Motorola Cliq XT - silver (T-Mobile) review:

Motorola Cliq XT - silver (T-Mobile)

The Motorola Cliq XT comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, an extra back plate in a metallic purple, a wired stereo headset, a 2GB microSD card, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

The Motorola Cliq XT's feature set is largely similar to the Cliq's, as both smartphones run Motoblur software and Android 1.5. We're not going to dive into every detail of Motoblur and the OS here (for more information, please read our full review of the Motorola Cliq for T-Mobile) but instead will focus on some of the new functions specific to the Cliq XT. Before we move on, however, we know many of you are wondering when these smartphones will be upgradeable to Android 2.1. Motorola has posted a general release schedule on its support site, and the upgrade for the Cliq (as well as the Cliq XT we're told) is planned for Q2. Unfortunately, we don't have a more specific date for you, but we can only hope the over-the-air updates will be pushed out on the earlier side, starting in April.

One cool thing you get on the Cliq XT right out of the gate is a revamped music player that integrates a handful of connected services. From within the player, you can now stream music from ShoutCast radio, identify songs with SoundHond, and search and view music videos on YouTube or GoTV. Also integrated into the player is TuneWiki Community, which has several components, such as Music Maps where you can see what other people are listening to around your current location or other major cities. What we like best about the player is that it provides numerous ways to discover new music as well as the capability to purchase tracks and share recommendations in one seamless experience.

Connectivity, in general, is a strong point of the Cliq XT. Motoblur takes care of merging your contacts, e-mail, and calendar entries from various accounts and social-networking sites into a master list, and streams any new happening or updates via home-screen widgets. The smartphone also offers quad-band world roaming, 3G support, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.0. The Cliq XT's Android HTML WebKit browser allows you to open multiple windows and has support for Flash Lite 8.1, so you should be able to view Flash content, such as YouTube videos, right from the browser.

Of course, you still get the dedicated YouTube app as well as other standard Android apps and offerings, including Google Maps, Google Talk, Gmail, Google voice search, and the Quickoffice Suite. There were some extra apps loaded on our device, such as TeleNav GPS Navigator, Slacker Radio, and Shazam, but there are plenty more titles in the Android Market available for download. As always, though, be aware that you can only save apps to the phone's main memory and not to an SD card.

The Cliq XT has a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash, digital zoom, and autofocus. It can also record MPEG video at 24 frames per second at HVGA resolution. There are standard editing options, such as color effects, white balance, and picture quality. The smartphone is GPS-enabled so you can geotag photos as well as add custom tags if you please.

Picture quality was amazingly good.

We were quite impressed with the picture quality. The image shot above was taken in a rather dimly lit room, but the XT's camera managed to grab a very sharp and vibrant shot, even without the flash. There is a little bit of shutter lag, so don't pull your hand away too quickly after pressing the capture button.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Motorola Cliq XT in New York using T-Mobile service and call quality was great. There was barely any background noise or voice distortion on our end, allowing us to talk carefree with friends. The sound was rich and there was plenty of volume, so we had no problems using an airline's voice automated response system. Callers also praised the XT and commented, in particular, about the lack of any background noise. We did get a slight bit of hissing when we activated the speakerphone, but only during breaks in the conversation. The speaker has plenty of volume, too, so we had no problems using the speakerphone in noisier environments. Pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones went off without a hitch as well.

T-Mobile's 3G network was mostly reliable throughout Manhattan, though it did drop to EDGE several times in the Midtown area. On average, CNET's full site loaded in 22 seconds; CNN and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 7 seconds and 6 seconds, respectively. With the built-in Flash Lite support, we were able to play YouTube videos right from the browser as well as video from other sites like Angry Alien. It took a couple of seconds to buffer, but clips played back smoothly with synchronized picture and audio. MP4 files also played back nicely, but again, we wish the display were bigger since it was a bit of a strain on the eyes. Music playback sounded rich and well-balanced whether we were listening to tracks through the phone's speakers or through our Bose On-Ear Headphones.

The Cliq XT is equipped with the same 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A processor as the Backflip, but thankfully didn't exhibit the same sluggishness and bugginess as AT&T's first Android phone. The XT wasn't a high-performance machine that blew us away with amazing speeds. There were some brief delays when switching screen orientations or launching an app, but the XT was much quicker to respond than the Backflip, and it handled multiple apps at once. We didn't experience any crashes or spontaneous reboots, so all in all, the Cliq XT felt like a stable machine.

The Motorola Cliq XT has a 1,420mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.5 hours and up to 13.5 days of standby time. XT fell short of the rated talk time in our battery drain tests, coming in at 5.25 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the Cliq XT has a digital SAR rating of 1.36 watts per kilogram.

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