The 18-month partnership between Motorola and ARIA, the Australian Recording Industry Association, has finally borne fruit in the form of the new MOTOROKR Z6 Duo ARIA Edition.
This is a slider phone with a music focus, as you'd expect, and also comes with a stereo Bluetooth headset. But is this the phone to challenge Sony Ericsson and Nokia's dominance in music phones?
At first glance, the new ROKR may seem like a relatively large phone, but when placed side-by-side against the (which is supposedly quite slim and sexy) you might be surprised to find the new RAZR is a lot larger.
The ROKR design is the spitting image of the, with the same sliding mechanism and build. However, it feels a little heavier -- due, no doubt, to the use of different materials -- though the specs claim they're the same weight. The keypad is also different, perhaps for the worse, and resembles the original with its quirky off-centre buttons. These make it a little harder to text than with the RIZR's symmetrical keys.
The screen has also been updated and looks gorgeous -- it features a greater 320 x 240 resolution and a better interface. Finding some of the functions may be initially perplexing for some users: for example, there's no alarm clock button in the main menu, and the function is now located in "Office Tools", along with a Calculator and E-mail.
One annoying thing about the design is that the SIM is under the microSD card -- you have the take the card out first to swap the SIM. Also, there is a small metal flap that you have to slip the battery under -- this proves quite difficult and it is easy to place the battery in incorrectly -- the tab can get stuck in between the contacts and the battery itself -- and hence it won't work.
The phone comes with two headsets -- a pair of earbuds with a microphone remote, and a Bluetooth headband-style unit. The S9 headset (AU$129.99) is A2DP compliant and comes with onboard play controls and a microphone.
Users of the original RIZR will notice the Internet button has been replaced with a music button which takes you to your music library. To hold your music, Motorola have included a 1GB micro SD card -- music fans would probably prefer 4GB or more space. Lastly, there is also a dedicated ARIA icon in the menu itself which takes you to a minisite, and though it tempts you with the prospect of ringtones there are sadly none to be had. Instead there is a selection of featured artists -- this month it's Sneaky Sound System -- with bios on the bands, and a competition to win phones and attend the ARIA awards.
We found the ROKR to be a pleasurable phone to use. The screen is big enough for most tasks, the menu is straightforward and the casing is attractive both to hold and behold. Call quality was generally quite good as well.
As this is a music phone it was interesting to see how the headset actually worked in conjunction with it. Unfortunately, these are one of the more uncomfortable headsets we've used -- they sit awkwardly on the ears and the earcups are way too large. In operation, the headset was quite susceptible to interference in the office environment -- where there were six or seven immediate Bluetooth devices. The headset cut out quite a bit on music here, but away from everything this was less of a problem. Sound quality on music was very good, though, but at times it sounded like the tape was slowing down -- very unusual. Call quality was OK through the headset, but very echoey at the other party's end.
We were impressed by the ROKR's battery life -- it lasted well over a week with a single charge. However, using the Bluetooth headset will drain the batteries quick smart -- we got about a day and half out of it by leaving Bluetooth enabled and the two connected.
As far as the other functions are concerned, the camera worked quite well, and setting up new themes and ringtones was also straightforward.