Update, Feb. 2006: Cingular discontinued the MPx220 and is now offering the Windows Mobile 5
Cingular 2125 MS Smartphone.
The MPx220 is Motorola's
second generation Windows Mobile Smartphone and it offers many
improvements over their first generation MPx200 which
was released in January 2004. In a short revision period, Motorola
has managed to give us the latest OS, a faster processor, larger
battery and added a 1.2 megapixel camera with flash and Bluetooth— excellent! In
fact, the MPx220 has every feature you could want:
quad band GSM service, decent battery life, a very nice color
screen, fast performance, stereo MP3 playback, video playback,
Bluetooth and the camera. The only feature it lacks is EDGE for
data, which no MS Smartphone yet offers.
The phone is offered by Cingular, and for the
first month or so, Best Buy stores had the exclusive rights to
sell it. It's now on Amazon's web site and has appeared in Cingular.
It's a world phone that supports all GSM bands and the first batches
sold by Best Buy were unlocked. It seems that as of January 2005,
they are now locked, so you'll only be able to use them with Cingular.
MS Smartphones belong to the Windows Mobile family
of devices but don't confuse them with their larger kin, the Pocket
PC Phone Edition models such as the iPAQ
6315 and Samsung i700. PPCPE models are full-fledged Pocket
PCs with integrated mobile phone radios. MS Smartphones are smaller
devices that resemble traditional cell phones and offer slimmed-down
versions of the Pocket PC software you may be familiar with. MS
Smartphones cannot run Pocket PC software, though quite a few apps
have been ported to Smartphone, and they do not have touch-screens
and styli. They are the perfect solution for users who want advanced
features not found in standard phones such as a strong PIM
suite, multimedia playback and above all, easy syncing to Windows
desktops running Outlook. Don't be too confused by names: smartphone
is a general term for mobile phones that have PDA features
and includes Palm OS smartphones like the Treo
600, Symbian Series
60 devices such as the Nokia 3650,
Pocket PC Phone Edition models and MS Smartphones. Microsoft decided
to use Smartphone in the product name, that's all.
MS Smartphones have an interface that's very similar
to Pocket PCs (minus stylus support) and are somewhat similar to
Windows desktops. They have the same Today Screens found on Pocket
PCs and a Start Menu that lists all applications installed on the
phone. Rather than using a launcher screen with icons like Nokia
Series 60 phones such as the 3650,
6600, 7610 and N-Gage
QD; MS Smartphones
use Start Menu listings with words (.i.e.: Contacts, Camera) for
installed applications and settings items. Each system works well
and is about equally efficient, so make your choice based on personal
preference. One nice feature on MS Smartphone is that every listing
on the Start Menu and every action menu item listing has a corresponding
number so you can press that number on the keypad rather than scrolling
through sometimes long menus to make your selection. As with most
non-touch screen phones, you'll enter text using the number pad
and have a choice of multi-press, predictive text or number
entry. You can also turn caps lock on and off.
Design and Ergonomics
The Motorola MPx220 has an elegant silver finish
and a clamshell design. Though it's attractive it's not distinctive
and it looks like every other silver clamshell phone on the market.
The front face inset has a shiny mirror-like finish. It's no larger
than many other clamshell phones and you'll barely feel it on your
belt or in your pocket. It's amazing how many features Motorola
packed into such a small package, and the device is only a tad
longer than the MPx200. It's longer because Motorola has put an
internal antenna in the top of the phone and its cap adds about
length. That antenna gives the phone great RF (reception) which
is definitely worth that small additional length.
On the front face you'll see an external 96 x 64
pixel color LCD, speaker phone/system sound grill, camera lens
and flash. The 2.5mm stereo headset jack, volume up/down rocker
and power button are located on the left side. Unfortunately, it's
too easy to accidentally press the volume up/down buttons, so handle
with care when on the phone. On the right side you'll find the
mini-SD card slot, camera button and the IR window. The battery
lives under a plastic door on the back and there's a lanyard eyelet
if you wish to carry the phone on a strap. The hinge is very sturdy
and well made and the phone seems built to last.
Open the phone and you'll see the earpiece speaker
above the 176 x 220 pixel display on the top half of the clamshell.
The lower half has a very usable keypad with large keys and blue
backlit numbers, call send and end buttons, action buttons and
a roomy and pleasant 5-way directional pad. The Motorola MPx200
and 220 have the best d-pads on Windows Mobile Smartphones and
they make navigation and gaming a breeze.
Horsepower and Performance
First generation MS Smartphones weren't speed demons,
but that's changed thanks to the Motorola's fast processor and the Windows
Mobile 2003SE operating system. While the MPx200 had a 132MHz processor,
the MPx220 has a 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 1611 processor. The 1611
is an ARM family processor that has a dual core: one is devoted to running
the OS and PDA basic functions, while the other is a DSP that handles
multimedia, sound and some video tasks. This means the phone can perform
well when running sound and voice related tasks as well as playing back
video without taxing the main processor.
How does it feel? Fast. Menus
open quickly, windows draw fast and you won't find yourself impatiently
waiting for the phone to accomplish basic tasks. Email, Contacts, Calendar
and the rest of the built-in apps are pleasingly responsive. Two of the
most demanding tasks for smartphones are image manipulation and video
playback. The phone's image viewer opens its own 1.2MP images with reasonable
speed and zooms decently fast. It won't give a 400MHz or higher Pocket
PC a run for the money, but it's very usable. Video playback is good
with files encoded at 300kbps bitrate or less. At 400k you'll see jumping
using the included Windows Media Player and Pocket TV, with the free
BetaPlayer playing the most smoothly but still skipping.
The MPx220 has 64 megs of ROM where the OS and built-in
applications are stored, ~28 megs of which is available for you to store
programs and data. It has 32 megs of RAM used as program memory. For
expansion the Moto has a mini-SD card slot located on the right side
of the unit under a rubber cover. Mini-SD cards are fairly new and are
1/2 the length of a standard SD card. These are currently available up
to 512 megs which is the highest capacity the phone supports. It may
be able to support larger capacity cards once those are available, but
Motorola lists 512 megs as the max. Since the MPx220 has a mini-SD slot,
it can't use standard SD cards or SDIO cards such as SD WiFi cards. Why
did Motorola go with mini-SD? Because it allowed them to make the phone
Phone Features and Reception
Nokia generally wins when it comes to RF (reception)
and the first generation MPx200 couldn't compare. We were pleasantly
surprised to discover that the MPx220 has excellent reception. In areas
of weak and strong coverage, the phone managed to go neck and neck with
our Nokia 3650, N-Gage QD and 7610 phones. Even with 1 bar (equal to
25% on Windows Mobile devices), call quality was quite good. Voice quality,
both incoming and outgoing are excellent with none of the usual background
hiss or white noise heard on most GSM phones. However, call volume through
the built-in earpiece is low and it can be hard to hear your caller if
you're in a public place. Outgoing call volume isn't very loud but is
adequate: all our call recepients on cell phones and land lines had no
trouble hearing us but our voices weren't very loud either. This problem
is rectified with a firmware update and all phones sold on or after Nov.
15, 2004 should be somewhat louder.
The Motorola MPx220
is a quad band phone that works on the 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands,
which means it will work anywhere in the world where GSM service is available.
The phone isn't locked so you'll be able to travel abroad and put in
a local SIM card to make calls more affordably. In fact, we tested
the phone using a T-Mobile US SIM and voice, data, SMS and MMS worked
fine. If you do use a carrier other than Cingular, you will have to manually
enter your data and MMS settings as they're pre-configured for Cingular.
Phone features are standardized among all MS Smartphones,
so the experience is similar across these devices. To make a call, you
can press the call send button and dial using the number pad or dial
from call history. You can also speed dial by pressing and holding a
number that's assigned to a phone number in your address book. You can
add a speed dial entry from the Contacts application for anyone in your
address book and have up to 99 speed dial entries. Standard phone features
include call waiting, call history, speakerphone, call barring, call
forwarding and caller ID.
Voice Recognition and Voice Dialing
For convenience and safety, voice dialing is a must
have on any mobile phone. The Moto does add nice voice command and voice
dialing features which are powered by the excellent VoiceSignal software
(also found on the Samsung i600 MS
Smartphone and i700 Pocket PC phone).
You need not create voice tags or train it to recognize your voice. In
fact, it works out of the box with all contacts in your address book
(say "call Tom Jones" to call him, and specify his calling location when
prompted if you have more than one number for Tom). You can also use
"digit dialing" and speak the phone number you wish to have dialed. If
necessary, you can adjust sensitivity, set speech speed, turn off confirmation
prompts, and change between English and Spanish.
If that's not enough, Speech Recognition allows you
to give voice commands to launch applications, and several are pre-configured
(Contacts, Camera, Calendar and more). You can add most any application
to this list. If you wish to open Contacts, simply say "open Contacts".
To activate Speech Recognition for voice dialing and commands, press
and hold the volume up/down rocker. You'll hear a woman's voice state
"Say a command" and you're ready to tell the phone what to do. Speech
recognition works with the phone, with wired headsets but not with Bluetooth
headsets (*sigh*). If you're using a Bluetooth headset, you'll need to
activate Speech Recognition using the volume rocker switch and speak
your command into the phone's mic rather than into the headset's mic.
The MPx220 has a 1,000 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's
user replacable. That's a good capacity battery for a smartphone and
the device should last most folks through a day of heavy use or two days
of moderate to light use. Voice and data calls use the most power,
followed by Bluetooth and playing videos. The unit comes with
a charger that plugs into the port on the bottom, and you can charge
via USB using the included cable. USB charging is pretty fast and it's
handy to have your battery topped up when you sync. Unlike the MPx200,
the MPx220 doesn't use a common mini-USB cable but rather a proprietary
Yes indeed, the Moto has Bluetooth which allows you
to use headsets (both headset and hands-free profiles are supported),
transfer files, ActiveSync and use the phone as a wireless modem for
a Bluetooth enabled PDA or computer. The Bluetooth stack (driver software)
is supplied by Microsoft and they haven't gained much praise in the past
for their Bluetooth stack on devices like the XDA II Pocket PC phone.
However, the Moto's Bluetooth software isn't bad and it pairs very reliably
with Bluetooth headsets supporting both headset and hands-free profiles
and it supports the extra features of the hands-free profile. I paired
about ten devices with the Moto (an iPAQ hx4700, Dell Axim X50v, six
different headsets, a PalmOne Tungsten T3 and my desktop PC). All worked
well for file transfers such as sending camera photos from the phone,
and ActiveSync worked well. We did find one bug that occured with all
the headsets we tested: when Bluetooth is turned on and the headset
connects, the mic won't pick up sound for the first outgoing call. This
means your call recipient won't hear you on the first call, but will
on sucessive calls until Bluetooth is turned off and on again. A workaround
is to call voicemail right after you connect the headset. You can hang
up once connected to voicemail, and further call recipients will hear
your voice just fine.
The MPx220 can act as a wireless modem for
your PDA or computer and it did well with our desktop. You will need
to enter the fairly standard init string found in the manual under
the USB modem section (the same init string is used for both Bluetooth
and USB modem connections). Speaking of which, you can use the MPx220
as a modem for your computer over USB with the included sync cable. If
you wish to use the Moto as a modem for your Bluetooth enabled Pocket
PC, you can do so.
How to use the Moto as a Bluetooth Modem for a Pocket
With Windows Mobile 2003 and 2003 SE Pocket PCs, you'll
need to do some manual connection work though, as these Pocket PCs
don't automatically initialize the Moto correctly. For
some reason, this is a problem with several MS Smartphones. So how to
do it? Create a new Bluetooth modem connection on your Pocket PC using
"Bluetooth Dialup Modem". In most cases, the number to dial
is *99#. You may or may not need a username and password as that varies
by carrier. Click on the Advanced tab as you walk through the connection
creation process, and set the baud rate to 56k or 115k and uncheck the
box that says "Wait for dialtone before dialing". Now
tap on the Port settings tab and check the box that's labled "Enter
dialing commands manually".
The rest of the values should remain unchanged, so save your new connection
settings and you're ready to connect. Start up the new connection and
you'll see a large window open where you can enter a dialing command.
You'll need to enter AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","apn_name","",0,0d*99#
and hit the enter key. You should see CONNECT appear after you hit the
enter key and you can close the window and use your Internet connection.
Note that apn_name stands for your carrier's APN: for example, T-Mobile
uses wap.voicestream.com for Tzones accounts and Cingular uses ISP.CINGULAR
(WAP.CINGULAR for the MediaWorks plan) for theirs. This sounds more tedious
than it really is: once you've created the connection and connected once,
you can tap on the connection symbol at the top of the Pocket PC home
screen to initiate the connection and either paste that long command
into the manual connection from Notes, or use a keyboard app with macro
capabilities to enter the string with one tap (I recommend Resco's Keyboard
Pro). Data connections are fast by GPRS standards since the MPx220 is
a class 10 device.
The MPx220 has a 1.23 megapixel digital camera
capable of shooting JPEG photos up to 1280 x 960 resolution. You
can select from a variety of lower resolutions as well, and tweak
your camera settings to get the best shot. Even nicer, the unit
has a very bright LED flash located beside the lens on the outter
face of the clamshell that makes night and dark room photos possible.
This all sounds very impressive, but the Moto takes average quality
photos at best. The Sony Ericsson S700i, Nokia 7610 and several
other megapixel camera phones take much better photos. In fact,
the MPx220's competitor the Audiovox
SMT5600 has a VGA camera that
often shot better photos. Mind you, the Moto's photos are higher
resolution than VGA camera phone photos, but they have more noise
than 1 megapixel competitors and show less detail. In general,
with early firmware versions the camera oversaturated colors a
bit and with the most recent it undersaturates colors.
We generally got the best results when leaving
white balance set to auto except in very poorly lit areas where manually
selecting night mode yielded the best results, and indoors under
incandesent light where the incandesent setting yielded better (though
overly warm) colors. When outdoors on a sunny day, choosing the sunlight
mode resulted in photos with really odd colors; but the automatic
setting gave us photos with good color and light balance. If you
find you're getting overly dark images try the night
mode (even if outdoors on a sunny day), increasing brightness using
the d-pad and increasing contrast to 4 in settings. The camera
does have manual white balance settings for sunlight, cloudy night,
incandescent and flouresent environments, and you can set brightness
in the viewfinder window (updates in real time which is sweet)
and use digital zoom up to 4x. You can specify where images are
saved (any folder on internal memory or a mini-SD card), and turn
on the flash as needed. The feature set is certainly very nice
and the user interface is intuitive; if only the image quality
were equally impressive.
In addition, the Moto can shoot videos up to 10
duration (95k limit, intended for MMS) or max (limited only by available
storage). You can specify where files are saved, set contrast, brightness,
whether your clip will have audio, and recording quality (standard,
medium, high). Movie quality is average and the associated sound
is absolutely excellent. Sound and video stay in sync, unlike the
Nokia 7610 which takes great video but doesn't maintain sync.
Like all MS Smartphones, the MPx220 comes with
the Smartphone version of Internet Explorer, Media Player 9, MSN
Messenger, ActiveSync for the phone and Windows desktops, a file
viewer, and MS Smartphone versions of Outlook: Messaging, Contacts,
Calendar and Tasks. For some reason, Microsoft has never included
a Notes program that syncs to Outlook notes, but a great 3rd party
program called SmartphoneNotes will
do the trick if you're a big user of Outlook notes. If you're an
email fiend, you'll be happy to know that MS Smartphone 2003 SE works
well with POP, IMAP and Exchange servers. Internet Explorer has improved
by leaps and bounds on the MPx220. If you've used IE on other MS
Smartphones you've no doubt marveled at how long they took to load
web pages. The Moto's fast processor and the 2003SE OS mean that
web pages load in 15 or 20 seconds rather than 1 minute.
File Viewer opens MS Office docs and PDFs for
viewing but not editing. You need not convert documents using ActiveSync
before putting them on the phone and you'll be able to read attachments
in those formats. Along with the standard File Manager, you'll get
Resource Manager which allows you to see available memory, running
programs and kill programs if you wish. Very handy.
As mentioned, the Moto comes with Speech Recognition
which allows you to voice dial contacts and launch programs by speaking
a command. The phone supports picture caller ID using ArcSoft's
Caller ID application. You can attach a picture to any contact in
your address book and when that person calls, you'll see their photo
on the external LCD as well as the main display. It works reliably
and the picture is large enough to easily see at a glance.
Display and Sound
The phone has a very nice TFT 262k color display.
Can the naked eye see the difference between a 65k and 262k display?
Probably not, and I can't, but I doubt anyone will complain about
getting more colors! The screen measures 2" diagonally and the resolution
is the standard 176 x 220 pixels specified by Microsoft for MS Smartphones.
The display is rich, contrasty, color saturated and easy to read
even when using small fonts. You can turn ClearType on to smooth
fonts, but I find it more crisp without.
The MPx220 has a color external LCD that's 96 x
64 pixels. You can set a background wallpaper for the external LCD
and adjust its contrast. The LCD shows time, date, signal strength
and battery status, as well as incoming call info. If you've assigned
a photo to your contact, her photo will appear on the outter LCD
as well as the inner display when she calls. Nice!
Though earpiece volume and outgoing call volume
aren't terribly loud, the speakerphone is quite loud and it's easy
to hear the phone ringing and application sounds. The mic actually
does an excellent job when recording voice notes and sound for movies:
it's very loud and the quality is surprisingly good. The phone has
a 2.5mm headset jack that can accept Motorola's
stereo earbud headset, but most 3rd party ones I tried didn't work.
Though Motorola makes a stereo headset mic for the MPx220, they don't
include one in the box— a
shame for a phone in this feature and price class. The Moto has vibration
mode for those times when silence is golden.
All photos were shot using the
auto setting at the highest resolution (1280 x 960). Click on
a photo to see the unedited original.
The new BMW 645i in a well-lit show room with natural lighting.
Odwalla in a supermarket.
Fry's Electronics, geek heaven. This was
mid-day on a mostly sunny day. The colors are overly saturated
and photo is too dark.
It looks like a regular cell phone but boy does
it pack a lot of features and power! If you're looking for a phone
that offers easy syncronization to Outlook and MS Exchange, can
carry much the same data as a PDA but don't need the size, features
and touch screen of a PDA, then do consider the MPx220. However,
if you make plenty of calls in noisy public places, you may want
to steer clear of the MPx220 because earpiece volume is low. If
you plan to use wired or Bluetooth headsets then you won't have
to worry about this. We do hope Motorola issues an updater to increase
the built-in earpiece and mic volume.
Pro: This smartphone
has a lot going for it: very compact clamshell design, lightweight,
fast, a very nice color display, stereo MP3 playback through headphones,
a color external display, an expansion slot, Bluetooth, a megapixel
camera and easy syncing.
Con: Camera quality
isn't competitive with many other megapixel camera phones. It's
annoyingly easy to accidentally hit the volume up/down rocker and
unintentionally change phone volume. Why didn't Motorola include
a stereo earbud headset on this multimedia demon?
Price: $500 without contract. $250 to $350 with
new activation from Cingular
TFT color LCD, 262K colors (18 bit), screen size
diag: 2 ",
resolution: 176 x 220 pixels. Color external display,
96 x 64 pixels.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1000 mA. Claimed talk and standby times: Standby
Time up to
Talk Time: up to
family Texas Instruments dual core OMAP 1611
processor. 32 MB built-in RAM, 64 MB Flash ROM,
~28 available for program and data storage. Can use
mini-SD cards up to 512 megs in capacity (that's
the highest capacity currently manufactured).
x 1.89" x .96". Weight:
in speaker, mic and 2.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Media Player
9 included for your MP3 pleasure.Phone has
vibration mode and standard ringers.
band GSM world phone. Bands: 850/900/1800/1900MHz..
Data: GPRS Class 10.
Smartphone version of Windows Mobile 2003
Second Edition operating system. Smartphone versions
of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Outlook (email,
Contacts, Calendar and Tasks but not Notes included),
MSN Instant Messenger,
Pocket MSN, Voice Recorder, Windows Media Player
9 and Media Center (handles DRM content). Also included:
Speech Recognition (Voice Signal), Picture Caller
ID, Camera and Video capture apps, Video Player,
Resource Manager, Solitaire, Jawbreaker, Speed Dial,
Calculator, Modem Link (for using the phone as a
modem with a PC over USB), two Java games, Call History
and Photo Album. ActiveSync 3.7.1 and Outlook 2002
for PCs included.
mini- SD slot. Does not work with full sized SD cards,
you must use mini-SD cards. IR port.