Motorola "AURA"

Since we are close to Christmas this review might be a little off topic regarding watches but in season regarding the holidays. Just received the "Aura" as a present last week (I guess it pays being well connected...).

Let me start at the end of my review... Is it worth 2,000$ or 1,500€? Well, yes and no. On one side it is quite a piece of hardware but it will not make me drop my iPhone for it. The reason being that the iPhone as a tool and everyday companion is simply unrivaled. In a few words the iPhone is "Mobile Phone 2.0" while all the rest, including the Aura, are still 1.0 mobile phoning. While some have dramatically increased the level of hardware (Vertu, Mobiado, Meridiist, Gresso...) the software is the same ol' unhelpful crap that we have been blessed with for the last decade. Remove color, fancy sounds and you just have the same software they "all" made a decade ago. The problem is not so much related to a larger screens and more resolution but much more related to common sense. For now only Apple have managed to get close to what we as users really need.

Now back to the Aura. The first impression is that it's a very sexy piece of kit. Not as sturdy as a Vertu but with a screen that will, dare I say it?.. blow you nuts off. Literally. This thing has a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch)! In layman's terms, this resolution is what you get out of a printer. Right now, the resolution that you are using on your monitor (while wasting precious time reading my blog) is approximately 72 dpi. In some cases you will get a whooping 120 dpi. I have never seen this kind of resolution on a commercial screen before. Only commercial and military planes have better quality screens on their flight instruments. This makes anything on this phone look like butter. Seriously, contrast and light is so good that it looks like a fake. Like a prototype where the screen is printed on a transparency and lit with an LCD bulb. Eery feeling...

Now, after a week here are my impressions;

I like:
- The screen. So good it's scary.
- The size makes it a much more pleasant alternative to other "high-end" competitors.
- It is a very atractive phone. The graphics have been somewhat improved compared to previous products of the brand.
- You can update the Firmware yourself. Believe me, you will need to do that in the future...
- Reception is quite strong. Motorola do that quite well.
- The clocks as screensavers. Simply magnificent. Just close it and spend 30 seconds looking at it...
- It is not 3G. Completely useless feature in a "glam-phone". Puts a lot of unnecessary strain on battery life. EDGE and GPRS are more than sufficient for wap, sms, and mms.
- The screen. Again, it's so good it's scary.

I don't like:
- Menus are slow. Obviously. The screen has quite a large resolution at 16 million colors. It would take a very large amount of processing power to drive it properly.
- Icons are jumpy. Again, if you don't have enough CPU power just stop making moving icons! It's better to have them fixed instead of jumping around.
- Bluetooth is less than stable when syncing.
- Sound quality is a bit too crisp.
- Interferences can be heard through the speaker when speaking. A big NO NO at this stage of development. This "might" be resolved with an upcoming firmware update.
- Menus are still too clumsy. You need to touch too many buttons to go where you ultimately want to be.
- The center navigation button should have been a wheel. It is a bit too close to other buttons.
- The mini-USB connector. Complete bullshit! (I hate micro and mini USB ports!) Unless they become a standard everywhere they are but a nuisance.
- The battery life is barely 24 hours under moderate use... about 2 hours talk time. It will hold if you charge it every night though. If it had a regular USB port and not a mini-USB you could emergency charge almost anywhere. But no, they HAD to put that mini-USB connector...
- The supplied headset is not worth unwrapping.
- I suspect a black PVD version soon. Yes, they guys over at Motorola are soooo predictable sometimes...
- The battery indicator has only three segments. At least five would be adequate.
- The motorola icons are still on the "crapish" side. They urgently need a good designer to redo them.

I miss:
- More options to personalize themes further.
- The front light, around the logo, can't be modified to light in certain conditions etc...
- It would have been awesome to add a chime, repeater, sonerie, etc... function. Synthesize a the sound of a hammer and repeat away!
- A weather forecast.
- A charging stand. this would make you drop it there when you go to bed and take it back fully charged in the morning.

Like I said, the Aura will not make me drop my iPhone as a day-phone, yet it will make me get a second card and use this when I go out at night. The iPhone is a bit large, clumsy and less than sexy. Leaving it at home while going out for the evening and preventing you from checking your email, weather or the latest news will be very welcomed by your date and friends.

My Aura...

P.s. Does Motorola have one of the slowest loading sites on the net or is it just me?

1 comment:

Mr Bond said...

One of the main extra-features about this phone is that it indirectly gave birth to a commentary such as the one above.

That in itself justifies its presence on the market.

Whether one should buy it is another question...