Style & Handling Summary
The Motorola Dext isn't a small phone – in fact, the slide-out QWERTY keyboard makes it rather bulky. Saying that, it does feel good in the hand whether open or closed.
User Friendliness Summary
Integration of email and social networks is easy, with automatic settings and step-by-step instructions for set-up.
Feature Set Summary
A slide-out QWERTY keyboard, touch-screen, Wi-Fi, a five-megapixel camera, access to Google's Android marketplace and MOTOBLUR for full integration are all here.
The touch-screen is accurate and responsive, even with the on-screen QWERTY keyboard. HSPDA lags, but the messaging and social network integration is excellent.
Battery Power Summary
The Motorola Dext has 360 minutes' talktime – a good amount of power for such a feature-heavy device.
Organising your social life is a breeze with the excellent integration of contact, email and social networks. It's just a shame that the build is a little flimsy and the HSDPA data connection sluggish.
Full Review and Specification for the Motorola DEXT
It's been a while since Motorola has been with us and, sentimental types that we are, we're happy to have it back in the game. The manufacturer would claim it's never been away, of course, but other than the highly priced Aura, there's not been a peep from one of the industry's leading manufacturers for quite some time.
We've been hearing rumours of a Google Android phone for a while now, but many have passed them off as gossip. Until now – and the Motorola Dext is well worth the wait.
We do like the combination of a QWERTY keyboard and a touch-screen, and it's becoming more common on high-end handsets. The Nokia N97 and T-Mobile GI both featured the winning combo, and what they have in common with the Motorola Dext is their bulk – they are large devices that would benefit from losing a little weight. Saying that, the Dext feels great in both its open and closed states. The top part feels a bit flimsy, though, and we're not sure if it could withstand any more than a light bump.
The 3.1-inch capacitive touch-screen can be swiped sideways to get to any one of the five home screens. We would have expected to see haptic feedback – a vibrating response to your touch-screen actions – but for some reason Motorola has chosen to leave it out. However, the touch-screen is very responsive and accurate, even when using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard, which is necessarily fairly small. Still, as you have the slide-out QWERTY keyboard at your disposal, you'd probably be better using that.
When the HTC Hero was launched, the accompanying press blurb described it as 'people-centric', and this would be a good way to describe the Motorola Dext. It's all made easy for you by a system the manufacturer calls MOTOBLUR. The idea is that all your contact information – emails, phone numbers and social network updates – are there for you to view in one go. It's really easy to set up. The first time you switch the handset on, it will prompt you to to set up any email accounts for which you want to receive push alerts and whichever social networks, such as Twitter or Facebook, you use. Settings are preset and automatic for all but the most obscure email providers, so you simply follow the step-by-step instructions.
Once set up, you will be alerted to each new email, update or tweet by a symbol at the top of the screen and a white blinking light in the top right-hand corner when the phone is inactive. If you have two email accounts, for instance for work and personal use, the Dext will merge them together into one list – unless you choose to separate them. In fact, you have complete control over what you wish to receive and what you want to filter out – it's brilliantly integrated.
Depending on how much information your contacts have provided, your address book will show their profile picture, phone number, email address and birthday as well as direct access to their Facebook, Twitter or MySpace page. Bebo is set to be added shortly, and Motorola says more will follow. You can also view your contact history with each contact in a conversation-style list.
Another great feature is that if you have your contact's address, all you need to do is click on it and Google Maps will pinpoint its exact location.
MOTOBLUR will be present on all future Motorola Android devices (and we're assured we can expect more).
Of course, one of the potential dangers of having all this information in one device is that security could be compromised. Motorola has considered this, though, and added some clever security features.
If you access your MOTOBLUR account from your desktop computer you can locate your handset using Google Maps together with the on-board GPS. You have to hope that if you do lose your phone, you do so in a place which has a good GPS signal, and we're not sure how useful the function would be if your handset had been stolen.
If your phone is stolen, you can remotely wipe the content, and it's all automatically backed up by MOTOBLUR. If you then chose to replace your Dext with another – or, presumably, a future Motorola Android – you can simply replace all the information to your new handset.
There's more to the Motorola Dext than MOTOBLUR. For web browsing it offers both Wi-Fi and HSDPA. Unfortunately, even with HSDPA data speeds, websites were slower to load than we would have expected. This could be down to the operator rather than the phone, but as the Dext is currently exclusive to Orange, that doesn't help much.
When we swapped to Wi-Fi, though, the internet performance was excellent. Web pages were vibrant and crisp, and you can view them in full, although there is necessarily some scrolling involved.
If you press down anywhere on the pages, you can copy the URL address to paste on email, texts or whatever you want. This is a handy feature if you want to share breaking news stories or sports results. You can set up RSS feeds to any of your home screens to receive updates from your favourite sites.
Because the Motorola Dext is a Google device, you can access the Android market, a constantly growing applications store with thousands of apps. You can search for your specific app by category or by using the search tool. Android is now a genuine competitor to Apple's App Store, although some apps took several tries to download.
If Android phones could also carry high-spec cameras we would be delighted. Sadly, the Motorola Dext is true to form. The five-megapixel camera has no zoom or flash, which rather knocks it out of the running as a viable digital camera. While you can zoom into photos after you've taken them, quality will deteriorate when you do so.
But the camera isn't a total loss by any means. We like that your last photo is displayed on the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and rotates according to whether you are holding the device horizontally or vertically.
The geo-tagging function is also impressive, displaying the city and postcode location of a picture before you even take it – although if you can't get a GPS fix, an error message will appear.
Once you've taken your photo, you can upload it to one of a number of social networks, and the same applies to video footage. You can record up to five and a half hours of footage, but at only 24fps, it might not be the best medium for your movie masterpiece.
Google Maps is as impressive as ever. Here, you even get street view, which means you can see a panoramic view of most locations from street level. The GPS connection itself is quick and accurate, but we lost data connection more than once.
As for the other features on the Motorola Dext: you have access to Shazam, the music identification service, and voice control, which lets you tell Google your search terms instead of typing them in. A 3.5mm headphones jack is a welcome addition.
We are big fans of the Motorola Dext but while we started off loving it, now we just like it a great deal. Even hardcore technophobes will find it easy to integrate email and social networking accounts – it's a simple process that works intuitively. Another plus point is that you can access the Android market's thousands of applications. In fact, early adopters are likely to rush for a taste of the Dext's high-end features.
There are just enough flaws to prevent the Motorola Dext getting an A+. The flimsy top half of the phone is worrying and the supposedly high-speed HSDPA access doesn't perform as hoped. But it's still a high-calibre handset, and is easily enough to put Motorola back in it's rightful place among the big mobile names. Welcome back, Moto.