Hands on with the Motorola ROKR

Sep 08 2005 - 08:58 AM ET | Motorola

MobileTracker got a hands on look at the Motorola ROKR last night at the official launch party that took place in NYC. The ROKR E1 was the star of the music themed event. We heard varying criticism of the phone from "phone people" because it's nearly identical to the Motorola E398 that was announced 18 months ago, but to everyone else it was new and exciting. Included is a photo gallery of the phone and a few party shots.

Motorola ROKR E1A few notes on the ROKR E1 that we picked up while cruising the party:

  • Motorola said all the carriers have chosen the 512MB model so far, but the 100 song figure was not just a low-ball estimate (Apple quotes 120 for the iPod Shuffle that is the same size)--there is a cap of 100 songs. Motorola said this was part of the licensing deal with Apple.
  • The memory card is formatted much like the iPod, so that there is a music side and a data side. Sadly, if you want to have an MP3 ringtone, it must be on the data side (or both).
  • Battery life for music playing is 15 hours if you use headphones and 8 if you use the speakers on the phone. This puts it to be in the same range as an iPod.
  • There is a USB cable included, but sadly the transfer is over USB 1 which means it's painfully slow to sit there for a full 512MB transfer.

Various music groups went on over the night, highlighted by a performce from Common. We found out that the original plan was to have Madonna play, but her recent horse accident got in the way.

ROKR E1 Review

The phone itself feels very familiar since we used the E398 a while ago, but the iTunes integration is a bit more than a typical Java app. While playing a song for example, you can hide the iTunes player (the interface looks more like the iPod than iTunes, but that's the name) and have a normal phone home screen but the background shows simple music controls that can be triggered by the joystick.

Album art shows up if it's available in iTunes, which is a nice touch. It can be made to show full screen which gives enough detail to see all but the most detailed covers.

Size wise, the ROKR E1 is decent. Not great when compared to some of Motorola's other four letter themed phones (RAZR, SLVR, Q come to mind), but it's no where near a clunker. We've included a shot in the gallery below that compares the ROKR E1 to a Sony Ericsson K750i.

Our biggest gripe with the phone is that the OS just feels sluggish. Typically at these events that can happen and the production model can be fine (because you're usually looking at the phone many months before it comes out), but the phone is shipping now. We'll be posting a video later today, once we fly back home, and you can see for yourself the speed.