Menu/phone book: As is the case with many Motorola cell phones, the menus interface is intuitive, requiring only a couple of steps to access most of the Mings features. This cell phone sports a touch screen, so everything you want to do is a just a tap away. The bottom of the screen serves as sort of a task bar with shortcut keys to the most recently used features; the top of the screen doesnt change. The button in the upper left of the screen with four circles on it (the image looks a little like the bubblet game found on some Windows Mobile smart phones) provides access to the main menu. Theres also one-touch access to the phone book, creating messages, and using the phone. Once you master these buttons, understanding the rest of the icons on the cell phone becomes second nature. In the main menu, just about everything is in English except a few applications that are strictly in Chinese. That said, its pretty easy to figure out those apps. While you can run multiple applications at once, if you dont close them and have too many open, theres little you can do with the cell phone until you close a few.
Entering and saving numbers (theres room for 4 phone numbers for each contact) is easy. Additionally, you can save birthday info, anniversary dates, a Web address, and a physical address for every contact on your cell phone and dedicate a song stored in memory as a ringtone.
Camera/video: The Motorola Ming sports a 2-megapixel camera, and it can record videos. Although the Ming lacks a flash, we doubt that having one would enhance picture quality much. About that: Picture quality isnt the best. Most images came out pretty blurry. Video quality isnt much better, but at least you can see whats happening on the screen. Additionally, if you want to save a lot of photos and music, youll need an optional MicroSD card storage card since the cell phone has only 8MB of internal storage, which can fill up quickly depending on what else you have saved on the Ming. You can snap pictures by selecting Capture on the screen in the camera mode or pressing the button located on the side of the cell phone with a camera icon on it. Theres also a tiny mirror underneath the lens on the back of the cell phone for snapping self-portraits.
The good news is that this cell phone offers many tools for enhancing picture quality. Theres brightness, zoom, night mode, and the ability to snap in black and white mode, among others. In addition to the many settings for taking pictures already available on the camera, you can edit images with the included Photo Editor. In this application, you can crop pictures and even add writing or draw circles and lines on photos to point out specific objects in the image. If youre not a fan of the pics you snap with the integrated camera, you can connect the Motorola Ming to a computer via the included mini-USB-to-USB cable and upload a few of your own favorite images to the cell phone.
Music: There are a couple of ways to listen to music on the Motorola Ming. First, theres a radio application that you can use to hear local FM stations. While you will need to plug in the headset to use this feature, you can still select the radio to be played over the cell phones speakers. The other option for playing back music is in the RealPlayer application, entitled Media on the main menu. Once in this application, you can create playlists and play music, but there isnt much you can do to adjust audio quality. The good news is that you probably wont have to since playback of songs is pretty impressive. You can play AAC (Apples music file format), WMA (Windows music file format), and MP3 files. If you plan on storing more than two or three songs on the cell phone, youll want to purchase an optional MicroSD card, since the Ming has only 8MB of internal memory, which is simply not enough for more than a few songs.
You can get music onto the phone using the USB-to-mini-USB cable, then drag and drop songs from your computer onto the cell phone. You can also store tunes from your PC on a MicroSD card, then slip it into the MicroSD slot located beneath the battery cover on the back of the Motorola cell phone.
Connectivity/Bluetooth: We were able to pair the Motorola cell phone with a Motorola H680 Bluetooth headset and an Apple iBook G4.
Look and feel: In a word, the Motorola Ming just looks cool. Its definitely one of those cell phones that everyone will want to see or ask about whenever its revealed in public. Its got a charcoal-gray plastic covering that flips open to reveal the cell phones touch screen. The back of the cell phone is slightly rubberized (like the Pebl's). While the Motorola Ming isnt exactly what we would call small (on a par with the Motorola Krzr), its definitely compact and fits easily into a pant pocket or small purse without creating too much of a bulge. Our least favorite design aspect is the location of the voice record button; we often pressed it while on a call or when we flipped open the cell phone with one hand. As a result, we ended up recording way too many of our conversations.
The display is bright but not nearly as crisp as, say, the Samsung A990's. Since the screen is slightly recessed, it doesnt attract as much grease and fingerprints as many cell phones available today. As noted, the cell phone sports a touch screen, which is responsive to the touch of a fingernail or the included stylus. The Motorola Ming will accept an optional MicroSD card; however, figuring out where to insert the card isnt immediately obvious since its hidden behind the cell phone battery.
Keypad: The touch-sensitive grey keypad sits on a bright white screen, so dialing in the dark isnt an issue. Neither is accidentally dialing the wrong number. Additionally, when you want to compose a text message, a pop-up keyboard will appear on the screen. The good news is that the predictive text software included in the Ming is pretty accurate, so you wont have to peck out all the letters of a particular message yourself. The bad news is that the keyboard is on the tiny side, so accuracy takes a hit if youre trying to tap out messages with just your fingernail.