Analysis: Motorola Manages to Impress Tech Community with Android Moto CLIQ

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Motorola’s crazy four-letter naming convention continues in the post-RAZR era with the launch of the newly unveiled Motorola Moto CLIQ at today’s GigaOM Mobilize 09 event. Unfortunately, due to personal issues of identity theft, I had to end my sojourn to San Francisco early and didn’t get to spend some hands-on time with the CLIQ, but the device did manage to impress some of our tech friends and Motorola’s critics in the blogging communities.

Motorola and its PR firm did a successful job about building buzz around the CLIQ between the press announcement this morning and the press reception this evening. After the press announcement, I’d overheard dissatisfaction among the media community that the device was a let down as many had anticipated more from Motorola to return the iconic firm back to its glory days. However, after the media event this evening, a lot has changed as many of the toughest critics from the morning’s event warmed up to the device. It has been described from anything as a cool, well designed slab of metal with a glass screen to being highly responsive to the touch with its capacitive screen.

Read on to see if Motorola could once again ascend into smartphone stardom and gain the iconic status that it has once created with the RAZR.

In person, I will admit, the design looks gorgeous. It’s small, slim, and many note that it is thinner than the HTC Hero, and has a cool Motorola logo on the back that is unveiled when the horizontal QWERTY slider is open that really lights up–Motorola really took a cue from the MacBooks from Apple on that little detail.

Aside from that, the Moto CLIQ uses a UI overlay on top of Google’s Android OS, which debuted HTC T-Mobile G1. Compared to the HTC devices, Motorola’s device, available in titanium and white in the near future, looks more chic and sophisticated. In fact, I would argue that it makes the G1 and MyTouch 3G look like kids toys, which is no easy feat to accomplish given the adorable Android device’s penchant for the retro chin that wins the geek hearts in many. Motorola made sure to mention that fashion divas would approve of the color choices, and we’re really hoping that for everyone’s sake, our own Jenna Gonzalez, pocketnow.com‘s resident fashionista and tech guru, would approve of the results and Moto’s forwardness with trying to lure in the female audience.

Speaking of the MyTouch 3G–it is available for $99 courtesy of talk show icon Oprah’s endorsement with the code “kickoff24” during check out according to sources from The Boy Genius Report.

Now, back to Motorola. The UI overlay is called Moto BLUR, and the UI makes Android into an uber-webOS device with its always-on, always connected, and relationship-focused feeling that was embodied on the Palm Pre. However, unlike Palm, which managed to wow and impress with an entirely new OS built from the ground up, Motorola achieved this effect with a simple UI overlay, much in the same way that HTC has done with TouchFLO 3D for Windows Mobile or Sense UI on Android. The CLIQ will be a widgets-based UI, much like the Nokia N97 for those familiar.

What’s curious is how Dr. Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola, downplayed Google Android as the core OS and really stressed Moto BLUR. While we get the company wants to emphasize its strategic advantage, Google must not be all too happy with its OEM stealing glory.

Is the Moto CLIQ the phoenix for Motorola to rise again? According to Dr. Jha, it’s a small first step, to be one of many, in the company’s hopeful ascent to the top of the mobile world.

There is lots to like about the CLIQ and Moto BLUR as the UI overlay. If you like Android, the solid pieces of Android are there–an app store to purchase programs, Google connectivity, a good web browser, and solid performance in voice and text communications. Moto BLUR adds in the always-connected, relationship aspect of communications, connecting you to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites and gets an aggregate RSS of people’s Tweets, status messages, and more. To put that in context, for example, if Brandon‘s tweets say that he is enraged, it will show up on his photo caller ID on my Moto CLIQ when he calls and I will be sure to send it to voicemail.

It’s the little details that matter in the competitive smartphone space, and Motorola has a lot going for them. It’d be interesting to see how Motorola and Palm play it out with webOS and Moto BLUR, but the CLIQ is definitely a solid contender if you’re a heavy social networker.

The device will be a T-Mobile exclusive when it will launch, which is said to be in time for the holiday shopping season. It will also be known as the Moto DEXT for the international market, with Orange being a named carrier partner among others.

You can learn more about the Moto CLIQ from Motorola.

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About The Author
Chuong Nguyen