E-mail and calendar
The Cliq's e-mail options are extensive. You can add POP3 services such as Yahoo, Hotmail, and Windows Live as well as sync with corporate accounts that use Outlook Web Access (OWA). After we successfully added our Yahoo and corporate accounts during the Motoblur set-up process, our e-mail messages arrived without delay. The syncing of our CNET OWA account was mostly quick and seamless, and we much welcome the improvements over the MyTouch 3G. Not only are inbox folders arranged in alphabetical order (the MyTouch 3G listed folders randomly), but also folders synced automatically when we opened them. We also like the integrated Quickoffice support for viewing and editing Microsoft Excel and Word documents.
Syncing with Yahoo was also improved. Unlike with the MyTouch 3G, e-mail disappeared from our PC inbox when we deleted it on the phone. Also, we didn't experience the syncing error that occasionally plagued the Cliq's predecessor. On the other hand, we didn't like that you had to delete e-mail addresses individually. The MyTouch 3G offers a more convenient bulk delete for corporate e-mail.
We're glad to see that the Cliq joins the HTC Hero in offering Outlook calendar syncing--that remains a serious omission on the MyTouch. Motoblur will combine all Gmail and Outlook events into one master calendar, eliminating the need to view them on separate pages. You can create new events for any calendar right on the phone.
For mapping and GPS, you get Google Maps and an integrated TeleNav app. It offers a full GPS experience, including turn-by-turn driving directions, traffic alerts with one-click rerouting, business searches (with more than 10 million listings), gas prices, weather updates, and restaurant reviews. TeleNav is free for 14 days; after that you'll need a subscription. Google Maps offers directions (though not real-time turn-by-turn directions), standard map view, satellite view, and street view as well as access to Google Latitude. The handset also has an integrated compass.
As with other Android phones, the Android Market lets you download free and paid apps and games. The quantity and quality of apps continues to grow every day, so we'll spare you the usual "It's not like the iPhone" criticism. We're also glad to see that Google continues to enhance the Android Market interface as it updates the operating system. For more detail on the Android Market, check out our G1 review. For updates and reviews of available Android apps, visit our Android Atlas blog.
The Cliq also inherits one of Android's most peculiar limitations. You can store apps only on the handset's integrated memory, which is limited to 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM. The handset's memory card slot is only for saving for photos, music, and other attachment files (the slot is compatible with cards up to 32GB).
Music and video
The Cliq's music options are standard for Android phones. You'll find album art, playlists, shuffle, repeat, and an airplane mode for in-flight media use. The interface is simple and easy to navigate, and the player supports several file formats. You can view album art in a list format and you can instantly set any song as a ringtone directly from the music player by hitting the "Use as ringtone" button.
As expected, you can buy songs through the Amazon MP3 Store, which has DRM-free tracks. A single song costs about 89 cents, and an album can cost anywhere from $5 to $9. You also can transfer music to your Cliq using Bluetooth, the microSD card, or the included USB cable. We used the last method to successfully load a few tunes.
Video content is available through a YouTube app or clips that you load on the phone. It would be great if Google operated a movie purchase or rental option similar to iTunes, but perhaps that will come. Both the YouTube app and the video gallery feature are easy to use. Video quality using the former is average--as with the MyTouch 3G, the picture was rather blurry, but videos stored on the phone were fine.
The 5-megapixel camera takes pictures in three resolutions. Fortunately, its image editing options are more extensive than on the G1. You get seven color effects, an auto-focus, a digital zoom, five white balance settings, and three quality choices. A handy meter tells you many photos you can store and we like the one-touch access to the appealing slideshow and photo gallery features. The camcorder offers editing options similar to the still camera. Two quality choices are available: "low" for MMS messages and "high" for storing on the memory card.
The Cliq's photo quality was pretty good. Colors were natural and there was little image noise, but images had a very slight yellowish tinge. The shutter delay is still a bit long, though it's improved over the MyTouch 3G. We ended up with far fewer blurry shots than we did on the other handset. Videos captured with the Cliq were fine, but not anything exceptional. Movements in the video were blurry and there was an audible background hum. When finished editing videos, you can save them to the phone, forward them to friends, upload them to social media sites, or compose an audio postcard.
T-Mobile tweaked the HTML browser on the Cliq slightly. You're first greeted with T-Mobile Web2Go portal, which offers instant access your T-Mobile account, Gmail, Facebook, downloads, weather reports, news headlines, sports scores, and a several other content options. Amusingly, the default search on Web2Go is Yahoo rather than Google.
The Cliq's Web browsing experience was intuitive and responsive. Scrolling around Web pages was fluid and we could easily select links. The accelerometer makes for seamless switching between portrait and landscape mode and we like the onscreen icons that let you zoom without digging through too many menus. The Cliq supports copy and paste and tabs for your bookmarks, frequent sites, and history. You also can search on a page and open a new browser window.
You can personalize the Cliq with wallpaper and animations. More personalization options and additional ringtones are available from T-Mobile via the Web browser.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1,800/1,900) world phone in San Francisco. Its call quality was good, overall, though we encountered a few issues. Its audio volume was fine and there was little static or interference; however, callers' voices had a slight metallic effect. It wasn't especially distracting, but was noticeable. The handset also gives off a bit of "GSM buzz" in the background, though we didn't encounter any static or interference from other electronic devices.
On the other end of the call, our friends told a similar story. They could hear us fine, but they also mentioned the metallic tone and a decent amount of wind noise. Most of our friends could tell we were using a cell phone, but that's a typical experience. Automated calling systems and the voice-dialing feature could understand us as long as we were in a quiet location.
Speakerphone calls on the Cliq were acceptable. Its volume could get quite loud and we didn't have to stand close to the phone. At the highest volume levels, there was a bit of distortion, but it wasn't distracting. In any case, we like the easy process of switching from standard to speakerphone calls.
T-Mobile's AWS 3G network gives the phone a fast data connection. Downloads were zippy and Web pages loaded quickly. The Web browser will default to mobile Web sites, but even when accessing full sites, we didn't have to wait too long for them to load. One particularly graphics-heavy site, Airlines.net, loaded in about 10 seconds. On the downside, T-Mobile's 3G network doesn't have quite the coverage of AT&T's network, but it does appear to be faster in our tests. The Cliq supports the 900MHz, 1,700MHz, and 2,100MHz 3G bands.
The Cliq's music quality is admirable. Over the external speakers, our tunes didn't have a lot of warmth and the highest volume levels were bass-heavy, but it should be fine for short listening sessions. Of course, a headset will offer a better experience.
Unfortunately, the Google Maps location feature wasn't terribly accurate. It found our position quickly, but it could be off by a couple of blocks. It worked better than on the MyTouch 3G, but not by much. Directions over Google Maps are similar to a desktop experience. Keep in mind that (at least for now) it's not the robust navigation app that's on the cnet:link int="http://reviews.cnet.com/smartphones/motorola-droid-verizon-wireless/4505-6452_7-33783559.html">Motorola Droid. You get just text directions, as opposed to real-time voice-guided directions. Also, make sure the Cliq pinpoints your location accurately before you start on your way.
A better GPS solution is the included TeleNav app. We asked it to guide us from CNET's San Francisco offices to the San Francisco International Airport. We received the directions correctly, and it predicted the most efficient route accurately. It also made adjustments for traffic, though the suggested alternative routes were limited. Audible directions were clear and the speaker has enough volume.
The Cliq has a 528MHz processor and is occasionally sluggish when opening applications and shifting between menus. This seems to be typical of Android phones, as we've noticed on a few other supported handsets. There also was a noticeable pause when the accelerometer was shifting the display orientation. The delays weren't annoying, though, and we didn't have any system crashes.
The Cliq has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and 13.5 days standby time. Both of those promises are for GSM use, so when using 3G, it will use more power. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola Cliq has a digital SAR of 0.69 watt per kilogram.
Disclosure: Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET Reviews.