MPX-220 SmartPhone: Perfect?

When Bill Gates first demonstrated Microsoft’s (then) upcoming SmartPhone product line, my friend Keith Fuhrman exclaimed “Perfect!” He later tried one on the show floor (I don’t remember if it was CES or Comdex) and he was so enamored with these things that he just couldn’t let go of the “perfect” superlative.

It’s a day Keith has never lived down.

Obviously, no technology is perfect– by the time an invention has had all the kinks worked out to the point where there are no real problems it’s not really considered technology anymore. :) We continually make fun of Keith for his “perfect” remarks even to this day. However, I’m starting to see the light.


I bought an MPX200, which was Motorola’s first SmartPhone, and I was very pleased with it– it was easy to use, well-made, and served it’s purpose pretty darned well. It was definitely the best phone I had ever used, but perfect? Not quite. First of all, it was slow. I’m not talking “a little sluggish” slow– I’m talking “Windows XP on a 386” slow. Web pages took MINUTES to load. Applications took forever to launch, and were cumbersome when running. In addition to performance problems, the MPX200 lacked key features, like bluetooth and a camera. Also, battery life was really bad– heavy users would be running out of juice midway through a single day.

Enter the MPX220.

I’ve only had it for a few days, but this thing is VERY close to exalted “perfect” status. The processor is FAST– every function is snappy, even manipulating megapixel images and rendering video. The performance problems are GONE. Also, they added bluetooth support, which is excellent. I was able to pair up with my bluetooth headset in 30 seconds, and it works perfectly. (There’s that word again!) Also, there’s a camera included. The quality of images isn’t that great… but this isn’t a digital SLR– it’s a camera phone. It’s good enough for it’s intended purpose: taking pictures of cleavage…. I mean moblogging.

The other thing about the MPX220 (which was true of the MPX200 as well) is that it is stylish and well-made. I can’t get over how attractive this phone is– it’s not flashy or anything, but it’s got an almost Apple-like sense of style. And the clamshell’s open/close mechanism inspires confidence that it will work just as well in 10 years as it does now. It’s very well put together.

Also, battery life is much improved. I don’t have hard numbers, but it seems to last a little more than twice as long as the MPX200’s. Even the most talkative will be able to get through a day on a charge, normal users probably 2 or even 3 days. (Note that PDA/Phone hybrids like SmartPhones, PocketPC phones, and Palm Treos all suffer from reduced battery life when compared with their regular phone competition.)

Another improvement is reception– the MPX200 had decent, but not great reception. However, the MPX220’s improved antenna design gives the best performance of any phone I’ve used (including my old Nokia.) This is the first phone I’ve ever seen that actually works at my house, which seems to be in a weird cellphone-free vortex. (Seriously– none of my friends’ phones work here either. If you walk 100 feet away from the house in any direction, they work fine… but in the house, no reception.) I’m surprised by the sound quality when you have a weak signal as well… all in all, this is a great phone, not just a great pda/phone hybrid.

Another thing… the ringer is actually loud enough! Kudos!

The Good
<ul><li>Handsome, well-made phone
</li><li>Excellent Performance
</li><li>Bluetooth Support
</li><li>Improved Battery Life
</li><li>Camera
</li><li>Excellent Reception
</li></ul>
The Bad
<ul><li>Data entry is still less than ideal on these things. (although a folding bluetooth keyboard would ease this!)
</li></ul>
The Ugly
<ul><li>There’s really nothing that bad I can say!</li></ul>

All in all, I’m incredibly impressed by this phone. It’s not quite “perfect,” but it’s pretty damn close.

Keith, I take it all back.