Motorola ROKR iTunes phone introduced (updated) | iLounge News

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Motorola ROKR iTunes phone introduced (updated)

imageIn addition to the iPod nano and iTunes 5, Apple today introduced the long-awaited iTunes phone from Motorola. The new Motorola ROKR, which will be available exclusively through Cingular as expected, holds up to 100 songs and features a mobile iTunes player and dedicated music button to easily switch from phone to music and back again.

The Quad-band GSM/GPRS phone has a microSD (TransFlash) slot for up to 512MB of storage, a VGA Camera with 4x zoom, Bluetooth, a color display for viewing album art, and built-in dual-stereo speakers. It is incompatible with standard headphones, but comes with an adapter as well as a set of stereo headphones that also serve as a mobile headset with microphone.

Apple said users can randomly autofill or manually fill the phone with playlists of music, audiobooks and Podcasts from their iTunes library via a USB connection. The phone also pauses music automatically when users take a call.

The Motorola ROKR with iTunes pre-installed is available immediately for $249.99 with a two-year commitment. Pricing without contract was not immediately available.

“We’ve worked closely with Motorola to deliver the world’s best music experience on a mobile phone,? said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re also thrilled to be working with Cingular, the largest wireless carrier in the US, to bring this pioneering phone to market.?

“The ROKR brings music to the mobile phone in a way unlike any other, with the unrivaled ease of use that has become the signature of iTunes,? said Ed Zander, chairman and CEO of Motorola. “We predict that the ROKR is going to be a hit this holiday season.?

“We’re excited to be the first wireless carrier to offer the world’s first phone with iTunes to our customers nationwide,? said Ralph de la Vega, chief operating officer of Cingular Wireless. “This innovative product represents a world class handset, connected to a world class network, delivering a world class application.?

Update

We were not especially impressed with the ROKR phone, which is quite clearly a generic Motorola industrial design with an interface taken directly from the company’s recent V-series (V600, RAZR V3) phones rather than evolved and improved in any significant way. The integrated iTunes Client software feels like it has been grafted onto an existing phone - with all of its interface flaws - rather than evolved into a new phone design. Consequently, ROKR doesn’t feel as much like an iPod Phone as a phone that happens to play songs transferred from iTunes.

The headphones are silver in color and feature a clear cord with silver interior metal. Photographs of the phone showed orange, Cingular-style ear foams being used, but these foams were not available on the units on the show floor. You will be able to use your own headphones with an included 2.5mm to 3.5mm conversion cable, which will be short in length, Cingular’s representative said.

ROKR’s Bluetooth support is incomplete from a musical standpoint. According to a Cingular representative on the show floor, you cannot listen to music via Bluetooth headsets - a statement that we were surprised to hear, and may prove incorrect on special stereo headsets, but proved accurate on the monaural HS820 unit we brought for testing. However, audio played through the unit’s integrated speakers and included headphones sounded at least adequate. We’ll reserve final judgment for our upcoming review.

The biggest disappointment of the iTunes Phone (ROKR) was its interface, which primarily because of the baggage of the Motorola operating system was clunky and confusing. In attempting to demonstrate its ability to resume playback after a phone call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs could not get the feature to work, saying that he had pressed a wrong button. We found the same problem to be fairly common when using the handset in person, as Motorola’s own menus overlaid with Apple’s iTunes Client commands led to a less than satisfying overall experience. In retrospect, it was not a surprise to see that Apple is describing ROKR as an phone plus an iPod shuffle, as the experience is not nearly as good as a phone combined with a full-sized iPod or nano.

That said, most of the functionality of a color-screened iPod was present in ROKR. Album artwork, ratings, song scrubbing and volume were all available, but the implementation of each feature was far less precise than with the iPod’s Click Wheel. Volume stepped up in large jumps rather than smoothly, and the transitions between songs and from screen to screen of the interface were slower than iPod users are accustomed to. A small joystick permitted sort of iPod shuffle-like access to menu, track, and volume changes, and a dedicated iTunes button brought up the music functionality no matter where you were in the phone’s menus.

Update #2

Motorola said the phone would be available in the following countries:

U.K. – available first with Carphone Warehouse, expected in mid-September and then with O2, followed by Orange, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile and other top retailers through September and October
France – expected to be available by late September through key retailers
Italy – expected to be available by late September through key retailers
Germany – expected to be available through distributor and operator channels in 2H 05
Canada – expected to be available in mid- to late-September with Rogers Wireless
Hong Kong – expected to be available by late September through multiple retail outlets and operator channels
Australia, Singapore and the Philippines – expected to be available late September through early October through retail and operator channels
Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other markets throughout the world – expected to be available in the fourth quarter

« Apple unveils iPod nano (updated)

Apple releases iTunes 5 »

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Comments

1

wow…VERY disapointing.
it seems to me that they’ve got the function right, but forgotten what the word ‘design’ means.
for apple to make these ROKR phones a success, i think they need to kind of emulate the ipods styling. the ipod is successful for a reason, the function and the look.
Repeat: Function is there, but the styling is somewhere else.
Apple, design one of these in conjunction with motorola yourself and it could be big business.

Posted by Daniel Nicholls on September 7, 2005 at 12:28 PM (PDT)

2

Yes.. very very disapointing. 512 MB just doesn’t cut it for an iPod user. I want the choice of more than 10 cd’s on my phone or Podcasts for that matter.
Looks like they release it one phone to early just to beat the marked - so sad.

Posted by Thomas Juul on September 7, 2005 at 12:49 PM (PDT)

3

i really was expecting more from apple on this. the phone is very disappointing and i sadly say will not buy it. sony ericsson have a music phone out too( i’m not entirely sure if it is available in the US) and it is capable of holding at least 1gb of music along with an excellent screen and camera(2megapixels). the design of the phone is also much better and stylish. i think i will be buying the sony ericsson

Posted by jope on September 7, 2005 at 1:01 PM (PDT)

4

UGLY!

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 7, 2005 at 1:02 PM (PDT)

5

I have to admit that I don’t like this phone.  I waited since I need to upgrade my phone but this isn’t what I expected.  It they had a varity of models to chose from then it would be better.

Posted by honeybee1236 on September 7, 2005 at 1:06 PM (PDT)

6

im not dissapointed because I knew it was an itunes phone, not an IPOD phone. An itunes phone would just mean that it supports music and itunes. Not the most stylish phone but its still not that bad. It should come with more memory though.

Posted by willhockey16 on September 7, 2005 at 1:12 PM (PDT)

7

U G L Y

you aint got no alibi, you’re ugly

Posted by wecallitfall on September 7, 2005 at 1:16 PM (PDT)

8

Non-standard headphone jack?  Blech.  That was my biggest pet peeve of my old HP iPaq.  It’s not a deal-breaker but it is a pain.

Posted by OrangeWhip on September 7, 2005 at 1:28 PM (PDT)

9

Wow, good news since I just plunked down $$$ for my new Motorola V3 Razr this weekend. I’m good and can shed my anxiety attack from what I just read.

Posted by Jimbob on September 7, 2005 at 2:14 PM (PDT)

10

i don’t think they needed to wait for an event to show off a phone with iTunes.  Maybe if they showed off several phones that would use iTunes it would be more exciting and more people would be into it.

Posted by moneybags87 on September 7, 2005 at 2:21 PM (PDT)

11

Dude, I realy prefer the SonyEricsson W800 Walkman Phone!!! The SE is good looking and it’s camera has 2mp…A lot better than this “MotoPod”!!!

Posted by Rica on September 7, 2005 at 2:56 PM (PDT)

12

I went with the Ericsson W800i.  It has great integration, more capacity, and a 2MP camera.  But without a carrier supporting it in the US and lacking the 850MHz bandwith, it is a tough sell in the US.  With the right marketing/carrier support this phone could have whupped the ROKR in the US market.

Posted by Reggie on September 7, 2005 at 3:03 PM (PDT)

13

This phone is just a modified E398 with itunes. It has been rumoured/leaked on the net for some time.

I hate my E398, I will never get a Motorola again.

Apple should have gone with SonyEricsson. The new W800i (Walkman) based on the K750i, in an iPod iconic White, is what this phone should have been. Too bad for Apple.

Cant wait to get my W800i.

Posted by CrazyMac on September 7, 2005 at 3:55 PM (PDT)

14

Dude that’s a E398 with itunes software installed. All the features are the same. compare the pics:

ROXR—>http://212.213.255.72/keepthls/pics/motorola/motorola_rokr-e1_00.jpg

E398—>http://212.213.255.72/keepthls/pics/motorola/moe398_01.jpg

piece of crap phone. Nokia and Sony-ericcsson have better phones already out and even better ones scheduled.

Posted by B_G on September 7, 2005 at 4:03 PM (PDT)

15

What utter crap, to think Apple would sink so low as to rebrand a Motorola with iTunes. On the up side it means this shocking line of products doesn’t tarnish the good iPod name & can be easily dropped by Apple. Looks like Sony with their W800i have been handed the MP3/Mobile market, must be chuffed not to have any competition.

Wonder if anyone replies with a positive impression on this.

Posted by Mike on September 7, 2005 at 4:20 PM (PDT)

16

I’m sure someone will edit or update the firmware of the non iTunes E398 so that it can have iTunes. Just like you can now update your Razr to record video.

I’m not a fan of having to use SD cards for storage. Why didnt they just stick a 1GB flash HD in there? Then they’d sell crap loads.

Posted by Rob on September 7, 2005 at 4:27 PM (PDT)

17

Wow, what an incredible design disappointment! I cannot believe the king of ultimate industrial design (Steve Jobs) signed off on this re-branded Motorola turd. What was he thinking? With the wonderful asthetics of the iMac, iPods (Nano- cool!), then THIS eye sore? I don’t even care what the specs are, I’m not going near this. We waited patiently to be wowed by Apple with a elegant phone (like RAZR), and this is it?

I’ll probably get the Motorola PEBL.

Posted by Dave on September 7, 2005 at 6:25 PM (PDT)

18

what they should have done is released iTunes as an application for existing cell phones, this way more people could use it and we’re not stuck with a dumb phone thats already been released.

Posted by moneybags on September 7, 2005 at 11:27 PM (PDT)

19

A generic Moto candy bar; what WILL they think of repackaging next? Well, at least it’s got 4 times the cap that Forbes said it would have, though 4x nuthin’ is still nuthin’.

However, since the TransFlash card is removable it would seem that when higher cap cards become more available they should be easy to accommodate and take advantage of, unless I’m missing something. ‘Sides, I thought 512MB was supposed to accomodate 120 or so songs; so what’s taking over the space for the last 20 songs?

Posted by flatline response on September 8, 2005 at 12:33 AM (PDT)

20

Looks like a bar of soap, with just a bit more storage capability.

Posted by ape on September 8, 2005 at 5:02 AM (PDT)

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