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CTIA 2009

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LG Kyocera Sanyo Moto Evoke HTC Snap  

The Evoke QA4 is Motorola's newest finger-touch-screen phone. For the US market, it's only their second, after the Krave for Verizon. While Krave was clearly derived from Moto's Ming series from Asia, the Evoke is a genuinely new design for Motorola.

Moto Evoke  

The Evoke is a CDMA phone with AWS, which means it could be offered by carriers such as Verizon, MetroPCS, US Cellular, Alltel, or Cricket. It runs Linux, but also runs BREW; critical for the aforementioned carriers.

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The hardware is downright sexy. It looks good in photos and even better in person. The chrome that surrounds the face wraps around the edges; it looks and feels great. The back is similarly sexy, and coated with with the finger-pleasing soft-touch finish that Motorola is so good at. The build quality seemed quite good on the unit we tried.

The front controls are very iPhone-like with just a large capacitive screen and a single button to summon the home screen. The slide-out keypad is surprisingly pleasant to use, with large raised numbers that are easy to feel and have good feedback.

The touch screen seemed relatively responsive, thought we did experience a couple of misfires; it did not seem quite as reliable as the iPhone, though this could improve by final release. A sliding key lock switch keeps things locked down when not in use.

The software interface is very simple; almost too simple. Motorola has clearly gone to great lengths to streamline both the number of physical buttons and each screen of the interface, but in some cases they went too far. It's easy to find yourself reaching for a "back/clear", "send" or "end" key, for example, not finding one, and wondering how to perform the action you want. It's not always obvious; the interface lacks a clear and consistent structure. The interface quirks are something we expect most people could get used to, but there is that learning curve. It's not as intuitive as it could be.

Moto Evoke UI  

One interesting feature on the Evoke is the widget home screen. There are seven fixed "widgets" that you can flip left/right through. Widgets include obvious ones like Google search, photo gallery, weather and USA Today, plus YouTube, MySpace, and RSS. Unfortunately, Facebook is not included. The widgets are essentially the "home" screen.

Below the widget area is a sort of "dock" with three icons: Contacts, Messaging, and Recent Calls. Unfortunately, these cannot be changed.

The Evoke has a new version of iTAP predictive text designed for touch screens. There's now an "accept" button right on the screen to accept a word that iTAP has suggested for auto-completing. An accelerometer activates a virtual QWERTY keyboard when you turn it sideways while entering text. QWERTY mode has iTAP as well, which automatically fixes a decent percentage of typing errors.

A video tour of the Evoke:

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