Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
1/11/2012 1:05:33 PM
Simple, effective design; Strong camera; Good value; Strong battery life
Not the latest Android software, the slow processor is occasionally evident, screen could be brighter
Now that Motorola is focused fully on Android (after Google's purchase of the company last year), we're looking forward to seeing a blend of impeccable design and smart software in 2012. Motorla's latest effort is the Motoluxe, a four-inch beauty boasting a slimline build and some great-value specs, which makes us optimistic for the company's MWC launches.
Pick the Motoluxe up and it feels solid and comfortable to hold, though it's not as thin as Moto's flagship phone, the new RAZR, with its "impossibly thin" tagline. But there's nothing cheap about the Motoluxe. Apart from the price.
That's not to say this is just another Android smartphone indistinguishable from the competition. The first thing you notice as you look at the matte black handset is the open slit at the base. It's there so you can thread a lanyard through it, though this isn't everyone's choice for how to wear their handset. But even if you don't want to sling your phone round your neck, the lanyard slot has another purpose, which is pretty cool.Hidden inside is an LED. When you receive an email or text message, the LED glows green, pulsing on and off gently but unmissably. This is great if you want the phone to notify you quickly and quietly.
The Motoluxe is not heavy on interface modification, though there are two special apps on this Android 2.3.7 (Gingerbread) phone: Activity Graph and Social Graph. Actually, they're more like circles than graphs but they show, respectively, the apps you use the most and the people you contact most often.This is especially useful for apps – instead of painstakingly populating home screens with favoured icon shortcuts, this widget does it for you. The app you use all the time appears in the middle of the group with other favourites around. It's such a simple idea it's amazing nobody's thought of it before.
The Social Graph works in the same way to aggregate the people you call and message the most. With both graphs you can opt for manual construction of the groups if, say, it's undiplomatic for your best mate to land in the centre and your other half to be somewhere on the edge.
Although there are some elements on this phone that are definitely mid-range – the processor's a relatively slow model at 800MHz, for instance – others are not. So you might be surprised to find a camera with an eight-megapixel sensor instead of the increasingly standard five-megapixel option. It's a good camera with a decent range of options and manual overrides. Plus crucially, great image quality.Like most camera phones it lacks the optical zoom, speedy shutter and ergonomics of a dedicated snapper but adds those phone-centric joys of connectivity, which make it easy to share and save images.
The display is good and makes the images you shoot look inviting thanks to its high resolution, though it lacks the eye-watering brightness of AMOLED screens. There are other touches which show Motorola has been hard at work improving on Android.Our favourite is the lock screen. There's another ring of icons here, almost like the Activity Graph. You can choose which six shortcuts go here and you simply drag the camera or messaging icon to the centre of the ring and the phone launches and takes you there. Mind you, if you just want to wake the phone, you touch the key in the centre and the surrounding ring spins like a roulette wheel. It looks cool.
Smartphones, you know this, need daily charging. But some phones deplete overnight so much you have to do more. The Motoluxe will glide you happily through a full day, maybe even a second. And call quality and signal strength were consistent and strong.
A fun-to-use smartphone with a great camera and strong, slimline build, the Motorola Motoluxe offers good value and an intuitive feel.