New phone agogo

Just aquired my new phone (April 2010) a Motorola Dext on Orange.

The Dext is running on a version of the Google Android operating system. As you might expect from Google it is fairly easy to find your way around, not sure it it's as easy as the iPhone devices, but then again I don't wear kid gloves ;)

The Dext has both touch screen input and a small QWERTY keyboard for that tactile feedback you wouldn't get with a touchscreen device.

Rather liking the touchiness of the Dext, but still find the real keyboard a great tool that I'd struggle without. Confirming my fears and reassuring me I was right to choose the Dext over other Android 1.5 handsets.


Once I had gone through the required(!) Motoblur registration I setup my Facebook/Twitter/gmail accounts. I was previously syncing my contacts and calendar with Google tools on my Nokia N85 over the air and found it immensely useful, replacing the need to plug in phone to sync to PC.

The process in the Dext is painless (as presumably it would be in other Android devices), just enter account info and off it goes and populates the handset with calendar/contact info.

The number of contacts has soared now though as the Dext brings in contacts from Facebook that may not be in my Google accounts, it even did a half decent job of merging Facebook contacts and matching them up with existing gmail contacts. Smart stuff. I think this is Motorola's Blur application that runs over the top of Android that is actually doing the work here rather than Android itself.

Having so many contacts makes the screen flick/stroke action very powerful for skimming through the extensive list quickly.

Improving battery life of Dext

Out of the box of course the Dext is all singing with lots of stuff turned on. My Dext chomped through the battery in no time. I think the first charge lasted 3-5 hours tops.

So, given the very poor battery life out of the box of the Dext this was to become a priority to sort out. After a couple of days and some experimentation with settings things are improving. It can now manage a full day(!) of light use.

A few things to do:
- turn off GPS/WiFi/Bluetooth, just enable them when required
- optomise the 'off peak hours' setting, I *think* the phone only syncs with external stuff during peak hours so increase off peak to reduce syncing
- for ease of switching extras on/off I installed a few toggle switches on one of the home pages. I am using 'oneclick widget' from the marketplace which seems better behaved than some of the others and provides matching widgets for each toggle
- there is a setting to use/not use data in the background for syncing stuff. I leave this on, but imagine a significant improvement on battery life could be had if you turn off and only sync when access an applciation (eg gmail/twitter)

Recommended Moto Dext applications (apps)

  • ViewRanger - paid for software I had been using previously on Nokia N85. Uses GPS hardware to plot position and routes on Ordinance Survey maps. VERY useful on the hills. Their support is fantastic too!
  • Ringdroid - snip your mp3s to create your own ringtones. Awesome app!
  • Shop List Free, does what says on the tin. By John O'Conner/Jeff Potter
  • Runstar - track your running distances via GPS. Incorporates music player.
  • GTask. A task list that has categories and syncs with Google mail
  • Handcent SMS, a texting client, superior to the built in one
  • Opera mini, web browser
  • Google Maps
  • Pkt Auctions eBay, as the name suggests, a tool for EBay activity
  • Twidroyd - a twitter app with background syncing
  • WiFinder, WiFi network finder
  • WiFi Buddy
  • WiFi analyser, help choose the strongest WiFi signal to connect to
  • oneclick widget, add widgets to home screen to toggle stuff with one screen tap
  • SystemPanel, monitor what the Dext is up to
  • Bluetooth File Transfer
  • File Manager, not sure if that's the name it's listed as in Marketplace
  • PDF Viewer
  • Libra (track your weight loss/gain)
  • MyFitnessPall (comprehensive calorie counting)
  • The out-the-box music player seems to do most of what I need, but I'd like one with which I can specify "only play music from folder xyz" - suggestions anyone?

Motorola support is limited

I discovered quite early in my Dext use that it doesn't seem to support tethering. This it seems is a feature of a later version of Android.

Not to worry, Motorola announced they would be upgrading the Dext to Android 2.x in the future. Motorola have since stated they will NOT in fact be offering that upgrade.

Queue lots of upset Dext users (myself included) complaining to Motorola. Not providing the update is one thing, but to say you will then u-turn on it is what has annoyed so many.