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Motorola Milestone review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £423
inc VAT

While the design may be a matter of taste, good battery life and a QWERTY keyboard don't make up for a plain Android experience and clunky design


Android 2.0, 3.7in 480×854 display

Whether you prefer Android or the iPhone’s operating system has a lot to do with how much you’ve already invested in Apple or Google services, and your feelings regarding open source and proprietary software. There’s no doubt Apple’s strict vetting process and focused design philosophy produces a slicker, more consistent user experience, but it comes at a cost.

Like Android and iPhone OS, there are fundamental differences in hardware design: where the iPhone is sleek and minimalist, the Milestone is chunky and industrial. It’s over 1mm thicker and weighs an extra 30g. The obvious difference between the phones is the Milestone’s slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which has four rows of keys and a large navigation pad. We wondered about the gold patch at the centre of this pad and assumed at first glance it was some sort of touch-sensitive cursor control, but in fact it’s purely cosmetic.

Milestone keyboard

The keyboard has flat, square keys that are hard to distinguish from each other by touch. You might get the hang of it after extended use and learn to hit the centre of each key with your fingertips, but we found fingernails to be an easier alternative. The slide mechanism is a bit clunky however, and it overrides the phone’s built-in accelerometer in most apps, so you can only get landscape mode by sliding out the keyboard (video apps such as YouTube override this).

We were disappointed to find that the buttons below the screen were touch-sensitive rather than mechanical, and they don’t register a touch if the screen is in sleep mode, so you’re forced to press the tiny Power button situated at the top right of the case, or slide open the keyboard. While we applaud the inclusion of a dedicated button for locking the screen, unlocking it shouldn’t be so fiddly.

As well as the Power/screen lock button, there’s a volume rocker and a dedicated camera button. You’ll also find a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer, and a standard 3.5mm headphone socket. There’s a slot for a microSDHC memory card as well, but it’s under the easily-removed battery cover next to the SIM card slot. Motorola generously includes an 8GB card with the phone.

It’s worth remembering that not only is the Milestone up against the iPhone, but also other Android phones. HTC’s Hero is probably its closest competitor; like the iPhone it lacks a keyboard, but its design is much more attractive and HTC’s Sense UI and social aggregation features make it much easier to use. We also missed the Hero’s smooth oleophobic screen coating. The Milestone is no faster than the Hero either, although it remains to be seen whether Motorola brings out firmware updates to optimise Android further.

Overall, the Milestone only lives up to its name on paper, but in use it’s clunky and there’s no friendly customisation of the Android experience. The battery lasted a stunning 39 hours and three minutes in our MP3 playback test, which is definitely a milestone for Android devices. That said, even considering the Milestone’s keyboard, we’d be more inclined to opt for HTC’s Hero.

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Price £423
Rating ***


Main display size 3.7in
Native resolution 480×854
Second Display No
CCD effective megapixels 5-megapixel
Flash Dual LED
Video recording format 3GP
Connectivity Bluetooth, WiFi, USB
GPS yes
Internal memory 133MB
Memory card support microSDHC
Memory card included 8192MB
Operating frequencies GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100
Wireless data GPRS, WCDMA, HSDPA
Size 116x60x14mm
Weight 165g


Operating system Android 2.0
Microsoft Office compatibility Word/Excel/PDF viewers
Email client POP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format support MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, OGG, WAV, MIDI
Video playback formats MPEG4, H.264, H.263
FM Radio no
Web Browser Webkit
Accessories headset, USB data cable, mains adapter
Talk time 3.8 hours
Standby time 15.8 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 39h 3m

Buying Information

SIM-free price £400
Price on contract £50 on £35 a month contract
Prepay price £400
SIM-free supplier
Contract/prepay supplier N/A

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