Motorola Gleam review: Motorola Gleam

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars 11 user reviews

The Good Simplistic design. Cool LED lights. Large, well-lit buttons.

The Bad Lousy camera. Proprietary closed operating system. Terrible web browser.

The Bottom Line Motorola are bringing back the flip phone with the Gleam. It does what it sets out to do at a reasonably cheap price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall


In the past two or three years, the "flip phone" has died out, making room for the new-generation candy bar-style form factors. With the Gleam, Motorola is looking to grab the hearts and minds of everyone wishing they could have their flip phones back. Then again, in this day and age, there's only so much functionality a flip phone can deliver.

The phone is made from a dark, matte plastic, with an "LED Matrix" display on the front of the device (when closed) that displays the time, as well as giving you a kind "Hello" when turned on. When you receive a message or phone call, it will also display an icon to let you know. We actually find it to be quite cool to look at. The bottom lip of the phone also has multiple LEDs in it, and it flashes when you open and close the phone, as well as when receiving a call or text.

The LED screen on the front of this flip phone looks cool, and shows a range of handy info.
(Credit: Buzz Moody/CBSi)

We found it really easy to flip the phone open and navigate through the menus using the soft-touch hardware buttons. They light up brightly at night for easy viewing, so you'll never accidentally hit the wrong button because you couldn't see it — and the keys are also quite large. The screen is 2.4 inches diagonally, which gives you enough room to send full-length texts and perhaps even view the poorly rendered websites in the browser.

The 2MP camera is on the front of the Gleam, above the LED Matrix display. There's a volume rocker and micro-USB port on the right-hand side, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left-hand side. The inclusion of the headphone jack makes this a pretty appealing, cheap portable music device that can also text, make calls and not do much else.

User experience and performance

After using the Motorola Gleam for a while, it was clear to us that this phone is no good if you're going to buy it for apps, emailing, browsing and all that high-tech tomfoolery. Instead, it's a very basic flip phone that can make calls perfectly well, text people with legible T9 text prediction, and listen to music thanks to the expandable micro-SD slot (up to 16GB).

At least the screen won't be covered in greasy fingerprints.
(Credit: Buzz Moody/CBSi)

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