Motorola MotoSmart

Feature set summary for Motorola MotoSmart review
As we expect from most handsets around the 100 quid mark, there are only basic features included. The three-megapixel snapper produces drab images and lacks flash
Motorola MotoSmart

Style and handling summary for Motorola MotoSmart review
Looks-wise the MotoSmart is like most other Motorolas and very like the Motoluxe. It’s a tad chunky and a bit brick-like, but it’s still comfy to use with one hand.

Battery power summary for Motorola MotoSmart review
This is a big letdown. If you use your phone quite a bit it will die before half the day is over – and stream video and you’ll drain the juice in less than four hours.

Performance summary for Motorola MotoSmart review
We found games and apps were prone to slowing down, and the MotoSmart couldn’t always run Gingerbread smoothly. We had a couple of app crashes, as well.

User friendliness summary for Motorola MotoSmart review
The operating system, Android Gingerbread is a bit dated and prone to stuttering. The small display is not always as responsive as we’d have liked when going online and using apps, but it’s okay for emails and texts. The autocorrect facility is great.

Full Review and Specification for the Motorola Motosmart
Motorola is aiming its Motorola MotoSmart phone at smartphone newbies – that’s why it comes in at a very decent £100 SIM-free, and less than £10 a month. But there are lots of budget Android handsets coming onto the market, including the new Xperia Tipo from Sony, and Alcatel’s range of handsets priced at less than £100. So does the MotoSmart offer enough to compete with its rivals?

Weighing in at 115g, the MotoSmart is a nice weight. It may feel a bit bricklike, but it’s actually comfy to hold in one hand, so that you can use your thumb to swipe and prod the touchscreen. There’s not much in the way of ports and keys on the side – just the headphone jack, volume controls, power button and the Micro USB port to allow you to hook up the handset to a PC. A slide-off panel on the rear reveals the SIM card slot, battery and microSD slot – a welcome addition as onboard storage is pretty sparse.

Looks familiar

The MotoSmart is reminiscent of the Motoluxe, with its glass panel, which covers pretty much all of the front, and the sloping plastic lip at the base. The rear and sides have a softer texture.

The display is small at 3.5 inches, and appears even smaller thanks to the wide black border around it. Under the screen sit four touch-sensitive buttons – they are lit up when the handset is in use.

The keyboard is well laid out, which makes it easy to email and text – whether in landscape or portrait mode – and the autocorrect feature is excellent, The display is bright enough to be read in sunshine too.

Simple setup

Setting up the phone is easy. Fire it up for the first time and you’ll be asked to sign into your Google account – or asked to create one if you don’t have one. This will also sync your calendar, mail and so on. Then you can get busy downloading from the Google Play store and pop them onto your seven desktops, which can be populated with all kinds of apps and widgets. It’s just a pity that it runs on the rather dated Android Gingerbread.

Surfing the web was not such an enjoyable experience. Because the display is not so responsive, you find yourself dragging a digit across the screen, while the website is standing still. It’s not at all easy to get around larger websites.

Wonderful widgets

The MotoSmart may well have a dated OS, but Motorola has introduced some neat new widgets. Contacts and most-used apps are taken care of by the Social Graph and Activity Graph – the bigger the square the more you use that contact or app. It’s simple, but really effective. It’s also possible to access your recently used apps via the notifications tab.

Some apps and games took some time to load and lost frame rate, resulting in a juddery experience. It was difficult to tell sometimes if it was the processor struggling or just the touchscreen not responding well. The phone was also a tad sluggish when we browsed through menus or tried to switch between desktops. And we suffered some apps crashes too. Not great

In the picture

Budget smartphone snappers are never that impressive and the MotoSmart doesn’t disappoint. It’s a three-megapixel model and produces blurred, soft images thanks to the lack of autofocus, and our pictures were dull and bland. There are filters such as mono and sepia – and there’s a ‘burst mode’ facility – but given that there’s a one-second gap between taking each image it’s a bit pointless really. There’s no flash so low-light and nighttime shots are useless, and the video facility produces grainy results, with poor sound.

If you’re watching HD video, quality’s not bad for a budget handset – but don’t expect really lifelike bright colours. It’s really too small a screen for watching a full-length movie, but it’s okay for YouTube clips and TV programmes.

It’s a pity that the battery life is such a letdown – it left only a third of power after just fours hours of playing with apps, emailing and texting. Video streaming sees the juice drain even faster. Switch off GPS and Wi-Fi and it does help a bit.

Our conclusion

The Motorola MotoSmart is aimed at smartphone newbies, but the shuddery performance, poor battery life and unresponsive display could put off a lot of people. While Motorola has done a nice job adding its own touches to Android Gingerbread, there’s not much else for us to recommend here.