Motorola Aura

This may come as a surprise, but not all phones are designed to be smart. Not all phones are designed to give you the ability to surf the web, tweet your thoughts and then still have time to play a couple of games. Some are just there to look good.

And so Motorola, who it appears is still in freefall when it comes to following up on the massively popular RAZR, has launched the AURA. Yep, that's right, it's a £1400 (without contract), yes £1400, mobile phone that does little else than let you make phone calls.

But don't let price put you off. There will be people interested in this handset (bankers? heiresses?) who won't see the Motorola AURA as expensive. In fact as it is cheaper than Nokia's Vertu range, the AURA could be seen as a veritable bargain, to them at least.

Let's start with the design. The full stainless steel jacket is hand etched and crafted like the fuselage of an old war bird. It's got feeling to it. Shiny, detailed, there is no mistaking it feels as good as it looks. You might not be able to surf the Internet, but you'll get plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" when you whip it out.

Then there is the amazingly clear 62 carat sapphire crystal 16 million colour circular screen (the world's first of course) that is incredibly crisp, like really crisp, that gives you a window into the phone and all this before you've even opened it to reveal the keypad.

Push the top layer either to the left or right and it swishes around to the top, fully open, with such gusto you could probably cut a cake with it.

Revealed is a metal keypad that is, compared to the outside of the phone, rather disappointing we have to say. It's as if Motorola has suddenly fallen back into RAZR mode. It's metal, it's flat, it's not the easiest to use. The button configuration is awkward, especially at the top, but luckily your attention will be drawn to the metal cogs (just a few of the 700 parts the phone has) around the back of the handset surrounding the digital camera that you can see when you swivel that switchblade style top.

Get past the luscious, rather industrial, design and you get an interface that unfortunately has been shoehorned into that circular display rather awkwardly.

While the video and stills camera use the full extent of the circular screen, your photos won't come out circular. In fact, you'll capture plenty of "picture" that you won't actually be able to see at the time because the photo is bigger than the screen.

Of course, as we said at the beginning, this is a phone for people who want just that rather than a miniature computer in their pocket. Therefore, when it comes to making calls, looking up contacts, and sending text messages, it's all very straightforward. Think all the functionality of the RAZR in a casing that will set you back a pretty penny.

Before someone says, "but you can…", you're right you can surf the web on the AURA, just like you can play games, but why you would want to is another matter. Any feature that is present beyond the basic dial and contacts operations are here because they tick a box, not because they are any good or even useable.

So to that end you'll get the usual array of alarm clock, calculator and world clock settings to keep you interested while you dream of personalising your phone with apps from all walks of life. But you can't, this is a closed OS.

Photos are stored on the phone's 2GB of memory and there is no way of increasing the capacity as it doesn't feature a microSD slot either.

Verdict

So what do you really get? Well there is the 1.55-inch diameter circular screen, GSM/EDGE/GPRS connectivity, a 2-megapixel camera, 2GB of built-in memory and the usual array of calendar, messages, email and the such like plus a wooden box so you can see where your money has gone.

You don't however get Wi-Fi, 3G, a microSD card slot or the ability to add apps to let you Twitter or check your eBay results (no checking the progress of the kidney you auctioned to buy the phone huh?).

But for most this phone isn't about that: like an expensive watch, it's about having a device that looks good.

So not one for the tech geek, more one for those who want to look good without the hassle of any confusing functionality.



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