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printed July 29, 2014
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Review: Motorola Charm

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The touchscreen on the Motorola Charm was quite sensitive. The phone always responded quickly to the touch. I found some lag in the homescreen panels, usually when they were chock full of widgets and shortcuts, but nothing that kept me from enjoying the Charm. I also found the capacitive touch buttons beneath the screen to be perfectly sensitive. In my review period, I never had to hit a touch button twice, it always registered my tap on the first try.

I'm constantly waffling on my opinion of the Backtrack touch sensitive pad on the back of the phone. I love the idea in theory, but in practice it could use some work. Basically, the Backtrack lets you use the same swiping actions on the back that you would use on the front screen. You can swipe through panels, move lists up and down, and even browse Web pages. For fine-tuned tapping, you can double tap the Backtrack and a target cursor pops up. Move the target over the object you want to select and tap the pad again for action.

The Backtrack is plenty sensitive, in fact that's part of its problem. When the pad is active, it's easy to brush accidentally, sending your screens flying about. With the phone resting in my palm, I often triggered the Backtrack or called up the target cursor. Swiping through homescreen panels with the Backtrack could also be a chore. If you don't swipe perfectly, the panel on the screen will move most of the way off, then snap back into place. I often needed to swipe a few times to perform the action I desired.

It's a great concept, and I hope Motorola doesn't give up on the Backtrack, but rather tweaks it to be more useful. I found it to be a fun way to make up for the small screen on the Charm, and with some better gesture controls and a safety to stop accidental motions, the Backtrack could earn its place on compact modern smartphones.

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