Motorola has recently announced the new Fire and Fire XT Android smartphones. The Fire XT is the more expensive touch phone, while the Fire is the cheaper of the two and is of the touch and type variety. The number of phones launching with touch and type functionality is on the rise. But is the Fire worthy enough to warrant a buy? Read on to find out.

 

Motorola Fire

Poor build quality

Poor build quality

Design and Build Quality
The Motorola Fire comes in a shiny black cover and has a silver coated rim running along the sides of the device. The design looks a little like the BlackBerry Curve series albeit with a bigger screen. The back and front of the phone is glossy and attracts a lot fingerprints and scratches. As far as the physical keyboard is concerned, there’s no spacing between each key and this might be problematic for people with big hands. However, a slight dent exists on each key to distinguish it from the other ones.

Volume rocker and camera button are on the right

Volume rocker and camera button are on the right

It’s a touch and type device so there’s a physical QWERTY keyboard along with the four standard capacitive buttons in the front. The top consists of the headphone jack and the power button. The charging port is housed on the left, while the volume rocker and camera button is located on the right of the device. The microSD card slot is located underneath the battery, so there’s no hot swapping available. It weighs 110 grams, so it’s quite light.

Keys have no space in between them

Keys have no space in between them

The phone feels a little plasticy and the design isn’t particularly impressive either, and in terms of design and build, Motorola’s Fire disappoints.

Features
Interface
The phone runs on a 600MHz processor. The phone comes with Motorola’s custom UI, the Moto Switch, and we couldn’t find anything but cons about the user interface in terms of experience and fluidity.

Firstly, the resolution of the phone is extremely low (240 x 320 pixels) and it becomes quite evident whilst simply viewing the home screen wallpaper on the 2.8-inch screen. Moto Switch is extremely sluggish and a lot of times the phone just hung or showed a black screen. A simple swipe through the home screen is enough to show the sluggishness. A lot of times there’s a time lag between the instant a key is pressed on the keyboard and the instant it’s registered on the screen.  You’d definitely not want something like that from a ‘smartphone’ at least. Also, Motorola have gone and removed the call shortcut by default and that’s just plain irritating. Obviously, you can put a shortcut on your own, or you can double tap ALT and type the digits and press call in the Google search results you get. But pressing numbers on the QWERTY to call somebody definitely doesn’t beat the virtual dialling screen.

Extremely low res display

Extremely low res display

The one good thing about Moto Switch is that it gives you different home screen presets with
dedicated widgets so you can categorize them based on entertainment, business and so on. It's a cool feature, but it doesn't amount to much in terms of functionality. The interface is flawed and slow and we were extremely disappointed with it.
 
Media
The media player is where the Motorola Fire shows some superiority. The connected music player has a lot of integrated features. The more prominent ones include embedded lyric search, song identification on the go. There’s the TuneWiki and community tab as well that lets you view what’s trending. Audio formats supported include MP3, WAV and eAAC+, but the quality isn’t too great. Music is loud, but it sounds extremely flat and the bundled headphones don’t help either. In short, the music player interface is interesting and useful, but the whole audio experience is dismal.


The phone supports MP4, H.263 and H.264 but videos look quite shabby owing to the low res display and using this phone as your primary video playback device isn't recommended.

microUSB connectivity options

microUSB connectivity options

Connectivity
The Fire supports 3G at HSDPA of 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA at 384 Kbps. There’s Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and and A2DP and Wi-Fi as well. The connectivity options are pretty standard so there are no complaints about that. What’s disappointing is that the phone slows down a lot when all these connectivity options are on and one or two applications are running. Also, a lot of times images from the previous screen get dragged onto the next screen and the only way to get rid of that is to either go back to the home button, or reboot the phone.

Misc. Features
Motorola has included a new Moto Lounge feature with the Fire. If you’re interested in finding out more about it, you’ll have to switch countries (assuming you’re in India). Currently, the feature doesn’t work in India, and you can’t delete it either. So, it’s just wasting the limited internal memory available on your phone. Besides the UI and this particular application everything is stock Google with Maps, Gmail and Google Talk.

Camera interface is standard

Camera interface is standard

Camera
The Fire is capable of shooting pictures at 3.15 megapixels with the sensor but it just can’t capture detail. There’s no flash as well, so you can bid good-bye to night shots. Interface options are standard with the basic, exposure and picture detail settings. Video recording as well as photo shots are strictly average and just for comparison, there were instances when the older Samsung Star (which has a two MP camera), could click better pictures. Colours appear dull, and the amount of light intake varies on its own accord. So at one point of time, the image will look bright, but if you click it again, it might come out much darker than the previous one.

Camera quality is strictly average

Camera quality is strictly average

Battery Life
The phone comes with a 1420 mAh battery. We ran it through our video drain test and the phone ran for 6 hours and 30 minutes. Loop tests provided us with 1.5 hours of call time, four hours of audio and 2.5 hours of video. Under normal usage, you’ll get battery usage for just about under a day. Battery life isn’t noteworthy exactly, but it isn’t too bad either.

The Motorola Fire

The Motorola Fire

Verdict
The Motorola Fire is priced at Rs. 9,490. To sum it up, the phone has a sluggish interface, the build is pretty cheap and the camera is really not worth clicking pictures. Also, the screen is extremely low-res and it just dampens the whole experience of using the phone. As an alternative, you could settle for the Micromax A70, which is a tad cheaper as well. As for the Motorola Fire, you’d rather skip this one.

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