Motorola came out swinging in late 2010 with several new Android smartphones just in time for the holidays--Citrus is targeted for the entry-level crowd, the Droid Pro for professionals, the Flipside for messaging fans, and the Bravo for multimedia aficionados. Indeed, the Bravo has DLNA support as well as a nice 3.7-inch display for your video enjoyment. We're still not huge fans of the MotoBlur interface--it's required if you want to use the Bravo--but it does have Wi-Fi, 3G, and GPS, making it a decent midrange Android smartphone. The Bravo ships with Android 2.1, and we don't yet know if it'll receive a Froyo 2.2 update. The Motorola Bravo is available for $129.99 after a new two-year service agreement with AT&T Wireless.
The Motorola Bravo is similar in design to the Citrus, with its curvy candy bar style. At 4.29 inches long by 2.48 inches wide by 0.52 inch thick, the Bravo looks and feels pretty compact, and it cradles comfortably in the hand, thanks to its soft-touch back. It has quite a good heft to it as well at 4.59 ounces. The Bravo doesn't quite have the eye-catching impact of its Droid X cousin, but some people might feel drawn toward its minimalist look.
On the front of the Bravo is a decent 3.7-inch display. As a midrange phone, you won't find a fancy Super AMOLED display here, but the 16 million color LCD glass display still managed to please. Graphics look really vibrant and sharp and text looks nice and crisp, thanks to the 480x854 WVGA resolution. You can adjust the brightness, the screen timeout timer, and the Bravo also has an internal accelerometer so you can set it to portrait or landscape mode just by rotating the phone. The capacitive multitouch screen felt smooth and easy to use as well.
As for the user interface, the Bravo comes with Motorola's new MotoBlur interface, which lets you move and resize widgets on any of the phone's seven home screens. Like other MotoBlur handsets, the Bravo requires you to start up a MotoBlur account before you can start using the phone. The aforementioned widgets let you keep track of a variety of updates from social networks, incoming messages, newsfeeds, and more.
As you flip through the seven home screens, you'll see a navigation bar along the bottom row that lets you know which screen you're on. On standby mode, you'll see shortcuts to the phone dialer, the main menu, and the contacts list instead. If you want to enter text, you can use Android's own multitouch keyboard. The alternative Swype keyboard popular with many Android users does not come built-in with the Bravo.
Underneath the display are three touch-sensitive Android hot keys for the pop-up menu, the home screen, and the Back button. The microUSB charging port is on the left spine, while the volume rocker is on the right. On the top is a 3.5mm headset jack and the screen lock/power key. On the back is the camera lens. The microSD card slot is inconveniently located behind the battery.
The Motorola Bravo ships with Android 2.1, which isn't as good as the latest Android 2.2--it lacks voice dialing over Bluetooth and you can't store apps on the memory card--but it still has most of the Android features we like. That includes the usual Google apps like Gmail, Google Talk, Google Voice Search, and Google Maps with Navigation. Once you sign in with your Google credentials, you can also sync your contacts and calendar information with Google Calendar.
Gmail is not your only option for e-mail, of course. You can enter your own POP3 or IMAP accounts, and the Bravo supports corporate e-mail via Microsoft Exchange as well. Other written communication features include the usual text and multimedia messaging, and instant messaging (AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger). With MotoBlur, you can also send and receive messages via Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.
As the Bravo is from AT&T, the carrier also bundled in a few AT&T-specific apps. AT&T Family Map lets you track your family members' phones for a monthly fee ($9.99 for two devices and up, $14.99 for five devices) provided their phones are compatible with the service; AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots lets you find the nearest AT&T hot spot; AT&T Maps/Navigator is an alternative to the Google Maps service, but it does cost $9.99 for the turn-by-turn directions; and AT&T Music lets you purchase and download songs via the AT&T Music catalog. You also get AT&T Radio and Mobile Video.
Further on the entertainment feature list is DLNA support, which lets you wirelessly share media files to other DLNA-supported devices over Wi-Fi. The phone also comes with MobiTV, the usual Android music player, and a Media Share app. For the music and video player, the Bravo has a microSD card slot that can take up to 32GB cards for additional media storage. The Bravo supports AAC, H.264, MP3, MPEG-4, WMA9, eAAC+, AMR NB, and AAC+ media formats.
Other apps included with the phone are Where, YP Mobile, Social Networking, Motorola's Phone Portal that lets you manage your phone's contents on the PC, Quick Office, and Mobile Banking. You can get more via the Android marketplace of course. As for the Web browser, it's the usual Android Web kit browser bundled with Adobe's Flash Lite 3. We like that it displays full HTML Web pages, though it can get pretty choppy when scrolling through graphic-heavy Web sites.
The Bravo's phone features are fairly standard. They include a roomy phone book and each contact can be associated with multiple numbers and e-mail addresses, a photo, a street address, and more. It also has voice mail, caller groups, voice command, polyphonic ringtones, caller ID, and the unique capability to silence the phone just by turning it face down. Other features include Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth, GPS, a file manager, an alarm clock, a countdown timer, a calculator, a speakerphone, and a vibrate mode.
As for the camera, the Bravo only has a 3-megapixel shooter, which is fairly low as far as modern smartphones go. Still, for simple candid shots, it performs well. Photo quality was decent--images looked sharp, but colors were a bit muted and not as vibrant as we would like. After taking the photo, you can crop, rotate, or geotag it. There's also a camcorder that can record 30fps video.
We tested the Bravo in San Francisco using AT&T Wireless. Call quality was quite good for the most part. Thanks to Motorola's CrystalTalk technology, we encountered very little background noise interference, which our callers confirmed. On our end, we heard them very clearly, with little to no voice distortion.
On their end, callers said we sounded loud and clear, though they did detect a tiny bit of digital distortion in our voice. Overall though, quality was good--we encountered almost no static buzz or hiss. Speakerphone calls were a bit different--they heard a lot more background hiss, and the echo effect was more pronounced.
The Bravo has 7.2 Mbps UMTS 850/1900, and we enjoyed speedy connections for most of our testing period. We loaded the CNET mobile page in around 10 seconds and the full CNET front door in around 49 seconds. Even though it doesn't have a 1Ghz processor like its higher-end brethren, the Bravo's 800Mhz more than satisfied with zippy app launches and screen transitions.
The Motorola Bravo has a 1,540mAH lithium ion battery that promises 8 hours of talk time and 9.9 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, it has a talk time of 8 hours and 6 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Bravo has a digital SAR of 1.59 watts per kilogram.