Motorola Cliq 2 (T-Mobile) Review

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$99.99
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Solid 1-GHz performance; Bright, crisp display; Supports T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling; Mobile hotspot feature

The Cons

Keyboard somewhat stiff; No 4G connectivity; Doesn't record HD video

Verdict

This head-turning Android slider is much improved over its predecessor, but it's not as feature rich as similarly priced competitors.

The original Motorola Cliq looks tired now, but back in the day (in October of 2009) it was pretty cutting-edge. The Android slider was the first to run Motorola's Motoblur software, which makes it easy to keep tabs on social networks using widgets, and it backs up your info to the cloud. Now the sequel has finally arrived: the Cliq 2 ($99). This Android 2.2 handset sports a larger display, a faster processor, and a very funky keyboard. Is it too little, too late?

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Design

Oval-shaped and sculpted with chrome accents, the Cliq 2 has a higher-end look and feel than its predecessor. We also appreciate the ridged battery cover, which makes for a sturdy grip, though this piece of plastic feels flimsy when detached. The 3.7-inch (854 x 480-pixel) screen represents a major step up from the original Cliq (3.1 inches, 480 x 320 pixels) and is quite bright and sharp.

Up top you'll find a small power button next to the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. A pair of volume buttons grace the right side, along with a dedicated camera key and ringer toggle switch.

Measuring 4.2 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches and weighing 6.2 ounces, the Cliq 2 is heavier than the Cliq (5.7 ounces) because it features a larger display. The T-Mobile G2, another Android slider on T-Mobile, is slightly heavier (6.4 ounces) but has a more luxurious brushed aluminum rear cover.      

Keyboard

Sliding open the Cliq 2 reveals its QWERTY keyboard, which is unlike anything we've seen or touched before. Motorola used a skin-tight membrane with a honeycomb-like look. The bubble-like, rubberized keys are small and somewhat stiff, but they popped up and down, providing decent tactile feedback. The nicely backlit layout includes dedicated Search and @ keys, as well as arrow keys for finer cursor movements.  

As for the touch keyboard, the Cliq 2 uses Swype as the default choice. This text entry method, which involves drawing lines through letters, makes it simple to type one-handed. The Swype keyboard can be used for touch typing, but the spacebar is placed oddly on the right side of the screen.

Software and Apps

Running Android 2.2, the Cliq 2 features Motorola's Motoblur service layered on top of the OS. Motoblur pulls in information from your choice of social networks, be it Facebook, LinkedIn (not available on the original Cliq), or Twitter. Users can also link multiple e-mail accounts to Motoblur, including Gmail and Yahoo. Unfortunately, to configure Motoblur you must first create a Motoblur account with yet anther e-mail and password.

The Cliq 2 features seven customizable home screens. A number of Motorola widgets inhabit these windows, along with the standard Google applets bundled with the OS. Handy offerings from Motorola include Social Networking tiles that display data from Twitter and Facebook, Weather, and switches for toggling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Some may find that these widgets add too much clutter; in that case we'd recommend the T-Mobile G2, which has a cleaner install of Android 2.2.

Other useful apps bundled with the Cliq 2 include Amazon MP3, Blockbuster, Kindle for reading eBooks, and T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling.  

Specs and Performance

Outfitted with a 1-GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, 512MB RAM, and 1GB ROM, the Cliq 2 puts the original Cliq (528-MHz) to shame--as well it should. The newer handset scored a 59 on Fps2D, a test that measures 2D graphics performance. By comparison, the G2 managed 57 while the HTC Evo Shift 4G notched 54.

That said, both the G2 and Shift 4G outperformed the Cliq 2 on all areas of the separate Benchmark test, including graphics, CPU, Memory, and file system. The Motoblur skin could be the culprit here, since it takes up system resources. Nevertheless, the Cliq 2 felt responsive during everyday use; we flipped through the home screens and opened apps without much lag.

As for expandable memory, the Cliq 2 comes with a 2GB microSD Card. Thankfully, you can remove the card without having to pull out the battery.

Web Browsing

Our biggest complaint about the Cliq 2 is its lack of 4G data, although T-Mobile says you should expect faster speeds in HSPA+ coverage areas. Laptopmag.com took 22 seconds to load completely, which is about 9 seconds slower than the myTouch 4G. Mobile sites such as CNN mobile fired up on the Cliq 2 in a much faster 5 seconds.

Using the Speedtest app, we measured an average download speed of 1.8 Mbps and 1.2 Mbps uploads. That's good, but the T-Mobile G2 achieved speeds as high as 3.1 Mbps. In a pinch, you can use the Cliq 2 as a mobile hotspot for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Camera and Camcorder

The Cliq 2 comes with a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. There are plenty of settings from which to choose, including many scene modes and effects such as Black & White and Sepia. The Cliq 2 can also geotag your shots. Users can share photos via their connected social networking accounts, text, or email.

Outdoor pictures looked colorful and sharp enough, but they were slightly muted. Indoor images with sufficient lighting were also acceptable, but in darker environments the camera struggled. The dual flash had a tendency to blow out close objects and subjects. In addition, images had an unsatisfying grainy quality.  

Although the G2 and myTouch 4G can both record 720p video, the Cliq 2 maxes out at 720 x 480. The test footage we shot of ice skaters in Bryant Park was mostly smooth and plenty loud, but we noticed some tearing when played it back on a large monitor.

Entertainment

The Cliq 2 provides plenty of ways to kill time, including apps for Kindle ebooks, Amazon music, YouTube, and BlockBuster rentals. When we streamed Pandora, the phone's stereo speakers (located on the handset's bottom) pumped out a surprising amount of volume.

To help sync videos and music between your PC and phone, Motorola provides its Media Link software. Users can also share files with the Cliq 2 across their home network with a Media Share app, which supports DLNA.    

Call Quality and Battery Life

The Cliq 2 performed well while we were talking and making calls. Callers at the other end said we sounded clear, and we observed pleasing audio quality on our end. This slider also supports Wi-Fi calling, which allows you to make and receive calls at home and other areas where coverage might not be that strong.

Equipped with a big 1420 mAh battery, the Cliq 2 is rated for 7.9 hours of continuous usage. Motorola also claims a standby time of 13 days. During our testing, the Cliq 2 had lots of staying power, lasting for a full day without any trouble. We will update this review with our official Laptop Battery Test results.

Verdict

The Motorola Cliq 2 has some things going for it, including a social networking-friendly interface and much faster performance than the original Cliq. The keyboard is definitely unorthodox, but it works fairly well once you get the hang of it. In this price range we prefer the $99 T-Mobile G2, which offers a slicker design and 4G speeds (even if its Z hinge gives us some pause). And if a physical keyboard isn't a necessity, the myTouch 4G adds a front-facing camera for the same price. Overall, the Cliq 2 is a mostly satisfying sequel, but it's not the best choice.

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Carrier T-Mobile
Form Factor QWERTY Slider
Operating System Android 2.2
Networks GSM
Data GSM/EDGE/WCDMA/HSDPA/UMTS
CPU 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU
RAM 512MB
Internal Memory 1GB user available
Memory Expansion Type
Display (main) 3.7 inch (854x480 pixel)
Display (secondary)
GPS Yes
Bluetooth Type Bluetooth 2.1 EDR with A2DP
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi
FM Radio Yes
Camera Resolution 5 MP
Audio formats supported AAC
Audio formats supported WMV
Audio formats supported WMA
Audio formats supported WAV
Audio formats supported MP3
Audio formats supported AMR-NB
Audio formats supported AAC+
Video formats supported WMV
Video formats supported MPEG-4
Video formats supported MP4
Video formats supported H.264
Video formats supported H.263
Talk / Standby Time 7.9 hours continuous usage, 13 standby (rated)
Ports 3.5mm headphone
Ports microUSB
Size 4.2 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches
Weight 6.2 ounces
SAR Rating (Head)
SAR Rating (Body)
Company Website www.motorola.com
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