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printed July 28, 2014
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MotoSummer 2004

Intro RAZR V3 MPx Series A780 A630 Comments  43  

The A630 was announced a few weeks ago, and this was my first chance to see it in person. It's a neat little device. It's not much larger than a V600, yet adds a complete second keyboard for text. It's great for text messaging, instant messaging, and email.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The main competition for the A630 is a phone like the Nokia 6820. What sets the A630 apart is the large display - the Nokia design just doesn't allow for a good-size display. The A630 has the same large display as the V600. And when you're doing serious email, the extra screen space is a real plus.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The A630 was initially revealed to the public with a dark black-and-grey design. That is the version that Cingular will carry. But T-Mobile will also carry the A630, and a special light-grey version will be made just for them:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

One thing I found mildly disappointing about the A630 is that, despite having a landscape display, the camera is designed to be used primarily with the phone held vertically, with the display in portrait orientation.

Not only is this a strange way to hold the phone, but it also fails to use the full display area as a viewfinder. A full third of the display is wasted on icons and controls, increasing the "squint factor" considerably.

So the way it's designed to be held in camera mode is "camcorder style", with the display tilted out at 90 degrees, kind of like the Panasonic X300 and Nokia 6260. "Camcorder style" seems to be some kind of new fad these days, but in this case it just makes it all the more frustrating that the A630 can't actually record video.

The first photo below illustrates how the A630 is meant to be held in camera mode. The camera button lies under your index finger when held this way. As you can see, it's also awkward to access the camera options, since it requires the use of the 4-way direction pad.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

...the second photo illustrates one semi-cool feature of the A630. Since the top half "clicks" at 90 degrees like in the photo, you can set it down on a flat surface after activating self-timer mode, and easily capture a well-framed photo of yourself (and your friends, etc.) Many camera phones have a self-timer mode, but not many can easily be set on a flat surface and aimed forward.

Speaking of self-portraits, the Motorola "M" logo next to the camera lens is also a miniature mirror, perfect for framing a self-portrait. I tried it and it works pretty well.

Like the A780, the A630 has "dual personalities", with a dedicated keypad and user interface for using basic functions when the phone is closed. To accommodate this, the A630 has a larger external display than the V600 and similar models. It can show basic menus, graphics, and even incoming text messages.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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