For the most part, trade shows are predictable. The phones are announced at various events with release dates between March and June, thus leading to a slowdown in the release schedule from January to March. The Motorola CLIQ 2 is the first CES device to hit retail shelves, and after the lull of the past few weeks, it was nice to see a new phone show up on my doorstep. In a nutshell, the CLIQ 2 is a drastic improvement over the original device.
I spent the weekend working with the CLIQ 2, and here's what I've found thus far:
As I mentioned earlier, overall build quality is much better, and unlike the CLIQ, the CLIQ 2 exudes a high-end feel. The hinge has a firm click to it - it snaps open and closed with ease, and the 3.7-inch display is a nice upgrade from the 3.1-inch one on the CLIQ.
The CLIQ 2 runs Android 2.2 with MOTOBLUR. Despite the hatred that exists for Motorola's platform, I found the unit to be relatively speedy and functional, though Quadrant Standard scores say otherwise (you'll see the numbers in the review!). Still, in day-to-day tasks, I didn't notice a slowdown.
Of course, a stock build of Android would speed things up, but given the demographic that Motorola and T-Mobile are targeting with the CLIQ 2, I'm glad it shipped with BLUR. I continue to say that stock Android isn't polished enough for most mainstream consumers, and manufacturer UIs like MOTOBLUR work to ease the transition from one phone to another. That said, I like where the CLIQ 2 is positioned in T-Mobile's lineup. This is a mid-range to high-end device that first-time smartphone buyers and intermediate users could agree on.
I'm really digging the keyboard. The honeycomb design is unique and is a departure from the traditional four or five row QWERTY board. It's awkward to use at first, but within a few minutes, I was typing at normal speeds. The keys are a bit tighter than I would like, but I expect them to loosen up as I continue to use the keyboard. On-screen, you're greeted with Swype and Motorola's multitouch keyboard, and throughout most of the testing I've done so far, I've used the multitouch QWERTY. Out of all of the on-screen Android keyboards on the market, Motorola's virtual QWERTY is my favorite.
The phone has a 5-megapixel camera, and it's not that exciting. Pictures are decent given the right amount of natural light, but I found most pictures to be relatively grainy and void of color.
Call quality is very good. I'm still in the process of conducting my usual tests, but the speaker is loud, and when I drove through a dead spot in South Charlotte, I didn't lose the call. Data speeds have been strong as well - I'm consistently pulling 3-5 Mbps on the download, and am averaging 1-3 Mbps on the upload.
The CLIQ 2 has a 1,420 mAh battery, and I was surprised at how long it lasted this weekend. With moderate use - calling, text messaging, browsing the web, use of some apps, and more, I made it about a day and a half before the phone powered down. Given the usual stigma surrounding Android and battery life, I was really pleased with it.