The circular screen is the phone's centrepiece, and as promised, it's a stunner. Unlike the V70, this isn't a circular screen with a rectangular viewing panel in the middle – it goes all the way to the edge of its 40mm, 480-pixel diameter and is covered by a slightly raised grade 1, 62-carat sapphire crystal lens, which Motorola says is one of the most scratch-resistant materials on the planet.
And it needs to be, since this is a screen that demands to be seen – even the supplied leather carry pouch leaves the screen exposed for maximum look-at-me-ness. Classic watches from the likes of Patek Philippe and Cartier are clearly the inspiration for the look, and the 16m-colour screen features a range of alternative watch faces for when the screen is in repose, from classic chronograph to up-to-the-minute digital displays. It comes with a microfibre cleaning cloth too, for regular buffing.
A sideways press to the front of the phone allows the face to swivel to the left in a 180° turn. Motorola makes a lot of the swivel mechanism, even to the extent of showing off the precision-built internal cogs it relies on through a window on the rear of the handset. It's certainly smooth, and feels sturdier than Nokia's style-conscious 7373, which had a similar action but without the fuss. Motorola claims it will be just as smooth at the 100,000th opening as it is on the first, and while we haven't had time to test that yet, if it's true, it might well be worth paying a bit more for.
The keypad is aluminium and looks similar to the flush metallic design of the Razr series. It's just as awkward to use too - even though the keys are reasonably well spaced, we still found our thumb skidding across them to make frequent wrong presses, especially when using the little OK button next to the small circular navpad. Sure, it looks classically minimalist, but did it really have to be so fiddly?
The 2Mp camera's not up to much
With all this quality casework and gorgeous screen, we could almost forgive the lack of 3G or Wi-Fi, and the fact that we can only get WAP access to the internet. But it really could have done with a decent camera, if only because pictures look great as wallpapers through the elliptical screen lens. But the 2Mp fixed-focus model with no flash is pretty much incapable of taking any pic that will show off the screen in the way it deserves. Maximum resolution is 1600 x 1200 pixels but you'll need excellent light, virtually no movement and the 4x digital zoom disabled if you want to avoid grainy shots.
Looks like some PR bunny missed the point. Literally.
Aura vs. 8800 Arte: 45% vs 80%????
Ok help me out here. I'm confused as to why this phone gets 45% in the review and the nokia 8800 Arte gets 80% - maybe because it's the Arte actually got reviewed as opposed to the author just annotating the press release??
Both the Aura and the 8800 share the same basic characteristics - a low-to-medium feature set, great build quality & design, astronomical price. They are both aimed at people who want a phone to be more than just a phone, and who have a PA to check their hotmail for them so they don't need a web browser on their phone.
So all else being equal, why does this score 45% and the Arte 80%?
For what it's worth I'd still have the Arte - but that's because I want a phone who's guarantee will outlast the company that made it and I don't have that confidence in Moto.
Sadly, I have seen one...
on the Motorola display board at Mobile World Congress, so I know it is not April Fools. I even played with it, but it had no power.
It FEELS classy, nice and well formed, and you can easily tell that the case is metal and not sculpted plastic.
Sadly, I think it has missed it's market - it isn't REALLY sexy enough for a show-off phone, not quite a Vertu. And now with true luxury goods names getting in the business of selling hyper-expensive mobiles (Tag Heur, Porche, etc.) , the name cachet of "Motorlola" doesn't really compete.
Too little, too late - and that is even as a luxury good, not as high-tech mobile. But the case window showing the gears is slick though, so I expect to see more like this (there is a kinetic powered luxury phone that I am too lazy to link to, but it also has one).
Robert, you are totally missing the point - probably way too wrapped up in The Jobsian Reality Distortion Field.
This device is neither about features not about useability. It has two functions:
Primary function: Look good, look expensive, BE expensive
Secondary function: Oh yeah, make occasional phone calls
It's an accessory dammit! The "wielder" of this device wants to display the "aura" of having lackeys who carry around j-phones or crackberries, and can't afford this thing AND not understand its point. Vertu name remind you of anything? It's not pointless, it does have its niche buyers, called clientele and not customers or users.
The filthy rich can be stupid, but are rarely so. The stupid and his/her money are soon parted you see. It's just that they don't usually occupy the same plane of existence/have the same mindset/outlook as the working class.
You can even relate if you can think about it: There are a lot of people on this bluish globe of ours who have to subsist on less than 1 USD a day - who probably won't be able to read this, living on yet another plane of existence.
When I first saw this thought that it was an April Fools joke until I did a google check, the phone is real.