I know I'm not the only one staring at my clunky T-Mobile G1 right now, willing it to transform into Motorola's new Cliq. I've never been a fan of the G1's thick slab of chin rest that came as part of Google and HTC's debut of the Android platform. And, in my opinion, the plastic slug never did Android any favors, especially when compared, as it inevitably was, with Apple's sexy iPhone.
The MyTouch 3G is much better designwise, with its smooth lines that make it a device people would actually want to use--and the updated Android operating system didn't hurt (of course, G1 users were also able to update.) Still, as a touch-screen device devoid of a physical keyboard, the MyTouch is nothing I'd want to own.
But now comes the Moto Cliq, which I took for a spin on the conference floor at CTIA Wireless 2009. In my opinion, it's the most compelling example of an Android phone out yet in the U.S. market. I'm a big fan of the three hardware keys that take you home, open the menu, and engage the "back" button. The slide-out keyboard in landscape mode makes the G1's uncomfortable keyboard hard to go back to.
I'm impressed with more than its hardware design though, the simple, but logical way that Motorola laid out the Android home screen on the Cliq. I'm not necessarily talking about the MotoBlur feature that pulls separate RSS feeds for your social networks to multiple home screen widgets. Depending on your level of social networking activity, MotoBlur could either induce seizures or prove irrelevant. Instead, I'm thinking of the three touch-sensitive tiles that slide up (or out, in landscape mode) a dial pad, you contacts list, and your apps. They're responsive, intuitive, and familiar enough in their placement to interest those on the fence between casting their lots with an Android phone or the iPhone. I like these tiles, and want to see more in future Android phones.