From time-to-time we like to run stories about retro devices, and you might think that the Motorola GLEAM is such a device. After all, these days Motorola is that Android smartphone maker, right? And the GLEAM looks like it has popped out of a time warp from 5 years ago.
Well, the GLEAM is a very current device.. and Motorola's own marketing materials acknowledge the heritage in the ancient RAZR line of fashion phones. It is really a reinterpretation of the old RAZR with modern features, and actually it's a rather pleasing device aimed at consumers with less demanding tastes.
In terms of size and weight, the GLEAM is almost identical to any number of RAZR phones from the past. Measuring 106 x 53 x 14mm and weighing 105 grams, the GLEAM is actually quite large when closed. Of course, open it up and the whole point of the design becomes apparent, with a relatively large 2.4" 240 x 320 pixel display and a big keypad underneath. Outside is a glossy case with a semi-concealed display (popular a couple of years back) which comes in a variety of colours, and the GLEAM also has some cool lighting effects built in.
This is a GSM-only device, so don't expect luxuries such as 3G or WiFi.. rather surprisingly, the GLEAM doesn't seem to support EDGE data either, so you're stuck with plain old GPRS speeds equivalent to a dial-up modem. There is a web browser of sorts and an email client, but at these speeds you probably won't want to do much on the internet.
Music is a stronger point. The media player can cope with MP3, AAC and AMR audio, plus the Motorola GLEAM has an FM radio. Video playback is more basic, but this really isn't that type of phone. There's a 3.5mm audio socket (which is useful) and a microSD slot (which is essential).
On the back of the GLEAM is a basic 2 megapixel camera with video capture capabilities, suitable for the occasional snapshot and low-res video clip and probably not much more. Other features on the GLEAM include Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
If you remember the interface on the original RAZR.. well, it was horrible. Motorola have learned a lot about interface design recently though, and more modern Motorola handsets are much easier to use than the old ones.
The 750 mAh battery is quoted as giving over 6 hours talktime and 20 days standby time, which is one of the areas that a phone like this really wins out over power hungry smartphones which sometimes need to be charged at least once a day. You can keep the Motorola GLEAM in a pocket or bag for days on end and not have to worry about charging it if you want to make a call or listen to some music.
There's a big market for relatively basic handsets like this, and the GLEAM's looks certainly count in its favour. After all, most RAZR phones are long gone and almost forgotten, and the clamshell design has a lot going for in terms of usability. Of course, it would be really cool if Motorola made an Android phone like this.. but perhaps not yet.
The Motorola GLEAM is available now through the Carphone Warehouse in the UK starting at £50 for a prepay model. It is also available at The Phone House in Germany for €99 SIM-free, and we would expect it to be available in certain other territories later.