Anyone looking for an objective review should head elsewhere; here’s proof: Mobilicity’s new Motorola XT300 (aka “Spice”) is a locked-down, buggy, underpowered ghetto beast of a phone that is somehow filled to the brim with awesomeness.
How did I arrive at this irrational exuberance? Well, for starters, the Spice is a near-perfect storm of things I want in a handset:
The $200 CAD price tag from Mobilicity doesn’t hurt, either. It’s locked, but I can easily fix that with a visit to my friendly neighbourhood unlocker once he gets the codes. This thing is so new that as of this writing I can’t even find a proper case for it on eBay.
You can pour over the Spice’s full tech specs here.
The screen resolution is mere 240×320 pixels, making on-screen fonts tiny and pixelated. And the sluggish (for Android) 528MHz processor makes for the occasional slow screen redraw. But in daily use neither ends up being an issue. The very handy qwerty keypad forgives a lot of other shortcomings; it’s not the best I’ve ever used but it’s far from the worst.
Around the back of the handset there’s a surprisingly good speaker (better than my Nexus One, even) and Motorola’s gimmicky “BACKTRACK” — basically a trackpad on the back for your index finger. Had I smaller hands this might be useful; I think it was a good choice for Motorola not to enable it by default.
And then there’s the camera. Unfortunately, it’s shit.
As a new convert to Android I’m slowly coming to terms with carrying a smaller caliber weapon, but the Spice can’t even deliver that. The photo above was taken in weak winter light; even so, it’s barely in focus.
Video is even worse. The camcorder defaults to QCIF — that’s 176×144 pixels, perfect for sending MMSes to your mates back in 2003. You can bump it all the way up to CIF (352×288). Woo. And what’s up with the audio? You’ll have to crank the sound on the sample above to hear anything at all; I couldn’t find any way to boost the recording volume. Am I missing something?
Yet despite these obvious and considerable shortcomings my Moto Spice comes with me everywhere I go. It’s a bizarre yet incredibly appealing combination of old and new: Android makes it cutting edge but at the same time it’s got an undeniable oldskool Motorola pager vibe to it. I’m quite certain that it was designed and tested by some guy with a pocket protector named Gary. How can you not love that?
A cutting edge Android phone this ain’t, but this bad boy is in a class all its own.