My MPx200 Review

I’ve just managed to get one of these handsets to keep. I’ve been using it all weekend now. I think I’m converted. Hello Moto ! Hello Motorola MPx200!

The hardware…

I’m a child of the 80’s – the 1980’s.. If you are too, you’ll remember a programme on TV called “Knight Rider”. It was quality TV – when David Hasselhoff was one cool dude and talked to a car. You remember that car yeah ? The Knight Industries Two Thousand… or KITT for short. KITT was the coolest car around at the time and Mr Hasselhoff took great delight in adjusting his curly mullet in the reflective splendour of the immaculately polished gloss black paintwork. This was one fine car – there wasn’t a sniff of plastic about it.. something which can’t be said about the co-stars of Mr Hasselhoffs’ “Baywatch” programme. No, KITT was intelligence, style and technology all wrapped up in one sleek vehicle.

Open the cardboard box on a Motorola MPx200… it’s like opening a garage and finding KITT inside. This is one fiiiiiiiiiine looking phone… you just feel the urge to polish it straight away. Then you just want to rip it apart.. sod the instruction book, I want to get my SIM card in there right now… Phew.. I’ve managed to get through that entire sentence without doing any sexual references… :) So where was I ? Oh yes. I’ve grabbed the battery lid, a little push on the right button, and it slips right off with grace. Next, the battery – a nice small little battery which again, pops right out. See – no naughty references here. :)

The SIM card slots without a SIM cradle, there’s a hook and a slide – then you’re done. One thing here – I decide to plug in the power – the power pack is another swish Motorola design – yes, Motorola have taken the time out to make the power-pack look funky too! It’s like KITT – hell, this phone should have “Bonny” polishing it too (Bonny was the sexy “mechanic” for KITT in the Knight Rider shows). Now, there’s a little plug at the bottom of the phone – this is used for charging and communications. It’s a MiniUSB plug, and you can plug this into a variety of power sources (like the gorgeous Motorola power pack or the equally glorious Motorola car charger). This is covered by a small black cover – but wait… pull this and it just drops off.. yup.. flop.. on the floor. Stick it in the bin. This tiny little cover has travelled so far, but that’s it – gone. Don’t get me wrong – all the other ports on this phone, the SD/MMC card slot, the headphone slot etc – all have covers that flap open on a small rubber hinge. This one just falls off. I guess now I can see why though – at first it seemed strange. I was asking myself, “what’s the point in that thing?” – but for those who want to keep the dust out, I guess you can keep the cover on – plus, even if the cover were on a hinge and folded back, you’d have a big problem when you drop it into the cradle. I’d like to buy the designers of this handset several beers right about now. Even a port that they didn’t NEED to cover (because it’s used so often) has an extremely well designed cover. It’s like buying a BMW and finding some designer gloves with the BMW logo on in the glove box.

I really, really, really like this handset. The build quality is spot on… really, really bang on. The centre chasis of the handset is metal, with the two halves of the phone attached through a hinge pivoted on a solid shiny steel rod. There’s a rigid plastic cover on top of the chassis, which is polished and houses the mirrored blue Motorola logo and external screen on the front with the MS and Motorola logo on the back. The phone is small too – as you can probably see by the photographs.

This really is a very sexy phone. Just carrying it around, when compared to carrying around other MS Smartphones like the SPV, is totally different. You can clamp it your hand and there’s no visible sign it’s there. If you’re a smoker, which I am not – but my girlfriend is – you’ll find yourself grabbing the 10 pack of cigarettes out of your pocket, thinking it’s the phone!

The screen on the front allows three different displays – an analogue clock with a date, a network and time display, or another time display. You can control the contrast setting on this LCD screen too, plus there’s a blue back-light which appears when you close the phone up. It shows the battery meter, time (in analogue or digital format), network, date, signal strength and whether you’ve got GPRS coverage. It also shows the volume, which you can change with the jog-dial on the side of the handset. This display will also show you who’s calling – the backlight comes on and the name pops up when this happens. If you miss a call, you’ll see the missed call icon on the LCD display. If you get an SMS message – you get an envelope icon. All good! Below this display is the external speaker which, if I may say so, kicks out some really loud sounds. The Motorola has two speakers – an internal headphone, for normal calls, and this external speaker to blast out ringtones and much more.

On the left of the handset is the small silver power button – again, well crafted with a standard power icon (I). The jog dial is an excellent addition – I’d like to see it to more within the OS, but it’ll move the sound up and down for you. There’s also the IR port. On the right side of the phone is the SD/MMC card slot, which is well protected with a rubber flap so no dust or muck can get into the phone. Splendid design once more. Above that is a 2.5mm stereo headset jack for your microphone / headphone / headset attachment. Above that is a hole for a wrist-strap attachment.

Above you can see the cradle that the handset rests in – you can open or close the phone whilst in the cradle too, which is very good.

Now, I’ve had an Orange SPV E100 for a while now. Opening the handset up brings me to the more familiar E100 look. A full colour screen with an extremely crystal clear display. When you do open the handset the screen “clicks” into place so there’s no danger of bending it back too far like a laptop screen.. The keys are … yes, again I have to say it .. very well designed and made. I can’t fault the built quality on this handset. The only gripe I have, which is a stupid little gripe, is that the distance between the keys and the bottom of the screen is maybe a bit to much. This is noticeable if you’ve been using a Tanager (SPV E100 / Smart Amazing Phone / iMate / Qtek 7070), then you’ll notice this more when you try and press a soft key – your thumb automatically goes close to the menu option on the screen and you end up missing the actual key. After a few minutes, you’ll get the hang of it anyway. Each key has a subdued blue glow behind which gives a cool shine.

Making a call on this handset gives a nice basey sound through the earpiece. If you enable the speakerphone then the sound shoots out the back of the phone really well with a very good sound quality.

So I guess you’re asking – are there ANY down points to this phone ? Well yes, and they’re obvious – you’ve already spotted the lack of camera – an integrated one would have been great. Bluetooth isn’t there either as you know.. however, let’s go back to the camera thing for a minute… although there isn’t one in the box I received, I’ve heard that a plug-in one is being worked on, which would explain the “Camera” program on the phone, plus all the “Get from Camera” options that appear to be knocking around.. Ahhh the software – I haven’t mentioned that have I ?

The software

Smartphone 2002 is being shipped with the MPx200. The handset I was using here had a generic build of Smartphone 2002 with no app-locking or network locking. For some reason though, I wanted to see the speed… and wow.. it’s nippy. Every single click on the keys is responded to – very little lag – if any at all is seen. Press “Programs” from the home screen, then press and hold the “down” button on a menu and watch how fast it scrolls.. and it still keeps “beeping” with every selection as you do so.

Hmm … so.. that was quick. In fact, when I viewed a 56K Windows Media streaming video on Windows Media, via my PC’s pass-thru, the Motorola Smartphone has NO “drops” – no “sticking” – no “pausing”. This is gooooood – very nice!!! Please, please – if you have an SPV, and SPV E100, a Smart Amazing Phone, an iMate, a QTek 7070 etc… just please have a look at the speed of this. It’s fast, it’s responsive and it NEVER delays a button press. Just dialling in a number, a phone number you know well and one which you dial quickly, can trip the SPV up .. but not the Motorola MPx200. Not at all.

For you techies out there, here’s the specs compared to an iMate (HTC Tanager / E100 / Smart Amazing Phone etc) Smartphone, which has lots of apps and stuff on it. Not an exact comparison this, but interesting none the less…

Motorola MPx200 Orange SPV e100
Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 Windows Powered Smartphone 2002
Version 3.0 (Build 13258) Version 3.0 (Build 13121)
Radio Version 1.00 Radio Version 1.33.20
Available Storage: 8.07Mb Available Storage: 3.71Mb
Total Storage: 11.03Mb Total Storage: 7.50Mb
Available Memory: 17.77Mb Available Memory: 7.92Mb

So, what if you’re upgrading from another MS Smartphone? Any big changes ? Well, the Smartphone 2002 software really takes on a new lease of life on this phone. It’s quick, responsive and there’s very little sign of the spinning “wait” symbol. There’s a few extra bits bundled in, including an excellent File Manager, which is incredibly useful. There’s also an extra option within “Settings” which allows you to control the LCD screen. This includes the screen style and contrast. There’s also a “preferred band” option, which has been moved and changed from “Settings->Telephony” previously, and allows you to control which is your favourite network band – either 900/1800, 1900 or “Auto”. There’s a “Flip Answer” option too, which is pretty self explanatory. You can turn this on or off.

Within the OS there’s some other tweaks too, which previous MS Smartphone users will notice. For example, in “power management” we no longer have “Screen saver mode”, instead it’s now been changed to a time-based “Display time out” option instead. The SIM Manager is placed now into “Accessories”.

The sounds.. ohh the sounds.. to me it sounds like this particular handset really, really does proper Polyphonic ringtones. There’s plenty to choose from and Motorola have added a large selection of MIDI tunes, plus a WAV “Hello Moto” ringtone. The ringtones are loud and crisp, and the basic, standard “out of the box” phone setup is great – the ringtone is set to “loud” and the other bits have been setup almost exactly as I would here

I’ve also noticed that when the phone is “open” – and someone calls you, the phone automatically defaults – it seems – to a different hidden profile, which means it rings quietly at first, then louder and louder. However, when the phone is “closed” it reacts in the way you’ve set in your profile. What a nice touch! That’ll stop you getting deafened! :)

Can I just mention one more time – speed .. it’s fantastic. Using the browser to look at long webpages is a breeze. Scrolling up and down has absolutely no lag, no catching-up – it responds to you perfectly every time. The Smartphone 2002 software really comes into its own here – the phone and the OS compliment each other extremely well.

Battery Life

I thought this deserved it’s own section really, because we’ve seen other Smartphones where battery life can be a tad short. For this handset, I really didn’t charge it properly first time, which is a bit of a no-no. I got roughly a days’ use from it, and you have to bear in mind here that I was messing around with pretty much all the time in order to test it for this review. The very next day, after a PROPER charge and NORMAL usage (making calls / receiving about 10 calls, playing an MP3, browsing a couple of news sites) and I have a completely full battery at the end of the day.

How can this be ? Well, it’s a clam-shell phone, so the battery sucking colour screen isn’t turned on when closed. So, all the battery is effectively powering is the OS functions and the external display. The end result – brilliant battery life compared to earlier MS Smartphone models.

Using it

As I’ve said, carrying this thing round is great. Women will like it because it’s small and perfectly designed – plus they can check their make-up in the blue reflective panel at the front. ;) Blokes will like it because you can play MP3’s and it’ll easily out-class your mates’ phones.

I did find it a bit of a struggle to use in the car, as my personal handsfree kit has trouble plugging into the side when clamped into a phone-holder. My car-phone holder was massive in comparison to this handset, so the grips covered the whole of the side. This handset really does need a car kit of some kind. I tried it with a Jabra Bluetooth headset, but I’m guessing that the 2.5mm jack isn’t wired the same as the SPV or the SPV e100 (Smart Amazing … etc) as it simply failed to work. Another minor point that I will raise is that it appears to be quite easy to accidentally cover the microphone whilst you talk.

With this handset was a seriously cool desktop sync cradle, which powers and sync’s together. A green-glowing car power charger, which is incredibly useful and well designed (the amount of thought and design put into this handset is incredible). There’s also a headset with in-line mic – what we in the UK call a “personal handsfree kit”. The flip is great – I’ve never had a flip phone before. It gives you a weird satisfaction to slam the flip shut after a phone call to work, and you needn’t check whether the phone has returned to the home screen. Who cares ? :) Yes, I hear you cry – you might want to see bits of your homescreen all the time, like the “Reminders”, which isn’t displayed on the blue LCD front panel. That’s a very good point, but I think (a) This phone will be targeted at and bought by people who don’t need to know in advance about a meeting and (b) The phone will still vibrate and give you a soft sound to remind you before if begins anyway (usually 15 minutes before).

Now, I’ve got a secret to tell you. About a year or two back, my mom brought back her new mobile phone. It was a Motorola… I can’t remember what model it was off-hand, but it looked like a black plastic banana. I couldn’t use it either.. finding a phone number took ages and it had a battery bigger than my car (ok, slight exaggeration!). So, I came into this review with that in mind – that was the last time I used a Motorola. Previously I thought, “bad design, plastic phone, rubbery keys and hard to use”….

.. but Motorola have completely and utterly changed my mind………

.. I love this handset, it is tough and rugged, yet it has style and grace. If this handset doesn’t fly off the shelves then I’ll eat my hat.. and I don’t have a hat yet, but I’ll go out and buy one, add salt and a few choice flavourings – then sit in a posh restaurant and happily eat it with a glass of wine.


You know what this phone doesn’t have – Bluetooth and an integrated camera. By now, you should know what it has..

– Windows Media Player, to allow you to play movies, video, MP3s.

– Inbox, which you can easily Sync with your PC. This has brilliant MMS software added in. Email from your handset, add a voice-message if you wish – oh, and SMS too. ;)

– Contacts, again – sync it with your PC so you can store all your important contacts, along with their numbers and email addresses… home addresses, fax numbers – all matched to that stored on your PC’s Outlook.

– Internet Explorer – for easy and quick exploring

– ActiveSync – to keep your PC and your phone locked in happy harmony

– Call history, who called you, who you called, what you missed, when a call happened, how long it lasted, what date etc etc

– MSN Messenger. In a field and need to contact someone a few thousand miles away, but don’t want the call charge ? Log on a message them!

– File Manager – Run CAB files for installing games, run and install skins, move files around – copy, delete and view files. Send / receive files over IR

– Tasks, Voice Notes, set up Speed dials, play games… even use a calculator!

– Plus, this is an MS Smartphone – if you want to install stuff yourself, change the way it looks, add new ringtones or text-message sounds.. look no further than !! Grab some games, utilities and make it your own !

If you don’t need bluetooth, and you’re not fussed about the camera, buy one of these. Go out and go to your bank, then get some money and buy one. I demand it.

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