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Old 11-17-2004, 06:00 PM
Kris Kumar
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Posts: 5,074
Default Clam Shell Beauty: Motorola MPx220 Smartphone Reviewed

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Product Category: GSM based Mobile Phone.
Manufacturer: Motorola (MPx220 HomePage)
Where to Buy: Best Buy, Cingular and AT&T Wireless stores
Price: $350.00 USD with Cingular contract ($500.00 USD without contract)
Availability: Best Buy stores now; Cingular and AT&T Wireless stores in November 2004
Specifications: TI OMAP 1611 200Mhz Dual Core, Windows Mobile for Smartphone 2003 Second Edition, 65K Color TFT Screen, 64MB ROM / 32MB RAM, miniSD, GSM Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), 1.23 Megapixel Camera, Bluetooth

  • Quad-band;
  • Style And Clam Shell Form-Factor;
  • Easily Accessible miniSD Slot.
  • Voice Quality;
  • Camera;
  • Battery.
The Motorola MPx220 is the second generation Smartphone from Motorola. Its predecessor, the Motorola MPx200, was a trendsetter. The MPx220 continues in its footsteps with bells and whistles like Texas Instruments OMAP 200Mhz Dual Core processor, 1.23 Mega pixel camera and superb clam shell styling. Expectations are high because of the specifications. So is it worth all the hype? And are the problems being reported true?

Read on for the full review!

Unveiling A Work Of Art
When I received the FedEx package, the size of the package made me wonder if it could contain the much hyped Motorola MPx220. The Smartphone ships in a small box that bears the Cingular logo. In spite of that and several other pointers, there have been quite a few rumors that this is not a Cingular supported phone. I would not want to argue that over here, let’s open the box.

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Figure 1: The box clearly says it’s a Cingular phone. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

I would like to give the Motorola’s packaging team points for creativity. Motorola has emphasized the phone’s beauty by placing it in the middle of the box. The rest of the package contents are hidden from the sight. So when you open the box you get a very dramatic effect.

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Figure 2: Work of art unveiled! The packing presented it as a work of art or collector's item. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

The phone ships with the minimal accessories. Motorola has adopted the trend taken by other Smartphone vendors, of not including the cradle, which I am sure many of you won't like. The thing that annoyed me was that it didn't come with a corded headset. I guess Motorola is expecting everyone to use Bluetooth headset. I was able to use my MPx200 headset. The kit did not contain a starter miniSD card. I would highly recommend buying at least a 256MB miniSD along with the Smartphone.

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Figure 3: The box contains a CD (ActiveSync, Outlook 2002), User Guide, Cingular Startup guide, Battery, USB sync+charge cable, charger. And of course the phone and the battery cover. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

Motorola has ensured that this stylish phone is delivered safely. The phone ships with a number of clear plastic cling-films to protect the phone from scratches during shipping. It’s a standard practice to cover the LCD displays but on the MPx220 it can be found over the camera lens, the earpiece, the Motorola logo on the back of the logo and few other places.

Once I was done removing the cling films, I proceeded to install the SIM card and battery. The SIM card holder has no clips or locks, simply slide the card in and install the battery. The SIM is held in place by the battery. The MPx220 being sold in Best Buy stores is SIM/carrier unlocked. I was able to use my T-Mobile SIM on this phone.

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Figure 4: The SIM card holder. miniSD card in its slot. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 5: The battery will keep the SIM card in place. Click on the image for a higher resolution image

I am very impressed with the build quality of the phone and quality of the materials used, except for the battery cover. It is made of thin plastic. And I believe I received my battery cover lid with two of the six tabs bent. As a result the first time I tried to install the cover, the tabs broke off. And now my battery cover is a little loose.

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Figure 6: The cover with broken tabs.

Since the miniSD storage option is currently limited to a maximum of 512 MB, music lovers and folks who want to watch video would like the externally accessible miniSD slot. And the rubberized plastic cover offers nice protection. It is not easy to open the cover, and once you get it open, removing the card is a little bit of a struggle. And opening the plastic cover on the headset jack is even tougher. I am not sure if Wi-Fi cards can be made for miniSD slots or not. But if it is technically possible, then the MPx220 may be able to take advantage of it thanks to the external slot.

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Figure 7: Externally accessible miniSD slot. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

Photo Shoot
Motorola has done a superb job when it comes to styling; it is a guaranteed head turner. The build quality is top notch. The hinge works well, after all Motorola started the clam shell craze. I like the spring action in the hinge. My friends who have tried out my Smartphone have commented on the solid feel of the phone, the quality of the hinge and its style.

The clam shell form-factor does make it bigger than some of the newer Smartphones. But I found that the bigger size helps me to hold it more comfortably.

Let’s check out the phone from various angles.

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Figure 8: MPx220 from the front. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

The silver panel on the front makes it difficult for taking pictures. I had to constantly adjust the lighting in the room to cut off glare. You have to see this phone live to really appreciate its beauty. External LCD, the camera and the flash are on the front. The speakerphone grill is a carry over from the MPx200 style book. Check out the detail lines and curves on this Smartphone.

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Figure 9: Another picture showing the front. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

The MPx220 sports a color external screen. Its main purpose is to display the clock and basic phone status indicators when the phone is closed. The Bluetooth indictator is missing. Motorola engineers have gone beyond the basic usage and have baked in the PhotoId feature into the external screen and it also acts as the viewfinder when taking self-portraits with the camera.

Unlike the main display, the external screen cannot be customized much and shows text in white always. Another thing that bugs me is that the external screen has a time out and turns itself off to conserve battery. And I am used to having the external screen on my clam shell phones always on, displaying time and status indicators. With the MPx220, anytime I have to check for mail or missed call indicators, I have to tap the volume button to wake up the external screen. Since the screen goes blank at timeout, there is no easy way to tell if the phone is on or off or if the battery got drained. I must add that I am not too impressed with the quality of the color screen, especially in bright light.

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Figure 10: External Screen. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

In the following photo, you will notice that the battery lid is smaller and it blends into the side of phone at an angle. This rounds the back of the phone and enables a good grip. The phone feels lighter and sleeker in my palm because of this contour.

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Figure 11: MPx220 from the back. Battery lid on my unit is a little loose. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 12: MPx220 right side. Has Infrared port, camera capture button and miniSD slot. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 13: MPx220 left side. Headset jack, Volume and Power buttons. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

MPx220 is a quad-band GSM phone which makes it a true world phone, compatible with GSM 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 bands. In America the 850 and 1900 bands are used. If you are a travel for work or pleasure, you should definitely check out this phone.

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Figure 14: MPx220 top. Proudly displaying the quad-band badge. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

Motorola has decided to use its proprietary connectors for USB and charging. I personally did not like this move. The microphone is located to the right of the connectors.

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Figure 15: The connectors at the bottom. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

But it makes sense from Motorola’s point of view to standardize the accessories across all its products. Also current Motorola phone users will also benefit from the move. When I bought my Motorola Bluetooth headset, I found that the charger for the headset works with the MPx220 and vice-versa. So now I have a charger for work and home.

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Figure 16: The power connector. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

MPx220 does not use the mini-USB connector for the sync cable. I am not particularly pleased with the snap action of the proprietary connector. A couple of times it has come loose because I haven’t properly snapped it in, and the connector is a little stiff. I was able to the use the USB sync+charge cable in my car to charge the phone using a USB car adapter.

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Figure 17: The USB data sync + charge connector. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

One of the benefits of clam shell design is that it offers more surface area and Motorola design team has used it well for the keypad but for some weird reason chose to use a smaller 2 inch screen, even though there is room to fit a 2.2 inch screen.

Keypad/Joypad has big buttons and are nicely spaced. The contours and indentations on the buttons made it easy for me to figure out the buttons without looking at the keypad. Also check out the Cingular logo at the base of the keypad.

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Figure 18: Inside the keypad and joypad are well laid out. Check out the contours on the buttons. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

MPx220 has an optical sensor to detect whether the phone is being used in the dark or well lit environment. This helps the phone to conserve battery during daytime, when the backlighting is not needed. I noticed a minor imperfection, the keypad lighting fades at the rightmost edge of the keypad. Regardless the backlighting is more than adequate.

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Figure 19: Keypad backlighting. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

MPx220 vs MPx200
The MPx220 with all its hardware-software bells and whistles is miles ahead of the MPx200. The MPx220 is an improvement in every aspect, except the main display. The main display on the MPx220 is much brighter and sharper. It is viewable under bright light and even when the backlight times out, the screen has enough brightness to make viewing possible. On my MPx200, when the backlight times out, the screen becomes so dark that nothing can be read. That problem has been fixed in the MPx220. But it has one major shortcoming, the screen size. The MPx220 has a 2 inch screen whereas the MPx200 had a 2.2" screen. I don’t know why Motorola chose a 2 inch screen when it clearly had the room to accommodate a 2.2 inch screen. Squeezing the 176x220 resolution onto a 2 inch screen means that the fonts appear smaller. Certain Websites using smaller fonts become difficult to read. And Smartphone Thoughts is one such site.

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Figure 20: Screens compared. MPx220 on the left. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

Even though the MPx220 (48.0 x 99.9 x 24.3) is bigger than its predecessor the MPx200, the styling and the reduced thickness gives it a much slimmer appearance. Another more noticeable improvement is the keypad/joypad. The MPx200 had small odd –shaped buttons and were flat.

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Figure 21: Keypads compared. MPx220 on the left. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

Check out some of the comparison pictures with the MPx200.

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Figure 22: Front. MPx220 on the Right. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 23: Back. MPx220 on the Right. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 24: Right Side. MPx220 on top. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 25: Left Side. MPx220 on top. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

The two models sport different connectors for USB and charging.

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Figure 26: Bottom. MPx220 on the left. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 27: Top. MPx220 on top. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

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Figure 28: Side by Side. The sleeker MPx220 on the left. You can clearly see that the MPx220 is thinner than the MPx200. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

Time To Power Up
Now it’s time to charge the phone and power it up for the first time. As mentioned earlier, Motorola is using its proprietary charging connector on the MPx220.

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Figure 29: MPx220 getting its first charge. Shows a fancy animation during the charging process. Click on the image for a higher resolution image.

I did not do extensive battery life testing. But the battery performed well. Actually, it did better than I expected. I got over 26 hours of battery life on a single charge. In the 26 hours, I had voice conversation of over 90 minutes using Bluetooth headset, was wirelessly syncing three mailboxes every half hour, and had Bluetooth on throughout, except for when I was taking photos. I took 20 photos (no flash) and five short video clips. Plus checking mails and replying to a few, running some applications. I made sure that the phone had a busy life during those 26 hours. I believe the TI OMAP 1611 processor also helps in conserving the battery intelligently.

Overnight charging may be a good idea if you are a power user. Others can easily enjoy 2 or more days of phone use. Motorola has rated the battery life as 300-440 minutes of talk time and 140-260 hours standby. Compare this to my older MPx200, which needed a daily charge under normal usage.

Even though I am pleased with the performance compared to the MPx200, it is no where near the other non-Microsoft smart phones. It would be great if Motorola released an extended battery as one of the accessory options.

Interestingly Motorola has implemented an overcharge protection mechanism. When the battery is fully charged, you get a fancy message box telling you that the battery is fully charged and the icon in the top bar changes from the charging to the regular battery icon with 4 vertical bars.

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Figure 30: Screen shot of the dialog box that tells you that the battery is fully charged.

One of the best features of the Windows Mobile based Smartphones is the home screen. It’s the opening screen where you can view the clock, new mail indicator, missed call information, upcoming appointments and launch applications. This screen is usually customized and branded by each Smartphone vendor and carrier. Surprisingly Cingular decided to stick with the default Windows Mobile Home Screen. They did not even change the wallpaper to the Cingular Splat-man. The only addition is the icon for Cingular Xpress Mail that enables the wireless E-Mail and calendar sync. More on that later.

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Figure 31: Home screen.

Windows Mobile based Smartphones are highly customizable. The Home screen, ring tones and color schemes for menus can all be changed. I could not wait and immediately customized the Home screen to include the RJ Shortcuts for launching my favorite applications. And changed the date display format and removed the XpressMail link. On the topic of customization, I must add that MPx220 supports MP3 ring tones.

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Figure 32: Home screen after I carried out my customizations.

The About screen intrigued me with the zero based firmware version number. Traditionally zero based version numbers are used only for development or test versions. Released products have 1.0 or above version number.

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Figure 33: About screen shot. I combined three screen captures into one.

The CD that comes with the MPx220 contains ActiveSync, Outlook 2002 and the USB modem driver for Windows desktops. The phone did not come with starter miniSD card with trial applications.

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Figure 34: CD launcher screen shot.

Smartphones are versatile devices; plenty of applications are available for solving various problems. With the 64MB of ROM, the phone comes pre-loaded with some of the most useful applications. But there is plenty of room for more. It is beyond the scope of this review to talk in detail about this aspect. Also this capability of being able to install your applications is consistent across all Windows Mobile Smartphones. I would like to mention that I successfully installed and tested a number of applications. The MPx220 handles these applications really well thanks to the fast dual core processor. I have very rarely seen a slowdown. The only occasional slowdown I have seen is while starting the mail program. It takes a second or two to show my mail boxes. Which I believe is because I have more than one mail boxes with tons of emails.

The following screen shots show the Start menu links for applications that come pre-loaded on the Smartphone.

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Figure 35: Applications preloaded on the Smartphone.

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Figure 36: Applications preloaded on the Smartphone.

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Figure 37: Game applications preloaded on the Smartphone. The screen shot on the right shows the Java games.

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Figure 38: Accessories preloaded on the Smartphone.

The phone lets you install unsigned software, but it shows a standard security warning screen. This works for most software applications but the ones like backup programs and certain mail applications, that need privileged mode to execute need to be certified. This makes sense as it protects the phone from possible viruses and trojans with malicious intent.

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Figure 39: Security warning when installing unsigned application.

I verified privileged mode lock using Adrian Software CheckLock.exe. The only application to date that I could not run because of this privileged mode lock is HTTPMail Provider.

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Figure 40: CheckLock reporting that the phone's privileged mode is locked.

Let's Cut The Cords
The MPx220 is a quad-band GSM phone and unlike the MPx200, it has a good RF module. I have not experienced a single dropped call in my three weeks of use. I have not seen the "No Service" message on this phone. My previous phone, the MPx200, would keep showing that message on a regular basis at work and sometimes at home.

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Figure 41: MPx220 and MPx200 signal strength meters compared. MPx220 on the left has one extra bar compared to the MPx200.

Improved signal strength has not translated to good call quality. The ear piece and speakerphone volume is slightly lower than normal. It is definitely lower than my MPx200. And I have been told a number of times by the person on the other end that they cannot hear me and that my voice is breaking up. Using a Bluetooth or regular headset solves this problem. This issue seriously impacts the Smartphone’s use as a phone!

As a first time Bluetooth user I was impressed with the convenience but annoyed by the setup procedure and occasional tantrums exhibited by the devices. I was able to use Bluetooth to ActiveSync with my laptop, for GPS Navigation using Socket Bluetooth GPS and Pocket Streets, also for using the Smartphone as a modem for internet access on my laptop and Pocket PC. It was a pain to configure the Bluetooth. But once configured, it worked like a charm. I also used the Motorola Bluetooth HS810 headset. The features lacking are voice dialing using the Bluetooth headset (it's a Windows Mobile limitation) and file transfer profile. The latter can be solved by using ActiveSync.

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Figure 42: All these gadgets were able to communicate with the MPx220 using Bluetooth.

While testing navigation applications, Microsoft Pocket Streets 2005 worked with my Bluetooth GPS unit without any problem. But Mapopolis was unable to detect the Bluetooth GPS. I found out later that the MPx220 has a software bug that prevents Mapopolis and ALK CoPilot Live from detecting the GPS signal.

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Figure 43: Screenshot of Pocket Streets 2005 using Bluetooth GPS. Pocket Streets is not included on the MPx220, I loaded it to test the Bluetooth GPS navigation.

Wireless data transfer, especially while surfing the Internet with the Pocket IE and syncing emails is good and stable. Previous Windows Mobile OS version and the MPx200 had some problems maintaining the data connection. The newer OS and improved RF module seems to have fixed those issues.

Pocket IE is still limited by the poor download speeds offered on the GSM/GPRS networks. But the page renders faster. And the different page views makes browsing fun.

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Figure 44: Pocket IE in default view. The Web page graphics and font are reduced in size but the page layout is maintained.

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Figure 45: Pocket IE in one column view. The text and graphics have been squeezed to fit the view. This is probably the best layout.

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Figure 46: Pocket IE in desktop view.

Windows Mobile for Smartphone 2003 lets you configure multiple mailboxes. And each mailbox has its own inbox and folders. Smartphone supports Exchange, POP3 and IMAP4 based mailboxes. It also has separate mailboxes for text (SMS) messages and multi-media (MMS) messages. MPx220 ships with some pre-canned mailbox settings for popular E-Mail providers like SBC/Yahoo, Earthlink and BellSouth.

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Figure 47: Mailbox screen shot showing the list of accounts.

I configured mine for Cingular Xpress Mail, POP3 and IMAP4 based mailboxes. The ability to have multiple mailboxes, each with its own sync schedule is a major productivity enhancer for me. I wish there was a way to edit the mailbox name after it has been created. The only way to correct the names I gave for my POP3 and IMAP4 mailboxes is to delete them and recreate them. Also I noticed that some mailboxes cannot be deleted, like Outlook E-Mail. And there is no way to empty the unwanted mailbox. These two issues are common to Windows Mobile OS and are not specific to the MPx220. Another Windows Mobile OS issue, the mailbox tries to connect to the Internet in the middle of a voice call to sync email. This was an issue in the previous OS versions also. I wonder why the connection manager cannot sense that the phone is in use.

I am pleased with Cingular’s wireless email sync system called Xpress Mail. It enabled syncing of my work Exchange mail over-the-air with a mailbox titled Xpress Mail on my Smartphone. It claims support for push based email sync. However I could never get push based sync working. I believe it’s because I am on T-Mobile network using Cingular push notifications and the SMS based push notifications are blocked from traveling onto T-Mobile network. But the scheduled sync worked well.

Say Cheese
I remember when I first heard that Motorola was planning to include a 1.23 Mega pixel camera on its next Smartphone model. I was amazed and disappointed. I was amazed because 1.23 Mega pixel was a big leap considering that most camera phones were offering at best VGA resolution. And disappointed because I would prefer to see the engineering team spend their time on improving call quality and battery performance.

The camera does have the potential but the current software is unable to sense the light condition and often snaps pictures that are blurry/grainy. Color reproduction is also not up to the mark. It’s very easy to click a bad photo. Through trial and error, patience and with little bit of assistance from lighting, this camera phone can snap decent pictures. And we must remember this is a camera phone and not a camera.

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Figure 48: Camera application. Up-Down keys adjust the zoom and Left-Right keys adjust the sensor brightness.

Let’s check out some sample photos. Automatic white balance works well only for outdoor sunlit shots.

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Figure 49: Sample photo taken on a sunny day. Click on the image for the original 1.23 Mega pixel photo.

Under indoor lighting or cloudy conditions, I found that the night mode was the only mode that worked well. And even in that mode, it required trial and error, and plenty of perseverance.

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Figure 50: Sample photo taken under cloudy sky. Click on the image for the original 1.23 Mega pixel photo.

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Figure 51: Sample photo taken indoor with automatic white balance. Check out the grains. Click on the image for the original 1.23 Mega pixel photo.

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Figure 52: Sample photo taken indoor with white balance set to night mode. Much clearer and proves that the 1.23 mega pixel camera has potential. Click on the image for the original 1.23 Mega pixel photo.

Automatic and Night are the only two white balance modes that work. It would help if the white balance selection was available as a menu option as opposed to an option in the settings dialog.

The camera has a security feature; it makes a loud camera shutter sound, even when the phone is in silent profile. The sound also helps me steady my hand for the shot. I noticed that the actual picture is taken a fraction of second after you press the capture button. This is so that the hand can be steadied from the shake that was caused by the pressing of the button.

The camera has a flash which I found to be practically useless in my test shots.

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Figure 53: The left one is at 1x zoom. Photo on the right was shot at 4x digital zoom. Click on the images for the original 1.23 Mega pixel photos.

For taking self-portraits, the external screen acts as the viewfinder. This is another one of those thoughtful features added by Motorola. Other cameras use mirrors for self-portraits.

While taking pictures I found that occasionally the camera would take pictures with horizontal lines, like the one below. Turns out that when Bluetooth is on, the camera is unable to take pictures. Turn off Bluetooth, things are back to normal.

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Figure 54: Bluetooth on, bad pictures on.

I have included some more sample shots. This way you can be the judge. All outdoor shots were taken with automatic white balance. And the indoor shots were taken with night white balance. Click on the title to view the 1280x960 resolution photos.

Sample 1: Outdoor
Sample 2: Outdoor
Sample 3: Outdoor 1x Zoom, At 4x zoom
Sample 4: Indoor
Sample 5: Indoor

The Video Recorder records in .3GP mode (no .AVI support) and I haven’t been able to capture a decent quality video clip with it. The camera I believe has potential but the Video Recorder should just be ignored. I have tried the Video Recorder on Audiovox SMT5600, the MPx220 does not even come close. Another problem with the Video Recorder is that while recording, the display cannot keep up with the frames being captured. Which is odd considering the fact that the TI OMAP processor has a graphics accelerator thanks to the onboard Digital Signal Processor. Looks like the application is not optimized for the processor.

Sample 6: Indoor video recording (.3GP format)

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Figure 55: Video Recorder application.

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Figure 56: Photo Album application.

Let’s Have Some Fun
Motorola equipped its latest Smartphone with a Texas Instruments dual core 200 MHz fast processor. This processor combines an ARM926 CPU and a Digital Signal Processor with a set of dedicated hardware accelerators for video, Java and security. The full power of the processor can be utilized while playing games, music and videos.

Gamers may prefer joystick over joypad, but the MPx220's joypad is well designed. It gives good tactile feedback when clicked and is responsive.

Since I am not much of a gamer this section of the review is very weak on content.

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Figure 57: Kevitris game screen shot. I loaded this game to check out the joypad.

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Figure 58: Java Client screen shot. It supports MIDP 2.0.

Apart from the two games Jawbreaker and Solitaire that come standard with all Smartphones, MPx220 comes loaded with Java client labeled as Games and Apps. The Java client ships with two more games Billiards and Skipping Stones. More Java games can be downloaded from within the Java client.

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Figure 59: Java Game screen shot.

The MPx220 ships with Windows Media Player 9.0, which may be considered by some as a legacy player, because Microsoft recently released Windows Media Player 10 Mobile.

The bundled Video Player application lets you play the .3GP video clippings generated by the Video Recorder. Next I installed Beta Player and tried out video replay. The nice screen and the fast processor makes watching videos an enjoyable activity.

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Figure 60: Video Player application.

I wish the screen was 2.2 inch. When I am surfing and watching video the fact that the screen is smaller than my MPx200 becomes apparent. First time Smartphone users may not notice this.

What’s Different About This Smartphone
Let me quickly summarize the things that differentiate this Smartphone from the pack. Earlier in the review I talked about the fast dual core processor, external miniSD slot, 1.23 Mega pixel camera and proprietary connectors for USB and charging. And this is a quad-band Smartphone.

At the beginning of the review I had mentioned that Motorola has put the external color screen to some good use. Apart from the status indicator and clock, it displays the PhotoId when an incoming call comes in. And it also acts as a viewfinder for taking self portraits with the camera.

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Figure 61: PhotoId on the external screen.

The MPx220 ships with a decent voice recognition software. It can be launched by holding down the volume up button. It requires no voice training. It enables looking up contacts and dialing numbers, and also enables launching of applications. I had mixed results (partly because I have a lot of Indian names in my phonebook) but still pretty pleased with the voice recognition. Unfortunately the program does not work with Bluetooth headsets. The current version is interactive, a female voice prompts you with "Say a command", you respond with one of the choices, then it prompts you for the details, and this goes on. After a few times you find that it is easier to dial the contact manually. I wish the program had an expert mode where I could say "Call XYZ at home" or "Open Explorer". However, in spite of the interactive nature, this application does ease the dialing process while driving.

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Figure 62: Voice recognition software.

Windows Mobile Smartphones use T9 predictive text entry but on this Smartphone, Motorola has decided to use its proprietary iTAP technology. iTAP performs as well as the T9 for predictive text entry. Typing a long sentence is no problem till I get to the end and have to enter a dot (.) and for some weird reason iTAP always types apostrophe (') instead of dot (.) when I press the "1" key. Also there is no easy way to enter smilies. Otherwise the superbly designed keypad complements iTAP and makes text entry easy. I have gotten used to the subtle nuances of iTAP.

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Figure 63: iTAP in action. I only had to punch in 4 keys and it is suggesting the word "Remarkable". The screen shot on the right shows iTAP predicting apostrophe instead of a dot.

The MPx220 includes a File Viewer application that enables viewing of documents attached to E-Mails and documents stored on phone's memory. It supports popular document formats like PDF, Word, PowerPoint and Excel etc.

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Figure 64: File Viewer in action. The screen shot on the right shows a section of the PDF document.

Inclusion of Voice Recognition and File Viewer applications completes the software package and makes the Smartphone handy. Ideally these should have been part of the Windows Mobile OS.

The intent of this section is not to scare potential buyers. Please keep in mind that this is the first release of the product. Orange's SPV C500 also had teething troubles and hardware limitations, like the poorly designed joypad. At the AT&T store when I was trying out the Audiovox SMT5600, it froze up on me within fifteen minutes. All I was doing was going through the menus, launching programs one by one. That said I am not giving the manufacturers an excuse for putting an untested and unfinished products in the market. Especially a company like Motorola should not be doing such a thing. So let me summarize my rants.

When it comes to being a phone first, the issue that Motorola must resolve quickly, for the phone’s success, is the microphone or the phone not transmitting the voice properly. And it would be good if the earpiece and speakerphone volume is increased by a notch. Using a headset is a nice workaround but not a solution.

The package does not include important accessory like the headset. Motorola could have chosen a better battery pack for this Smartphone. Personally I feel that the external screen should stay on all the time. And it should have been a mono screen to conserve power. And why did Motorola use a 2 inch display screen? Squeezing the 176x220 resolution to a 2 inch screen makes it sharper but makes some fonts unreadable. The Bluetooth serial profile is missing. Bluetooth implementation is not compatible with some popular GPS Navigation software applications. The 1.23 Mega pixel camera and especially the video recorder have plenty of room for improvement. But we must remember that this is a phone first and not a camera, so expectations should not be high. Enabling ClearType does not help. It makes the text totally unreadable in Pocket Internet Explorer and on the Home screen.

I found some random software problems. Occasionally the external and main display will stay on, instead of blanking out after the timeout. A reboot fixes this problem. On the topic of rebooting, the phone rebooted itself twice. Another thing I noticed is that when the battery is dangerously low, the Bluetooth radio is shut off, but the Bluetooth icon remains in the iconbar.

And on the bright side, the phone in the last three weeks has never frozen up on me. I never had to pull the battery out to soft reset the device. As a long time Smartphone user, the MPx220 has impressed me by this feat.

Motorola's MPx220 stands out of the Smartphone crowd because of its superb styling and clam shell design. Clam shell lovers would instantly adopt this model. Others should look at the differences between the MPx220 and candy-bar Smartphones. Quad-band, fast dual core processor, keypad/joypad and the externally accessible miniSD slot are the main advantages. As the second generation Smartphone, Motorola has got the specifications right. The Smartphone has all the ingredients to make it a successful model in the market. The only thing stopping it is a couple of fixes, which Motorola can release in the form of a firmware update.
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