Hands on with the Motorola CLIQ

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Note to phone manufacturers: When giving press/bloggers hands on time with the handset that is the crucial first step in your rebuilding process, please do so in desirable lighting as opposed to darkness. Ambiance is great on a first date — not so much when you’re tying to check out a new phone. Moving along, we finally had some time alone with the Motorola CLIQ a short while ago and we have to say, we were pretty impressed. This is not a high-end handset by any means of course, but it’s not supposed to be. Moto set out to create a social network-friendly handset for the younger crowd and in that regard, we think the company really excelled. Where the seasoned mobile enthusiast is concerned, the CLIQ gives us a glimpse of what’s in store for higher-end handsets like the Sholes that are still forthcoming. So sit back, relax and hit the jump for our initial thoughts and a handful of dimly-lit pics and a video.

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We’ll start things off by saying that the CLIQ really did impress us. The device is thin, it felt solid and it had some good heft; it’s definitely not some plastic-feeling lightweight that would shatter from a two-foot drop. This will be good news for those who were a bit worried by the plasticky look of the initial Morrison pics that leaked a while back. Our main concern with slider phones in general is the actual sliding mechanisms — they have a tendency to feel clunky and wear out quickly. With the Motorola CLIQ however, nothing feels like it was made in haste. The components look and feel great and the slider was as good as it can possibly get on a phone with this form factor. Of course, we here at BGR are more discerning about keyboards than anyone else we know, so you’ll be happy to know we were very happy with the keyboard on the CLIQ. It had just the right amount of tactile feel and the contour of the keys made the board feel like it was spaced out perfectly. Moreover, the devices we handled weren’t final production units so it can only get better when the production run slides off the line (in theory).

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Onto the UI — our initial impressions of MOTOBLUR over the Android OS are great. It’s snappy, laid out quite well and very intuitive over all. Motorola did a fine job on the glass screen and it doesn’t take away from the vivid display or the experience of touching and swiping. The social networking aspects of BLUR are the highlight of Motorola’s new device of course, and Moto’s UI does a fine job of showcasing SoNet features and making it easy to interact with your contacts.

Perhaps we weren’t expecting much to start (we were assuming, given the social networking strengths, that the CLIQ was geared entirely towards teens), so that could help explain why we were so impressed after handling the phone. The true test is always seeing how we feel after a week or so with the handset so for that we’ll just have to wait for T-Mobile to start shipping review units. We tried to squeeze a release date out of Moto of course, but all we got was a reiteration that it’s due in Q4 and more specifics will be announced toward the end of this month. In the end, we think Motorola has certainly put itself back on the map with the CLIQ and its new MOTOBLUR UI, and more importantly for us, we’re hearing Moto’s next few Android handsets will take things even further. Game on.

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