Jul 08 AT 12:40 PM Taylor Wimberly 31 Comments

Motorola raises the bar for entry-level Android phones

When Motorola officially announced the T-Mobile Charm yesterday, it elicited responses from our readers like – “Woohoo, another cheap, bottom of the line failed attempt at a smartphone”. That couldn’t be further from the truth, because the Charm is actually the fastest entry-level Android phone to ever be released.

Normally when we think low-end Android phones, we think of Qualcomm’s 528 MHz processor that was found in early devices like the G1, myTouch 3G, and Hero. Newer releases such as the myTouch 3G Slide, HTC Aria, and Motorola Devour have received a bump to the newer 600 MHz line of Qualcomm CPUs, but they are still based off the aging ARM11 cores.

The Android phones with the best performance are those from ARM’s Cortex family which feature the newer Cortex-A8 core. This includes phones like the Droid, Nexus One, EVO, Droid X, and the Samsung Galaxy S lineup.

The Motorola Charm deserves a little more respect because it’s the first entry-level phone to feature a faster Cortex-A8 based processor. Powering the device is Texas Instrument’s 600 MHz OMAP3410, which even includes a dedicated PowerVR SGX graphics processor. The Charm also features 512 MB RAM – that’s double the Droid and on the same level as current top-of-the-line offerings.

You would think Motorola might mention these specs in their press release, but I guess they think your average customer could care less what’s inside their phone.

Since the T-Mobile Charm has an OMAP processor, that means it can actually support Flash 10.1 and live wallpapers thanks to the extra processing power. Not even T-Mobile’s current flagship Android phone, the myTouch 3G Slide, can make that claim.

Given that the Charm might debut for free with 2-year contract (or $269.99 full price), this looks to be the most enticing entry-level phone we have ever seen.

Motorola Charm specs

The missing Motorola Charm specs.

Bonus: If you want a lesson in ARM architecture, hit up Wikipedia.

Source: Motorola

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Vik

    I actually like the look of this phone. Perfect for teens, it is what the kin should have been. And it also highlights the versatility of android.

    • KaiserJay

      I agree, but I also think it would have been the perfect device to grab a few more corporate users if it shipped with 2.2 instead of 2.1.

      It’s basically the same form factor as the Crackberry, Android 2.2 has the Enterprise and Exchange features required by most corporate IT divisions, and what boss could say no at that price?

  • http://Website Bob

    For all those who claim this is a cheap phone, IPhone is still selling 3gs which is hardware wise on par with motorola charm(except for the screen)

  • http://Website Joeskie

    This little sucker actually packs more of a punch than you think. The omap in this device is actually running at a clock cycle of 720 mhz. The blur version on this device its also identical to that of the droid x. Go figure.watch out for tmobile

  • http://Website Scott

    quote: “Not even T-Mobile’s current flagship Android phone, the myTouch 3G Slide, can make that claim.”

    Wow, that’s embarrassing. Hang your head in shame, T-Mobile.

    • http://Website jay555

      And might I add, their “flagship” phone doesn’t even come close to having the specs needed for Gingerbread. So in effect, their top phone was rendered dead less than a month after coming out. Forget hanging in shame, I think someones head needs to lay on the chopping block over this debacle.

      • http://Website Me

        ****Rumored requirements for Gingerbread, which I believe was debunked by Google themselves.****

    • http://Website JoseSaysHooah!

      Why is that embarrassing? this is a tmo phone… they are improving… it would be embarassing if the new phone was doing worse… but i think they got it right… newer phone=better… older phone=not so better…

  • http://Website Darkseider

    Well you are almost correct. The OMAP 3410 does not contain the PowerVR SGX GPU.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      TI says it has the PowerVR. Another source has also confirmed to me it has the PowerVR.

      What makes you think it was left off?

      • http://Website Darkseider

        I dunno. Maybe the .pdf brochure describing the OMAP 34xx line directly from T.I. Notice the N/A in the 3410.

        http://focus.ti.com/pdfs/wtbu/ti_omap3family.pdf

        oooh and chicojd, really? How about I put my hat back on and you assume the official role of “asshat” for your wise ass comment.

      • http://Website Darkseider

        Then there is the full description of the OMAP line on wikipedia notice the 3410 and 3610 NO PowerVG GPU

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Instruments_OMAP

    • http://Website Sleepthieves

      So I get the feeling you didn’t even look at the picture of the chip architecture which is from TI’s own website that shows the 3410 with PowerVR SGX right there in the middle in the big red boxes.

      http://focus.ti.com/general/docs/wtbu/wtbuproductcontent.tsp?templateId=6123&navigationId=12766&contentId=30082

      You’ll notice the picture on that site is the exact same one at the top of this page. Oh yeah and i would check which hat you put back on i think it was an asshat.

      • http://Website Darkseider

        The block diagram you are referencing is incorrect and has been for quite some time. The OMAP 3410 does not have the PowerVR SGX GPU. So Sleepthieves I call your asshat and raise you a moron. The 3420 and up as well as the 3620 and up all have the PowerVR SGX GPU. The 3410 and 3610 do not have it. So you can reference that flawed block diagram all you want but it isn’t correct.

  • Val-Zho

    “I guess they think your average customer could care less what’s inside their phone.”

    http://forums.applenova.com/images/ammo/i-could-care-less.jpg

  • chicojd

    @Darkseider – Hate to burst your “I know everything” bubble. The OMAP3410 does indeed contain the PowerVR SGX GPU. Unless you believe Texas Instruments just makes stuff up to make their lower end chips sound better.

  • http://Website JaylanPHNX

    Why couldn’t they have put something like this in the Cliq XT? It’s not that much older. *Sigh*

  • http://Website mkrmec

    Too bad the Droid X won’t utilise the newest OMAP 4 series processor… It’ a sick processor…

  • http://me-a-droid.blogspot.com/ A-Droid

    Given that it’ll have a 320×240 display, it’ll be fast as hell with these CPU/GPU/Memory specs!

    Regards,
    A-Droid

  • http://Website Vitala
  • http://Website TWatcher2010

    TI website has been wrong for quite a while on this, I have an email confirmation from TI on this that dates back 2 years…the block diagram is incorrect. PowerVR SGX 530 is present on the 3420 /3620 and upwards.

    • http://Website Darkseider

      The hell you say! NO WAY! The block diagram says different! LOOK AT IT! YOU’RE WRONG! Sorry… I digress. Yes I know as well as you that the OMAP 3410 does not have it although everyone else here seems to think otherwise.

  • http://Website MinisterofDOOM

    The problem with Motorola’s entry level phones is not their processing hardware, it’s their gimmicky teen-texter-focused form-factors. The backflip is a case-study in inefficient design, with an entire face of the phone devoted to a keyboard that still manages to not have a dedicated number row. And the bizarro rear-mounted capacitive touchpads on both of these phones are only usable when the phone is held in a certain way, and at all other times serve no use. With only 3 capacitive buttons below the screen, there’s plenty of room for a more useful optical trackpad on the Charm. But Motorola uses the goofy one on the back instead.

    Motorola could write a guide for bad keyboard design. All their Android keyboards have the same problems: grid-aligned layout (very unnatural to type on), mushy keys, and a lack of a dedicated number row.
    It’s amazing to me that on phones like the Backflip and Charm, which devote large amounts of the phones’ face to the keyboard, moto is still determined to combine the number keys with the QWERTY row.

    And on top of the antifunctional form-factors, you have to put up with Motoblur.

    At least with “obsolete” devices like the G1 and Mytouch Slide you get effective form-factors with good keyboards (though the Slide does lack a number key row) and face-mounted trackball/pad. I’d rather have those features with a slower CPU than a fast CPU and a horrendous form-factor.

    The Charm doesn’t get laughed at because it’s slow. It gets laughed at because the physical design is terrible.

  • http://Website Jack

    Please, please, PLEASE stop using the phrase “could care less.” If a person could care less, then that is no gauge, what-so-ever, of how much they care! If you care about something to the highest degree, then you could care less. The phrase is “couldn’t care less”; in other words, I care so little that it would be impossible to care less. I have heard it from reporters, politicians, and people on the street and it makes you all seem other than intelligent; please stop.
    That concludes my rant for the day, we will now proceed to your regularly scheduled program (and I could care less.)

  • http://www.andrudes.com Andrude

    Great article. Thanks for changing my view of this interesting phone. Hope it turns some (entry-level) heads ! I like the inclusion of the WIKI link.

  • http://Website Bunn Gee McRope

    Dear Jack, I regret to inform you, old bean, that attempting to educate Yanks about the English language is the most futile task in the world. They neither know nor care for your zombie-Queen nor grammar of any sort and are trained from birth to irredeemably fixate on aping whatever vacuous, lazy idio(tis)m they heard on Govmt.TV this week, rather than really listen to, analyse or comprehend anything at all.
    This is, in fact, an inherent feature of their decaying political system, which requires the population be deliberately maintained in a state of induced ignorance, emotional imbalance, division into ever-smaller micro-groups, sheer terror at the overwhelming tyranny of ‘The Govmmint’ and mass psycho-manipulation to project/channel the resulting justified hatred safely towards foreign straw-man ‘threats’ targeted for imminent assimilation into the Empire.
    Without these functional safeguards their run-amok militarist overlords would truly fear HomeLand Revolution from the currently cowed and complacent consumer population. Starting fresh wars of aggression to rob and pillage worldwide would be right off the ‘options’ menu and so these thing are not usually discussed before the proles, but here I make a small exception, for your benefit, wildly off-topic in an obscure corner of cyberspace.
    Does that help?

    • http://Website marc

      Irregardless, you damn neer sound laak a terrist. USA, USA, USA nuke them suckers.

  • http://Website never again

    After owning a Q9C I will never buy their product again. The largest and worse curse I could ever have as someone who uses the calendar in Outlook is a phone that is incapable of syncing with a computer. It can only go one way, so if an appointment is made, sync’d, then edited it will be overwritten if you don’t watch your settings.

    • http://Website Umm

      Tip: dont let an old Windows phone burst your bubble about Moto products, we are talking about Android here…..

  • http://Website MulderFox

    Take it from a current Moto phone owner: Don’t buy Motorola. Ever.

  • http://Website Doug186

    I completely agree with MinisterofDOOM. Motorola phones all have shitty keyboards. I had a G1 for a little, which had a nice form factor, but was pretty clunky and slow. I did like the keyboard though. I replaced it with a BlackBerry Tour for Verizon (The one everyone hates). I would go back to Android, but nobody has released an Android phone for Verizon with a half decent keyboard. The Motorola Droid’s keyboard is lackluster (my friend has one, the buttons are flush to the board…), and is the only Android phone available for Verizon with a keyboard. The Droid was also hard to type on due to the D-Pad on the right of the keyboard, and the raised edge on the right side of the phone. BB keyboards are perfectly centered, provide good tactile feedback, and have a hard key press. I’m no BlackBerry fanboi, but I’m not switching back to Android until they come out with a phone that has a proper hardware keyboard.