Motorola Milestone: Second Opinions

I’ve had my Motorola Milestone for nearly two months now so thought it was time for a follow-up to my first impressions. Since I bought my Milestone, a couple of things have happened: The price dropped by £50 and Google released the Nexus One. Do I regret rushing out and buying the Milestone? Read on to find out (plus view my list of  Top 20 Android Apps).
As an early-adopter I knew the price would drop once Expansys’s exclusive was up, so that £50 extra I paid I just see as a geek tax. The Nexus One though came as a surprise and I’ve been thinking long and hard about whether to jump again. I know a few Milestone owners who instantly put their new devices on eBay as soon as the N1 came out, losing around £100 in a flash.

.

Things I Like About the Motorola Milestone

The screen. It was the first thing that wowed me about the Milestone and I still think it’s the phone’s most impressive feature. At 3.7 inches, the 854 x 480 display has a higher resolutuion than both the iPhone 3GS (480 x 320) and Nexus One (800 x 480). Thanks to its dedicated graphics processor, the Motorola Milestone can run 3D games: finally a reason to get rid of my PSP.

The form-factor. The solid feel to the Milestone appeals immensely to the geek in me. The way the keyboard slides out is smooth and assertive, the phone is slim and the overall finish stamps it as a quality device.

The speed. The processor may be pegged down to 550 MHz, but it’s still one of the fastest  smartphones available.

Multitouch. The importance of this this feature has been over-inflated by US bloggers and tech sites desparate for some reason to knock the Droid down compared with the iPhone. To be honest, I don’t really use multitouch that much but it works well on the Milestone and is now supported on Google Maps too.

Google Android. After the Nexus One, the Milestone has the most recent version of  Android available. I think Android is the best OS for smartphones: it’s open, it allows multitasking, there’s loads of freeware, and it integrates with all my Google mail, contacts, and apps perfectly.

.

Things I Don’t Like About the Motorola Milestone

The weight. This phone is too heavy: it’s 6 ounces compared with a 4.8 oz iPhone or 4.5 oz Nexus One. Call me a wimp, but holding the Milestone one-handed for any length of time can become tiring.

The keyboard. Try as I might, the keyboard is poor compared to the one I had on my G1. I frequently make typing mistakes, even though I have reasonably slim fingers and grew up with Psion series PDAs.

Music skipping bug.
This a big issue for me: the Motorola Milestone has a problem with playing  music. No matter what you’re listening to (local mp3 files or Spotify), the Milestone can skip during playback and add lots of micropauses to the music. Each skip is very short (fractions of a second) but nevertheless it’s noticeable and very annoying.  There’s an on-going thread on the official Motorola forum that’s had thousands of views and loads of replies, but still no official response from Motorola. Sometimes it doesn’t skip much, sometimes it skips a lot. A workaround is to put the phone in aeroplane mode i.e. disable all network activity. This is not an ideal solution as the Milestone is supposed to be an Internet phone, not an offline mp3 player. The issue does not seem to apply to the Droid in the US which perhaps explains why Motorola don’t seem to care too much.

.

Top 20 Android Apps

Here are my Top 20 (ish) recommended apps I’ve installed on the Milestone:

  • Advanced Task Manager – Keeps your Android phone running smoothly by making it easy to kill rogue programs hogging resources
  • Album Art Grabber (PAID) – Excellent wee app that fixes all your missing cover art from the Music player
  • beebPlayer - Unofficial BBC iPlayer, including live TV and radio streams. Just a pity the picture quality isn’t that good.
  • Dolphin Browser – I was forced to use this due to the in-built browser’s inability to wrap text properly. I’ve not grown to like it lots, especially the “swipe to next tab” function. Not sure where the scroll bars went though…
  • ES File Explorer – One of many file managers I’ve tried, this one includes LAN and FTP options: great for transferring files from my PC without cables or taking out the microSD card (always a risk for me as I often end up with card errors).
  • Facebook - Still no contact integration and still no way near as good as the iPhone version, but nevertheless an essential app if you’re on the FB.
  • FotMob 4.5 – Football league table app, had it for a while and always found it a bit clunky but there wasn’t really any alternative. A new batch of footie apps have recently arrived though so I may change soon.
  • Google Goggles - Google’s Goggles is the one to impress your friends with. Expect it to be pre-installed with Android soon.
  • Google Sky Map – Realtime map of the heavens, this works brilliantly with the Milestone’s superior accelerometer and compass.
  • Guardian Anywhere – Downloads the Guardian newspaper while I sleep for offline reading on the bus into work: brilliant! It’s unofficial and sometimes gets stuck, but it’s free and has cool image gallery and tag cloud features.
  • Movies - Flixster-powered app that tells you what’s on at the movies. Includes all sorts of features such as reviews, trailers, DVDs, post to Facebook etc.
  • MySpace - Basic app (no music streaming = FAIL) but at least you can check bulletins and activity updates.
  • Places Directory – Another Google app, of the “pizza stores near me” variety.
  • Record It (PAID) – TV schedules. Can also remotely set recordings if you’re on Sky.
  • Twonky Server – Sets your phone as a media server so that you can show your photos or stream content (audio, video) onto digital media renderers (DMRs). I use it to look at my snaps on my PS3.
  • Shazam - Classic app that IDs songs for you.
  • Spotify - Just some music streaming app I subscribe to ;)
  • Talk To Me – Impressive translation app that does text-to-speech and voice-to-speech translation into French, Spanish, German, Italian, and ah American.
  • Text Edit – One of many text editors available, this one was the highest rated when I needed one and does the job well.
  • Twicca - My new Twitter client of choice, it’s the closest I’ve seen to a mobile Tweetdeck.
  • Weather Widgets (PAID) – Because I want my smartphone to look like a Hero ;) Adds a big digital clock and weather widget to your homescreen, like Beautiful Widgets.
  • WordPress - The new official WordPress app for blogging on the go.

.

Conclusion

After two months I’m still fairly happy with my Motorola Milestone. The annoying audio bug and the disappointing keyboard cause me to keep a close eye on forthcoming Nexus One UK news though. I moved over a year ago from Vodafone to T-Mobile specifically to get an Android device: it may be that come summertime I may move back again for the same reason.

UPDATE

Just installed Android 2.0.1 via the Motorola website. Not many obvious differences: the lock screen has changed slightly, the Power Control widget is a different colour, the music icon has changed, and moving from home screen to home screen is faster. 

  • Andreas

    Thanks for this follow-up. Music skipping sounds really bad, i think i will better wait for Nexus One’s Europe release…

  • http://www.spotiguide.com/ Paul

    Hi Afront. What is the music playback quality like? I’ve noticed that the quality on my iPhone 3GS is quite poor, although Spotify is slightly better than MP3 playback. Sound quality on my previous Nokia N78 was excellent – really superb on Spotify.

  • http://pansentient.com afront

    My microSD card has “gone bad” again so I need to reformat it once more… think I might try another brand and who knows, maybe that might help with the skipping music problem too.

    The sound quality is very good, Paul: better than on my old HTC G1. Before that I listened to MP3 on a Creative Zen, but since I mostly encoded to 320kbps it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. Headphones make a BIG difference to listening to music on mobiles. I highly recommend the Bose on-ear headphones: great quality and not too bulky when out-and-about.

  • RVasey

    Hi Afront… thanks for this excellent Milestone/Droid commentary.

    I can’t fault my Blackberry 9000 and 9700 for battery life… hours of calls, email, browsing, Google Maps, and it’s still able at 10pm.

    With the Google N1 and HTC Passion/Bravo, I am very interested in Android. I had an HTC Hero briefly, but the weakish battery life puts me off.

    I would be very interested in your comments on the Milestone’s battery life.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.spotiguide.com/ Paul

    Coincidentally I have the Bose headphones, Afront, and they were great with my Nokia, but the sound quality on the iPhone is still poor. I’ve managed to improve the iPod sound slightly by selecting the “deep” EQ, but as there is no EQ on the Spotify app overall the quality is still wanting. Shame.

  • http://www.crookesonline.co.uk Crookes

    Hey, I’m considering changing from a Dext to a Desire. Should I go for a Milestone, or a Desire?

    Isn’t the lack of a keyboard really irritating? Even a bad one’s gotta be better than a touch screen, surely?!

    Chris

  • http://pansentient.com afront

    Hi Crookes, well having recently switched to the Desire I must say I prefer it to the Milestone. I grew up using Psion organisers (PDAs with keyboards) and had the G1 and the Milestone specifically because I wanted the physical keyboard. But… I’m finding the touch screen pretty good, especially once I installed the Swype app: I can type faster using Swype than I could on the Milestone’s keyboard.

    Either way though, they’re both great phones. If you’re into mobile gaming, the Milestone is probably better.

  © 2014 Jer White / Pansentient League.
Runs on WordPress. Theme by Theme Junkie