This week’s announcement that the Motorola Milestone XT720 is coming to the UK is welcome news for Android watchers everywhere. Known across the pond as the Motoroi, having been announced in the US way back in January, it crams in all the best things from the Motorola Milestone and jettisons said phone’s biggest problem. Namely, that ghastly QWERTY panel.
The Milestone is an easy phone to love when you have the slider hidden away and you keep yourself focused on the touchscreen. Tactile and with vanilla Android underneath, it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to experience Google’s OS in its unexpurgated form. Pull out that keyboard though and the fun soon stops. Flush left is one of the most awkward QWERTY panels we’ve ever encountered on a mobile. The keys are too close together, getting up to speed is hard and it leaves your right hand aching as you stretch your digits across.
The XT720 is therefore a welcome arrival. It’s essentially the same phone as the Milestone, except it’ll land with Android 2.1 when it’s released over the next few weeks. Being a vanilla Android phone though, that should be easily bumped up to Android 2.2 FroYo very soon indeed, bringing greater stability and a more advanced operating system.
But it’s more than a simple phone release. The Milestone XT720 shows how far Motorola has come in well under a year. At 2009’s Mobile World Congress, it felt as if Moto was living on borrowed time, with nothing of note to offer and only the promise of Android phones to come.
While the DEXT went some way to showing its intentions, the poorly laid our and ill-considered MotoBLUR created few good impressions. But with the Milestone and now its successor, the XT720, rolling out globally, Moto’s revival appears complete.
Rather than focusing on unleashing a string of new phones that the public struggles to keep up with, Motorola has taken a more studied approach, showing off a few high end efforts. That it’s decided to go with the plain Android OS rather than MotoBLUR on the XT720 and Milestone is an impressive admittance that the average social networking skin would hamper its best phones. It also means Motorola doesn’t face the same upgrade issues when Google issues one of its frequent updates, as has been seen by the ongoing debacle of getting Android 2.1 onto the HTC Hero.
The Milestone XT720 is going to be yet another killer Android phone. It might not have the same slimline looks or power as the HTC Desire or do the business like the iPhone 4, but fans of Android’s open source skills will find it to be a real winner.