I’ve never been a big fan of sequels. The very first version of something comes out and is so wonderfully brilliant that a second version is thought up to act as a cash cow. Or at least that’s the way I feel about movie sequels.
But do phone sequels work the same way, or are they truly what they should be in the first place: improvements to the first piece of work?
The Motorola CLIQ was a run-of-the-mill Android 1.5 handset launched in late 2009 that didn’t really make any ripples in the time-space-phone continuum besides being the primary vehicle to launch MOTOBLUR, a proprietary Motorola UI which gets mixed reviews depending on who you talk to (When it launched I looked at it as a pointless user interface that bogged down the phone’s processing speeds in order to “enhance” your social networking experience).
But the landscape for Android is much different now. The CLIQ did well enough that a sequel was born, though current handset component standards are much higher. The average Android phone will typically have 800 MHz-1 GHz CPU with 512 MB RAM, 5 MP camera, HD video recording, and the list goes on; the original version barely even halfed those stats, and only in some categories. The point is, the CLIQ was obsolete within a matter of a couple months and the new version, the CLIQ 2, aims to appease T-Mobile customers who are looking for a good standard Android phone without having to pay too much.
So does this sequel improve upon the original in ways other than just higher specs? Read on to learn my take on the Motorola CLIQ 2 MB611 for T-Mobile.
Unboxing the Motorola CLIQ 2
Here’s my unboxing video of the CLIQ 2. Good wholesome entertainment, that’s for sure. It gives you a good idea of my overall first impressions of the phone.
Hardware and Software of the Moto CLIQ 2
The CLIQ 2 is a solid device that will definitely not feel too cheap in your hand. The 3.7” 480 x 854 pixel capacitive touchscreen makes it just the right width to feel comfortable holding for long periods of time, but the only concern will be the thickness and weight. Weighing 6.17 ounces does indeed make it heavier than the average phone. It also comes in at 14.5 mm thick, which is right about average for a smartphone with full keyboard attached.
The CLIQ 2 actually reminds me a lot of the HTC EVO Shift 4G in that it uses the same screen and takes advantage of a full physical QWERTY-style horizontal keyboard and adds weight. It does feel a slight bit bulkier than the Shift, but wasn’t so bad that I was uncomfortable holding it up to my ear to make calls.
On the back, the battery cover has a few ridges built into it which allows for extra grippiness, always a must-have with phones in my opinion. I don’t like the polished glossy plastic feel because it ends up being way too slippery for my taste. I don’t mind the phone being a little less pretty just to ensure it survives without being dropped for a longer period of time.
Upon turning on the phone I am greeted with a request for MOTOBLUR logins. This version of MOTOBLUR has been improved over the last year and this is the same version you’ll find in the Motorola Bravo, Droid Pro and Droid 2 Global. It overall is very close to the original, but among the enhancements that have been made, you get: improved business security and encryption capabilities, battery manager, more power over your social networking widgets (the ability to change widget sizes, add in photos, filter out what you don’t want in your feeds, etc.), to name a few. The new version of Motoblur appears to do a better job at managing CPU resources so as to not cause the phone to become sluggish.
The CLIQ 2 runs on Android 2.2, better known as Froyo, so it will have better battery life, faster web browser and of course Flash 10.1 capability. Anyone looking to get an Android phone now should be looking at getting one with Froyo on it at the least, if not even better. There is simply no reason to choose a phone anymore that still runs on Android 2.1 or lower. Slower, less features, and has been technically obsolete for months. Not to mention there’s no guarantee that your 2.1 phone will ever be upgraded in the future.
Under the hood you’ll find a 1 GHz TI OMAP 3620 CPU unit with 512 MB RAM, a much-needed improvement over the original CLIQ’s 528 MHz Qualcomm CPU with 256 MB RAM. The TI OMAP 3620 CPU is the same as you’ll find in the Droid Pro and Droid 2, so look for comparable performance between this and those other devices.
Almost everything you see on the CLIQ 2 could be considered standard for a midrange Android. There really isn’t anything I can think of that sticks out to me about the phone that differentiates it from any others — except for the unique keyboard design.
And I definitely mean unique, since something like this has not been attempted before. It looks like a cross between a beehive and the back of a turtle shell (a friend calls it the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle phone; I think it’s too long a nickname to stick), what with its array of hexagon-shaped buttons that raise above the rest of the board. The keys are very well spaced and sufficiently raised. I think using the keyboard is pretty easy. What I don’t like on the keyboard is that the keys are so stiff and pointy that it takes me longer to type on it.
I appreciate the added dedicated keys, like @, comma and period. The only dedicated keys I would also like to see included are the .com and messaging buttons; I can survive without them, but why make a smartphone that thrives primarily on emailing and web browsing without having these keys in mind?
Also handy to have on the CLIQ 2 is a dedicated toggle switch on the right hand side that switches the phone back and forth between ringtone mode and vibrate/silent mode, much like the iPhone toggle switch.
I lament the neglection of 4G on the Moto CLIQ 2. Sure, it’s a midrange Android, and I assume it was left out because it was an added expense T-Mobile deemed unnecessary, but if you are advertising a new Android phone at CES alongside two other 4G phones being sold by your biggest competitors, it’s probably a good idea to throw it in for good measure to keep it relevant. As it currently stands, the CLIQ 2 is capable of a theoretical max of 10.2 Mbps on regular HSDPA. It still ends up being faster than some competing 4G networks and much better than any other 3G network. The CLIQ 2 does offer a mobile hotspot so you can share that 3G connection with 5 other devices.
Notable Features of the Motorola CLIQ 2
Surfing through the programs that come preloaded on the CLIQ 2 was nothing exciting for me, as I didn’t see anything offered that I haven’t seen before several times on almost every single T-Mobile Android handset over the last 6 months. 3G Mobile Hotspot, Amazon MP3 downloads, Google Latitude, Blockbuster, DLNA, CarDock, QuickOffice, Telenav GPS and WiFi Calling are all normal included apps these days on T-Mobile. This isn’t a bad thing, but I was expecting at least one or two bloatware apps that were completely new.
I also noticed that the CLIQ 2, being a Froyo Android device, has a nice built-in task manager that lets you kill selected apps and even tell certain apps to die as soon as your phone times out (or the screen locks). This is something that I wish was in every smartphone. It also uses a dedicated file manager and battery manager to help you stay organized and keep your battery from falling victim to the same blunders that has affected so many Android phones before the CLIQ 2 ever came around.
The CLIQ 2 also uses a 5 MP camera and HD video camcorder with 720p resolution. Here’s one of the first things that came to my mind when I saw this: while the camera is the same, the camcorder is better than that of the Nexus S, currently considered a top-of-the-line device with fresh features.
Internally, the CLIQ 2 includes 1 GB memory and comes loaded with a 2 GB MicroSD card, though you can stick in your own memory chip (up to 32 GB) to load your own music, movies, and pictures.
The CLIQ 2 also comes with a FM radio, a feature overlooked by many but can be very important to anyone wanting to listen to the same overplayed songs again and again. You will, however, need to use your headphones to activate the radio. I’ve always been told it’s the only way to activate the radio’s antenna, but it’s probably to keep everyone else from having to listen to your music too.
Performance of the Motorola CLIQ 2
Motorola has put its proprietary CrystalTalk Plus technology into the CLIQ 2. This is Motorola’s patented noise cancellation tech that allows you to talk in a loud room at normal volume. With that, it gave me the ability to hear and be heard perfectly fine, either through the phone or through speakerphone.
Mentioned before, the 1 GHz CPU speeds coupled along with 512 MB RAM help keep the CLIQ 2 stay fast and fresh. Every app I tried to use in the phone loaded pretty fast with no sluggish behavior. The only sluggish part of the experience was when I would move my fingers up and down in the app tray and there was a slight delay waiting for the screen to catch up with me.
All in all, I’d say the CLIQ 2 is a great buy for a midrange Android handset. The call quality is good and loud, it has sufficient programs and specs to fit your needs well, and is pretty darn quick when looking for something. The keyboard is a hit and miss experience, and it all depends on how you feel once you get it broken in. At first impression those keys are stiff and too pointy to be able to type my normal speeds on. But I give them all the brownie points in the world for coming up with such a clever design, and look forward to seeing more unique designs down the road.
Below you will find my review in video format, with less written and a lot more talkative. Hopefully that makes it a good thing.
You can also get the Motorola CLIQ2 Android Phone on Amazon!
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