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11/6/2009
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Review: Motorola Cliq Smartphone

The Android smartphone backs up a brilliant social network integration concept with only so-so performance.




Motorola's Android Cliq
(click for image gallery)

The Cliq is the first in what promises to be an avalanche of Android handsets from Motorola over the next 12 months. Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha said the company plans to release 20 smartphones by the end of 2010, most of which will be running Android. Despite being its first, the Motorola Cliq is not the company's great comeback device. It comes close, and displays fits of brilliance, but ultimately falls just short of being a great smartphone.

For Motorola, being just "good" isn't good enough. The firm has a sad record of financial losses over the last three years and desperately needs to get back into the game with a winner. It has pinned its resurrection hopes on Android, the free mobile operating system developed by Google. In fact, Motorola publicly stated that it is not going to make any more Windows Mobile smartphones until Windows Mobile 7 arrives. It is skipping Windows Mobile 6.5 -- which just hit the market -- entirely.

Rather than just make a stock Android phone in the Cliq, Motorola took things a bit further by endowing it with Motoblur, its social networking service. Motoblur delivers an unending stream of status updates and posts from a user's Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter friends right to the desktop of the Cliq. This lets the user remain constantly in the know of all the goings-on in their friends' and family's lives. The theory is better than the reality.

Before we dive into Blur, let's look at the phone itself first.

Hardware

The Cliq is a sideways slider that has a full QWERTY keyboard hidden under the screen. It is a fairly sizable phone, as devices that use this form factor often are. The weight and feel of it in your hands is good and it's not so large as to be unusable. The buttons on the sides of the phone are very thin and small, making them somewhat hard to activate. There is the usual assortment of ports for headphones and charging/data transfer.

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