View Full Version : Preview: Motorola A920


Rafe
29-08-2003, 10:53 PM
On Thursday evening I was invited to a preview of the new Symbian handset the Motorola A920 which will be available on the 3 network in UK at the beginning of September (and in other 3 countries shortly afterwards). In the full story are my first impressions and a few pictures of the phone from the evening. A further story will be in this Mondays Your Symbian (http://www.yoursymbian.com).

The A920 was developed jointly by Motorola and 3 and will be available exclusively on the 3 network. 3 are very excited about the phone because they believe it is one of the first phones to show of the full potential of 3G. Interestingly one of the biggest problems they have is obtaining handsets that actually work. There are few manufacturers producing working 3G handsets (i.e. not prototypes) and they were pleased to be adding more to their range. They also expect to add another 3-4 phones in the next 6 months. The joint design shows in the handset with a special 3 button designed to take you straight to the browsing of the much talked about 3 content (football clips etc.), as well as buttons specifically for games.

Its the first time I've seen this and I was impressed - I'm not sure how much I would personal use some of the services, but the packaging of this is excellent. It works out of the box, and is unrivalled in its richness and usability compared to anything else I've ever seen on a Mobile. For many technical users this might not be such a big deal, but I'm sure this is a killer feature in the mass market. Actually the concept I keep going over in my mind is the idea that I need to look at this phone with the right perspective. There are some serious problems from my perspective (no open data for one - the browsing in a closed content / walled garden approach - that means no access to your email pop boxes [3mail only], no IM, no IRC and no general web browsing...), but the perspective that this phone needs to be judged on is a more mass market one - from that perspective the level at which this phone comes out of the box is really very good. In that sense I'm sure this phone will do really well for 3. However there's inevitably going to be complaints from the strokey-beard brigade about the lack of open data access, the lack of Bluetooth (although it does have a USB cradle for sync), and the general 3 approach of trying to be both a network and content provider.

So what about the phone?

Well it uses the UIQ interface which I like. There are a few extras such as landscape mode video, a home screen (quick access to 3 content, but also e-mails, tasks, appointments etc - think Today Screen like functionality). Since it is UIQ most P800 applications will work for it (no confirmation of this yet, but I can't see why not). It also means for P800 users its feels very familiar and for others the UIQ interface is well designed, user friendly and easy to pick up (as someone muttered under their breath - this interface is far better than any other 3 phone). It has the full compliment of UIQ apps - so its a full fledged PDA - contacts, calendar, tasks, notes etc. etc.

The actual design is interesting, at first I thought it way to big, but after having a longer play with it (thanks to the friendly 3 staff!) I actual found myself thinking - hmm this is quite good - yes it is big, but it feels much better in the hand than the P800. The extra size does also predicate two handed usage, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There's a proper stylus hidden in the back which is very welcome, this makes a big difference in using the touch screen. The screen is lovely - more colours and slightly brighter than my P800. The difference is particularly noticeable in something like Video usage.

The swivel camera on the top is very nicely done, its easy to switch back and forth, but doesn't wobble. In video calling the phone is impressive, but I'm not convinced by the need for video calling myself (even if you do have a friend you can call with a video phone). However the camera can also be used to take still photos (the quality looked quite good to me), and also record videos (like the 3650).

Input is by Transcriber hand writing recognition instead of CIC Jot as used on the P800, but after a little practice (and a screen calibration) it seemed to work quite well. The onscreen mini keyboard there as well of course.

Price - I was told that it would be around the 100 mark - possible less with a 35 contract. If this is about right then this phone ought to sell very well. 3 can afford to subsidize their handsets more heavily than other networks since their ARPU (average revenue per user) is double that of the industry average (exact figures despite my best attempts not available!).

And my favourite feature - has to be the location based services. This phone has A-GPS - Assisted GPS which as In understand it is a combination of network functionality and a GPS chip. Unfortunately this isn't switched on yet, however rough location can be done by cell id triangulation - it worked well when I tried it +/- 50m. Using the location services you can find a nearest service and then ask the phone to plot a route and show you a map. The scale goes down to about 50m (across the screen), so this is good enough for finding your way around on foot. I tried it for my local bank - it identified the right building and the maps are very accurate - it scale is such that you get the correct outline for the buildings. You can choose to plot route between two postcodes or place names if you prefer. This is probably the first location based service that I've been really impressed by. For many people I think this feature alone will make the phone worth buying it. What makes it so good is not necessarily what it is - but the fact it is so easy to use and works out of the box.

In this preview I have focused on the positive. There are issues with this phone, the aforementioned data, and lack of Bluetooth. The size may also be a problem for some. As with all phones you have to try it for yourself. However this is a very nice phone and if you haven't considered looking a 3 before now, it is certainly worth taking under consideration now, especially considering the competitiveness of their tariffs.

Thanks to 3 and Motorola for inviting AAS to the preview and the 3 Staff for showing off the handset and generally being welcoming and friendly.

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/images/a9201.jpg

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/images/a9202.jpg

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/images/a9203.jpg

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/images/a9204.jpg

GhostDog
29-08-2003, 11:53 PM
Grat job Rafe!I like it a lot,its a shame we don't have 3 here.They have used some sorf of a 5 way joystick(right?)and not a jog-dial from hell so IMO gaming could be a really big on this phone.

I need one thing cleared up.Its a 3G phone,that's clear,but will it work when the 3G network is out of range and fallback to GSM?3G features are out of questions,that's ok but will the user be able to make a regular phone call?If the phone is limited for use only within 3's network range it would be a BIG downside.

-Edit-

i will answer my own question.Acording to www.mobileburn.com it will work on regular GSM networks.Also,they said that it has an SD/MMC slot.Is that true?One thing i was unable to find is more in detail hardware specs.I guess its too early for that but if anyone knows,it wouldn't hurt him/her to share it with us :)

Rafe
30-08-2003, 12:13 AM
The phone is also tri band GSM and has GPRS. Providing the network has agreements this means you can roam on gsm networks where there is no 3g coverage. In the UK I beleive you roam onto the O2 network when out of 3 coverage.

Yes it has a 5 way button pad. That works quite well, but I've also got use to the jog dial!

The memory card is MMC or SD (see picture above).


I think there will be some limited spec on the 3 website shortly. I've put some in a tbale at www.siemenssx1.com

GhostDog
30-08-2003, 12:41 AM
Thats great,thanks for the confirmation!I was unable to figure just from looking at the picture because it was a little blurry :)

IMO,feature wise it is the most packed Symbian device so far.

Raven
30-08-2003, 10:35 AM
There are some serious problems from my perspective (no open data for one - the browsing in a closed content / walled garden approach - that means no access to your email pop boxes [3mail only], no IM, no IRC and no general web browsing...)

lol, this thing is an even bigger joke than I first thought..

The only Motorola I've ever found even slightly interesting is the A760 (http://www.mobileburn.com/news.jsp?Id=234).

Thanks for the preview, Rafe. :)

langdona
31-08-2003, 10:02 AM
Brilliant preview Rafe

I was going to get the next series 60 out but I think I have to consider this as well now.

Blast! ;)

31-08-2003, 03:49 PM
I can assure you that the lack of Bluetooth support will cause concern to use clean-shaven business types as well :D

I have a BT headset and 2 cars with BT carkits. I won't be buying another phone without BT especially since the UK police are cracking down on mobile use in cars. IMHO, they cut BT because of battery life issues, I think the 3G battery life is poor enough already, add the constant drain of BT into the equation and you would need to carry more than one spare battery with you. :cry:

Motorola certainly need a few marketing tips, selling their stake in Symbian the same week they offically announce a new Symbian-based handset is a bit of a balls-up, it's hardly likely to inspire confidence in the level of support this phone will get?

Without Bluetooth, this phone is just a rich man's toy...

31-08-2003, 10:04 PM
you can get the phone free on 35 tariff with 750 xnet mins thats reason enough for me

Simon

GhostDog
01-09-2003, 12:25 AM
My thoughts exactly.It might lack a lot of things,BlueTooth,i really can't live without and like celios i will never buy a BlueToothless device.Browsing in a close content is a very bad concept but compared to other Symbian SmartPhones the A920 is dirt cheap!!!

Raven,the A760 looks like it was stolen from a Star Trek set,maybe First Contact,i like it a lot,the A760 :)

The A760 is running on Linux right?Does that mean it can run native Linux(C,C++)application or only java?

N/A
01-09-2003, 05:02 AM
The A760 is running on Linux right?Does that mean it can run native Linux(C,C++)application or only java?Java (MIDP) is the only option for user or ISV developed applications for the A760 (i.e., no access to the Linux OS level).

p51
01-09-2003, 09:44 AM
Pardon my ignorance but,
Will comparable applications such as "dorris browser" and "aigle messenger" etc etc, overcome the close content browsing this handset suffers from? No Access to POP3 is a real shame.

thanks

Raven
01-09-2003, 04:42 PM
The A760 is running on Linux right?Does that mean it can run native Linux(C,C++)application or only java?Java (MIDP) is the only option for user or ISV developed applications for the A760 (i.e., no access to the Linux OS level).

How do you know? From what I've heard MIDP 2.0 will be present yes, but for the more "demanding" applications Linux is needed. It would be stupid as hell not letting developers take advantage of the open Linux OS!

langdona
02-09-2003, 04:20 PM
Well after thinking about it, I think the negatives (Size, No Bluetooth and Tied Data Services) probably outweigh the positives (3G and GPS). At least for me.

So I'm stcking to looking to the next Series 60 device to be released (N-Gage excluded), which is now looking more likely to be the 6600 than the SX1. This is as long as SE dont announce something fantastic at their press conference tomorrow. ;-)

Raven
02-09-2003, 04:33 PM
This is as long as SE dont announce something fantastic at their press conference tomorrow. ;-)

P810/P900 perhaps? ;)

02-09-2003, 04:50 PM
Don't forget cost, its free on a 35 tariff and you get 750 xnet mins for 35

now that is money in my pocket!! about 40 per month

Simon

langdona
02-09-2003, 05:26 PM
This is as long as SE dont announce something fantastic at their press conference tomorrow. ;-)

P810/P900 perhaps? ;)

Hi Raven as you noticed I started a thread (http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=16431) in the P800 forum to discuss this further rather than continue it here.

I agree with Simon that the subsidised price and contract for the A920 is quite good. As Rafe said perhaps it will appeal to the man in the street who just wants to pick up a device and use it. I think size is the one thing that might put them off.

03-09-2003, 08:29 AM
Well, I have mine ordered already, on the 35 tariff (www.mobilerepublic.com), which means I get the phone free and 750 x-network mins a month. The tariff alone is worth it, and you get an incredible PDA/Phone for free. Bargain!!! I had a 7650 before, which had bluetooth, and I barely used the BT aspect of the phone, and BT headsets didn't work with the &650 anyhoo.

Dale.

Raven
04-09-2003, 03:15 PM
Apparently the A920 will only be able to use "3" certified apps, just like the Orange SPV was at first, so no P800 programs will be compatible... -Another nail in the coffin?

GhostDog
04-09-2003, 03:28 PM
If 3 and Motorola are trying to trash this phone,they are doing their best.Opera will work on the A920 but what will be the use of Opera when the content available to the user will be very limited.

05-09-2003, 11:41 AM
From what information that has come out of 3 Australia, when the A920 is released it will not support IrDA or Bluetooth, however these abilities are built in (ie. there is a Bluetooth chip and an IrDA port on the phone) these features will be enabled in the coming months with a firmware/software upgrade.

I'm surprised no such information has been presented here.

GhostDog
05-09-2003, 02:47 PM
Are you sure about that?I was just searching google and couldn't find anything of the sort.Can you point me to an official press release or something from 3 Australia?

11-09-2003, 11:06 PM
Are you sure about that?I was just searching google and couldn't find anything of the sort.Can you point me to an official press release or something from 3 Australia?

I also posted this on another site yesterday. One thing I will add here is that the ring volume and speaker phone could be louder. The cover it is supplied with practically silences the phone. My wife has already cut a hole in the back of the carry pouch where the speaker is.

I've just purchased two A920's. Here are some observations:

- It has both Bluetooth and IRDA, but neither is enabled. I'm told that '3' will unlock Bluetooth for around A$20 in a month or two. It has an IRDA port but '3' tell me that it won't be enabled.

- '3' tell me that GPS is not going to work in Australia because the '3' network doesn't support it (yet?). It has a GPS antenna port on the back of the phone, so there is potential for in-car GPS perhaps?

- Locally '3' told me that when 3G reception fails (out of city and in tall buildings mainly) the phone falls back to the Australian Vodaphone network - voice only. I find the video capable reception to be a bit patchy at times even in central Melbourne. Video calls are not something that most people will feel comfortable with in public, I'd hope.

- Stylus is a solid little metal/plastic stick and has quite a nice feel. Input with predictive text works great.

- SDRAM card behind the back cover near the bottom, below the battery. Quite easy to get at.

- MP3 Player gets glitchy with high quality files. 192kbps and larger stutter.

- Picture quality from the stills camera is quite good once you 'up' the resolution.

- Appears as two drives (C: internal memory and D: SDRAM) in Windows Explorer via supplied USB cable and cradle, so full drag and drop of files can be done.

- Battery life could be better (under 24 hrs), but I've been using it a lot. Lucky it came with 2 batteries.

- Love that you can assign any MP3 file as the ringtone.

- Will display downloaded .jpg files that are much larger than the screen size, but it won't allow you to rotate or pan big files.

- No games installed. A few are downloadable from '3', but require you to be in a video zone to use them. This makes me think that you aren't downloading the game, but a link to it on their network. They seem to download when you go to play the game. They are free at the moment, but I've been told that when we have to pay for them they will work for a few days only. This explains why they are 'selling' them so cheap.

- Calendar, contacts, to-do and notes all work well. There are enough supplied ringtones to have a unique one for every contact, and of course you can install more.

- It comes with your own '3' email address, so you can send and receive notes and files.

This should be a fantastic device once '3' take the brakes off - Bluetooth, GPS?, IRDA? and hopefully removal of the reported lockdown so that application development is encouraged and we get some P800 apps ported.