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Hands-on with Motorola's MOTOMING A1600

Chris Ziegler

Does the MING series have a place in North America? The stylish (well, depending on who you ask) Linux-based Moto smartphones have always been designed from the ground up for the Chinese market going back to the original A1200, but from afar, it's easy to see why you might want to put one in your pocket no matter where you live; after all, they look unlike anything else on the market, they're smartphones, they're delightfully compact, and they rock touchscreens. But realistically, is it possible to make a MING your daily dialer? Read on!

Thanks to the good folks at Wireless Imports for the hookup!

Gallery: Hands-on with Motorola's MOTOMING A1600 | 42 Photos

We spent a little time recently with the new A1600, and physically, we were blown away. It's a very small device which means the screen is a bit small at 2.4 inches, but it's bright, crisp, it's got a nice finger-friendly feel to it -- and thankfully, it's flush with the surrounding case. The back of the phone is done up in a great soft-touch plastic that we wanted to run our hands over, the hinge has a solid feel, and overall, we got the impression that this is a well-manufactured phone.

The software is a more disappointing experience, but it has potential. It comes out of the box with a full suite of productivity and entertainment apps, and we were delighted that we were able to spend almost all our time navigating with a finger alone. There's a stylus (a surprisingly long one, in fact) in the upper right corner for one you need it, which you will once you need to input text. This sucks, but it's a reality of a screen this small. You've got both character recognition and a QWERTY keyboard available, and one look at the keys on that keyboard are a stark reminder of just how badly you need the stylus here -- they're seriously just a few pixels wide.

If Motorola were to drop Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, HSDPA, and WiFi onto this exact physical form factor, they could bill it as a really unique, high-end fashion smartphone and make a little cash for themselves, because we really don't see a compelling reason why the MING has to be a China special. As it stands, though, the A1600's probably a little too raw for your average Joe -- and that's a crying shame.

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