Moto's new smartphones

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Motorola launched two new handsets in its MPx series of microsoft Windows Mobile powered smartphones at 3GSM in Cannes, but they weren’t the phones many industry observers had expected.

Until a few weeks ago the clever money had been on an upgraded version of the MPx200 clamshell based smartphone, with Motorola adding an integrated camera and Bluetooth to the phone’s line up of facilities.

Instead the company surprised observers by introducing the MPx – its high-end smartphone for the business market for 2004.

The handset boasts two key features. Firstly it is the first Motorola model to offer web browsing via Wi-Fi as well as GPRS – Nokia’s Wi-Fi equipped handset, the Communicator 9500, was unveiled earlier in the week.

Secondly the phone’s form factor is completely unlike almost any other mobile – and more akin to the company’s paging devices of half a decade ago.

The MPx features a laptop-style clamshell design with a screen that can be used in either landscape or portrait mode. Essentially when the user is making phone calls it operates as portrait style clamshell model. When accessing data applications, such as e-mail or web browsing, the user flips the phone open in a vertical way.

Writing e-mail is via a full QWERTY keyboard, which we found a little tricky to use as the keys were too small.

In addition to Bluetooth and an MP3 player and all the traditional Windows based applications like Pocket Internet Explorer and Outlook, the handset also boasts a 1.2 mega pixel camera. This should make Motorola the second company to offer a snapper of this high quality standard to the UK market. Accompanying the camera is an integrated flash.

Due in the UK around the same time is a second slightly lower specified Windows powered handset – the MPx100. The phone boasts a traditional candy bar style form factor, features a 1.2 mega pixel camera, Bluetooth, MP3 player and the usual microsoft applications.

Although the features list whetted our appetite – especially the Wi-Fi – we were unconvinced by the form factor (the phone is too tall for a standard clamshell) and the keyboard on the MPx. The MPx100 does however look like a strong contender and should certainly tempt the kind of phone buyer who is considering Orange’s SPV.

Overall, we would have liked to have seen the revamped MPX200. Its clamshell form factor is superbly executed and the microsoft applications work well. The addition of the camera and Bluetooth would make it a compelling proposition.

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