Motorola Aura mobile phone - First Look

Credit crunch, what credit crunch? If you're one of the few thinking that I'm talking about a cereal bar rather than the economic downturn, then the Motorola Aura might be for you. But is it really worth the money? We got a quick hands on with the new handset at the UK launch.

So what do you get? While it's not supposedly about the tech, let’s cover it and get it out of the way first. Central to the swivel design is a 1.55-inch diameter screen, a world's first in the mobile phone industry, that offers a 300dpi resolution and 16 million colours.

Get past that design and inside you've got a GSM/EDGE/GPRS handset with a 2-megapixel camera. There's multimedia playback and 2GB of built-in memory and the usual array of calendar, messages, email and the such like, but that's it. No HSDPA connectivity, no high pixel camera, no open operating system to add applications like Twitter and Facebook: you're just getting a phone here.

So what are you paying your money for? Craftsmanship of course, well that's the idea.

Constructed from high-end materials, it has a sapphire crystal lens, a stainless steel housing with a chemically etched texture and pattern that takes nearly 2 weeks to sculpt, etch and polish. Ouch.

In practice and the Aura does feel very nice. The design is solid and that screen is, although circular, stunningly bright and clear. In an attempt to try and show you where some of the money goes there is a Swiss-made rotating mechanism that has 130 precision ball bearings that control the swivel (you can see it through a bit of plastic on the back), however the model we played with was far from smooth.

The operating system, as with all Motorola handsets, is inoffensive but on the whole unhelpful. There is a clutter of quick keys to press and once you do work out which button to press you're not likely to do anything other than make a call. This is an entry phone with a not too entry level price.

Verdict

Although our time was brief with the Aura, you don't actually need that much time with a phone that does virtually nothing other than make calls. The overall feeling is that it looks pretty but does bugger all.

Yes that circular screen is bright and very crisp, and the etched metal from a fashionista point of view is tactile enough that you'll want to stroke it, but come on - are you really wanting to spend £1400 (without contract) on a phone that does nothing more than let you make calls?

If you do, this might just been the shallow offering you've been looking for.

The Motorola Aura will go on sale exclusively at Selfridges in December.