Today Motorola released its first Android device: the Cliq for T-Mobile. And while most Android comparisons run right to the iPhone, this thing looks more poised to steal teen approval from the Sidekick.
Inside, it sports the same guts as the G1, myTouch 3G, and the Hero: a 528MHz chip and a healthy 256MB of RAM. But the software suite, which Motorola has haplessly named MOTOBLUR, is all about time-wastery and social butterflying. The home screen is set up as a feed for Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter updates; good old Google and Gmail proclivities are baked in, too. Motorola is calling the Cliq the "first phone with social skills," which, as far as phone personas go, is more Fast Times at Ridgemont High than The New York Times. (The iPhone, by comparison, might be classified as an erudite introvert; the Blackberry as a sleepless analyst. The Pre could be, well, a tech blogger.)
The slide-out keyboard will feel homey to kids used to cheap, non-touch phones, but the screen still has full touch capacity, presumably with Android's Cupcake keyboard on-screen. The real question will be whether the screen is capacitive or resistive touchscreen; the former, used on the iPhone, works precisely, while the latter (think the groan-inducing LG Dare) is less so. The choice of touchscreen will prove whether Motorola believes the Cliq has the chops to be an upscale phone, or whether this is an Android phone that will go slumming.
One of the Cliq's more interesting conventions is its preloaded suite: everything from iMeem to Shazam to Picasa to Windows Live Messenger. There is scarcely a better-prepared smartphone out of the box, which will go a long way for user-friendliness. Price via T-Mobile is still to come, but the phone should go on sale this fall in two colors.