The received wisdom in some Android-loving circles is that iPhones are for those concerned more with style than substance. The response from fans of Apple's smartphone would be that Android handsets are poorly made substitutes for those who cannot afford iPhones. The Gingerbread-toting Motorola Motoluxe proves the lie to both arguments, in both good and bad ways. But it is far from a 'luxe' device.

Take the style issue, for instance. Far from the budget Android handset of legend, the Motoluxe oozes quality and a certain class.

At just shy of 10mm thick it may not be the slimmest smartphone on the market, but it's not far off. At 125g it is light as well as thin, and it has that discernible feeling of quality in the hand. It's also an entirely pocketable smartphone. Not bad for the mid-level £15-£20 a month waters in which the Motoluxe swims (you can buy it SIM-free for around £200).  

The Motoluxe is constructed of lightweight metal with a rubberised finish, so it feels sturdy as well as light. The battery is removable, too, but we did find that on occasion the slide off cover would, well, slide off at inopportune moments. Inside the Motoluxe you'll find a SIM slot as well as space to append a microSD card of up to 32GB. You'll want to - there's only 1GB of internal memory.

Motorola Monoluxe: battery life

Battery life is just okay, and we expected more from such a low-powered device. The Li-Ion 1400mAh is quoted by Motorola as offering around six and a half hours in use. This was at least born out by our tests of the Motoluxe: we actually squeezed out more time when we weren't hammering the device's video- and audio-players. Limit yourself to light email, occasional music listening and app use - and use Wi-Fi with care - and the Motoluxe won't let you down over the course of a working day.

Motorola Motoluxe

As well as the four hardware buttons traditional in Android, a light at the bottom left of the Motoluxe's display lights up to notify you of incoming messages and so on. The Options, Home, Back and Search 'buttons' are touch sensitive areas on the bezel beneath the screen. There's volume rocker and camera button on the right-hand side, albeit one that requires the handset to be unlocked, as well as a micro USB port on the bottom left through which you charge the Motoluxe. Finally, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack and a power button at the top, above the display.

And a decent display it is. We liked the Motorola Motoluxe's 4in, edge-to-edge, FWVGA, capacitative touchscreen. Graphics are reasonably sharp, colours reasonably deep, and at this price point that seems reasonable to us. This is no Retina display, and it doesn't stack up alongside the best screens Samsung can offer. But it's good enough, and certainly responsive enough, especially when you consider that the Motoluxe sports only a single-core 800MHz processor.

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The Motoluxe is a low-price, low-spec Android phone, but is it any good?

That low spec falls down when you start using the Motoluxe. Android 3.2 'Gingerbread' is no resource hog, but on this handset it is far from zippy, and internet access slows things further. We found ourselves fingertapping when using all but the lightest apps.

There are seven home screens, and you can create up to three profiles. Confusingly, to find your apps you have to press an icon that looks like the Play button on your first VHS recorder (one for the teenagers). As you use the Motoluxe, however, it learns which apps you select the most, and display them in a tiled array on one of the home pages - the most frequently used displays biggest. Alternatively, you could create shortcuts to your favourite apps on your many homepages. There's a similar widget that displays the people you contact the most.

You can access your contacts from a docked shortcut at the bottom of all the Motoluxe's home screens, which opens up to offer access to four options: Phone, Call log, Contacts and Favourites. And as this is Android, it's pretty straightforward to synch up all manner of social networks with your contacts, including Twitter and Facebook.

And the app supports smart dialing, so if you did start to type out a phone number or contact, it will suggest contacts. Using a 3 SIM in central London we found call quality to be decent, although the hard edge of the handset digged into our less-than pronounced cheekbones, making it a tad uncomfortable. Fortunately, as a taciturn Northern man long phonecalls are far from our agenda.

You get SMS, MMS, Video messaging, Google messenger and a Gmail app as standard. Setting up Gmail is a snap, once you've signed in to a Google account. The email setup process for other accounts is pretty standard, these days, and there is a unified inbox for all accounts, should you wish it. We found typing on the Motoluxe's onscreen qwerty keyboard no less annoying than on those of other Android phones. The keys are a little thin, so you have to concentrate to be accurate. Connectivity is taken care of, with 3G, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can create a Wi-Fi hotspot, and tether the Motoluxe - albeit over achingly slow USB.

Motorola MotoluxeThe Motoluxe sports two cameras: a front-facing VGA webcam and the principle snapper - an 8Mp camera with a 4x zoom and LED flash. Unfortunately, however, the 'zoom' is - of course - of the digital variety. So it simply blows up the images you take, with exactly the pixelated response you would expect. The flash is okay, although it does tend to blanche photos in all but perfect lighting conditions. And Autofocus option is slightly clunky to use, but does allow for some depth of field. It all adds up to a camera that is okay for a cameraphone, but no match for your standalone point-and-shoot, which is less-than entirely useful at this point in human evolution.

The default video capture resolution is 640 x 480, although it can be pushed up to 800 x 480. You can also set the white balance and change video codec. Whether you will want to is another matter. In our tests video quality was far from great, with washed out colour, and jerky motion. Again: the Motoluxe is a phone that has a camera, but it won't replace a standalone device.

Music playback is pretty solid, however. The Motoluxe can play AMR, AAC, MIDI, MP3 and WAV files, and although it won't satisfy audiophiles, we found it a decent portable audio device - once you can get around the challenges Android always poses in terms of adding music to device. The pre-installed Music+ app helps here, being attractive and straightforward to use. Happily, there's also an FM radio.

Video playback is also reasonable. The Motoluxe supports MP4, WMV, H.263 and H.264 files, and displays them nicely, albeit with occasional issues with the sound being a little quiet, in our tests. You can use the MediaSee app to stream content from other devices.

Web browsing with the HTML 5 browser can be a time-consuming process, although you get text reflow, copy-and-paste and pinch-to-zoom capabilities. The Motoluxe supports Flash, but you have to install an app for this to work.

Motorola Motoluxe: Specs

  • 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash and digital zoom
  • resolution up to 3264 x 2448
  • front-facing VGA camera
  • Android Webkit, Adobe Flash 10.1 supported (available as a download from Android Market) web browser
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • plays eAAC+, MP3, MPEG-4, H.264, WAV, AAC, AMR, AAC+, H.263, MIDI, RMVB, DivX (Up to 30 fps)
  • captures MPEG4, SP/H.263
  • Playback: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, DiVX, RMVB-TBC/Streaming
  • 4in, FWVGA 480 x 854 (244ppi), 16M colours display
  • 123.6g
  • 117.7x60.5x9.8mm
  • ACCELEROMETER
  • UMTS 900/2100
  • HSDPA 3.5, EDGE class 12, GPRS class 12
  • 800MHz processor
  • up to 32GB microSD memory
  • Gravity sensor, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
  • 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash and digital zoom
  • resolution up to 3264 x 2448
  • front-facing VGA camera
  • Android Webkit, Adobe Flash 10.1 supported (available as a download from Android Market) web browser
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • plays eAAC+, MP3, MPEG-4, H.264, WAV, AAC, AMR, AAC+, H.263, MIDI, RMVB, DivX (Up to 30 fps)
  • captures MPEG4, SP/H.263
  • Playback: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, DiVX, RMVB-TBC/Streaming
  • 4in, FWVGA 480 x 854 (244ppi), 16M colours display
  • 123.6g
  • 117.7x60.5x9.8mm
  • ACCELEROMETER
  • UMTS 900/2100
  • HSDPA 3.5, EDGE class 12, GPRS class 12
  • 800MHz processor
  • up to 32GB microSD memory
  • Gravity sensor, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor

OUR VERDICT

Place the Motorola Motoluxe next to a Samsung Galaxy S3 or an iPhone 4S and it shapes up poorly. It packs middling specs and fair-to-middling performance into a stylish frame. But if you want a decent Android smartphone at a reasonable price, you could do worse.

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