The latest Motorola handset to join the Boost Mobile family is the Motorola Bali, which is not unlike most other Motorola phones with its design. In fact, its thin profile and flat controls remind us a lot of a certain other famous Motorola handset: the Razr. That puts the Bali squarely in the old-fashioned design category, but that's not to say it's a bad look. The Bali's features are rather basic, which makes the $149.99 price point a little hard to swallow. Still, the Bali is available without a contract, so that should soften the blow.
If there was ever a phone that did not look like what it's called, the Bali would be it. The all-black boxy handset definitely does not remind us of the tropical destination of which it's named. It measures 3.8 inches long by 1.8 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, and has squared-off corners at the top, with a slightly curved edge at the bottom and angular sides. As we said earlier, the Bali's overall design is reminiscent of past Motorola handsets, like the Razr and the Krzr, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Its slim profile means it fits comfortably in the hand, and as it's quite lightweight at 2.6 ounces, you won't be bogged down by it, either.
On the front of the phone is a 1.6-inch external display. It has full color and shows battery, signal strength, date and time information, as well as caller ID. As the camera lens is located above the display, you can also use it as a self-portrait viewfinder when the phone is closed. You can change the wallpaper and clock format, too.
Right underneath that are a few touch-sensitive controls. The top three are music player keys (previous track/rewind, play/pause, next track/fast-forward), followed by a mute key and a Bluetooth key. On standby, these keys can't be used. You have to first press any key on the side to activate them; you'll know they're activated when they're backlit. After that, you have to press and hold down on the touch-sensor controls to prompt the corresponding function. Though we remain skeptical of the overall usability of touch keys versus physical ones, we have to admit they worked well for us. The vibration feedback was useful in letting us know when our touch has registered, plus it was helpful to be able to activate the music player and the other functions without opening the phone.
The Bali has a very sturdy hinge, which locks securely into place in either open or close positions. When it is open, you'll see a 2.2-inch internal display. Like the Motorola Rambler, the Bali doesn't have the best resolution, or the prettiest interface. It has 65,536 colors and a 176x220-pixel resolution, with menu icons that are boring and basic. You can adjust the display's backlight time, the brightness, the wallpaper, the clock format, and the "skins" or color themes.
Both the navigation array and the number keypad are pretty flat and flush to the surface, which is reminiscent of a Razr. The array has two soft keys, a round toggle that can double as four user-defined shortcuts, a dedicated camera key, a Back key, the Send key, and the End/Power key. The number keypad is quite roomy and there are slight texture delineations for each key, but as it is so flat, we wouldn't recommend dialing or texting by feel.
The volume rocker, speakerphone key, and charger jack are on the left spine; the voice command key and 2.5mm headset jack are on the right. You have to take out the battery to get to the microSD card slot.
The Bali has a 600-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail address, an instant-messenger handle, a Web URL, a street address, and notes. You can organize your contacts into groups and pair them with any of 16 polyphonic sounds for either ringtones or message alert tones.
Basic features include text and multimedia messaging, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, voice commands, a datebook, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, and a notepad. You also get a mobile Web browser, GPS with TeleNav support, instant messaging (Yahoo, AIM, and Windows Live Messenger), stereo Bluetooth, and e-mail. The e-mail app is similar to the one on other Sprint Nextel phones; it supports Web providers such as Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, AIM Mail, Hotmail, and Gmail, but you can also enter in your own POP or IMAP settings. Outlook syncing is not available with the Bali, however.