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Motorola aims low with Android-based Charm

Jul 7, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Motorola announced a low-end Android 2.1 phone for T-Mobile equipped with a new version of its MotoBlur UI layer. The Motorola Charm is equipped with a 2.8-inch, 320 x 240 touchscreen, 802.11b/g/n, a three-megapixel camera, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and a “Backtrack” touchpanel on the back of the device.

Like the Cliq — the company's first Android phone, and the first of four low- to mid-range Android phones driven by the MotoBlur UI layer — the Charm is an exclusive offering of T-Mobile USA, says Motorola. The phone will be available in the U.S. later this summer, says the company.

Motorola Charm
(Click to enlarge)

The Charm lacks the reverse-flip gymnastics of the MotoBlur-driven Backflip, available on AT&T. It also does without the side-rotating pivot mechanism of the newer Motorola Flipout phone (announced for O2 and Vodafone in Germany, and  heading for an Orange debut in the UK, according to Cool Smartphone).

The Charm even lacks a simple slider mechanism like Cliq, instead permanently exposing its QWERTY keyboard. This offers the advantage of no-brainer convenience, but increases the risk of damage and — let's face it — reduces the cool factor.

At 3.87 x 2.64 x 0.45 inches, the Charm is a full inch taller than the Flipout, making room for the exposed keyboard. However, it is the same width and is slightly thinner and lighter (3.9 ounces).

The Charm's keyboard is permanently exposed.

(Click to enlarge)

The processor was not listed for either the Charm or the Flipout, but like the latter, the Charm ships with a removable 2GB microSD card, expandable to an optional 32GB card. Most likely it shares the Flipout's 512MB of internal RAM as well.

Like the Flipout, the Charm is equipped with a 2.8-inch, 320 x 240 touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom and two finger swipe capability, says Motorola. Other similar features are said to include GPS, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a three-megapixel camera with support for 24fps video recording.

By comparison, the Cliq and the Backflip offer higher resolution 3.1-inch displays and five-megapixel cameras. These offerings, in turn, are modest compared to Motorola's high-end Droid X.

The Charm is tailored for T-Mobile's cellular network, offering WCDMA and GSM support, as well as 3.6Mbps HSDPA instead of the Flipout's 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 2Mbps HSUPA support. Like the Flipout, the Charm offers a 1170mAh battery. Talk time is higher, however, with 300 minutes claimed for WCDMA and 405 minutes for GSM. 

New MotoBlur adds filters, power management

The Charm and the Flipout are the first phones to offer a second version of the MotoBlur UI layer. As before, MotoBlur syncs friends, emails, messages, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter feeds and happenings with continuous updates and backups, says Motorola.

The new version offers filters for the Happenings and Messages widgets, letting users filter out unwanted updates and messages, says the company. In addition, corporate email can now be pushed automatically to a MotoBlur phone.

MotoBlur's new Battery Manager is said to help users manage the phone's power consumption, and a new Data Manager helps manage data usage. MotoBlur also offers seven home screens, and provides options to move and resize pre-loaded widgets.

As before, MotoBlur offers integrated GPS tracking and remote data wipe, for finding a lost phone or remotely clearing personal data on a phone. A Moto Phone Portal is also provided, which enables access to the phone's data from any browser through a USB or Wi-Fi connection. Users can remotely edit content, leave pictures on a friend's PC, or share a video or presentation, says Motorola.

The Charm runs Android 2.1 and ships with Google Search, Google Maps for Mobile, Gmail, and Android Market, Motorola says. In addition, the phone is touted as "Adobe Flash enabled," although it would seem to require Android 2.2 to offer the full Flash 10.1 player.

Specifications listed for the Motorola Charm, which are almost identical to those of the Flipout, include:

  • Memory — 2GB removable microSD card, expandable to optional 32GB card
  • Display — 2.8 inch 320 x 240 (QVGA) TFT
  • Cellular:
    • WCDMA 1700/2100
    • GSM 850/900/1800/1900
    • HSDPA 3.6Mbps (Category 5/6)
    • EDGE Class 12
    • GPRS Class 12
  • Other wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
    • aGPS/eCompass
  • Camera — 3 megapixel with digital zoom, fixed focus; Kodak Perfect Touch technology
  • Other hardware features:
    • microUSB 2.0 HS
    • 3.5mm headset jack
    • FM radio
    • CrystalTalk Plus speaker and dual microphone system
    • QWERTY keyboard
    • Backtrack navigation pad
    • Golden bronze and cabernet color choices
  • Battery:
    • 1170 mAh
    • 300 min. WCDMA talk time
    • 405 min. GSM talk time
    • 334 hrs. WCDMA standby time
    • 267 hrs. GSM standby time
  • Dimensions — 3.87 x 2.64 x 0.45 inches (67.2 x 98.4 x 11.4 mm)
  • Weight — 3.9 oz (110 g)
  • Operating system — Android 2.1 with MotoBlur

Stated Saj Sahay, director of product management, T-Mobile USA, "With the new Motorola Charm and enhancements to the Android and MotoBlur experience, we're bringing more social skills to our broad portfolio of Android-powered smartphones."


The Motorola Charm is expected to be available exclusively to T-Mobile USA customers this summer, says Motorola. More information may be found here.

The story on the Flipout's impending Orange debut in the UK may be found here.

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