The Motorola MPx220 is a 3.88-ounce, portable multimedia tool cleverly disguised as a mobile phone. The ROM-based Microsoft Windows Media Player can play back MP3 and WMA audio, as well as WMV video files. The integrated camera can record 1.3-megapixel still photos. It can also record tiny 176-by-144 pixel, 10-15 second long 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) video files (with sound) common to all of the video-recording-enabled mobile phones I've tried. The miniSD slot lets you add up to 1GB of storage, giving you as much space as an Apple iPod shuffle. You play games and applications written for the underlying Microsoft Windows Mobile architecture. The Motorola-supplied Java runtime also lets you play games or run applications written in Java.

The Motorola MPx220 camera phone is the second camera phone from Motorola based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform. I reviewed the first-generation, camera-less MPx200 model last year in "The Motorola MPx200 Smartphone 2002." Although the MPx220 is a single hardware generation away from the MPx200 model, it skipped a Microsoft Windows Mobile generation, bypassing the short-lived Windows Mobile 2003 platform and skipping to Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Its list price is $399.99; however, its price drops to $199.99 with rebates and new-service activation.

In Figure 2 you can see the MPx220 in between a first-generation Pocket PC Phone Edition (left) and a first-generation Smartphone 2002 (right).

Figure 1. Motorola MPx220 Figure 1. Motorola MPx220
Figure 2. Pocket PC Phone Edition, Motorola MPx220, and Orange SPV Figure 2. Pocket PC Phone Edition, Motorola MPx220, and Orange SPV

You can see in Figure 3 that the MPx220's flip-phone form factor lets it have both a relatively large LCD screen and large, easy-to-press keys and navigational system.

Figure 3. Motorola MPx220 open Figure 3. Motorola MPx220 open

What's New?

After reviewing the The Nokia 3650 camera phone and the Sony Ericsson T610 Camera Phone, my biggest disappointments with the older Motorola MPx200 model were its lack an integrated camera, lack of a Bluetooth radio, and poor battery life. The MPx220 addresses all of these issues and more. Table 1 summarizes some of the major differences between the MPx200 and MPx220.

Table 1. Motorola MPx200 Smartphone 2002 & MPx220 Smartphone 2003 Second Edition Compared
Model Motorola MPx200 Motorola MPx220
Platform Microsoft Windows Mobile Smartphone 2002 Microsoft Windows Mobile Smartphone 2003 Second Edition
Wireless Capabilities GSM Dual-band
     1800/1900 MHz

GPRS
Infrared
GSM Quad-band
     850/900/1800/1900 MHz

GPRS
Infrared
Bluetooth
Size & Weight 3.50" H by 1.88" W by 1.06" D
(89 by 48 by 27mm)
4 oz. (113 grams)
3.13" by 1.89" by .95"
(99.9 by 48.0 by 24.3mm)
3.88 oz. (110 grams)
Screen TFT
65536 colors
176 by 220 pixels
1.375 by 1.75 inches (35 by 45 mm)
TFT
65536 colors
176 by 220 pixels
1.375 by 1.625 inches (35mm by 42 mm)
External Screen:
When flip cover is closed
Grayscale
96 by 32 pixels
Two text lines showing Caller ID, Time, Date, and Status Icons
CSTN 4096 colors
96 by 64 pixels
Variable information including graphics
Audio Speaker/Microphone
Headset Jack
Speaker/Microphone
Headset Jack
Camera None 1.3 megapixels (1280 by 960 pixels)
Video with sound (176 by 144 pixels)
Flash for photos
Memory 32MB internal RAM
32MB Flash ROM
SD/MMC card slot
32MB SDRAM
64MB Flash ROM
miniSD card slot
Power 850 mAh Li-Ion Battery
70 hours standby
3.4 hours talk time
1000 mAh Li Ion Battery
140 to 260 hours standby
5 to 7 hours talk time
Internet Explorer Single default view mode Default view mode
One-column view mode
Desktop view mode
Inbox One POP3 or IMAP4 account (but not both) Up to eight POP3 and IMAP4 accounts
Speech Recognition & Voice Dialing None Yes

Here's my summary of the MPx220 features that I think will matter to you:

  • GSM Quad-band 850/900/1800/1900 MHz: A quad-band phone is usable in more parts of the world than dual or tri-band phones.

  • Bluetooth: The Bluetooth radio lets you communicate with a wide range of Bluetooth-enabled devices, including headsets, PDAs, PCs, and other phones.

  • Color LCD external screen: The small screen on the flip cover can display 4096 colors on a 96-by-64-pixel LCD. You can quickly check your battery charge level, GSM and GPRS signal strength, and the current time when the phone is closed by pressing the volume control on the left side of the phone.

  • 1.3-megapixel camera: The 1.3-megapixel camera is a welcome addition for those of us who fully embrace the value of the camera phone concept.

  • Figure 4. SD card next to a miniSD card. Figure 4. SD card next to a miniSD card

    miniSD card slot: The miniSD card is electronically identical to the large Secure Digital (SD) card used by many digital cameras and PDAs. However, as you can see in Figure 4, the miniSD card is a fraction of the size of an SD card. Most current-generation storage card readers do not have a slot for the miniSD. Fortunately, the one pictured in the photo came with an adapter that allows it to be used in a standard-sized SD slot. If you refer back to Figure 1 near the beginning of this article, you'll note that the MPx220's miniSD slot is accessible on its right side. This is an important characteristic; many other smartphones place the storage card under the phone's battery, which requires removing the battery to remove or replace the card.

  • 1000 mAh Li Ion battery: Although the rated battery capacity only jumped by about 18 percent from the MPx200 to the MPx220, the estimated standby and talk times doubled. This is a huge improvement over the MPx200, which, in my tests, ran to battery failure in less than 24 hours. The MPx220, in my informal tests, seems to be able to last between 48 and 60 hours under my light voice and moderate data use.

  • Internet Explorer one-column view mode: This is one of the three web-page-formatting modes available on Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition devices. It takes most web pages designed for larger desktop displays and reformats them for easier viewing (no left-right scrolling) on the smaller Smartphone display.

  • Up to eight POP3 or IMAP4 email accounts: The Smartphone 2002 Messaging Inbox could only sync with a single POP3 or IMAP4 email account. This was increased to eight accounts in Smartphone 2003 and is maintained in Smartphone 2003 Second Edition. This is a huge win for those of us who maintain multiple email accounts. Email accounts can be set to periodically check email and provide an audible notification when new email arrives.

  • Speech recognition and voice dialing: The voice dialing feature provided by the speech recognition system is a welcome addition to the MPx220. Speech recognition is activated by pressing and holding the top of the volume control button on the left side of the MPx220. At this point, you can either say one of the preset commands ("Internet Explorer," for example) or say "voice dialing" to dial the phone. You can either speak the numbers to be dialed or say a name in your Contacts list to dial the phone. If the name in the Contacts list has multiple phone numbers, the speech application asks you to tell it which of the numbers you want to dial and then confirms your choice before dialing.

Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition Software

Figure 5. Windows Mobile Smartphone default Home Screen. Figure 5. Windows Mobile Smartphone default Home screen

The MPx220 has applications provided by Microsoft for all Windows Mobile Smartphone systems, as well as additional applications provided by Motorola for its customers. The MPx220 has the following applications burned into its firmware:

  1. Messaging: Includes Text Messages, Outlook email (sync), Multimedia Messages (MMS), and POP3/IMAP4/SMTHP email.

  2. Contacts: These can be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook on the desktop or Exchange Server.

  3. Calendar: Synchronized with Microsoft Outlook on the desktop or Exchange Server.

  4. Internet Explorer: Web browser. The favorites list uses the same file format used on the full desktop version. You can copy and paste shortcuts between the desktop PC and your MPx220.

  5. ActiveSync: Can synchronize with a partnered PC using a USB cable, infrared, or Bluetooth.

  6. MSN Messenger: For instant messaging.

  7. Camera and PhotoAlbum: To create, view, and manage photos on the MPx220.

  8. Video Camera and Video Player: To create and view 3GP-MMS-formatted video files.

  9. Windows Media: To play MP3 and WMA audio files, as well as WMV video files.

  10. File Viewer: Can display Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat native file formats.

  11. Media Center: To help manage images, videos, audio, and ringtones used by the phone.

  12. File Manager: To work with files on the phone.

  13. Games and Apps: This is an area for Java-based software.

    Figure 6. A MPx220 Start Menu screen. Figure 6. A MPx220 Start Menu screen
  14. Resource Manager: A one-stop utility to check on battery levels, flash memory storage (both system RAM and miniSD), system RAM use, and processor and operating system versions.

  15. Speech Recognition: For launching applications and voice dialing.

  16. Speed Dial: For managing speed dial numbers assigned from Contacts.

  17. Tasks: Synchronized with Microsoft Outlook on the desktop or Exchange Server.

  18. Voice Recorder: To create audio notes.

  19. Calculator: An extremely simple text-line-based calculator.

  20. Modem Link: Lets you use the MPx220 as a GPRS data modem for a notebook or desktop PC using either a USB or infrared connection.

  21. Jawbreaker: An addictive item-removal puzzle.

  22. Solitaire: Would any Microsoft Windows platform product be complete without this classic card game? The irony is that the XBox game console does not have it built into firmware.

Figure 5 shows an example of the default top-level home screen.

Figure 6 shows one of the Start Menu lists on the MPx220. Note that you can select an application or option by either pressing the single digit number next to it or using the navigation buttons to move the cursor up or down to the item.

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