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Motorola Milestone XT720 Review

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Motorola’s follow-up to the Milestone has been a long time coming. Rocking an HD-shooting camera, a high-res 3.7-inch screen and having done away with the slide-out Qwerty, many see this as the company’s answer to the HTC Desire; but its design lets it down.

What we like

There’s something reassuringly solid in the industrial design of the Milestone XT720. I mean, we didn’t like it at all (see below), but it certainly felt like it could take a few knocks.

The Milestone XT720 comes running Android 2.1; we can live with this for now, although we’d like to see Froyo on there and we’ve heard no whiff of an update. We’re also ok with Motorola’s own skin over Android, although it’s not a million miles away from raw Android to be honest. It gives you five spacious homescreens to play with and the widget icons seem smaller than usual so you can cram a fair amount in, if you’re happy with a cluttered screen.

That display is a 3.7-inch WVGA display, quite big enough to show off full-web pages, although you’ll need to make use of pinch-to-zoom to read anything in detail.

The Motorola XT720’s camera is a quite beast; it’s got 8-megapixels for you to play with and a Xenon flash for low-light photography. Unlike most handsets, it offers you a physical button for quickly switching between video and still photo capture and loads of settings to play around with.

It certainly stands up against other HD-toting handsets that have come out of late, from the Sony Ericsson Vivaz to the iPhone 4. While not quite as straightforward to use as the iPhone, the native camera app gives you more options to play with, and the XT720 comes with a basic video editing app built-in. This is just as well, since there isn’t yet an iMovie equivalent for Android; although it could be worth giving YouTube’s Cloud video editor a try. It’s also nice of Motorola to include and HDMI cable so you can play your finished HD video straight on your TV. Not that we probably ever will…

What we don’t like

Honestly, what was Motorola thinking with this awful lopsided design? We can understand the industrial influences and even taking design cues from digital cameras, given the focus on the improved 720P camera. But to this reviewer’s eyes, the Motorola Milestone XT720 is Quasimodo in handset form.

The screen is a great size – 3.7-inches, that’s plenty of space and we should be oohing and aaahing over its crisp detail. But it’s dwarfed by the horrible bezel in a strange reflective finish, which makes it look cheap. There’s a weird chin at the bottom of the handset housing the microphone; we’ve no idea what the thinking was behind this chin, but it looks wrong.

The Milestone XT720 puts us in mind of a prototype handset; it doesn’t seem quite finished. The acid test is whether or not you feel embarrassed about getting the handset out in public… With the XT720, we did.

While the screen looks good to the naked eye, it isn’t massively responsive. This made typing on the on-screen Qwerty a bit of a pain, as did the less that 100% accurate calibration. We found ourselves missing the slide-out Qwerty of the original Milestone, despite its space-wasting D-pad.

Conclusion

Motorola’s Milestone follow-up delivers on updated hardware and impressive specs, but it’s massively let-down by a design that won’t appeal to everyone, especially compared to stylish HD-shooters like the iPhone 4 and the Sony Ericsson Vivaz. Still, it holds its own as an Android handset, with thoughtful app additions and Android 2.1 which can run the majority of App Market apps.

 

Specification

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