Motorola has proved that it still has an eye for stunning design with this handset.
The hardware of the phone is all very easy to get to grips with and, as features are limited, usability is definitely not too taxing.
The Aura follows the luxury phone rule of being big on design but light on features.
With EDGE download speeds at the helm for web browsing, this phone is only really adequate for quick internet snacking.
Battery life is excellent, mainly due to there being no features to run it down.
A lovely looking handset, it is just a shame that the feature set is pretty limited.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:54:37 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
High-grade build and construction, slick swivel and razor sharp display
Lack of 3G, pitiful camera, limited memory and overpriced.
It has been five years since the RAZR rewrote the mobile style rule book but even after all this time, Motorola is still struggling to emulate those past design glories. However, its first foray into the top-end premium phone market sees a return to form of sorts.
Unlike the RAZR, the Aura’s look isn’t completely native, closely recalling Moto’s 2002 swivel blade handset, the V70. While it can’t claim to be truly original, it’s certainly the most lavish phone Moto has fashioned to date.
Just from handling its weighty stainless steel body, you can tell a lot of effort has gone into its construction. At a solid 141g, the Aura will have a presence in your pocket, but its compact dimensions mean it is not too bulky. According to Moto, it takes 13 days to produce this phone from scratch, which includes electro polishing, fitting the nickel-chrome plated screws, applying laser welds and chemically etching the front grooved pattern. This painstaking level of detail is certainly noticeable.
The Aura’s circular LCD display is richer in definition than most we’ve seen, and its pin sharp 300dpi is almost photographic quality. The screen is protected by a 62-carat sapphire crystal lens, which is supposed to be one of the most scratch resistant materials known to man. But with a diameter of just 1.55 inches, it does feel a tad cramped and its round shape isn’t really geared for prolonged web browsing or for being used as the camera viewfinder. When you line up a shot, you’ll find part of the view out of picture, so some guesswork is needed to perfectly frame the snap.
The 180 degree swivel mechanism is definitely the phone’s pièce de résistance. It is made up of 200 components including a Swiss-made central bearing and tungsten carbon carbide coated steel gears, which make for an incredibly fluid and snappy spring-assisted action that ranks as one of the best we’ve used.
Considering Moto’s previous reputation for tricksy interfaces, we had concerns regarding the circular menu system. Thankfully, the rotating main user interface (UI) was intuitive to use. Similarly, the nicely spaced, anodised aluminium keypad is easy to thumb but the reliance on a four-way joypad and separate OK selection key, rather than a five-way set up, could prove initially tricky. Spend some time using it though and it soon becomes second nature.
The Aura follows the luxury phone rule of being big on design but light on features: indeed, its line-up is pretty low end. The fixed focus two-megapixel camera is as exciting as it gets and is only really good for MMS or, at a push, uploading to a blog or Facebook.
3G is also off the menu with EDGE download speeds for web browsing, adequate only for quick internet snacking. The same also goes for its memory quota. Its 2GB internal dosage is great for starters but with no card slot, the Aura is limited as a prime multimedia and music device. And because you won’t be abusing its vapid features too much, battery life is impressive with over 16 days standby time quoted.
The work that has gone into designing and making the Aura is very impressive, and our hats go off to Motorola. But it still doesn’t warrant such an expensive price tag, especially when its feature set resembles that of a low to mid-range phone.