"Coolest phone Motorola's ever made"4.5 starson by Wolfie2k5
Pros: Style, features galore, business card reader
Cons: Limited onboard storage memory. No HID Bluetooth profile
Summary: The Motorola A1200 has to be one of THE coolest phones they've ever made - if not THE coolest.
Where to begin...? There are tons of features packed into this phone. There's a 2 Megapixel camera, MP3 player, FM Radio, Bluetooth 1.2, the usual plethora of PIM features, voice recognition, speakerphone and if that weren't enough - it's got a business card scanner. It also supports microSD Transflash memory up to 2 GB.
The phone is fairly small - just a hair thicker than your average RAZR. The clear cover sports an embedded speaker and allows you to see the very nice TFT screen when it's closed.
The controls on the left of the phone raise and lower the volume and serve as menu navigation buttons when the phone's closed. In addition, there's a 2.5mm covered port for plugging in a wired headset - either stereo or mono.
On the right, you have a camera button that both launches and captures images as well as the voice recognition launcher. The covered mini USB port is located on this side as well.
The three controls under the front cover, from left to right, Send call, the joystick, and End call buttons. These buttons almost get lost in the shuffle given the excellent TFT touch screen. They also tend to be fairly flush to the profile of the phone. If I had my way, I would have made these buttons and the joystick stand out a little bit taller.
The back of the phone sports the camera lens, the battery cover and the stylus used to navigate the screen.
The 2 megapixel camera takes fairly good pictures. As with any multi-function device, some features can be less than perfect in order to make room for something else.
The MP3/AAC player is a Linux version of REAL Player. It can play non-DRM'ed MP3 files as well as AAC files ripped from your CDs by iTunes, but NOT those purchased from ITMS. Music can be routed through the speakerphone, a wired stereo headset or via a stereo bluetooth headset.
The FM radio requires the wired stereo headset. It will not play through the speakerphone nor can it be rebroadcast to a stereo bluetooth headset. I'm assuming this is to keep you out of trouble with the FCC (or other similar agencies) with regards to rebroadcasting licensed and copyrighted programs.
Now then, yes, I said the L word. Linux. The phone runs on a modified version of Trolltech's Qtopia Core. While Linux may not be ready for prime time on a PC's desktop, it's quite ready for the embedded phone market.
Is it perfect? No. The primary limitations of the phone are in the hardware, not software. The phone only sports 8 MB of onboard memory. This can be frustrating at times. For instance, attempting to open a 22 page PDF file with the Picsel file viewer that's 1.5 MB in size results in an out of memory error on the first page of the PDF. Then again, given the size of the screen, reading the PDF would have been quite difficult. Let's face it, it's a 320x240 screen that measures about 2 1/2 inches on the diagonal. While you can zoom in on documents, it's still a fairly small image.
Navigating around the phone is fairly straightforward - though some things do require a bit of getting used to. Some menu items are accessed by holding the stylus down on something and waiting a moment for the menu to load - sort of a right-click where you don't have a right-mouse button to click with.
Data entry on the A1200 is done by one of two ways - handwriting recognition or by way of one of many keyboard/keypads that can be gotten to pop up. For those used to the Palm OS's Graffitti, the A1200's data entry is similar. The onboard keyboards can be used instead and they work rather well given the size of each button is rather small.
Which brings us to the other limitation - the lack of the HID Bluetooth profile. The HID - or Human Interface Device - profile allows Bluetooth enabled devices work with BT enabled keyboards, mice and other devices. This may, someday be addressed in a future firmware update. Given the lack of a tactile keyboard, Crackberry addicts will probably not like this phone. This phone is not a natural for texting.
Ok.. Ok.. I'm getting to it. The most unique feature of the A1200 is the business card reader. Yes. A business card reader. The aforementioned 2 Megapixel camera takes a picture of a business card. The built in OCR tool then reads the card, finds names, phone numbers, address' and such and automatically imports them into the A1200's phonebook. As with any OCR application, there are limitations. If you've got a card that's too busy with lots of graphics, funky fonts and the like, it's not going to work as well as if you're scanning a plain white card with black text in some dull, boring font. For the most part, it works rather well - provided you're working with plenty of light.
As for call quality... This is one of the areas the A1200 shines. It has better radio gear built in than some phones I've had. Spots where other phones disconnected, the A1200 kept going, never dropping a call.
Call clarity is excellent - either using it in the more traditional phone mode or in speakerphone mode.
Bonding the phone with various Bluetooth devices is a snap. The phone can be set to be discoverable for 2 minutes or can search out other devices in the immediate area. Just tap the device on the list of found devices, click the Bond button and enter the password. Call quality can vary - as with most BT headsets. Some are better at talking to some phones than others.
Now then, one very important point that needs to be made. This phone was originally meant to be for the Asian market alone. However, as with any really, REALLY good thing, it's hard to keep it a secret for very long. The A1200 was recently #2 behind the black Moto RAZR on PriceGrabber.com's list of top searches in the US.
Until recently, this phone was only available through "gray market" importers. As such, the phone isn't supposed to be supported by Motorola USA. However, as of Dec 30th 2006, it would seem CompUSA is going to be bringing the phone into the US. I saw a display on their counter - next to the RAZR, KRZR and the rest of the Moto line. What this means as far as getting Moto USA to support the phone remains to be seen but I would imagine they will have to change their policy and offer support.
As it stands now, neither of the major GSM carriers - T-Mobile and Cingular - are offering the A1200, however, you can simply drop your SIM chip into the phone and make calls. With a little programming, the A1200 can be gotten online, and the Opera browser and GPRS connections can be made to work.
The bottom line on this phone - it's a stupendous first effort from Motorola in creating a phone based on the Linux OS. And it won't be unique. Motorola's already released the SCPL (Scalpel) in India - which is another Linux based slim phone and has plans to release other Linux based phones in the near future. It's not perfect, but for what it is and what it does, it's quite excellent.