A Test of Metal
What sets the Milestone apart from other Android devices out there isn't just the preloaded OS (which we'll get into later). The minute we held the Milestone in our hands, one thought came to mind - heavy. And that's very true when we look at its specified weight of 165g, which is relatively higher than we expected for a device of its size. Though the Milestone is pretty hefty, it's also one of the slimmest Android devices with a physical QWERTY keyboard, measuring in at just 13.7mm thin. But considering that the Milestone has more visible metal than plastic materials, which by the way is not only cool to the touch, but also looks just as seductively sophisticated, we can understand the trade-off for the additional weight.
Now that's not to say there aren't downsides to the Milestone's design aspect. Firstly, sliding the display to reveal the QWERTY keyboard will require some considerable finger strength. Due to its thin display, there were times when we found our fingers slipping as we tried to slide the display to reveal the QWERTY keyboard. Nonetheless, thanks to the firm slider mechanism, the Milestone didn't feel flimsy with its display slid out, which can't be said for most devices utilizing the slider form factor.
In a bid to keep its thin profile, the keys were flat and we were facing some mild difficulty in getting our text messages coherent at one go. Like the earlier launched Motorola Dext, the straight-on arrangement of the keys tends to throw us off balance if we attempt to type without paying attention to the keys by sight. With up to ten standard messages typed out, we had typos for two out of ten messages, and an average typing speed of up to 30 seconds per sentence.
Despite the odd combination of a thin and yet heavy form factor, the Milestone managed to feel just right in our hands. Like most recent devices, the Milestone brings in minimal physical buttons for the full touch experience. The standard Power button is located at the top right corner, which can prove to be a challenge to access with it being flushed to the body. The Volume and Camera buttons won't have that issue, though it does feel stiff as we depressed them. The front panel houses four touch sensitive keys for the usual Back, Menu, Home and Search button that's a staple on Android devices. Thankfully, the right amount of sensitivity was applied to the four touch-based navigation 'buttons' and the 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen.
There are some oddities in design with the Milestone. The screen ends off abruptly at the bottom and leaves some unused space which could have been utilized for more screen real estate. Nonetheless, right behind the said unused space, we noticed the speaker, and right above that is the battery cover that opens with a slide. No prodding or prying is required, thus saving us from some agony in accessing the battery beneath. Unfortunately, hot swapping of the microSD card will not be possible, seeing as one needs to remove that battery to access it and the SIM card.
The Milestone opts for a microUSB port for data and power charging. And if you do wish to keep your Milestone tucked in snuggly, there's the Motorola Milestone Multimedia Station dock. Plug the dock into your PC via USB, plonk the Milestone onto the dock, and you'll be charging and syncing data between the Milestone and your PC. The benefits of the dock isn't just to keep your table neat and keeping your Milestone charged up, as we'll share on the next page.