Motorola MPx200 and SmartPhone 2002 Review


My beloved T68i was broken and I ended up sending it in for a replacement (which was very smooth, by the way). I wasn't sure how I'd manage without a phone for a week, but then a friend offered a solution--borrow a spare phone he had laying around. Since GSM network-based phones use a SIM chip (really a punch out from a smart card), I could insert my SIM into his AT&T WS phone and it should work. It did.

The phone he had "laying around" happened to be a brand-spanking new Motorola MPx200 phone running the new Microsoft SmartPhone 2002 OS. If you haven't seen it, the phone is gorgeous and SmartPhone, at least in theory, is pretty neat too.

Motorola's MPx200 running SmartPhone 2002

Motorola has always made great equipment. I used a StarTac for years and loved it. The MPx200 follows in that tradition.

  • The phone is a flip phone with a big, bright color screen.
  • The phone is solid, if a little heavy, and feels like it would take years of abuse.
  • The case is shiny black so it looks nice when its clean.
  • The buttons are pretty standard except for the addition of a "home" button and a "back" button which make working with SmartPhone 2002 easier.
  • The unit has polyphonic sound and can play MP3s.
  • The side has a slot for a SD/MMC card for expanding the memory.
  • There's a side thumb-wheel which wasn't used to great advantage by SmartPhone 2002. I had one of these on a Sony phone a few years back and it was very handy for selecting menu items one-handed.
  • In a major deal breaker for me, the MPx200 doesn't have Bluetooth. So, you've got to haul out wire whenever you want to connect up the phone to sync or use its as an Internet gateway.

SmartPhone 2002 is familiar right off the bat with standard Windows icons for the browser, email client, calendar program and so on. The overall feel of SmartPhone 2002 was good and I didn't have too many troubles just using it without reading the manual. I'm not an Outlook user, but I suspect that if you were, this phone would be a great tool and would serve the functions many people want from a PDA on the road. Of course, you could get a PDA with a phone built-in, but then you'd have to be willing to hold a brick to your head whenever you want to talk on the phone. If you don't need to enter a lot of data, this phone is a fantastic PDA replacement.

In theory, I liked SmartPhone 2002. I like the idea of not having to learn a new GUI every time I get a new phone. Most cell phone GUIs are extremely primitive because each company starts from scratch each time. The state of cell phone GUI's today reminds me of operating systems before Windows. Every computer had their own and most of them were primitive. There's no reason that cell phone shouldn't run a third party OS.

SmartPhone 2002 is among the most capable cell phone GUI's I've used. My beef with it is that its from Microsoft. This is not just a knee-jerk anti-Microsoft rant. I'm seriously concerned about cell phones becoming semi-useless lumps unless I agree to use Microsoft Outlook on Microsoft Windows with a Microsoft PDA and Microsoft Exchange, and so on. What's next? I can't use the gas pump unless I have a Microsoft built OS running on my Car? Don't laugh---its not that far-fetched.

Apple and Linux have shown us how having a choice fosters innovation. I'm genuinely afraid we're headed to a world where there isn't any choice. The problem isn't that SmartPhone 2002 is bad. The problem is that its good and that I can see how useful the MPx200 would be in an Outlook/Exchange environment. I see little chance that an OS X or Linux user to get similar functionality from any phone, anytime soon.