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Motorola Bali (Boost Mobile) review: Motorola Bali (Boost Mobile)

Motorola Bali (Boost Mobile)

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
5 min read


Motorola Bali (Boost Mobile)

The Good

The Motorola Bali is a slim and lightweight phone with external player controls. It has a music player, a 1.3-megapixel camera, GPS, stereo Bluetooth, and great call quality.

The Bad

The Motorola Bali has a very flat keypad, the display is lackluster, and the picture quality is not good.

The Bottom Line

The Motorola Bali is no chart-topper, but it does make for a decent midrange phone for Boost Mobile customers.

The latest Motorola handset to join the Boost Mobile family is the Motorola Bali, which is not unlike most other Motorola phones with its design. In fact, its thin profile and flat controls remind us a lot of a certain other famous Motorola handset: the Razr. That puts the Bali squarely in the old-fashioned design category, but that's not to say it's a bad look. The Bali's features are rather basic, which makes the $149.99 price point a little hard to swallow. Still, the Bali is available without a contract, so that should soften the blow.

If there was ever a phone that did not look like what it's called, the Bali would be it. The all-black boxy handset definitely does not remind us of the tropical destination of which it's named. It measures 3.8 inches long by 1.8 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, and has squared-off corners at the top, with a slightly curved edge at the bottom and angular sides. As we said earlier, the Bali's overall design is reminiscent of past Motorola handsets, like the Razr and the Krzr, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Its slim profile means it fits comfortably in the hand, and as it's quite lightweight at 2.6 ounces, you won't be bogged down by it, either.

The Motorola Bali is thin and boxy.

On the front of the phone is a 1.6-inch external display. It has full color and shows battery, signal strength, date and time information, as well as caller ID. As the camera lens is located above the display, you can also use it as a self-portrait viewfinder when the phone is closed. You can change the wallpaper and clock format, too.

Right underneath that are a few touch-sensitive controls. The top three are music player keys (previous track/rewind, play/pause, next track/fast-forward), followed by a mute key and a Bluetooth key. On standby, these keys can't be used. You have to first press any key on the side to activate them; you'll know they're activated when they're backlit. After that, you have to press and hold down on the touch-sensor controls to prompt the corresponding function. Though we remain skeptical of the overall usability of touch keys versus physical ones, we have to admit they worked well for us. The vibration feedback was useful in letting us know when our touch has registered, plus it was helpful to be able to activate the music player and the other functions without opening the phone.

The Bali has a very sturdy hinge, which locks securely into place in either open or close positions. When it is open, you'll see a 2.2-inch internal display. Like the Motorola Rambler, the Bali doesn't have the best resolution, or the prettiest interface. It has 65,536 colors and a 176x220-pixel resolution, with menu icons that are boring and basic. You can adjust the display's backlight time, the brightness, the wallpaper, the clock format, and the "skins" or color themes.

Both the navigation array and the number keypad are pretty flat and flush to the surface, which is reminiscent of a Razr. The array has two soft keys, a round toggle that can double as four user-defined shortcuts, a dedicated camera key, a Back key, the Send key, and the End/Power key. The number keypad is quite roomy and there are slight texture delineations for each key, but as it is so flat, we wouldn't recommend dialing or texting by feel.

The volume rocker, speakerphone key, and charger jack are on the left spine; the voice command key and 2.5mm headset jack are on the right. You have to take out the battery to get to the microSD card slot.

The Bali has a 600-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail address, an instant-messenger handle, a Web URL, a street address, and notes. You can organize your contacts into groups and pair them with any of 16 polyphonic sounds for either ringtones or message alert tones.

Basic features include text and multimedia messaging, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, voice commands, a datebook, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, and a notepad. You also get a mobile Web browser, GPS with TeleNav support, instant messaging (Yahoo, AIM, and Windows Live Messenger), stereo Bluetooth, and e-mail. The e-mail app is similar to the one on other Sprint Nextel phones; it supports Web providers such as Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, AIM Mail, Hotmail, and Gmail, but you can also enter in your own POP or IMAP settings. Outlook syncing is not available with the Bali, however.

The Bali has a simple music player, which you can only use by popping in a microSD card. The player is fairly basic, but you can still set songs on repeat and shuffle and you can create and edit playlists as well. The phone can take up to 4GB cards.

The Motorola Bali has a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front.

The 1.3-megapixel camera on the Bali can take pictures in four resolutions (1,280x1,024 pixels; 640x480 pixels; 320x240 pixels; and Picture ID), with settings like a self-timer, picture frames, brightness, six white-balance presets (includes an auto mode), four color effects, up to 4x zoom, and four shutter tones (with a silent option). The camera's picture quality sadly did not impress us. Images looked blurry, colors were washed out, and it did not perform well in low light at all. There's also a camcorder option on the Bali, which can record in four different video lengths: 2 minutes, 5 minutes, fit to memory, or fit to MMS.

The Motorola Bali has poor picture quality.

You can customize the Bali with graphics and sounds to be used as wallpapers or ringtones. You can add your own or download them from the Boost Mobile store. The Bali comes with a few Java-based games and apps, too, like Guitar Hero 5 Mobile and Hookt.

We tested the Motorola Bali in San Francisco using Boost Mobile. Call quality was excellent, from both sides. On our end, we could hardly hear any static or background hiss, and our callers came through with crisp and clear voices.

On their end, callers said we sounded great for the most part. They reported no static, but did say our voice sounded rather brash and harsh at times. Still, they said the quality was great overall. Speakerphone calls were very good, too, though callers did sound a bit tinny through the phone's small speakers.

Similarly, the audio quality of music playback didn't sound so good with the phone's speakers. It was nice and loud, but the overall quality was flat and hollow. It's too bad the phone doesn't have a 3.5mm headset jack since it does have a music player.

The Bali has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 20 hours standby time. The Bali has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 22 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR of 0.8 watt per kilogram.


Motorola Bali (Boost Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8