We can understand how this might be advantageous on a phone with a large screen like that on the Droid X. However, the Charm has such a small screen that the new "cleaner" MotoBlur interface doesn't feel that different from the old one. The screen still looks much too cluttered when we enabled all of our social networking and messaging services, even after we resized the widgets to the absolute smallest size.
Of course, you can also add Android widgets like shortcuts and folders to the seven home screens. A small toolbar appears on the top of the display to show you which screen you're on as you're swiping. However, you can't quickly jump to a page, which you could with the HTC Sense Leap feature that gives you a thumbnail view of each screen. On the right side of the home screen are shortcuts to the phone dialer, the main menu, and the universal address book.
We do like that MotoBlur gives us the option for a universal in-box and contacts list, and we understand that the social networking widgets might be useful if you need quick access to them, but the Charm's small screen is ill-suited to all that widget clutter. As usual, you can customize the user interface if you like, and you don't need to use the MotoBlur widgets if you don't want to.
As we said, the Motorola Charm ships with Android 2.1. However, we have not yet heard from Motorola if it will be upgradable to 2.2. Of course, 2.1 isn't that bad either--you do get the multiple home screens, live wallpaper, speech-to-text, voice control, the ability to use more than one Gmail account, and more.
The Motorola Charm has a rather disappointing 3-megapixel camera. Though colors looked nice and natural, the images were a bit blurry and not as sharp as we would like, despite the Kodak Perfect Touch processing. There's also a video recorder that can record up to 24 frames per second. The music player is similar to other Android phones.
Android users will be familiar with some of the other core Android features. They include Gmail, POP3, and IMAP e-mail support, Microsoft Exchange synchronization for e-mail, calendar, and contacts, a unified e-mail in-box view, and the Android Webkit browser with Flash Lite support. Some of the voice features include speakerphone, speed dial, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view. You also get Bluetooth, compatibility with T-Mobile's 3G network, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Other apps included with the Charm are the Amazon MP3 store, MySpace, Quickoffice, Google Maps with Navigation, and YouTube. Of course you can always get more apps via the Android App Market.
We tested the Motorola Charm in San Francisco using T-Mobile and call quality was pretty good. On our end, conversations sounded mostly clear, though the voice quality was a touch more echo-heavy than we expected. We detected a slight hiss in the background, but little environmental sound otherwise.
On their end, callers said the same thing. They also thought the voice quality was strangely deeper than normal, but nothing too out of the ordinary. They heard very little background sound as well. On speakerphone, they said our voice was noticeably tinnier, and they had to ask us to speak up so they could hear us. We also detected a tinnier and hollow voice quality over the phone's tiny speakers.
We were mostly pleased with T-Mobile's 3G network. We experienced decent download speeds most of the time--we loaded the mobile BBC page in around 10 seconds, and CNET's full site loaded in 40. We also streamed some YouTube clips without too much buffering. Video quality was quite murky, though, and wasn't enhanced by the Charm's low screen resolution.
The Motorola Charm has a rather dinky 600Mhz processor, but it was still quite responsive in general. However, once we started to open multiple apps, we could see it chug a little when switching among different screens.
The Motorola Charm has a 1,170 mAH lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours talk time and 13.9 days standby time. The Charm had a tested talk time of 5 hours and 59 minutes. According to the FCC radiation tests, the Charm has a digital SAR of 1.23 watts per kilogram.