Motorola Pro (Alternative)
Review compliments of Shaun McGill.
The HTC Cha Cha is probably the best front mounted keyboarded Android phone on the market today, but it suffers from a landscape screen that does not take full advantage of the operating system. The keyboard is great and so is the build quality, but you just can't quite fit everything in to the screen and software compatibility is also an issue.
This phone, however, has a portrait screen that offers full compatibility with almost every third party application. At 640 x 480 pixels, the screen offers a decent resolution to enjoy media and the more complex apps. It is a VGA screen, however, so this does hamper things in bright conditions, but it is better than I expected for such a screen. The 1 GHz processor is fairly high standard and Gingerbread is on board alongside 512 MB RAM. HSDPA is supported alongside Bluetooth 2.1 and of course Wi-Fi. The Camera comes in at five megapixels and also has autofocus and an LED flash. These specifications falls somewhere between the high -end and standard mid-range handsets, but the price of £322.80 including VAT falls nearer the mid-range. This effectively leaves you with a smartphone that is capable of doing almost everything you need in the manner you would come to expect.
In my experience the Pro Plus, despite sounding like some kind of medicine, performs extremely well no matter how many apps you are running at once. It flies along even under the most intense of pressure and to date I have noticed no slow downs at all. It offers a sense of reliability and that it is just there to do things if that makes sense. It doesn't stun you with its performance, but it reassures you over time.
By far the most impressive feature of this phone is the keyboard which is identical to many found on Blackberry devices. I understand that Motorola builds the keyboards for Blackberry phones, correct me if I am wrong, and this shows on this phone. Somehow the large screen and keyboard have been merged together in a handset that still feels small in the hand. This may not sound overly impressive to you, but it is the very first Android phone that offers a design that is both practical and extremely quick to use. It is also potentially the first Android handset that Blackberry users could move to without a second thought. It is effectively a Blackberry phone with Android inside. That is quite a breakthrough for an operating system that up to now has struggled to offer the practical data entry solution that competes with Blackberry.
The only downside I can see with the keyboard are the virtual buttons just above it. They really are virtual and require just a tap rather than a push. This feels slightly at odds with the natural feel of the keyboard and does take some getting used to. Strangely, the touchscreen seems to work alongside the physical keyboard whereas it doesn't feel so natural on the Blackberry Bold for example. It all just works seamlessly and despite not offering the best performance available, it is a pleasing handset to use every day. After a few days use the Pro Plus easily feels like the best mix of business and pleasure in an Android handset I have used so far. The battery performance is also excellent and managed to keep going through almost two days of heavy(ish) use.
I haven't had the phone for long enough to do a detailed review, but after three days I can safely say that this is the most surprisingly smart phone I have used this year. It is a breakthrough device and one that proves that Android can be used in the business world. This isn’t a full review, but more an overview of how it felt to use over a period of days. The price is good, the specifications are high, but most of all it is an absolute pleasure to use. Balance is key when a smartphone is built and too many try to pack in specifications when they simply are not needed. The sensitive use of mid-range specifications enclosed in a unique design makes this the perfect ssmartphone for anyone who needs to communicate throughout the day. It really does feel like a Blackberry, but a Blackberry with an operating system inside you actually want to use. I love this phone.