Motorola Dext

A passable smartphone, the Dext drops points for its underpowered processor and its old version of Android. Worse still, the Motoblur social networking software packages fail to live up to their promise and needs further refinement.


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CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Motorola is targeting social media types — that's anyone who can't bear the thought of finishing this review without taking a quick break to check what Stephen Fry is up to — with two new phones, the Dext and the Backflip, running Google's Android operating system.

Motoblur

Both the Dext and the Backflip feature a service dubbed Motoblur that pushes SMSes, status updates, emails, messages and photo upload notifications through to widgets that are pre-installed on the Motorola's main home screen via the Motoblur servers; all one has to do is sign up for a Motoblur account and begin linking in your email, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Picasa (no Flickr we're afraid), MySpace and Last.fm accounts.

Motoblur receives a pass mark, just, if it's restricted to Facebook and email accounts. Add in Twitter, though, and you could be sailing for trouble. If you're following a bazillion twitterers — especially journalists, websites or those with verbal diarrhoea — your Motoblur Happenings screen could soon be deluged with so many news updates, loo statuses and "what type of sandwich?" conundrums that you'll miss the news about Shaz and Baz's engagement.

Those of us who demand instant gratification will be disappointed that there's a delay of anywhere between a few minutes to half an hour before the latest updates appear, with no way of forcing Motoblur's Happenings widget or combined inbox to refresh. A few other quirks abound, for instance Twitter comments made @you don't turn up in either your inbox or your Happenings screen, nor do responses to your Facebook statuses and comments. And while all Facebook status updates have a handy "add a comment" button in the Happenings widget, responding to tweets involves a rather unintuitive green icon and an extra button press or two — or you could just flip the keyboard out and begin typing, a trick that's applicable with almost every application.

All these small failings add up and more often than we cared to count we resorted to using Facebook's official Android app, as well as third-party Twitter apps, to do our social bidding.

The phone automatically aggregates all of your phone, email and social networking contacts; handy for when you're checking up on what everyone's up to, less so when you're trying to make an urgent call. Thankfully, it's easy to restrict the contact list display to, say, just phone contacts, but unfortunately it can't be cajoled into showing a combination of phone, Gmail and Facebook contacts to exclusion of Twitter and MySpace. Over time this may become less and less of an issue as you import contacts from your SIM card and begin linking phone contacts to their social networking selves.

Design and performance

Possibly due to its thickness — the Dext measures 114mm long, 58mm wide and 15.6mm thick — the Dext feels heavier than its 163g weight. The reason the Dext is more Kirsty Alley than Kate Beckinsale is it that has a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard. The raised and rounded keys are easy to tap quickly and respond with a resounding click. The space bar and Alt keys, with their prominent indent and position near the keyboard lip, as well as their lack of positive feedback, slow down the typing rate significantly though.

Motorola Dext keyboard

Letter keys are easy to press and have positive feedback; the space bar not so much.
(Credit: Motorola)

To the left of the keyboard's keys is a five-way controller that rarely gets used, except to move the text cursor. While the keys on the on-screen keyboard are best suited to the slimmest part of a finger — especially the keys close to the edge of the screen, we're looking at you P — the predictive text usually makes up for this, unless, of course, you're typing "Persephone's pippies are piping hot".

The nice enough 3.1-inch, 320x480 capacitive touchscreen is let down by the rest of the Dext's hardware and operating system package. The underpowered 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A processor means that operating the Dext isn't as smooth as it should be, with the occasional bout of serious lag. On top of that Motorola has only kitted out the Dext with Android 1.5, so the latest interface improvements, as well as updates to the web browser, Google Maps and Android Market, are off limits until Motorola sees fit.

Despite Motorola's claim of six hours of talk time and 13.5 days on standby, the best we managed to eke out of the Dext with mild usage — surfing on the 30-minute commute to and from work, plus the odd text message and phone call — was two days from a full battery charge.

Plans and other features

The Dext is currently only available in Australia through Optus; the handset is available for AU$0 when locked for two years into the company's AU$49 "yes" Social plan that includes a more than sufficient 500MB of data per month. Although we had no problems surfing the net on Optus' 3G/HSDPA network, on numerous occasions our photo uploads stalled and status updates were lost in the ether. Turning Wi-Fi on helped alleviate these problems, but made it impossible to download apps from the Android Market.

Motorola Dext photo sample

Photos are decent enough when scaled down; 100 per cent crop (inset).
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

There's 256MB of on-board memory for applications, while a 2GB microSD card comes pre-installed with Australian Dexts, which when combined with the top-mounted 3.5mm jack, it makes the Dext a decent, if not particularly capacious, music player. The Dext's 5-megapixel camera snaps reasonable stills, but the lack of a flash is annoying. It's also able to record quite smooth 3GP wrapped MPEG-4 videos that, given the poor 352x288 resolution, are a detail-free zone.

A GPS antenna is wired into the Dext allowing for Google Maps positioning and photo geotagging, although turn-by-turn navigation requires purchasing third-party software, such as Sygic's Mobile Maps.

Conclusion

A passable smartphone, the Dext drops points for its underpowered processor and its old version of Android. Worse still, the Motoblur social networking software packages fail to live up to their promise and needs further refinement.

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steph
2
Rating
 

steph posted a review   

The Good:nothing

The Bad:everything

crap phone. bluetooth doesnt work properly, software crashes, freezes, phone has been replaced once and in for repair twice. ive had it for 6 months and two of it has been off for repair. battery doesnt last long and the phone has a mind of its own somedays. opens things without u touching anything and mine started calling people without me touching it. wouldnt touch this phone.

brub
5
Rating
 

brub posted a review   

The Good:keyboard

The Bad:everything

SUPER LAG. first 1-2 months was okay,then it started lagging. wifi not working,smses got in real slow. everything was bad,when you're playing games,it lags. market app is good though. if you're a frequent texter,this phone is not good for spamming. touchscreen also doesnt work :@

BrettF
4
Rating
 

BrettF posted a review   

The Good:Its a Phone but thats about it

The Bad:Crashes, Locks up, Web will not load, Maps find me but don't display map, Take 1 and a half weeks to send an MMM

Was not sure about it when I bought it and now it has been confirmed.
After 2 months had to send the phone back and they replaced it.
It was locking up for no reason and then 5min to restart. Soft/W crashed all the time. was very frustrating. New phone sent out now a new set of problems. Web will not load, Maps will not load even with 3G on, GPS on etc.
Phone slow to respond some times and when making a call trying to hang up is not easy.
I have had Nokia for year I should of stayed with them.
:( Very disappointed with product and Optus Service.

MP
9
Rating
 

MP posted a review   

The Good:One of the best phones ive ever owned

The Bad:Touch is crap, Has fits every now and then

I love this phone, its so customisable, the app store is amazing, the camera is heaps good, if you know how to use the bluetooth properly (you need to download an app) it works perfectly. Texting is so easy, internet is heaps good. I drop mine nearly daily and have had it for months, so its been a good phone.

mike
7
Rating
 

mike posted a review   

The Good:keyboard

The Bad:no flash

i purchased my motorola cliq (as it's called in the usa) while i was on exchange and it was absolutely fantastic, the 5mp camera was the only camera i used on my trip and the motoblur system, whilst sometimes tedious, invariable helped me whittle away the hours on busses or doing nothing walking between buildings checking up on what people had been up to. i;ve just managed to get my sim subsidy unlock and i've just now put in my old vodaphone prepaid card but have somehow missplaced my 2gb minisd after having to take it out in the pursuit of getting the phone unlocked through sketchy asian electronic stores. i'm hoping the performance i get in australia matches up to what i get in the usa. hard to figure out at the start but all the best things in life are.

Smj337
7
Rating
 

Smj337 posted a review   

The Good:Capacitive TouchScreen, Wifi, Physical Keyboard

The Bad:Out-dated Android OS, Battery life, Difficult to use

The phone is ok, but feels unfinished. I wish I hadn't bought it but on the other hand I wont be replacing it for a while. The Wifi and 3G on it are Impressively fast and the screen is a dream to browse the internet on. The G-mail and calendar synchronization makes it a breeze to organize life. More a business phone than a social networking phone, and the ancient 1.5 android OS is just laziness on Motorolas part.

Jenny
9
Rating
 

Jenny posted a review   

The Good:Ease of use and great functionality

The Bad:Nothing really

I purchased 2 Dext phones for my business and after 1 month of use I am totally happy with the phone. It is really easy to use, no lag time, it does everything the specs promise and the Optus business plan with the data package included is fantastic. I have multiple emails accounts which sync perfectly and enables me to do absolutely everything I need to do whilst out of the office. If you need to use Skype on your mobile check out the Fring android App which interfaces with your Skype account plus heaps more. The only reason I didn't give it a 10/10 is because the camera doesn't have a flash which isn't a problem for me but some users may think that's important.

 

Harry666 posted a comment   

The Good:nothing good

The Bad:everything

i wouldnt ever recommend this phone to anyone,the software crashes,the bluetooth is horrible and the battery life goes down without me doing anythink.

 

citychic posted a comment   

The Good:The size

The Bad:Software Crashes all the time and battery life

I would not recommend this phone to anyone. The software crashes all the time and the tech support is non-exsistent. Can't believe I now have 24 months on this horrible phone.

 

ajc posted a comment   

The Good:all social media is available

The Bad:bluetooth and battery

I have had this phone for 48 hours. It has taken some time to get it together, but it has everything i like on a phone. The bluetooth sux and so does the battery .But everything else is good


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User Reviews / Comments  Motorola Dext

  • steph

    steph

    Rating2

    "crap phone. bluetooth doesnt work properly, software crashes, freezes, phone has been replaced once and in for repair twice. ive had it for 6 months and two of it has been off for repair. battery d..."

  • brub

    brub

    Rating5

    "SUPER LAG. first 1-2 months was okay,then it started lagging. wifi not working,smses got in real slow. everything was bad,when you're playing games,it lags. market app is good though. if you're a f..."

  • BrettF

    BrettF

    Rating4

    "Was not sure about it when I bought it and now it has been confirmed.
    After 2 months had to send the phone back and they replaced it.
    It was locking up for no reason and then 5min t..."

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