Sony Ericsson and Nokia dominate the music phone market, so what makes Motorola think it can muscle in on the act with its new ROKR E8 handset? We take a closer look to find out.

Sporting a pseudo touch interface, the Moto ROKR E8 offers a flash, overly large design for its music dedicated offering.

Part of the ROKR series, which in the past has offered iTunes connectivity, the new handset comes with both the mini USB for the headset and a dedicated 3.5mm jack, so you can use your own headphones, however, you have to use the supplied headset if you want to use the radio.

The candybar design is reminiscent of the old SLVR L6, but is something new from Motorola, where design has obviously taken some thought. That said, it is a rather large offering, and strangely top-heavy in the hand.

Get past the flat design and you surprisingly unveil the most user friendly Motorola device we’ve seen at Pocket-lint in years.

The main reason for this change is ModeShift, a system that changes the keys according to what you are doing. Turn the handset on and you are presented with a 12 key number pad with the usual 0-9 keys plus a few extras, however press the camera or music button and the 0-9 options disappears and dedicated buttons appear. For music you get the usual forward, backwards, pause, play options, while for the camera it’s all about zoom.

Motorola have also stepped away from the Symbian OS for this model, instead using their own Chameleon operating system.

But a pseudo touch interface isn’t the be all and end all as the device also promises to replace your iPod with its almost circular scroll interface.

In an attempt to ape the iPod, the almost complete scroll wheel (see images) will allow you to scroll through track listings with ease. Holding your finger at the end of the semi-circle will in fact continue scrolling, while anything else will stop the movement mid-flow.

In practice, the small screen combined with the sensitive scroll wheel mean it is easy to miss the song you are looking for and takes some time to get used to.

Get past the scroll and semi-touch interface - there are actual buttons with haptic feedback - and the handset is Motorola doing what it normally does, i.e., disappoint.

The memory for songs is a meagre 2GB, although you can add more storage via the microSD slot. This slot, unfortunately, is hidden under the back cover. While the camera matches the industry standard with 2 megapixels there is no 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity instead with Motorola relying on large, and top-heavy design to carry it through.

The result? You are left with something the size of a smartphone in your pocket without the power to match.

Price when reviewed:
dependent on contract

First Impressions

Before we start the criticism, we have to repeat that this is the most user friendly Motorola handset we have ever used. Menus were accessible and easy to use. High praise indeed.

So what’s the catch? Well as we’ve said, it's a little large and a little basic for our liking. It might do music, it might make things easier with its magic keys that light up accordingly, but when all is said and done, this is an overly large music handset that offers little else.