Android and Me

It’s not the phone of your dreams, it’s the one before that: Motorola Cliq 2 Review

3 years ago 27

On January 19th, Motorola and T-Mobile will team up to launch the Cliq 2 with MOTOBLUR. The Cliq 2 closely resembles the original Motorola Cliq, but has some beefed up specs and a much-improved hardware keyboard that could make it a real competitor to the current line of high-end smartphones on T-Mobile. But does the refreshed Cliq 2 have what it takes to make it the must-have Android smartphone on T-Mobile? Keep on reading to find out.

External Hardware

Motorola’s Cliq 2 is a slide-out QWERTY phone with a 3.7″ high-res capacitive FWVGA display with an 480 x 854 max resolution. On the outside, the Cliq 2 looks eerily similar to its predecessor, with a few notable exceptions. The Cliq 2 features a brushed titanium edge around the screen, which makes the phone look pretty sleek and appear less plasticy than the original Cliq. It feels slightly heavy and solid in the hand, which I personally think is a good thing (though I know some out there will disagree).

The original Cliq received a bit of flak for the omission of a search button on the main display, a criticism Motorola must have taken to heart as the Cliq 2 now features the standard 4 buttons we’ve come to expect on most Android phones. The Cliq XT also had the standard 4 button layout.

On top of the device you’ll find the power button as well as the 3.5mm headset jack. Along the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker, a switch to turn on silent/vibrate mode, and a camera button. The charging port stands alone on the left side of the device.

The back of the phone is made of a rubberized texture, making the Cliq 2 feel really good in the hand. Also on the back of the device is the camera and LED flash.

Hardware Keyboard

One of the biggest enhancements of the Motorola Cliq 2 is the rethinking of the physical keyboard. The Cliq 2′s keyboard was “inspired by nature,” and strangely resembles the shape of a honeycomb (signs that it may receive newer Android versions? We hope so!).

Though the keyboard is not ugly by any stretch, we don’t expect it to turn many heads either. Fortunately for the Cliq 2, the keyboard makes up for its shortcomings in the looks department by being incredibly functional. The buttons are domed similar to the original Cliq which allows you to more easily find the keys you’re looking for, making for an enjoyable typing experience.

The keyboard on the original Cliq was a bit cramped with the huge directional pad on the left side of the device.  The directional buttons still exist on the Cliq 2, though their presence is much more subdued, which makes the keyboard feel a bit bigger (though there is still some free space on the keyboard which could have been utilized better).

I must admit, at first glance I didn’t think I was going to like the keyboard on the Cliq 2. After a week of use, however, I’m typing faster than any other hard-or-software keyboard I’ve used with the exception of Swype, which conveniently comes included in the Cliq 2.

Internal Hardware

On the inside, the guts of the Cliq 2 features some pretty decent specs that put it right on par with other high-end devices. The 1GHz TI OMAP 3620-1000 processor should be powerful enough to handle everything MOTOBLUR has to offer without the lag we sometimes experienced on the original Cliq.

Similar to Motorola’s other devices, the Cliq 2 features a dedicated PowerVR SGX 530 GPU, which should allow for increased performance on even some of the newer, graphically intense games such as Dungeon Defenders. The Cliq 2 repeatedly beat out my nexus one on various gpu benchmark tests, with a difference of 23 fps on the Cliq 2 to 15 fps on the Nexus on the Nenamark1 benchmark test. We also noticed that the Cliq 2 will play games like Gun Bros or Dungeon Defenders decently without much lag, where my Nexus One sometimes struggles with these titles.

Storage space hampered the original Cliq device, but the Cliq 2 has 1GB of internal storage. Though much smaller than the 8-16GB found on the Galaxy S line of devices, it’s far roomier than the 512MB found on most of the mid-range offerings on the market today. In addition, the Cliq 2 features a microSD card slot with support up to 32GB of additional storage.

Software

As expected, the Cliq 2 comes preloaded with the MOTOBLUR overlay, Motorola’s overlay of the Android operating system which focuses on a constant stream of your social world using built-in widgets. During the intial set-up of your phone, Motorola asks for all your social media site log-in information, and uses that to deliver content right to your homescreen without needing to launch an application. That being said, we find that MOTOBLUR is much more overbearing than it is useful, and removing all the widgets from your homescreens greatly increases the zippiness of the devices.

One of the biggest beefs we had with the original Cliq was the fact that it was stuck on Android 1.5 at a time where 2.0/2.1 had already started to be featured on major devices. Motorola and T-Mobile seem to have learned their lesson with this one, as the Cliq 2 will sport Android 2.2 Froyo when it is released on Wednesday.

Though Froyo is not the latest version of Android, only one device currently on the market is officially touting Gingerbread, and only one (Sony’s Xperia Arc) of the upcoming superphones launched at CES earlier this month was running Gingerbread. No word yet on when or if Motorola is planning on upgrading the Cliq 2 to Android 2.3, 2.4, or 3.0, but we’ll certainly keep you updated if/when we learn more.

Like we’ve seen on many other Motorola devices, the Cliq 2 comes preloaded with some pretty useful applications as well as some bloatware (we’ll let you decide which is which). The extra software that comes included with the Cliq 2 include:

  • T-mobile AppPack
  • FM Radio (in connected Music application)
  • Blockbuster
  • IM
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Quickoffice
  • Slacker radio
  • Wifi calling
  • Telenav GPS Navigation
  • Tmobile Visual Voicemail

The Cliq 2 is being targeted toward the enterprise user, and the packaging touts the phone’s full calendar and exchange support. I tested out the exchange support for a few days, but didn’t notice anything much different than the email and calendar applications found on my Nexus One.

Call Quality

With all the awesome things our phone can do, we often forget about it’s basic function (especially when reviewing new devices)– making calls. In this respect, the Cliq 2 performs as well as you’d expect from any cell phone. I’ve made several calls from the Cliq 2, and both myself and the other parties had no problems hearing each other, even when using the Cliq 2′s speakerphone.

Camera/Camcorder Quality

Featuring a 5 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, the Cliq 2 takes fairly decent pictures in most lighting situations. It’s not the highest quality cell phone camera out there, but it gets the job done when you’re on the go and don’t want to bring a full camera along. Don’t expect this phone to fully replace your point and shoot camera by any stretch, but the Cliq 2 camera is decent enough to leave the full camera at home a bit more often.

One of the biggest disappointments is the lack of HD video capture support on the Cliq 2. This is extremely disappointing, as almost all high-end phones being released today feature at least 720p video capture support. As it stands, the highest resolution the Cliq 2 supports is 720 x 480 (480p).

What follows are some sample photos and a video I took using the Cliq 2′s camera.

Indoor Shots

Outdoor Shots

Video Test

Watch on YouTube

Pricing and Availability

UPDATE The Cliq 2 is currently showing a price of $99.99 after $100 mail in rebate debit card. At $99.99, anyone out there now considering picking up the Cliq2?

The Cliq 2 is slated to launch this coming Wednesday, January 19th. No official word on pricing has yet been announced by Tmobile, but we have every reason to believe that the Cliq 2 will launch at $199.99 similar to every other feature phone Motorola has launched recently. I really want to see it launch in the $129.99-$149.99 price range, and think it could do really well at that price point. We’ll update this review once we learn the official pricing.

Final Verdict

The Cliq 2 is a very solid device that is everything the original Cliq should have been. The 1GHz processor, dedicated GPU, and 1GB of memory make this phone zippy (especially once you delete all the MOTOBLUR widgets). Unfortunately, the Cliq 2 has the misfortune of being launched about 3-6 months too late. As it stands, the Cliq 2 will launch amid some heavy competition in its class with Tmobile’s Nexus S, G2 and Mytouch 4G, three phones which arguably have much more to offer than the Cliq 2 does. Add to that the fact that dual core phones are on the horizon in the next 6 months, and the Cliq 2 changes from a solid Tmobile offering to something that can easily be passed over if you can manage to wait a few months.

Now, I must admit that I’ve actually liked the Cliq 2 in the week or so I’ve spent with the device. Under different circumstances, I would have no problems recommending this phone to you. However, with more-able competitors already on the market on T-Mobile, and phones that will blow this phone completely out of the water coming soon, I’d recommend skipping Motorola’s Cliq 2. Unless of course you’re a huge fan of MOTOBLUR.

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