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Motorola Wilder Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Great call quality
  • Resilient, compact design

The Bad

  • Unresponsive touchscreen
  • Unimpressive camera
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The Motorola Wilder is an inexpensive touchscreen phone aimed at the budget end of the market. Currently priced at around the £60 to £70 mark it’s most definitely a phone of the pay-as-you-go variety that’s being pitched at those who want a phone to do the basics.

Coming with a dust and water resistant design similar to last year’s Motorola Defy, the Motorola Wilder looks set to be a resilient little trooper. But is there more to this than just an attractive price point? We took the Motorola Wilder to town to see what else it had to offer us.


Motorola Wilder design and build

Like the Motorola Defy before it, the Wilder’s external connections – 3.5mm jack and microUSB – are protected by a dust-proof plug. Design-wise it’s pretty similar to the Defy in other aspects. It’s got the same the curved trapezoid shape overall and a thin battery cover. It’s also really light in the hand, much lighter than the dense and blocky Alcatel OT-990.

That said, it’s also pretty small, not much bigger than a credit card/Oyster card in terms of area (dimensions: 105 x48x13mm).

The 2.8-inch touchscreen of the Motorola is of the resistive variety and sports a resolution of 320×240. We’re not expecting the screen to be that high-res for £70 and actually, the viewing angles offered by the Wilder are pretty good, as is general legibility in sunlight.

Despite this, its pretty unresponsive to finger swipes and taps. We often found ourselves either not activating an on-screen option, or accidentally clicking something else by mistake.

There’s a mechanical ‘Home’ key on the front that keeps you anchored to the main home screen and is useful for when you want to jump back to square one in a pinch. Shame that there’s not a complimentary back button that would just take you back one stage though.

This sits bottom left on the Wilder’s body, next to a small secondary LED screen which displays the time, battery levels and signal strength. This second screen flashes us with a notifier whenever you’ve got an unread message (handy) and if you tap the volume rocker, it’ll play a little animation of a woodland scene (cute).

 

Motorola Wilder user interface

The Motorola Wilder runs on a proprietary Java-based OS and sports a simple, easy to navigate user interface.

The main homescreen is a simple clear area with four shortcuts to the phone dialler, text messages, contacts book and a main menu screen, where all the other functions and features are housed.

Icons in the main menu are big and colourful and are displayed in a large 3×3 grid. There’s three pages of icons to thumb through. The first page contains shortcuts to the essentials like network and general phone settings with the second consisting of built-in multimedia functions like the music player, radio and camera. The third page contains shortcuts to web-based applications like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Motorola Wilder browser

The Motorola Wilder’s stock browser is pretty simple, coming with basic forward and back controls, a refresh icon and a large nav bar at the top. There’s the option to add bookmarks as you go, but as you can imagine, things are pretty cramped on the 2.8-inch screen.

We only seemed to be able to have one window open at a time and pages with lots of images struggled. Flash content and anything requiring a plug-in simply doesn’t want to play ball.

Browsing the web and in fact all the web-based features of the Wilder are pretty slow going in fact; this isn’t a 3G phone and there’s no Wi-Fi either, so we weren’t able to take advantage of the ubiquitous hotspots to connect to the web.

Opera Mini also came installed on our review copy of the Wilder but we seemed to have problems launching this so we can’t say for sure if this offers any improvement. We also couldn’t seem to find a way to re-download Opera Mini either.


Motorola Wilder multimedia

The Wilder’s camera is a simple 2-megapixel effort. We liked that there’s a sprinkling of fun effects like sepia mode and options to adjust contrast, but didn’t like that a lot of the virtual sliders to adjust some of these didn’t work that well; something we again can chalk up to the unresponsive touchscreen.

There’s no flash and it doesn’t cope very well with poorly-lit areas. The camera doesn’t focus on objects very quickly either, sometimes resulting in blurred shots. Though there’s a mechanical shutter key on the side which should allow us to take pictures easily, it requires a definite firm squeeze to work, another factor which can lead to blurry pics.

There’s an on-screen control that allows you to quickly switch from static shots to video recording. Video recording isn’t particularly impressive either, suffering from the same blurring if you pan too quickly in any direction.

A handful of Java games and apps (Need for Speed Shift, SoundHound, Tetris) came preloaded and there looks to be an option to download more as well; we couldn’t seem to be able to get this to work though, and Need for Speed simply wouldn’t load at all. The SoundHound app also didn’t work as well as its iOS and Android equivalents, often not registering our requests at all.

Performance

Call quality on the Motorola Wilder is fine, with calls to both mobiles and landlines sounding loud and clear on both ends.

The touchscreen unfortunately does not respond that well to finger presses and swipes. Thumbing through menus is a pain, and simple bread-and-butter tasks like writing a text message or dialling a number is frustrating.

There’s a T9-style numeric pad for composing texts in portrait that’s a little fiddly, particularly when you want to switch between capitalising letter and lowercase – one tap too many on the ‘ENG/eng’ button at the bottom of the screen and you’ll start cycling through various language options when all you wanted to do was capitalise something in a text. There’s a qwerty option as well which is a little better. But you’re stuck to composing texts in landscape

The dedicated camera key on the side thankfully means that you don’t have to rely on the unresponsive touchscreen to take shots, but as we’ve said elsewhere, its stiffness means that it’s not exactly easy to use.


Verdict

The Motorola Wilder’s price may be attractive, but we don’t think that that really saves it. Basic tasks like writing text messages are difficult and the unresponsive resistive screen basically makes doing anything tricky.

On the plus side, the call quality is fine which is essentially what you want from a no frills handset. I

But compared to the likes of the Orange Monte Carlo (£120) and Alcatel OT-990 (£100), only slightly more expensive, we feel that you get more for your money.

Specification

OSOther

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