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Motorola Quench review: Motorola Quench

The Motorola Quench is a solid smartphone and represents excellent value for those who want to do more on their phone without finding themselves out of pocket.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
6 min read

Editor's note: the Motorola Quench is available exclusively through Optus on contract, no RRP is available at this time.


Motorola Quench

The Good

Great handset design. Excellent price for Android. Good music player. Great web experience.

The Bad

MotoBlur needs refinement. Dreadful camera. No significant storage.

The Bottom Line

Either you'll love MotoBlur or you'll hate it, and it matters little to our overall impression of this phone. The Motorola Quench is a solid smartphone and represents excellent value for those who want to do more on their phone without finding themselves out of pocket.

This should be an easy review to piece together. The Motorola Quench is the third phone in a series of mid-tier Android smartphones running the MotoBlur social networking software, and we didn't love the first two — the Dext and Backflip. So it should follow that the Quench should also receive a lukewarm reception, it is after all, almost exactly the same as the Dext but without a QWERTY keyboard. Though we were surprised by this latest edition.


It may seem that the Quench is merely the Dext without a keyboard, but in person they seem like completely different phones, with the Quench being better for it. Without the keyboard, the Quench is leaner and feels more solid. On the underside of the Quench you'll find a soft-touch rubber finish in a classy shade of charcoal. This sits nicely against the stainless steel trim that surrounds this phone's 3.1-inch capacitive touchscreen giving the Quench the presentation of a phone with a much higher price tag.

Mechanical keys are kept to a minimum, with a camera key and screen standby in stainless steel on the right-hand side, a volume rocker with an exposed USB charging port on the left, and a centrally located 3.5mm headphone port on the top of the phone. Aesthetically, this layout is pleasing, though the exposed USB port is like a gaping mouth waiting to gulp down your pocket lint, and the location of the screen standby key makes unlocking the phone a bit tedious: you press it first then select the menu key from the front face of the phone. HTC's on-screen unlock gesture is a much better solution for this task.

The back of the phone is perhaps our favourite part, the rubber feel is great; it's comfortable and seems to make the phone slip-proof. On close inspection you'll find that the grip-print is a multitude of tiny 3D cubes, a cute touch. The phone's 5-megapixel camera is also located on the back, with an LED flash just beside the lens.


When companies use Google Android platform we all but demand to see a unique interface layer on top of the basic interface. Motorola calls its layer MotoBlur, but it's not a user interface shell as much as it's a collection of popular social networks and image sharing sites. When you first power up the Quench you'll be asked for usernames and passwords for sites like Facebook, Twitter, Picasa and Last.FM. The details you enter will be collated into a MotoBlur account, storing your access details online for safe keeping.

What sets MotoBlur apart from basic Facebook and Twitter apps, is that all the data received from these services is passed through the MotoBlur server first, then passed onto your phone in a more data and resource efficient manner. There are two distinct benefits for users; firstly, centralising the data flow lets Motorola partner with carriers on the services, as it's done with Optus in Australia, making all activity on MotoBlur free for the customer. Secondly, your details and settings are saved on the Moto server so if you ever lose your phone it's a breeze to restore it all from the backup.

MotoBlur isn't great at dealing with busy social networks.
(Credit: Motorola)

For us, MotoBlur isn't the best social networking tool we've tested. Motorola makes the mistake of assuming we consume Facebook and Twitter in the same way, and we don't. Facebook messages can be quite private whereas Twitter is a cacophony of voices all blasting out at once, so you will probably be more inclined to take your time and read all your Facebook messages, and just quickly skim through Twitter for interesting posts. MotoBlur's Happenings app dumps all the latest posts in together, so you'll probably find yourself sifting through a dozen inane Twitter posts before you find a friend's Facebook update.

The fun stuff

When it comes down to comparing Motorola's Android to HTC and Samsung, there is one area that Moto totally nails it, the music player. In fact, this is one of the better designed music players on any platform and it comes with a few neat tricks baked in. Firstly, you get great file organisation, with the software auto-detecting music files on your storage card. There's full support for tags and album art, but the player also incorporates TuneWiki into its standard playback, a service that displays the lyrics for the track you are listening to neatly under the album display. When listening to a track you can use the menu key to select "Find Videos" and the phone will search on YouTube using the artist's name and song title as the search string, a very handy feature.

Another neat trick baked into the Quench is the pre-installed Swype keyboard software. Swype is a new way of typing out words on touchscreens, which requires you to slide your fingers over the letters in the word you want entered in a single gesture, and having the software guess the correct word from all the possible outcomes. This may sound like a train wreck of poor computer prediction waiting to happen, but trust us, Swype is astoundingly accurate, and will often enter the correct word on the first try, otherwise it brings up a list of possibilities, and the word you want is almost certainly in that list.

You use the Swype keyboard by dragging your finger across the letters you need.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Those looking for an excellent built-in camera will need to look further a field, this phone's 5-megapixel camera is a stinker. After the few dozen or so photos we'd taken we thought we must have left the clear, protective sticker over the lens after we had taken the phone out of its box because the photos were uniformly over-exposed and softly focused.


For a phone on a budget, we didn't set our expectations on the phone's performance too high, and the Quench met these low expectations comfortably. Featuring a 528MHz processor and 256MB of RAM, the Quench often provides a smooth user experience. The transition when switching home screens is responsive, though expect to see some animation judder, and the Quench opens apps promptly with a minimal pause to process.

Data transfers over the Optus network are fine, though nothing to write home about. Opening web pages does take a little longer than we'd like, but once a page is open the web browser on the Quench proves to be one of the best in this price category. Including pinch-to-zoom gestures, the browser scrolls easily over full size pages and had no issues rendering pages during our tests.


Often times, the cheapest phones in the range are the least desirable, but not so with the MotoBlur trio. Compared with the BackFlip and the Dext, the Quench offers a comparable user experience at a lower per month cost. But it's not just about the price; the Quench feels solid, the touchscreen is bright and responsive, the music player is excellent — there are a number of reasons to like this handset. MotoBlur and the various widgets that fall under this banner are not great selling points for us, though we can see how people with low traffic Facebook and Twitter accounts might get good use out of them, and for everyone else there's the official Facebook and Twitter apps available for download through the Android Market.