I've had a Motorola MPx200 smartphone for nearly 3 weeks now, and I still can't decide what I think about it. It has a number of really nice features, but it has nearly as many shortcomings, and some of the shortcomings are really impressively bad.

The Good:

  • The dialing interface is really good. It integrates an incremental search through all of your contacts names and numbers and your call log right into the normal dialing process. This is easily the best contact search interface that I've ever seen in a phone. It's great.
  • The flip-phone formfactor is much better the the "tablet" style phone when you pocket the phone.
  • The phone earpiece and ringer are nice and loud. My T68 was just a bit too quiet; I usually had to keep the volume turned all the way up. The MPx200 tends to stay around 50% unless I'm in a really loud environment.
  • The browser and email client are okay, and can be share your PC's connection via the USB cable if you're too cheap to pay AT&T insane data rates. This is useful for caching messages with important information on the phone.
  • The screen is sharp, bright, and readable.
  • The "today" screen on the default home screen gives a good overview of calendars and tasks over the next day or two.
  • It charges via a standard mini-USB cable.

The Cool, but not really all that important to me:

  • It'll take up to a 1 GB SD card, if you can find one actually shipping.
  • It'll play .WAV ringtones from the SD card with a bit of minor hacking.
  • You can find an assortment of games and media players for the phone, plus emulators for most older video-game platforms.

The Bad:

  • Battery life utterly sucks. With a SanDisk 256MB SD card, I'm now under 8 hours of standby time. This is unacceptable--I can't even use the phone for an alarm clock at home without plugging it in. I was getting 2-3 days of standby time, but I think the SD card is killing me. I've swapped for a new battery without any success.
  • The third-party PocketMac sync software just doesn't work right, and their tech support is painfully slow.
  • No bluetooth, and the included headset doesn't really fit my ears right.

The verdict? I'm going to give PocketMac's tech support a few more days, and I'm going to yell at AT&T's support people, but if I can't get the battery life back up to at least 24 hours with the SD card, and if I can't get it to sync correctly at least part of the time, it's going back to AT&T.

Update (1/28/04): I left the MPx200 overnight last night without its SD card, just to see if the SD card's power draw was killing the phone. It was still dead in the morning, so the SD card isn't guilty. I have one thing left to try, and then it's headed back to AT&T.

Update (1/30/04): It's toast.