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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.

More to come!

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eBay prices for the Motorola Cliq 2

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