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printed April 20, 2014
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Review: Motorola Citrus

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Menus Calls / Contacts Messaging Social Networking  

 

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On the surface, the Motorola Citrus seems to be running Moto’s Motoblur interface. The phone and contacts buttons at the bottom of the homescreen panels, the application menu and the slightly tweaked interface design on some of the core apps, like the messaging and address book apps, are all nearly identical to Motorola’s best Motoblur devices, like the Droid 2 and Droid X phones.

A deeper inspection reveals that this beauty is barely skin deep. The interface on the Citrus lacks all of Motorola’s best custom widgets, as well as the unified messaging inbox and deep social networking features that make Motoblur a compelling alternative to the stock Android interface.

To make matters even worse, the Citrus is saddled with Microsoft’s Bing for search and maps. I have no problem with Bing per se, it works great . . . on Windows Phone 7. But on Android, it’s a second-class citizen. Best to download Google Search and Google Maps for free from the Android Market.

The Citrus is a very sluggish phone. When you tap an app, it takes a couple seconds to open. Open the messaging app and tap on a conversation, and the phone will again pause before you can see the messages. The phone was never in a rush.

The Motorola Citrus uses Moto’s Backtrack pad, situated on the back of the phone near the top. Placing it in the middle might have made more sense. The Backtrack lets you interact with the interface without getting your fingers in the way. So, you can scroll through a Web page or jump from panel to panel on the homescreen by swiping on the Backtrack. You can also double tap the pad for fine-tuned pointing with a cursor arrow. I want to like the Backtrack, I think it’s a cool idea. But in practice, I rarely found myself using it, and the actions it performs can be counterintuitive. Will swiping up move the list up, or will it move the scroll bar up (moving the list on screen down)? I could never remember. Plus, the Backtrack was not sensitive enough, so sometimes my swipes would only move the screen halfway, and then when I lifted to swipe again, the panel would snap back into place. I hope Moto doesn’t give up on the Backtrack, I would just like to see it more refined.

A few times during my tests, the interface freaked out. I would perform an action, like swiping a screen or tapping a button, and the interface would jump back and forth between screens or toggle the button quickly. It took me a while to figure out, but it seems to be a problem related to the Backtrack pad. But it happened even when I wasn’t touching the pad, after I had laid the phone down on a desk, for instance. This is clearly a bug that needs killing. It was never a fatal error requiring a restart, but it happened often, and it was disconcerting.

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