Motorola Motoluxe Review

It isn't easy to make a smartphone that works well as a mid-range device. Manufactures have to scrimp to reach a certain price point, and to get the Motoluxe to £234 (inc VAT), Motorola has had its work cut out.

But, when the compromises that are made are sensible, it is possible to produce a handset that actually works in this segment of the market. Motorola has made a good attempt with the Motoluxe and has even squeezed in a headline grabbing 8-megapixel camera.

It has to be said, that looks are a key factor in selling any smartphone these days, and Motorola has paid attention to that fact. The Motoluxe is just under 10mm thick and is comfy to hold in the hand, thanks to a rubberised finish. It even sports a metal rear cover - which is a great bonus, when compared to flimsy plastic offerings. There's also a neat bit of styling in the long, narrow speaker grille on the back.

The mostly-black chassis contains three side-buttons. On the top, there's the on/off switch, while the right side has a long, thin volume rocker and a camera shortcut button, too.

So far, the Motoluxe is neat and tidy. But there's one design feature that will either endear you to the phone or turn you right off it. On the bottom of the chassis, integrated with a lanyard slot, is a long narrow strip light.

This light illuminates to show charge status and notifications. We weren't fans from the outset, to be honest, we became much less so, after we had to use mains power while watching catch up TV, late at night. The light reminding us that the battery was charging was just too distracting.

Motorola has not been able to afford a fancy dual-core processor for the Motoluxe, where the 800MHz Qualcomm offering - supported by 512MB of RAM - is passable but not great. Responsiveness under the finger was a bit sluggish, and we noticed this in particular when flicking through the seven home screens and dragging web pages around. Streamed video was smooth, though.

It has to be said at this point, the appreciation of responsiveness is relative - if you're not used top end dual-core based smartphones, you may well feel it is absolutely fine. We got used to it, in the end.

The 300MB of internal storage is a bit mean, but a microSD card slot under the rear battery-cover lets you add more, very easily. That 8-megapixel camera might hit the headlines when people are listing the specs, but it isn't the best handset camera we have ever seen to produce shots - which we found to be little fuzzy. It also delivered relatively poor indoor pictures, despite having a small LED flash, and the phone shoots video at a disappointing maximum resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.

On the plus side, Motorola has given the Motoluxe a 4in screen with 480 x 854 pixels on offer, a built in FM Radio, DLNA and some rather fancy software. The old Motoblur interface has bitten the dust, but Motorola has been hard at work thinking up new ways to differentiate the Motoluxe, and we rather like what has been done.

Taking a leaf out of HTC's book, the lock screen offers six shortcuts, all ranged round a central lock symbol. You can drag the one you want to the lock symbol, or simply drag the lock symbol to open to the home screen.

So, you can open the handset directly to the calendar, dialler, email, messaging or web browser, and switch the phone to silent or vibrate mode. We couldn't see a way to personalise these options, which is annoying, so maybe HTC still has the advantage, as its four options, while fewer than are on offer here, can be personalised.

There are a couple of widgets that we particularly like - Activity Graph and Social Graph. Both need a whole home screen to themselves. They monitor your use of the handset, with the former keeping an eye on the apps you use, the latter, watches who you contact the most often.

In both cases, nine shortcuts are shown, with Social Graph offering up thumbnail images of your contacts. A quick tap on an application in Activity Graph opens up the app, while a tap on a contact in Social Graph, drops you into the details. You can choose to populate these two manually if you prefer, making them into collections of favourites rather than of what you use most often.

Motorola's superb Connected Music Player is here too, giving you access to things like song identification, internet radio and YouTube video search - as well as playback of tunes and video, stored on the handset.

And, there's another plus point - battery life. We found it was easy to get a full day from the battery without too much trouble. We didn't thrash the GPS or play music all day, but what we'd call average use didn't seem to give the battery cause to need a mid-afternoon juice-burst.

There are clear signs that the Motoluxe is not for everyone. It doesn't have a great camera despite the high megapixel count, the general specifications are average, and that light on the front isn't going to be to everyone's taste. We do like the widgets Motorola brings to the party, DLNA and the FM radio are nice touches, and the battery is strong too. We're inclined to think Motorola has chosen a good set of compromises, to meet a competitive price for the Motoluxe.

Verdict

Motorola has made a good stab at a mid-range smartphone with the Motoluxe, and it hasn't left innovation behind in the process - either on the hardware or software fronts. If your needs are modest, it could suffice.

Pros: A well-made, slim handset with some nice software features, a well-sized screen and good battery life.

Cons: The camera disappoints, and the ‘strip light' on the front of the chassis won't be to everyone's taste.

Manufacturer: Motorola

Price: £234 inc VAT SIM free

Rating: 3/5

Specifications

Network: HSPA 900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900

Processor: Qualcomm MSM7227 800MHz

Memory: 300MB user memory

Memory expansion: microSD

Display: 4in, 480 x 854

Main camera: 8-megapixel

Front camera: VGA

Wi-Fi: Yes

GPS: Yes

FM radio: Yes

Battery: 1400mAh

Size: 117.7 x 60.5 x 9.8 mm

Weight: 122g

OS: Android 2.3