQ XT could merely be mistaken as Motorola CLIQ without a keyboard. But really, that’s not the case, and there are a lot of functional changes that make it an attractive and feature-rich Android smartphone. It measures 116.8mm x 60mm x 12.4mm (4.59in x 2.36in x 0.48in) and weighs 120g (4.23oz), which is slightly longer and broader than the original CLIQ but also 3.6mm thinner and 47 (1.67oz) lighter.
The matte black CLIQ XT feels light and comfortable in hand, and its rounded chrome colored edges remind me a lot of the Samsung Instinct HD. It’s one of the smallest Android devices I recall holding, which makes it look and feel a bit like a feature phone, despite its smartphone hardware and capabilities.
The front of the CLIQ XT has a 3.1 inch 480 x 320-pixel HVGA capacitive touchscreen(INFO) display. I had no trouble viewing the screen under direct sunlight with the brightness cranked to full, although you’ll sacrifice battery life by doing that. The text was sharp, and images were colorful, although I think an AMOLED(INFO) screen would have been an excellent addition. Just like on the Motorola DEVOUR, I can’t help but think that the display looks just a bit too small given the size of the face. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but I think Motorola could have squeezed another quarter-inch of screen real estate onto the phone. An optical trackpad below the display serves as your primary means of navigating through the device’s menu structure, should you choose not to use a finger on the touchscreen. It works similarly to the optical trackpad on the DEVOUR and BlackBerry devices, but it’s much larger and textured. It works well enough for selecting small links on websites, but I prefer 5-way navigational pads that allow for better gaming and a more tactile experience overall. The optical pad can be depressed to make menu selections, but the feedback is a little too faint for my tastes. Around the optical pad, there are four standard Android icons: menu, home, search, and back. Like the visual pad, these offered little feedback; I prefer more key travel.
In line with the faux chrome decor, the volume keys on the left side of the phone are chrome colored, and they sit in an easy-to-reach spot about an inch and a half above a micro-USB charging port. There’s a conveniently placed 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the phone, which saved me from a jumbled headphone cable more than once, a chrome power/lock button on the right side of the phone, and a camera quick-launch key. All of these keys worked well and were easy to tap without looking.
The back of the phone is home to a 5-megapixel autofocus camera and an LED flash, which the original CLIQ lacked. The black back cover of the phone can be swapped out for an included purple cover. In theory, that is. That’s because it takes the patience of a monk and the brute strength of a warrior to remove the back cover. There’s a small button that you have to depress to lift the lid, but it barely works. After 10 minutes of scratching the switch up with my fingernail, a paperclip, a pen, and then finally a fork, I was able to remove the cover. And unfortunately, you need to remove the cover to access your microSD card, too.
I’m a hardware keyboard kind of guy, but the CLIQ XT’s Swype virtual keyboard and enhanced Android keyboard are excellent and extremely easy to use, even for hardware QWERTY fans like me. Swype lets you slide your finger from one letter to another to spell a word, and it’s incredibly accurate. Like magic, when you lift your finger, the word you traced on the keyboard appears in your text box. For websites, I preferred to tap-type, and you can do that either on the Swype keyboard, or the sizeable standard touchscreen QWERTY. The keys are more significant than on the CLIQ’s touchscreen QWERTY, too, so it’s much easier to type quickly and accurately. It’s not very intuitive, but you can switch between the two keyboards with a tap and hold for a few seconds of a finger in a text input box.