The Gadget: The Moto E8 ROKR is a candybar music phone that makes use of a touch-sensitive, haptic feedback panel on the bottom half of the phone. It’s nearly buttonless, save for a few on the side.
The Price: US$199 (after 2-year contract)
The Verdict: Long story short, the hardware is great, the music interface is decent, the T-Mobile interface sucks. But let’s start with the good. Not only do I like build quality, and how the button layout changes according to the phone’s function, I also like that the haptic feedback really feels like the phone has buttons (Herrman is still convinced there aren’t haptics). As a music player, the capacitive ring and menu system give it an iPod sort of feel, which is nice. It’s pretty easy to use, and doesn’t suffer from much lag. Syncing with Windows Media Player is a relatively painless process, but that means it’s also Windows only (Mac Users have to transfer files via MicroSD, ugh).
The thing that makes me never want to touch the phone again is T-Mobile’s UI skin, which takes competent phone software and turns it into a laggy, unresponsive pile of crap. Seeing as this phone is a T-Mo exclusive, I think it’s important to highlight how much I dislike it. Frequently I try to enter into a menu for the camera, or text messages, only to be thrown back to the MyFaves home screen. After hitting another button in response, the phone decides it wants to go to the app I was originally trying to use, and then respond to my subsequent button pushing. The dialog boxes also like to clash with the menus, which allow for frequent input errors. I liken the process to playing voicemail tag with someone, which is to say it’s totally annoying.
Other than that, it’s just slow, the capacitive ring is no good for navigating the main menu, and trying D-pad feels cramped. So while I think the phone is an above average candybar, I’d hold out for a version running different software.
AU: Seeing as how the US guys only seem to hate the T-mobile side of things, I’ll get my hands on a local version in a few weeks and let you know what I think.