Seemingly inspired by the success of local Indian vendors, Motorola has launched a couple of Dual-SIM phones of its own in a new EX-series. The first two phones in this series were announced about a fortnight ago. The EX115 is the first QWERTY phone with Dual-SIM from the ‘BIG FIVE’ global handset vendors. (Though the composition of the top five handset brands has changed, traditionally the BIG FIVE comprise global biggies Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG.) Can a global handset vendor take on smaller local players in their own game? Let’s find out…
Motorola might be pushing its portfolio of Android smartphones globally, but in emerging countries like India it has not forgotten the mass market, low-cost segment. We were the first ones to break news about Moto’s dual-SIM phones and are now among the first ones to review them.
The EX115 is a Dual-SIM phone with QWERTY keypad with a street price of approximately Rs 5,000. Yes, you can easily snap a similar looking phone from one of the local handset brands, but what sets the EX115 apart is its build quality. The plastic casing is solid and does not creak when held with a tight grip. The QWERTY keypad is spacious and the keys while slightly stiff have enough give for comfortable typing. The EX118 rules the roost of Dual-SIM QWERTY keypad phones when it comes to pure looks and build quality.
Yes, not everyone would be pleased with the choice of colour (it is only available in brown), considering colourful phones are the norm these days. Ironically, Motorola was the first brand to really toy with colours when it launched the Razr V3 in pink!
Even Motorola’s user interface is much superior to what one sees in most of the Micromaxs, Spices and Karbonns, which seem to be inspired by a certain ‘berry. The icons are large and colourful and the transition from one menu to another zippy. The direction pad is quite spacious too and there isn’t any clutter around it. The 2.3-inch display too looks much better than those found on the local dual-SIM phone though like most phones in this range, visibility suffers under sunlight.
Another area where the EX115 scores over its local rivals is its camera. The 3.15 MP camera churns out pretty good shots, especially if you have a steady hand. We say that because it does not have auto-focus but neither do other Dual-SIM phones. It can shoot videos too but only at 15 fps with a resolution so low that the videos are choppy and not worthy of watching on a screen bigger than that of the phone itself.
The phone has a 3.5 mm audio jack on top and the audio quality exceeded our expectations. The 50 MB internal memory might not be good enough for most audiophiles and for them the EX115 packs a surprise – its microSD card slot supports cards up to 32 GB! It is probably the first phone in its segment to support microSD HC cards. Most local branded phones support up to 8 GB or lesser.
The EX115 offers GSM+GSM Dual-SIM functionality and both SIM cards operate simultaneously. However, if you are talking on one number, the other number will become inactive during the duration of the call. At the moment, Samsung Dual-SIM phones offer a feature where you will get a call waiting notification if someone calls on the other number.
One area where we were largely disappointed was the ‘bells and whistles’ the EX115 was supposed to have in the form of a social networking suite. The icon for social networking has links for popular networks like Orkut, Facebook and YouTube. But they are just that – links. Clicking on any one of the links will take open the browser and take you to the homepage of that site. That’s as far as it would go. While Motorola has provided a link to YouTube, we were unable to make the handset stream even a single video. And in case you haven’t noticed, there is no Twitter in the list of social networking sites. Rather than going through all the trouble of creating their custom app (or should we say list of links?), they should have simply tapped one of the third party apps for social networking.
The EX115 will appease to those who won’t be caught dead with a local branded Dual-SIM phone with a QWERTY keypad. Thinking about it, we are surprised that Samsung, which was one of the pioneers of Dual-SIM phones, does not have one with a QWERTY keypad yet. Yes, the Rs 5,000 tag might pinch considering there are a lot of cheaper options out there but remember, you are paying for quality and performance over here.
What’s great about the Motorola EX115?
- Excellent build quality with a spacious QWERTY keypad
- Good 3.15 MP camera
- Supports up to 32 GB microSD HC cards
What could have been better…
- The social networking suite simply links to the web pages of popular sites. A third party app would have been more appropriate.
- Twitter integration should gave been provided
- There should have been a call waiting alert feature for calls coming on the second number while the first is busy