Motorola Milestone review

Known as the Droid in the US - can it beat the HTC Hero?

The definitive Motorola Milestone review
The definitive Motorola Milestone review

TechRadar Verdict

A great phone for the Android set, only bettered by the Hero. If you're after a QWERTY Android, this is the place to look.


  • +

    Great browser

  • +

    Pinch and zoom multi-touch

  • +

    slick screen

  • +

    Judder free UI

  • +

    QWERTY keyboard

  • +

    Slim frame


  • -

    Poor camera

  • -

    Unsightly lip below keys

  • -

    No Android overlay

  • -

    Industrial design

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Update: read our review of the new Milestone 2.

While Motorola might have been feeling pretty happy about actually releasing a phone again in the Dext, it clearly wasn't the handset to re-launch the brand. So step forward the Milestone (Droid to our US users), the latest Android phone - but can it be Moto's greatest?

The first thing you'll notice about the Motorola Milestone is the build quality - compare it to some Android phones out there and you'll feel that it's much better than the plasticky options available from some companies (including itself - the Dext had an element of low quality about it).

The phone is noticeably thinner than before, coming in at just 13.7mm thick, which is impressive when you realise that it packs a full QWERTY keyboard into that frame as well.

Along with the sleek design, the phone has a decent weight about it - to us it hits the sweet spot of not being too heavy, but weighty enough to add premium aura to the device.

The decision to use gold decal is a little suspect though - it harks back to the teeth-grindingly frustrating days of the D&G-branded Motorola Razr that didn't add anything except too much gold to the device. However, it does feel a little retro '80s... we assume that's what the kids are into these days.

Motorola milestone

But this phone is meant to be so much more than that - it's been particularly heralded over in the US as the best Android phone thus far, being the fastest, most up-to-date and agile device yet from the Google crowd.

To that end, it has the latest version of Android (2.0) as well as a nice 3.7-inch screen to boot. The display is easily the rival of the HTC Hero, being a slick and responsive capacitive effort with very little slow down when navigating through the Milestone.

Motorola's new handset is a pretty basic affair when you're looking from the front, with the four touch sensitive buttons the only notion that it's a phone. They're a little hieroglyphic-like in design, but that's something we're seeing a fair amount of these days, and we guess they work well when illuminated for touch-sensitive use.

The first thing a lot of people will notice when using the Milestone is the lip at the bottom - and we're jiggered if we can work out what that's for. When sliding the QWERTY keyboard open, it's quickly obvious that this gets in the way of typing when holding the device in two hands, so what Motorola is doing there we don't know - we can only assume there's some important hardware squashed in there.

However, we'd rather that Motorola had just made the Milestone a little bit thicker rather than adding on this extra chunk - it's a big, big downside for the phone and we can imagine it putting a lot of people off buying the device.

The QWERTY keyboard is a little cramped - think somewhere between the Nokia N900 (spacious) and the Palm Pre (cramped). Others we asked to test the phone all said the keys were well spaced enough to hit, but the lip got in the way of easy handling and therefore typing.

The slide out action of the keyboard is pleasing, and once again continues the premium feel - there's a nice click when fully extended. We're also pleased to see a D-Pad and select key included - while touchscreens might be great for video and the internet, they can be very fiddly when trying to edit text, and the D-Pad is a godsend in this case.

Motorola milestone

The outside of the phone is filled with your average buttons, with the 3.5mm headphone jack nicely flush with the chassis, and the power/lock key right next to it. This latter button is a little hard to hit, being located behind part of the screen, but you do get used to it over time.

Overall, the build quality is good enough, but very likely to polarise tastes - it's very industrial-looking, and the use of gold is a little bit of a gamble in our eyes, but at least all the bits we were looking for are present and correct.

In the box

Motorola has been obvious with its bundled gifts - an eco-friendly power cable is included, as well as a microUSB charger. There's an 8GB microSD card included too, with all the Motonav software on board as well as a nice place to keep all your media and suchlike.

Motorola milestone

As you might imagine, a pair of basic headphones which double as a hands free kit are included in the box - unless you're desperate to talk using a wire we can't imagine that you'll be using these too much as we'd advise using your own buds wherever possible.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.