Well, here it is. The handset that took the fight to the iPhone in the U.S. and gathered accolades from all over. The Motorola Milestone AKA Droid is here and breaks an unseemly lull from Motorola India with a bang. With its large screen, Android 2.1 OS and hardware QWERTY keyboard, the Milestone wants to break Apple’s stranglehold on the High-End smartphone market and prove itself as a fully featured, powerful smartphone. Let’s see if it really does (pun optional).
...if you want a classy phone with looks that mean business, then the Motorola Milestone is right up your corner.
The Milestone is powered by a 600MHz ARM processor and has 133MB of internal storage. You can expand that up to 32GB with a microSD card. The Motorola sports a 3.7-inch screen that can output 16M colors at a maximum resolution of 480x854. The Milestone also has a four row QWERTY keyboard with a large D-pad and a 5MP camera with an LED flash. Like most other phones in its category, the Motorola Milestone supports Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS (for which it uses Google Maps and Motorola’s own Motonav navigation tool).
The Milestone’s interface allows you to have a grand total of nine homescreens all of which you can customize with shortcuts, widgets or favorite contacts. The phone also lets you set up your Microsoft Exchange Account and also offers a Corporate Calendar and a Directory to put in your official data. The Milestone also comes with the QuickOffice suite that lets you view and edit documents.
Like other Android phones, the Milestone does a splendid job syncing with Google’s applications. Setting up your Gmail account on your phone is a breeze and it also lets you set up Latitude to inform your friends of your whereabouts. You can also merge your Facebook and Gmail contacts in your address book but I would advise against this as it can get messy real quick. Of course, the Motorola also lets you download many useful apps from the excellent Android Market.
Design & Usability
The Motorola (in its Droid avatar) made it very clear through its advertisements that it wasn’t going for the curvy, pretty look that a lot of phones are adopting nowadays. Instead it is a solid black device made up of metal, plastic and what I can guess is rubberized plastic. It is built like the proverbial tank and as a result isn’t very light. Even the keyboard doesn’t pop out like in the N97mini but rather it slides out smoothly with a menacing click. If you want a trendy looking phone then the Milestone probably won’t satiate you; however, if you want a classy phone with looks that mean business then the Motorola Milestone is right up your corner.
The Dro…er…Milestone’s 3.7-inch screen is excellent irrespective of not being an AMOLED display. It has enough real estate, high resolution and makes colors look good. While other phone displays have trouble under direct sunlight, the Motorola’s screen held up fine.
In spite of not having a 1GHz processor like the HTC HD2 or the Google Nexus One, the Milestone has a very snappy interface. Applications take almost no time to execute and the accelerometer also works really well. The touch UI is also very responsive and accurate. This is especially true with respect to the virtual keyboard and it is indeed commendable that you don’t mind using the virtual keyboard in spite of the presence of a hardware keyboard. Speaking of which, the Motorola Milestone’s keyboard is a pleasure to use. The keys have a rubberized finish and aid in typing. The keyboard itself is flat but there is still enough for your fingers to ascertain the difference between two keys. There is a large D-pad on the right of the keyboard and I thought was a great addition. It lets you use the keyboard as a navigation tool and really helps when you want to move the cursor to a specific place.
Browsing, Multimedia & Others
The Milestone has an excellent browser with great rendering capabilities and a bunch of other features like multi-tab support, copying URLs, bookmarks management, etc. It’s a fast browser and also very responsive to touch navigation. It’s almost as good as the iPhone’s browser and even beats it in some aspects.
The Motorola Milestone is an excellent device for audio playback. It delivers punchy bass and really clear mids and highs. Also, unlike other Android phones, the Milestone lets you pick and choose from EQ presets for both playback on your earphones and the phone’s speaker. The phone is really good for listening to Rock, Metal and Classical music. It also delivers punchy bass for those Kanye West and Daft Punk tracks on your playlist. The Milestone’s large screen is ideal for watching videos too. Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t natively support XviD/DivX videos but there are enough free video converters on the Web for that purpose. Also, you can download the yxplayer from the Android Market to directly play DivX/XviD videos on your phone.
The Motorola Milestone’s 5MP camera, however, disappoints. Pictures that we shot were overexposed and looked washed out. There were also above average levels of noise in the pictures. Lowlight pictures were decent because the flash is powerful at least for pictures shot at a short range. The video recording is much better and the videos looked decent and had good frame-rates.
A picture taken outdoors and a close-up picture taken indoors (click the images to enlarge)
The Milestone features Motorola’s patented Crystal Talk feature and it really makes a difference in call quality. The phone’s battery underperformed and was just able to last for more than a day.
When first launched as the Droid, the Motorola Milestone was hyped beyond measure. I’m glad to report that most of the hype has real world basis. Any way you look at it, the Milestone is an impressive smartphone in spite of its heavy price-tag of Rs. 28,600 (in India). Yes, the Apple iPhone 3GS still remains the best smartphone thanks to its Touch UI and app support, but the Milestone can stand proudly at second place. Undoubtedly, the Milestone is one of the best Android phones in the market (the HTC Legend is another strong contender).
And I’m also glad to say that that the ads were true: the Droid truly does.
(If you aren’t clued in on the Motorola Milestone’s excellent U.S. ad campaign, check it out here).