First, we were given some release info for the EM25 and EM28, which we covered at the recent CTIA fall show. Both are currently slated for release with a US carrier in late March.
Motorola was also showing off some interesting new phones that aren't currently slated for US carriers, but could certainly be imported and used here, since they're both quad-band.
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The VE66 is a 5-megapixel camera phone with auto-focus and a large LED flash. It runs Motorola's Java-Linux platform and sports the "omega wheel" touch-scroll feature around the edge of the d-pad. There's no standard audio jack, but this isn't a ROKR, so Motorola would say music simply isn't the focus of this model. It does have a true sliding lock switch, however, so you can prevent accidental key presses in your pocket. This is something usually found on music phones, but it's a nice touch on any phone.
The VE66 generally feels nice, although it's slightly thicker than we hoped. The keys surrounding the d-pad may look like touch keys, but they're not. All of the keys are physical, and work well. The number pad would be great, if it didn't have a gummy rubber coating on it. This "grippy" material makes it difficult to text quickly with one hand. You can't glide your finger across the keypad; rather, you have to deliberately life your finger up after each key press to move to another key. It seems like this would be frustrating for any heavy texter.
The ROKR EM35 is a music phone that well-rounded in both appearance and features. It's much like the VE66, but with a music focus.
Like the VE66, the ROKR EM35 runs the Java-Linux platform, has an Omega touch wheel, and a sliding lock switch.
Unfortunately, just like the VE66, it also has the grippy rubber coating on the number keys that slows down texting. The other keys are all great, though, including the dedicated music keys near the bottom. Since this is a ROKR, there is a 3.5mm audio jack, stereo Bluetooth, and a hot-swappable memory card slot. A 3-megapixel camera and QVGA display are thrown in for good measure.
Other than the odd keypad material, our first impression is that the EM35 seems like a really great phone. It has a nice mix of features, a good feel to it, and a stylish design. It's a shame no US carrier has picked it up yet.