Review: Motorola CLIQ
If you are a regular reader of my phone reviews, you probably know I am not the biggest fan of sideways sliders. In my opinion, they make for bulky phones. In that respect, the CLIQ is no different. It's definitely heavy. It's not as huge as the HTC TouchPro2, but you're going to know that you're carrying it around. It feels OK in the hand, but I am not impressed with the build quality nor the materials. According to Motorola, the review unit we have is a final production build of the hardware but not the software.
The front of the CLIQ is dominated by a large touch screen. A blinking status light above the screen lets you know if there are new messages and that the phone is on. Below the screen are three buttons, not the usual five found on other Android phones. They are a menu key, home key, and back key. No send and end keys on this phone, which I find an interesting omission. The three buttons are flush with the surface of the phone, but are physical (not capacitive) buttons. You can find them easily with the ever-so-slightly raised markings for each button. The travel and action of the buttons is good.
The volume toggle is on the left side of the phone. It is flush with the surface and razor thin, making it somewhat hard to find and use. Travel and feedback leans towards the mushy side. Above the volume toggle is a sound on/off switch. The switch locks into position and can be used to quickly set the phone to silent or vibrate mode. Below all of these is the microUSB port.
The right has two small buttons. The upper button is the lock/power key and the lower one is the dedicated two-stage camera key. As with the volume toggle, both buttons are razor thin, perhaps a centimeter in length, and built flush to the surface of the CLIQ. I really wish these buttons were easier to find and use. Travel and feedback was minimal.
The slider is where things really go south. I don't know if it's because I have a shoddy review unit, but the top sliding half of the CLIQ is very loose. When closed, I can rotate it several millimeters in both directions. What's more, if you shake the phone at all, you can feel the slider move around a bit. Not good. The slider is spring-assisted, and you'll feel is pop open and thunk shut. Even when open, I noticed more play in the top half of the phone than I care for.
The CLIQ has a four-row QWERTY keyboard. The top three rows are where all the letters, numbers and characters are, with the bottom row being reserved for just five keys (alt, search, space, symbol, back). The keys feel OK, but not great. One key in particular, the "T", barely worked at all. Literally no travel and feedback on that key. The "Y" wasn't much better. The rest were acceptable, but the CLIQ's keyboard is far from the best I've tried.
Similar to the Nokia N97, there's a random D-pad to the left of the keyboard. I still don't understand why a D-pad is necessary on a touch phone, but there it is. What's really weird is that on the home screen, it has different functions. It can be used to jump from widget to widget, or from screen to screen. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when it will jump between apps or between screens. Don't bother with it for home screen navigation, use your finger. Its best use — and the only one for which I can believe its on the phone at all — is to help with fine-tuning messages. Using the D-pad is easier to move the cursor around when composing. Otherwise, travel and feedback of the D-pad is acceptable.
If you want to get at the microSD card slot, you'll have to remove the back cover. It comes off easily enough. The slot itself has a weird locking mechanism that needs to be moved before you can pull the card out.
On the whole, I am disappointed with the hardware. The quality just doesn't seem up to par with what I know Motorola is capable of.