The Motorola Milestone XT701 Android smartphone has many things in common with the original Milestone smartphone, but ditches the physical QWERTY keyboard. The Milestone XT701 also adds HD video recording and a Xenon flash to a lighter, more attractive form factor.
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We criticised the original Motorola Milestone smartphone for feeling awkward. Motorola has responded by ditching the slide-out physical keyboard on the Milestone XT701 in favour of a touchscreen keyboard — the change results in a lighter smartphone that no longer feels clunky. The phone looks a little thicker than it actually is due to the two-toned, flat design, but it fits nicely in the hand and isn’t too heavy.
The Motorola Milestone XT701 borrows many design cues from its predecessor, but still looks and feels quite different. The all-black design has been swapped for glossy silver edging and soft grey plastic on the rear. The Milestone XT701 also protrudes strangely on the bottom right edge of its casing — this houses the physical camera buttons and status indicators when the phone is used as a camera. This style won’t suit all tastes, but it’s distinctive and we were very impressed with the XT701’s build quality.
The Motorola Milestone XT701 smartphone has a 3.7in capacitive touchscreen, but it doesn’t use AMOLED technology like the HTC Desire. It is slightly larger than the iPhone 3GS’ 3.5in screen but is brighter and text is much crisper. The display also supports multitouch, but it isn’t as kind to fingerprints as the iPhone, requiring constant wiping to keep free of grubby marks.
The Motorola Milestone XT701’s on-screen QWERTY keyboard benefits from haptic feedback, excellent auto-correction software and a spacious layout. It also features an iPhone-style magnifying glass that appears in any text field when you press and hold the text — this allows you to adjust the cursor to correct or add words while typing, a very handy feature.
The Motorola Milestone XT701 runs the 2.1 version of Google’s Android operating system, providing access to the Android Market for third-party applications, an excellent notifications taskbar and automatic and seamless synchronisation with Google services. The XT701 ships with an almost default version of Android 2.1 — aside from a few changes on the home screen, there is no heavy customisation like on the HTC Desire and Samsung’s Galaxy S.
Despite running a modest 600MHz processor we experienced little to no lag, so performance is adequate. Programs opened swiftly, though the camera application can be rather sluggish to start up and there is some shutter lag when taking photos. The Milestone XT701’s Xenon flash makes night-time photographs much more legible than cameras with an LED flash, but the 5-megapixel camera still won’t replace your standalone digital camera. When in camera mode, three blue LEDs on the protruding edge of the left side of the handset denote still image capture, HD video capture in 720p, or gallery playback.
The Motorola Milestone XT701’s Web browser supports Flash, and multitouch means you can pinch the screen to zoom in and out of Web pages. The browser reformats text on a page to fit the screen. Most pages we browsed loaded swiftly and without any major issues.
The Motorola Milestone XT701 uses the default Android music application, and also includes an FM radio, and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Other features include a built-in accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, digital compass and a GPS receiver. The Milestone XT701 also has a microSD card slot for extra storage, located behind the rear battery cover.
The Motorola Milestone XT701 isn’t currently sold in Australia through a local carrier, but can be purchased outright and unlocked through online retailer MobiCity.