Home' LAPTOP Magazine : November 2010 Contents SMARTPHONES
With a BlackBerry-like look and a good QWERTY
keyboard, the Motorola Charm has potential be-
cause no other Android phone in the U.S. looks
quite like it. We also like it low $74 price. However,
a low-resolution screen and sluggish performance
hold this handset back.
Measuring 3.9 x 2.7 x 0.5 inches and weighing
3.9 ounces, the Charm is fairly light. Disturbingly
though, the device became a little hot in our hand
after periods of heavy use.
The most disappointing aspect of the Charm
is its 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen. The QVGA
display has a dated resolution of 320 x 240 pixels,
and in turn it displays fuzzy text, muted colors,
and low-grade photos and videos. However, the
glass touchscreen is very responsive and you can
smoothly pinch-to-zoom on the web.
Comfy and clicky, the QWERTY keyboard compares
favorably with the BlackBerry Bold 9700. The slightly
raised plastic keys are easy to press, but we wish
there were more spacing between them. There are
no physical carat keys (< and >), nor could we find
them when pressing the Symbol button. They do
exist on the virtual keyboard, though.
The Charm runs Android 2.1 with the Motorola's
custom MotoBlur skin; it's a shrunken version of the
skin on the Droid X. You can swipe left and right
to access any of your seven customizable home
Since the Charm's processor and 512MB of
RAM have difficulty running the intensive MotoBlur
software, the phone felt a little sluggish, especially
when streaming music from Pandora and while
alternating between the web and social networking
widgets. Performance improved when we turned off
the live wallpaper and disabled UI animations.
The stock Android web browser generally per-
formed well, when you don't consider how fuzzy
everything looks. Connectivity speeds were very
good over 3G but not so great over EDGE. Over
Wi-Fi, pages loaded quickly, with Laptopmag.com
loading in 15 seconds and m.ESPN.com loading
in 5 seconds.
The Charm provides access to your personal
or work e-mails by using the Gmail app, or to
Exchange or other POP3/IMAP accounts using a
separate app. Text messaging works great with the
While the Android Market has more than 80,000
apps, some cannot be downloaded onto the Charm
because they don't support the screen's low reso-
lution. Bonsai Blast, a fun free game on Android,
works only with the screen tilted 90 degrees. Can
you say awkward?
The Charm is average at playing media and
below average when capturing it. Tracks on the
so-so stock music player sounded full using a
decent pair of headphones. Because of the phone's
resolution, however, some of our favorite music
apps such as Rhapsody and MOG didn't appear in
the Android Market. The free Pandora app played
smoothly over 3G and Wi-Fi.
On the movie front, the Charm records bland,
not-so-charming 352 x 288-pixel videos at 10
frames per second; you won't be making any
YouTube masterpieces with this.
The 3-megapixel camera shot grainy images,
and there is no way to change white balance or
other advanced settings. The BlackBerry Bold
9700's 3.2-MP shooter is better overall.
Calls sounded clear but a little flat. Callers
complained that we sounded undefined and
slightly fuzzy. The speakerphone was good
enough to be used in a noisy environment,
and reception was above average.
Interestingly enough, the Charm comes
with two batteries. The standard 1170
mAh battery that came inside the phone
lasted for 3 hours and 36 minutes on
the LAPTOP Battery Test. The extended
battery lasted a longer 4:44; both times
fall below the average of 5:24.
The Charm costs $74.99 with a
two-year contract. At face value, it
seems like a reasonable deal---$74 for
an Android-powered phone with a good physical
keyboard. But considering that you'd pay the same
price per month for service with the top-of-the-line
Samsung Vibrant, there's little difference in cost
over two years.
While we appreciate Motorola introducing a new
form factor with the Charm, its novel design and low
cost aren't enough to make up for its flaws. Yes, its
keyboard is excellent, but the Charm's low-res screen
and sluggish processor can't handle everything
MotoBlur tries to do, let alone Android.
Is a cute design and comfy keyboard enough to save this phone from a lack of power?
(with two-year contract)
CPU: 600-MHz Operating System: Android 2.1
Data: EDGE/HSPDA Memory: 512MB internal,
512MB RAM Display Size/Resolution: 2.8
inches/320 x 240 Camera: 3 MP Wireless:
802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR GPS: Yes
Talk/Standby Time: 6.5 hours/11 days Size:
3.9 x 2.7 x 0.5 inches Weight: 3.9 ounces
Good physical QWERTY keyboard
Runs Android 2.1
Comes with two batteries
MotoBlur runs a bit slow
Some popular apps incompatible or run at weird
Gets a little hot
LAPTOP | November 2010
The back features a basically useless trackpad
(called "Backtrack" by Motorola), and an
unimpressive 3-MP camera.
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