Yes, it’s cute looking. I mean it. I’ve had comments about its looks ranging from good to great.
Well, to me, the Motosurf A3100 looks too cutesy and should appeal to girls more. But looks aside, I think this phone performed quite well.
Design and construction
The A3100 is solidly built. As it’s a candybar, with only a Call button, Cancel button and a trackball, there are no moving or sliding parts.
Its body is made of strong plastic with the battery cover being made of metal. The cover slides open easily with no prying needed.
There is a retractable stylus that slips into a hole at the top right corner. There is also a standard 3.5mm jack for earphones, which music fans will appreciate. The microUSB port is on the lower left of the phone.
The power/lock button is on the top left of the phone and the volume rocker is on the upper left side of the phone. While the camera button is on the bottom right of the phone.
I would have liked these buttons along with the trackball to feel sturdier and be easier to press and use though, but it’s not a major concern.
The phone has a resistive touchscreen. It is a 2.8in screen capable of displaying 65,000 colours. It would have been nice if it could display more colours but for general use, it seems adequate.
It is quite responsive as well. Screen legibility under bright sunlight is also better than most other phones, but not by far.
Call quality is clear and the volume is loud enough to be heard in a crowd.
Text messages are grouped into conversations (also known as threaded SMS) so that you can read the correspondences more easily.
Contacts are also organised and easy to find. The Motosurf supports MMS and also video calls that work with its forward facing camera.
Using the phone moderately for calls and SMS alone should last you about four to five days worth of use on a single charge, and should you surf the Net in between, you should get about three days of use.
Ease of use
As this is the first Windows Mobile phone that I am exposed to, I would have to say the interface has too many options and settings which could be overwhelming to the average user.
Fortunately, Motorola has added a pretty skin it calls Carousel to simplify the interface.
The Home screen shows the calls and messages received along with reminders and shortcuts to your contact list and dialling pad.
There are also other screens for Contacts, Programs, Websites, Weather, Photos and RSS Feeds that you have subscribed to.
My only gripe is that when you go beyond the Carousel skin and into the sections that use the classic Windows Mobile design, using just your thumb alone to navigate can become quite cumbersome because the screen elements are really tiny.
It is best to use the stylus at that point. There is only so much that Motorola can do to make it thumb-friendly so I would have to say it has done a pretty good job.
Typing on the phone can be done using handwriting recognition, the standard virtual keyboard or Motorola’s own version of it.
The Motorola keyboard is more thumb-friendly and the other input methods require the use of your stylus unless you are a master-class finger typist.
Also the trackball feels a little too sensitive for my liking. I ended up using the phone fine without touching the trackball.
But it is all personal preference and I’m sure some people would like to use it.
The Motosurf has Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G and GPRS. There is a microUSB port to transfer data to and from the phone, which also charges the phone.
There is also a supplied charger that plugs into the microUSB port.
As with most phones that are now trying to comply to the standard use of the microUSB port for charging and data transfer, the cap of the port still gets in the way when it is being used.
The Motosurf was meant to be a phone to make the Internet convenient to use for people on the move and it does so quite well.
It comes with the usual Internet Explorer but if you don’t like it, there is always Opera Mini to fall back on.
You can access the Internet via WiFi, 3G or GPRS.
As mentioned earlier, your RSS feeds are shown on the Carousel interface so you can keep up to date with your favourite sites.
There are also applications for accessing YouTube, GMail, Google Maps, Orkut and Facebook.
Google Maps also works well with the Motosurf’s aGPS and it locked onto my position quite quickly.
Playing music using the built-in speakers sounded weak and tinny but the bundled handsfree, which also doubles as the earphone, showed that the Motosurf is capable of producing good sound.
Also, it could be attributed to Windows Media Player giving the sound a little bit more “oomph.”
The handsfree is also way better than most earphones bundled with MP3 players and other phones.
Supported formats are AMR, MP3, AAC, WMA and MIDI.
One cool feature is the MotoID application that can identify a song that is being played.
If you hear a nice tune while on the move, turn on the application, let the phone record and analyse what is playing, and it will attempt to go online and identify the song. At no cost too! Well, you just pay for the data charges.
You can also watch videos using Windows Media Player and it supports WMV, H.263, H.264, 3GP and MP4.
The phone has 256MB of internal storage and a MicroSD Card slot that can accommodate a 32GB card.
The phone is bundled with a 1GB MicroSD card so if you’re looking to carry a lot more songs, videos or work files, it could be better to get a more spacious card.
The Motosurf has a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash.
The camera and video features only work well in properly lighted situations.
However, I still feel that the camera could be better as the pictures had a reasonable amount of noise.
Trying to take a picture in a dark room makes everything appear in a dark indigo hue.
I’m under the impression that the white balance has some problem adjusting to the lighting. Because the white balance acts as such, the video quality is also affected with the same symptoms.
The Motosurf comes with the usual assortment of calendars, alarm clocks and notes.
The best applications among all of these is the Office on the Go suite which includes applications to create, edit and view Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. There is also a PDF viewer.
Everything about the Motosurf seemed good until I encountered one little thing which still bugs me.
Every application that you open seems to run in the background even after you close it.
Even though Windows Mobile is supposed to dynamically terminate applications as it runs out of memory, this just doesn’t happen often enough.
And once there are too many applications running in the background, the phone starts to slow down.
Well, I’m actually quite pleased with this phone. It’s solidly built and does what it was intended to do and more.
Having said that though, I can’t wait for the more touch-optimised Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Mobile 7 to become available as it will make smartphones even easier to use.
The only letdowns are the camera and the occasionally slow operating system. Also, the price could be a little steep for some.
Pros: Stable operating system; Carousel skin improves usability; good earphones; lots of preinstalled applications.
Cons: OS slows down occasionally; poor camera; screen only displays 65,000 colours.
Camera: 3-megapixel with autofocus and LED flash
Display: 2.8in resistive touchscreen (240 x 320 pixels)
Operating system: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail
Connectivity: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 850/1900/2100, Bluetooth, USB, WiFi
Expansion slot: MicroSDHC up to 32 GB
Phone memory: 256MB internal memory, 128MB RAM, 1GB MicroSD
Battery Type: 1,170mAh lithium ion
Standby/talk time: 298 hours/480 minutes
Other features: aGPS
Dimensions (w x d x h): 59.7 x 13.7 x 110mm