The Motorola Cliq 2 smart phone, available from T-Mobile for $100 with a two-year contract after rebates, offers a lot of features for a small price tag. The most interesting are several that address secure use of your phone, including over-the-air backup and remote wiping of your personal settings.
The Cliq 2 has a reasonably fast 1GHz processor, a large WVGA 3.7-in. display, and full support for corporate e-mail and calendaring. The Cliq 2 has a slide-out keyboard, which may explain its rather bulky measurements: 4.21 by 2.32 by 0.52 inches. It's heavy, too, weighing a hefty 6.4 ounces.
But these are minor drawbacks considering the phone's robust set of features, starting with those security pluses. Here's more on those and my other first impressions of a press sample of the phone.
Free security features. The Cliq 2 allows you to back up your contacts and most of your settings over the air to a remote server for free (as with Widows Phone 7 devices) via the Motoblur interface/service. You can manage this data from a computer, as well as import new contacts from other sources from in the CSV or vCard formats. This comes in handy if you need to replace your phone or if a software glitch fouls up your data.
If you lose your phone, Motoblur can help you track it down via the phone's GPS radio. This type of location service won't help you find your phone within your house, but it can help you determine if you forgot it at the gym or if a thief is taking it across state lines. If the latter is the case, you can remotely reset the phone to factory settings to keep your personal information out of the thief's hands.
The service isn't perfect. It won't back up your photos and videos, for example, or any applications purchased from the Android store (though the Android Market will remember your purchases, so you can re-download them at no charge after you sign in). In my tests, I found the backup also failed to restore bookmarks and favorite contacts, and I had to retype my password to get my corporate e-mail account working again. (This may have been a glitch limited to my press-sample phone.) Also, the remote wipe won't delete any photos and videos stored on the phone's microSD card.
An interface for all seasons. The Motoblur interface does a fine job of integrating contact, e-mail, calendar, and social media data via customizable widgets, with plenty of options for replying to messages and posts on your e-mail/social network hubs. One app, called Accounts, makes the often-tedious task of setting up numerous accounts quite simple.
A Motoblur feature unique to the Cliq 2 is the ability to set up to three separate profiles for work, home, and weekend. For example, you might place the calendar widget and corporate contacts more prominently in your work profile, but in your home or weekend profile, you could prioritize your social-network hub and controls for the media player and content services.
A decent display. The display seemed quite responsive, and allowed me to jump from feature to feature with minimal lag. But it wasn't as easy to read in sunlight some of the other phone displays I've reviewed recently, particularly those on Samsung phones.
Data entry options. In addition to a slide-out keyboard, the Cliq 2 has two virtual keyboards (Android multitouch and Swype). As on other phones that have it, I found using the virtual Swype keyboard, which lets you type without lifting a finger and has a very intuitive predictive-text feature, the easiest and fastest method for composing simple text messages, though I tended to switch to the slide-out keyboard for more elaborate communiqués.
The keys on the slide-out keyboard seem needlessly cramped, but typing on them was quite easy. The keys are raised, which makes it easier to type accurately without constantly monitoring your keystrokes.
Ready-for-action camera. The Cliq 2 has a 5-megapixel camera that includes a dual-LED flash and HD video capability. Besides the now-common advanced camera controls and sharing options, the Cliq 2 has two features most photographers will appreciate: a physical button for launching the camera and snapping pictures (which also works for video) and the ability to use the phone's volume-rocker button to adjust zoom. The phone also supports DNLA and so allows you to wirelessly stream, store and share your phone's content with a compatible HDTV or PC.
Bottom line. If you can overlook its bulky case, the Motorola Cliq 2 is a competent, security-minded, and versatile smart phone that deftly integrates the often-disparate connections of modern life. And you can't go wrong with the price, especially given T-Mobile's relatively thrifty smart-phone plans.