By November 22, 2011

Motorola Pro+ Review

FrontMotorola launched the original Motorola Pro in February of this year. It wasn’t hugely successful. Specs were not great, the screen was simply HVGA and the keyboard lacked the finesse of it’s Blackberry rivals.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Motorola should come up with the successor to the Pro, the Pro+, so quickly after the release of it’s predecessor. The Pro+ has a similar form factor but a more refined design that the Pro, sleeker lines and more curves. The CPU clocks at 1Ghz and it benchmarks favourably against other handsets with the same CPU. The screen size has increased and fortunately, so has the resolution which is now up to 480×640 or portrait VGA. Let’s see how this phone compares to the other physical keyboarded phones with touchscreens out there!


The 10 Second review:

  • Device: Motorola Pro+
  • Price: £322.80 at King of Gadgets
  • Summary: An android phone with a keyboard AND a touchscreen
  • Best of: Small and light, backing feels really nice and solid
  • Worst of:
  • Buy it now from King of Gadgets Technology

What’s in the box?

  • Motorola Pro+
  • Pair of Headphones
  • Sync/Charge cable
  • 3 Pin plug to USB adapter
  • Documentation
  • 1600 mAh battery

Motorola Pro+ specification:

  • 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100
  • Dimensions: 119.5 x 62 x 11.7 mm
  • Weight: 113 g
  • Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 640 x 480 pixels, 3.1 inches (~258 ppi pixel density)
  • Gorilla Glass display
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
  • Proximity sensor for auto- turn-off
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Memory: 4 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
  • microSD, up to 32GB
  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth: v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
  • microUSB v2.0, HS
  • Camera: 5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • OS: Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • CPU: 1 GHz processor
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • GPS: A-GPS support
  • Digital compass
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1600 mAh


The top of the handset has the power button, headphone jack and the noise cancellation microphone


On the bottom of the handset, there is nothing except the microphone


The left hand side of the phone is simply the microUSB slot


On the right hand side of the phone is the volume rocker


On the back of the handset is the 5mp camera with the single LED, the Motorola badge in the middle and the speaker at the bottom


The front is where it gets interesting with the speaker grill at the top, the 3.1″ screen then the four navigation keys: menu, home, back and search and finally below that is the physical qwerty keyboard



The Motorola Pro+ feels fairly solid when held in the hand; I was impressed with the back cover and the textured soft-touch material that they have used. It doesn’t feel the most solid and secure, but it is a change from the plain plastic backs of most phones.

All the external buttons are nice to press, the volume rocker doesn’t feel too indented to need a hard press and the power/unlock button is nicely placed with a nice feel to it also.

Now, the main selling point of this phone is going to probably be the keyboard that is placed below the screen and navigational buttons. I found this keyboard to not be that nice to use, the keys were too hard to press and too close to one another. One major flaw that I found was when using the ‘ALT’ key in that when holding this and trying to speed type and press the ‘-‘  or the ‘_’ symbols it was near impossible to do. I also found that the keyboard required quite a press and as a result it slowed down your typing as you weren’t always sure you’d pressed the keys hard enough and you’d have to go back and look at what you’d written to check.

KeyboardKeyboard 2

Also located on the front of the screen is the earpiece for listening to phone calls. This proved sufficient for the calls that I made, it was nothing special. As this phone is geared towards being a business phone, I was a little disappointed with the earpiece quality as you’d expect a business person to be making calls quite regularly and so the quality should be top-notch standard.

The back of the device is home to what I found quite a brilliantly textured back cover which appears to be a soft-touch encasing that has been moulded with little ridges that give it far more grip when being held in the hands. The 5 megapixel camera is also on the back of the device which I found to be once again a sufficient camera, nothing spectacular, but still good for a mobile device. Just for note, the camera is supported by a Single LED light by the side of it also which I found to not be the brightest of LEDs when lighting up areas. But look for the camera review below for more on that.

Now, one thing that did impress me was that the Pro+ was only rocking a 1Ghz processor, yet it felt like it could have been running a dual-core processor. It would wiz from screen to screen and the browser was fairly quick to load pages also. This may be down to having a smaller screen than most other smartphones and so the 1Ghz processor proved very-much sufficient to power this smaller screen along.


The Pro+ is running Android 2.3.4 which is the latest version of Android (excluding Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0) a weak layer of MotoBlur running on top of it. I say weak in the term that it doesn’t instantly jump out at you that there is a different skin on the Pro+ (in fact, it took me five minutes to realise it wasn’t stock android.) I really like this about the note because it still feels like a basic Android handset, yet the icons and little things have changed that prettify it up a bit.


The unlock screen is the same as basic android; you slide your finger from the left to the right to unlock the phone, or you slide your finger from the right to the left of the phone to put the phone into silent mode. An unlock screen that I find very clever and I could see the likes of iOS using in the future because it adds speed to switching silent mode on

Lock Screen  The MotoBlur home screens have stuck to the original stock Android interface with the seven screens lined up horizontally with the middle pane being the home screen. I recently reviewed the Galaxy Note which had TouchWiz on it and i disliked the TouchWiz layout as it placed the home screen as the first screen on the left was the main pane and this meant I couldn’t easily slide to the left and right panes to quickly access two more quick pages of widgets or applications. The stock Android home screen layout is how all Android home screen layouts should stay as it is a good formula and works well.

Home Screen 1Home Screen 2Home Screen 3Home Screen 4Home Screen 5Home Screen 6Home Screen 7

The MotoBlur skin adds three application shortcuts and the applications menu shortcut along the bottom that can be changed and edited to whichever three applications you wish. I like this as it allows for quick access to your three most used applications no matter what pane you are on in the home screen. As you can see above, I kept mine to the default as I felt these were my most used applications also.

Now, the Pro+ is aimed as a more business Android phone and so you’d expect the dialling keypad to be a fairly decent one as dialling is something that you’d expect business people to be doing a lot of. However, I found it a little hard to type on as the screen was so small and the buttons were hard to press when typing in numbers on the physical keyboard. I did like how when typing in numbers, it would come up with contact names based on the equivalent letter keys you’d pressed also.


The notification bar has not undergone any changes apart from a minor change in skin colour due to the MotoBlur overlay. However, I did want to mention the Notifications bar as I had a big problem with it that I found a bad flaw of the MotoBlur overlay and additionally the small screen. the problem that I had was that your phone network name would show up in the top left (as seen below) and this protrude on the notifications. I often found that It would simply show the symbol signifying that you had more than one notification because it could only fit one notification sign in the bar due to being on the “Vodafone” network. Now there are two things that i would have changed about this and they are either making it so that the network name shortens when you get multiple notifications, or simple not allow it on a phone with such a small screen (as I’m guessing a phone with a bigger screen would allow for more notifications.)


One thing that made MotoBlur stand out originally was the fact that you could alter the size of the widgets and at one point I’m sure, this was a selling point for Motorola. Of course, you can only re-size the Motorola Widgets and not the Android widgets, but the Motorola widgets do look nice when they’re re-sized and all work quite nicely. Not all of the MotoBlur widgets do resize, but I’d say 2/3 of them do. I think this is something that all skins should employ and in fact Android 4.0 has integrated this feature into the next build of Android; well done Motorola for once again setting a trend.

Widgets 1Widgets 2

The Pro+’s MotoBlur skin also allows you to see all of the home panes at once by hitting the home button when on the main screen and it shows a small airplane view. However, I didn’t find this to be as nice as the Sense equivalent or even the TouchWiz equivalent; but it’s a nice feature to have none the less.

All-in-all the MotoBlur skin on top of the Android overlay works very well and the nice little animations from one screen to another really give the phone a polished look. I can’t remember encountering any times when I found the phone freezing or an application failing to open (excluding Android’s “Force Closes”). It all seems to work very well together and MotoBlur has come a long way since it’s days as a laggy and buggy overlay that came as more of a burden on the phone instead of a blessing.


Text Entry:

The keyboard on the Motorola Pro+ is a big let down for me, just wanted to get that out of the way before I started this Text Entry section. However, I did find myself able to type quite quickly on it once I had gotten used to it, but it just simply hurt my fingers by the end of a serious button smashing sesh. I straight away compared this keyboard to the likes of the Blackberry 9900’s keyboard (arguably the best Keyboard on the market) and the HTC Cha Cha’s keyboard (arguably the best Android keyboard on the market.) And when you compare it to the likes of these phones, there aren’t going to be many phones that can compare with the soft buttons and nice press of these beasty keyboards. The buttons on the Motorola pro+ were simply too hard to press, not spaced very well and the “ALT” key was placed in an awkward position with no alternate “ALT” key to press when trying to hit buttons close to it.

The Pro+ does come with a virtual keyboard however that comes out when the phone is turned into landscape view. In despite of the phone’s small screen, I found this landscape keyboard an absolute joy to use, I couldn’t believe how well I was typing on it considering the size of the display. the keys were spaced very well and I rarely made mistakes which was a huge bonus. However, holding the phone like this, with the keyboard hanging off to the left or the right, was never a comfortable position to hold the phone in.




The browser on the Motorola Pro+ was let down by the screen once again as it required some zooming on to be able to read what was on the page. However, I did find that it was a very smooth and fast browser when loading pages. It would load pages very quickly and the flash that is integrated into the browser worked very well. Once again, I think this was down to the 1Ghz processor working on such a small display, but once again it worked and worked well.

Browser 1Browser 2

Browser Landscape

The Pro+ does support windows within the browser, but it isn’t as nicely laid out as other skins such as Sense and Touchwiz where you can see live mini page views of each individual Window that you have open in the browser. But it’s not all about looks and the feature is included if you’re a big multi-window user on your phone’s browser.



I can’t help but say once again that the media was let down by the size of the phone’s display on this device. It is true that the Motorola Pro+ isn’t guided towards being a media phone and is definitely meant for more serious actions though and so I will forgive Motorola for the smaller display. The Motorola Pro+ has a a resolution of  640 x 480 which with a screen size of 3.1″ allows for 258 ppi which is a fairly high-res screen and so videos, text and pictures on this display do look fairly clear, but still a strain on the eyes.

The Music Player on the Pro+ is a fairly simple one with the categories of artists, songs, playlists and the other usual options you get for picking a song. However, there was one thing that intrigued me about the music player that I’ve personally not seen any phone do before and that is that it shows the lyrics to the song that you are listening to. And it shows them in time too, it highlights each line that is being sung, I found this really really interesting and something I’ve not seen integrated into a music player on a phone before. Admittedly, it’s not something I’d miss if it wasn’t there, but it was a nice novelty whilst it lasted.

The gallery on the Motorola Pro+ is fairly nice and shows a beautiful 3D view of recent pictures and videos that have been uploaded by people that you’re connected to online on your phone. However, the camera images display is simply a thumbnail view (which was a bit of a let down) but it still did the job and presented photos nice enough.

Gallery 1




The Motorola Pro+ comes with a 5mp camera that can record in 720p and has a single LED flash. Compared to modern day smart phones, that’s a fairly average set of numbers to throw at you, however, once again I must mention this built wasn’t built to take brilliant photos, it was built to take brilliant messages. The camera application itself was fairly nice to use however and was laid out similarly to most other phones these days with the capture button on the right and the settings on the left. The settings were placed so that they were like a little tab that you had to pull out to show the full options which I found a nice little feature.

Camera 1


The 5mp camera produced sufficient pictures for a phone as the phones seems to do with most things, produces just high-enough quality to be considered a smart phone. The pictures showed a lack of colour and I found that when taking an image, the picture you shot wasn’t the picture that showed up in the preview image. This for me was a little annoying as I found myself thinking: oh nice picture; then looking back at the picture and seeing it out of focus or something. You can review the pictures that the Pro+ takes with the example shots below: 




There are a few settings to choose from in the settings options such as scenes and brightness and the basic options you get with a standard Android-stock camera application.

Camera 2

The video recording on the Pro+ was fairly decent to be fair, I experienced no frame lagging when recording or watching back the video and the audio quality was fairly decent also. No camcorder replacement yet, but it will do for the type of videos that a business person would use (whatever they may be.)



The battery on the Motorola Pro+ confused me a little as the length depended on which features were turned on or off. For example, when I used a Live Wallpaper for a day, the battery was dead mid-afternoon, however when I wasn’t using a Live Wallpaper, it would get me into very late evening. Now, I know that Live Wallpapers take up a lot of battery, but from my previous experiences, they haven’t used up as much battery as this phone’s Live wallpapers seemed to.

However, all-in-all the battery would be getting me through a college day easily (without a Live Wallpaper on) with a fair amount of texting a few phone calls and the odd use of the browser. We have to think of this from the view of the business type user who will be using this phone though and if I was a business user, I would need the phone to last longer in case I was staying out over night somewhere or flying from place to place. But for the average every-day user, this phone’s battery is perfectly fine for a full days use.


Call quality & Signal:

The call quality of the Pro+ (as already mentioned) was mid-quality which means that it wasn’t outstanding, but I wasn’t underwhelmed either. It was sufficient to call friends when walking down a busy main road pavement, but wasn’t sufficient enough to call friends when in a busy restaurant or shop.

I received fairly good signal from the Motorola Pro+, I could get signal in my house which is always a big test because I live in the middle of nowhere. I also found myself often getting HSDPA whilst I was in my local city of Norwich which I found good for browsing the internet and fulfilling my social networking needs.



The Motorola Pro+ was a let down for me, yes it’s an improvement over the previous “Motorola Pro” but it’s nowhere near Blackberry or HTC Cha Cha standards yet in terms of a physical keyboard phone.

The design feels nice in the hands and I really liked the soft touch back that gave the phone a more solid feel. The keys were simply too hard to press though and it felt like the undersides of my fingers were eroding away after a serious texting session or Facebooking session with somebody.

If you are looking for a phone with a physical keyboard and the touchscreen, I would highly recommend the Blackberry Bold 9900 or the HTC Cha Cha which are both phones with better keyboards.

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