The Motorola Gleam is an homage to the company's legendary Razr handset. The Gleam is attractive, basic and cheap, offering thrifty buyers some bling for their cash.
The Gleam is available for around £50 on a pay as you go deal from the Carphone Warehouse and other vendors. You can also pick it up SIM-free for around £90.
We can't blame Motorola for attempting to rekindle happy memories of the Razr's wafer-thin frame with the Gleam. The Gleam, however, is fashioned mostly from plastic, rather than brushed metal.
The front of the Gleam has a glossy finish that attracts fingerprints like nobody's business, and the vast expanse of shiny plastic is only broken by the 2-megapixel camera. Once a call or text message comes, though, a hidden dot-matrix screen makes its presence known. It's a deliberately retro touch, and we're rather taken with it.
This pocket-sized light show continues, with a set of LEDs located on the bottom of the Gleam. These pulsate when you open a close the clam-shell mechanism, as well as flashing when you receive a call. Another neat touch is the throbbing effect that occurs when you plug the handset into a wall charger.
Clam-shell phones are something of a rarity nowadays, making the Gleam feel quite old-fashioned. The hinge that joins the two sections of the device also seems rather flimsy, and we noticed a small amount of wobble in both the open and closed positions.
The keypad is inspired by that of the original Razr, but it's made from a single piece of flexible plastic, rather than aluminium. The physical buttons reside beneath this plastic sheet, and have a very slight degree of travel when pressed. Initially, we felt the keys were unnecessarily large, but it doesn't take long to become accustomed to them. Indeed, texting on the Gleam is practically effortless.
When compared to the huge displays on the HTC Desire HD and LG Optimus 2X, the Gleam's 2.4-inch screen seems ridiculously small. Placed alongside other phones in the same price bracket, however, it's practically par for the course.
Dumb and proud of it
The Gleam is described by Motorola as a 'feature phone', which is a term manufacturers use when desperately trying to avoid the term 'dumb phone'. Although the budget mobile arena is currently being invaded by Android-based smart phones such as the Orange San Francisco, LG Optimus One and Samsung Galaxy Mini, Motorola has chosen to go with a proprietary operating system for this handset.
The results are predictable. There are no apps to mess about with, and the Java-based games that are available are painfully basic when compared to what's currently doing the rounds on the iPhone App Store. You'll also have to make do with a simple music player and a slow Web browser, which is made even more sluggish by the absence of 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity. In fact, the Gleam offers little in terms of technology that wasn't available on the original Razr.
The 2-megapixel camera is also rather underwhelming, offering dismal photo quality and terrible videos. The still and moving images created using this phone are acceptable for distribution via MMS, but little else. Should you still wish to get snap-happy with the Gleam, you'll need to invest in an microSD card pretty swiftly -- there's only 5MB of internal storage available.
Expandable memory is certainly recommended as the Gleam comes complete with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can use your own cans to listen to MP3s or the built-in FM radio. You'll be able to happily indulge in both of these activities for quite some time too -- the Gleam's battery life is much better than that which you'd normally get from a smart phone.
If you can do without 3G connectivity and smart-phone features, the Motorola Gleam is currently one of the best handsets available. Too often are buyers on a budget reduced to using handsets that look rubbish and are painful to operate. The Gleam happily bucks this trend by offering gorgeous looks and intuitive functionality.
Edited by Charles Kloet