Other than the Defy, Motorola doesn’t really have a good Android phone in the Indian market, which is why other companies like Samsung and HTC have completely taken over, with Nokia still hanging in there of course. The company has recently launched two budget droids in the market hoping to re-capture some of the market share. Let’s take the Fire XT for a test drive and see if it’s worth your while. 

 

On video: Motorola Fire XT

Design and Build
The Fire XT is a full touchscreen mobile phone with a decently sized 3.5-inch capacitive screen. The rounded corners and tapering edges give the phone a sleek and classy look. The fit and finish of the phone is good and the plastics used are of good quality. The power and volume rocker buttons sit plush with the chrome trim on the sides and this causes a slight problem since you can’t easily feel them with your finger without looking. The front facing camera and capacitive shortcut buttons take their usual spot on the phone as well.

Curvy design gives it a good look

Curvy design gives it a good look

The screen resolution is just 320×480 which is low for this size. Along with the proximity sensor, we also have a ambient light sensor placed next to the earpiece. The memory is expandable up to 32GB and the XT supports hot-swap. We noticed the screen tends to get greasy very easily so you’ll have to keep wiping it constantly. Overall, at 114g, the Fire XT is reasonably light weight and looks presentable as well. The only niggle we have here is with the physical buttons on the device which could have been raised a little more for a better feel.

Features
Interface
The Fire XT is powered by an 800MHz Qualcomm processor and runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread. Despite this, the interface feels quite laggy and unresponsive. This is very evident when swiping through the home screens. The phone features MotoSwitch UI, which is a lightly skinned version of the stock interface. One handy feature is the ability to group apps according to various genres. Creating new groups is fairly simple and straight forward and you can organise your apps a lot better. Motorola haven’t modified the notification bar so you don’t get any toggle switches here. You can choose between the standard Android keyboard or Motorola’s own version, which is quite bad so we recommend sticking with the default. Swype is also present if you choose to use it. Inputting text cannot be done quickly as there’s a significant lag between each key press which makes it a painful experience.

Group apps based on genre or your usage needs

Group apps based on genre or your usage needs

The biggest issue we faced was with the quality of the screen itself which was horrible. Not only are the colours muted and pale, it doesn’t seem like it supports a wide colour gamut and there’s very noticeable banding in wallpapers. Ghosting is also a big problem which is evident when you try to move icons around. Scrolling through the settings causes the text to streak and distort quite badly, in fact the light blue text turns navy blue when you scroll up or down. Messing up the screen on a touchscreen phone is like messing up the steering in a car, it just ruins the whole experience.

Media
Motorola has borrowed the music player from TuneWiki and customised the look of it. Thanks to this, the audio quality is a lot better with decent earphones and the player will automatically download the lyrics of the song. You can even create play-lists and see what songs are trending around the globe. The format support is still limited to MP3s, WAV and AAC+ though.

Integrating TuneWiki was a brilliant idea

Integrating TuneWiki was a brilliant idea

The video player is a plain old stock Android player and supports MP4, H.263, H.264 and WMV. SD videos play just fine but due to the poor screen quality, you won’t be really enjoying anything. Even in animated flicks, the picture is quite dull and the colours are muted. Finally, we also have FM Radio support. 

Connectivity
The Fire XT is a quad-band phone with full support for HSDPA and HSUPA 3G networks. Also present is Wi-Fi ‘n’ and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and A2DP profile support. The slower 800MHz processor rears its ugly head while browsing the Internet. Web pages take time to render and opening multiple pages causes the phone to slow down quite a bit.

Web pages take their time to load

Web pages take their time to load

The phone also gets warm very quickly and it rebooted twice on me, once when I was trying to use Google Maps and the second time, I wasn’t even using the phone when it happened. Onboard memory is very less so a microSD card is a must. The screen of our review unit had a row of dead pixels which is noticeable when you use the phone in landscape mode (see above pic), more evidence leading to the poor quality of the screen.

Misc. Features
Some extra apps bundled by Motorola include MotoLounge which doesn’t exactly work in India since it’s region specific. Mode Switch lets you change the theme of the phone and depending on what you choose, the layout and widgets on the home screen change with it just like HTC’s Scene modes. Lastly, we have Qik Video pre-bundled as well, which lets you video chat, video mail and video share.

Camera
The 5MP shooter has autofocus but the sensor isn’t able to capture a lot of detail. A single LED flash is present to help you with low light but it doesn’t always work well. The camera interface is the stock Gingerbread which gives you standard customization options like Exposure, White Balance, etc. The front-facing camera can be used for portrait stills of video calling through an app.

Picture quality is strictly average

Picture quality is strictly average

Video recording is limited to only 480p resolution which is what’s expected from a 800MHz CPU. The quality of the recording is strictly average with quite a bit of noise in indoor clips.

Battery Life
A 1540mAh on a 3.5-inch screen with a low pixel count can only be a good thing. Our video drain test gave us an impressive 7hr and 50min of battery life. Our loop tests which included 1.5hrs of phone calls, 4hrs of video and 4hrs of audio, showed that the Fire XT will very easily last you a day of heavy usage. I guess, Motorola makes up a bit for the other shortcomings in the battery department.

Verdict
At Rs.12,990, the Fire XT is too expensive for what it has to offer and quite frankly even if it was cheaper, we wouldn’t recommend it since it’s simply not a very good phone. It does have some things going for it like a good form factor and decent build quality, functional music player, Gingerbread and a good battery life but the cons outweigh the pros quite significantly. It’s slow to use, the screen is of very poor quality and average camera performance. We’d recommend putting in a little more money and getting the Motorola Defy or if you want to spend less then you really can’t go wrong with the Micromax A70.

Publish date: October 24, 2011 12:18 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 8:47 pm

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