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Motorola MPx200 Review

Revised on

Originally posted on November 2nd, 2003

AT&T and Motorola have come together to produce quite a combo of service and function.

The only problem with this threesome is AT&T. On November 3rd, 2003 I purchased one of these puppies myself to try out. From Nov. 3rd thru November 21st AT&T couldn't activate my phone. I called about 6 times and informed the rep that I'm doing a review on my site and that did help a bit, but the they couldn't get my phone turned on...

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to walk into a big retailer like BestBuy, buy a phone from a well know company like Motorola and then be held hostage by AT&T's inept IT department because of a software glitch! Well, the truth be known, the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) module from Siebel is what's causing AT&T's problems. Siebel has a good reputation but this major screw up is gonna cost em, I'll bet my hat on that! I'd love to know the details of the screw up and when I do, I'll post em here.

18 days to activate my phone...

Company spokesperson Mark Siegel for AT&T has quite a load on his desk these days. Thousands of unhappy customers and more potential unhappy current customers are waiting to activate their phones or make changes to their accounts. I can't imagine how many pissed off people have voiced their concerns about this. If you're one of them, you can contact Mark here at 908-696-4218 (office) - 646-256-1277 (wireless) and I have.

Anyway, I'm sure (hope) that AT&T can pull this rabbit out of their rear end because the wireless industry is a very competitive sector and AT&T doesn't need to run it like Jimmy's Chicken Shack in Tijuana. The other teams are right there waiting to scoop up and clean up after your screw up AT&T if you don't fix this.

So here's what I think so far of my NON-ACTIVATED AT&T MPx200...

I came into the office today [11-21-03] and my phone says AT&T Wireless on the screen instead of No Service. I guess AT&T noticed that I've landed in the top 10 for "mpx200 review" on the search engines.

Great phone, but below par service so far...


  • Smartphone 2002 Operating System, Upgradable to 2003.
  • 200MHz Intel XScale processor
  • tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900)
  • 32MB RAM 32MB ROM
  • One Secure Digital/MMC (not SDIO)
  • TFT 65k Screen, outside-monochrome
  • IrDA Port
  • Jog Dial with button
  • Talk time: up to 270 min. Standby time: up to 112 hours
  • USB charger, cradle, stereo headphones, mono hands free kit.
  • Windows Media Player (play tons of MP3s)
  • SMS, POP & IM messaging (cool)

I've had a lot of cell phones. I've also had all the services (Cingular was my worst) ranging from AT&T to Nextel. Nextel was pretty good for a phone. I also used the 2-way radio for a while but it soon fell out of favor when I saw my battery level drop faster than a baseball sized hale stone in a winter storm. Until today, the Nextel was my favorite.

I need a phone primarily to take calls from my clients that need help with their computers. Next it would be nice if I didn't have to carry a PDA around too. And if all the stars were lined up, maybe something I could store my notes, my documents, client log files for invoicing, a spreadsheet or two, and maybe a Audiobook to listen to in the car would really fit my day nicely. Oh and did I forget my entire Outlook database complete with inbox and calendar?

Enter the Motorola MPx200 Smartphone 2002. It's upgradable to newer versions of the OS just like the Pocket PC phone, and has all kinds of goodies.


Using the MPx200:

I waited almost 3 weeks for my phone to be activated, and on the day it was turned on by AT&T I was very excited as anyone would be who loves gadgets like this. My excitement was soon squelched when I made the first phone call to my wife. The call went through okay, but I noticed a slight hissing sound when no one was talking. First I thought it was my wife's phone at work, but there was no outside sounds that could cause that. I hung up and called my friend Jeff at home. I noticed it there as well. It's not that bad but definitely noticeable and something one might disregard. I called a client or two to make appointments for the next week and there it was again and again. Hmmm... damn it I thought... the first thing that came to mind was interference. I had also read in other forums discussing this phone and AT&T about a hissing sound when the backlight was on. I waited for the timer to turn off the backlight and it was still there. I guess I've discovered a new problems that maybe others haven't seen.

This issue brings to mind a problem my friend Jeff had with his LG phone on the Verizon network about a year ago. He was getting a bad signal and some static and it was driving him nuts. He went to the Verizon store and after about a week of several exchanges he finally got a phone that worked great and he still uses it to this day. He was somewhat jealous when he discovered I got the MPx200 but now he hold his nose in the air I'm sure...

Aside from the hissing sound, I noticed that my voicemail wasn't working by holding down the ((1)) key on the phone. I called AT&T and the rep told me how to configure it. And by the way, she couldn't get into my account to look up my voicemail number because... aahhheeemmm... the system was down again. If fact, she told me that it would be down until the 24th of November. She said that they have had 3 weeks of nothing but big big headaches with the system and that the IT department. promised that it'll all be working on the 24th because that's the deadline for the phone number portability feature to kick in... yeah... I've heard that so many times from MIS and IT departments that if I had a nickel for every time, I could build a life sized replica of the Golden Gate Bridge...

The menus are slow. It's no PocketPC at all when it comes to responsiveness. In fact, it can be a bit of a slowpoke. Sometimes while moving around in the menus, it'll get stuck or seem to lock up only to let go after about 5 or 6 seconds.

One of my favorite features is when a client I have a client on the phone, their record is shown along with a button to click on the Calendar to make an appointment. I can edit the notes and make or move an appointment. This is why I got the phone. I mainly want it for my calendar, that's it. If anything else works, or if I can somehow sync the calendar to a website where my clients can see or make or move and appointment, that would be the golden goose if you ask me.

I can't seem to get the SpeakerPhone to work... It would be nice but it's not that important.

I wanted to test the download speed so I downloaded a update from AT&T's options page. It was a 179kb download that took 3 minutes to download. It's no DSL...

[11.23.03] Bestbuy had a price drop on the phone from $299 to $199 so I went down and got my price adjustment.

(more to come......)


Pro's & Con's :

PRO: It's got those clickable raised buttons like a cellphone should, not those little surfboard buttons that teeter and pivot (i hate those) making it easy to dial and drive, not that I advocate that surely...

PRO: It has a SD/MMC memory slot that lets you get up to a 1 gigabyte memory chip to play MP3s or store lots of those company spreadsheets and documents. Motorola decided to go with a STANDARD usb cable that also doubles as a power source for charging the phone while it's syncing with MS ActiveSync. Nice perk I must say. Oh, did I say play MP3s?

PRO: Cool Jogdial on the side like a Blackberry!

PRO: Inferred Port for beaming files between phones or other devices also cool for syncing your data. Sure would be cool if some EE wizard out there could figure out a way to charge the phone through the IR port but I guess that's asking a bit much...

PRO: It comes with a very easy to connect cradle

PRO: Instant messaging with MSN Messenger, Yahoo or AOL.

PRO: Call timer while you're talking on the phone. Nice.

PRO: mono-headphones with a mic for handsfree phone operation

PRO: stereo headset with a curious looking mic/switch that hangs near your chin. This switch lets you stop listening to your MP3s (I assume) and answer the phone while jogging or riding your bike! Now this is kind'a cool! Don't you think? You might want to know that having both ears covered while driving is unlawful in a lot of states so watch out for those ticket happy glorified meter maids.

PRO: Microsoft Outlook connectivity. This is a major PRO! Man, I have all my contacts with notes, my calendar, tasks, and lots of data storage if you get a SD/MMC card for it.

PRO: Two chargers in one! Yes, you can setup your cradle at the office or home with the supplied usb cable to charge the phone when your computer is on and keep your AC adapter in your bag for when the battery drops when you're out and about. This is major cool to me.

PRO: Use your phone as a modem (nice I know) with these instructions direct from Motorola. [PDF]

PRO: Syncing. When you pop your phone in the cradle or use the usb cable, it syncs automatically (not like the Palm I had) and if you leave the MPx200 connected while you're at your desk any changes to your contact, calendar or tasks are sync'ed instantly. I can even watch myself change a appointment in Outlook on the calendar and see it disappear on the MPx200 screen as I move it to another date! Nice.

PRO: If your phone is not activated, the 911 emergency call works.

PRO: Nice alarm clock built in for traveling!

PRO: tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900) for going on vacation. It'll be a bit pricey but at least I have a communicator when I travel that works seemlessly. The MPx200 piggybacks with the Orange network in Europe meaning you'll be just fine.

PRO: SD Camera add-on is on the way! I heard from the guy at AT&T CS that there are not one but two companies currently designing a small add-on camera that fits in the SD memory slot. Cool.

PRO: Syncs over the air with Mobile Information Server 2002 or Exchange 2003. Mail is current. Don't have to have Outlook client running to get this to function. Mice.

PRO: You can check your voicemail from a landline phone without spending your minutes on your acount. Nice feature.

PRO/CON: 64K TFT screen. Its very easy to see in day or night but I found the menu(ing) to be a bit slow at times.

PRO/CON: Using the phone in the car at night is a bit disturbing because when you flip it open the brightness of the screen in a dark car really does get your attention and the attention of other drivers while your fumbling to dial. This might be a problem...

CON: AT&T's voicemail isn't as cool as others. When you call VM and start listening to messages, you can't delete a message while listening to it. For instance; when someone calls 3 or 5 times to ask the same question, you just wanna delete it... AT&T doesn't let you do this. You have to listen to the complete message. This is a major annoyance to me.
James writes: You can actually press "3" and if it doesn't work, press it again. This will fast forward a VM message so that you can press "7" to delete it or "9" to save it. This was a bit frustrating to me before I reread my VM reference card. Hope that helps. James

CON: As of November 13th, the only complain I have (and others in the Google forum) is the fact that the Caller ID is kind'a screwed up. Meaning... when a call comes in it can take 2 or 3 rings for the phone to pull up the record so you can see who it is... which kind'a defeats the purpose of Caller ID.

CON: Cellphone providers: so far it's just AT&T Wireless. I heard that Verizon won't offer this phone.

CON: Little clip covers that hide the headphone jack, and the SD/MMC memory slot seem a bit cheap. I would've liked to see those more rubber like ones (like on my Motorola i85) because I can imagine after a few dozen opening and closings of the covers that they will bend off exposing the innards of the electronics.

CON: VoiceRecorder doesn't seem to work. When you press the Jogdial on the upper left side of the phone, the instructions say that you can record a quick voice memo... I can't seem to get this to work.

CON: Battery Cover: This might be a problem. This phone uses a slim slide-up battery cover that seems like it won't last more than 2 or 3 drops of the phone before you'll need another one. I would suggest purchasing an extra one because I'll bet dollars to donuts it'll be broke before you know it.

CON: No belt clip: Mine didn't come with a belt clip. I hear that accessories are very hard to find for this puppy as well.

CON: Syncing is slower than a Pocket PC (ie. iPaq)

GET: ClearVue Document and Worksheet software to view Microsoft Word and Excel files.


Buying the Phone - this is for the big wigs at Best buy and AT&T (yes, I know they read this...)

On November 3rd, 2003 I went to the AT&T store in San Mateo California on El Camino Real to get the phone... the rep at the counter didn't know about the new phone nor did he have any brochures or anything... he checked with the manager and told me to check back in a couple of days while he was handing me his card... I handed him my card and informed him I was doing a review on about it and he said he'd call me... days go by and no phone call... way to go AT&T.

I thought I'd check out BestBuy...

I take off to the BestBuy in San Mateo California with a Sunday paper coupon in hand for a $50 rebate. I walked right in and approached a young man wearing a AT&T Wireless badge. He wasn't dressed like other BestBuy employees in the regular Blue Polo shirt, but in nice slakes and a shirt. I was already familiar with the MPx200 but I wanted to confirm a few things about the features of the phone and the price plans. I didn't get very far. I'm not faulting the young man, but if BestBuy is going to hire someone to rep the phones for a particular provider they should at least familiarize themselves with a brochure or something. He basically didn't know anything about the phone or the service levels, but he was wearing the AT&T badge... I guess it's better than setting up a life sized paper cut-out of a AT&T rep with a brochure cup... or maybe it isn't because it left me with a negative impression of AT&T and BestBuy albeit a small one.

Since I already knew I was going to try the phone and the service, I told them to wrap it up. BestBuy asks you to fill out a form with name and address, SSN, Drivers license right at the counter. I told the BestBuy employee that I'm not handing over my SSN and driver license right there with 50 people standing around on a piece of paper for the world to see. This is how your personal info get stolen kids. Retailers can ASK for your SSN and driver license but they can demand it for service. If they do, you tell them that it's against the law and they can do that. They can ask for it but not demand it. Don't be a fool and write down your personal info right there in a public place with who knows walking around. There be a more secure environment for this procedure. Retailers don't really care about this. As long at they get your account setup, forget about the privacy of your personal information! So, I gave a fake SSN and drivers (like I always do). I've done this with all my cellphone companies and I've never been refused a account. Besides, I always setup my bill to be paid by credit card so whey do they need it? Frickers! This is really a sore spot with me as you can tell...

So, I fiddle fart with the papers and begin to finish up the sale and pay for everything then the suggestive sell starts... here comes the extended warranty pitch... "Oh sir, you need to have an extended warranty because you such an idiot you might lose your phone or break it or maybe it'll be stolen..." I told them I wasn't interested and then another Blueshirt pops over and with wide open eyes (and a pretty face i might add) reiterates the same quote... I tell them once again I'm not interested... then another blueshirt at the register says " oh sir, we have people lose their phones all the time, this is a really good deal..." then I said, okay, provide me with a list of people who've lost there phones compared to those who haven't and if what you're saying is true, I'll buy it based on what your are saying is true. "oh, we don't have access to that information...". I then said, then if you can't prove what your telling me and substantiate your claim, then I can't buy your warranty. You understand don't you? Why would I act on your information based on a false data? "Oh sir, it's true. We have people use their warranty all the time". Hmmm, I said. If that true them you must be losing lots of money on those warranties... "oh sir, we don't make any money on the warranty..."

Keep in mind folks, these are just a bunch of part-timers, and students doing what they're told by the manager, don't blame them, I don't.


The phone is cool, not great, but a heck of a lot better than carrying a blackberry, a PDA and a phone around. The fact that I can have all my client notes, my todo's, my calendar, all that stuff a on the move consultant needs to manage their day.

The service, namely, AT&T Wireless (on GSM) is way below par. I'm lucky to finish one phone call without a hissing sound, choppy transmission, or a disconnect. Compared to my Nextel service in the bay area using my Motorola i85 phone, this combo is in my opinion, not reliable a good part of the time. I didn't get a signal at home and I live in a very populated area (Burlingame CA) of the bay area.

The phone works most of the time in downtown San Francisco and in general, but it's a far far cry from my very reliable Nextel. I still have my Nextel phone for backup. I am also keeping it to compare the signals and drop-off phone calls. It's almost as bad as my old Cingular service and phone.

The AT&T customer service people are very courteous and helpful, more so than the Nextel people I've communicated with.

[12-08-03] I returned the MPx200 today back to BestBuy. They did the return with no flack at all, in fact, it seemed like they were glad to take it back.
On the following day I called AT&T to cancel the service. They didnt even ask me about when I bought it or anything about contracts.

I hear that in August of 04 Motorola is coming out with a new Smartphone 2003. In fact, I know Nextel is going to offer this phone on their service.

The phone (MPX200):

AT&T Wireless on GSM:


Michael Chukov


Hint's, Tip's & Traps

How do I completely erase everything in the phone?
Hold the blue nav button on the upper middle of the phone while pressing the power button.

Can I use my phone with another carrier?
Most likely, no. When Cell Phone companies make the phones, they "lock" them so they can't be used on another service provider. If you're nice, you may get the provider to "unlock" it for you.


Click to enlarge any pic

click to enlarge




One for MP3 and One for yacking

MPx Knickers


Power up Screens

Installation CD comes with Outlook and ActiveSync 3.6

MPx200 Left Side

SD/MMC & Headset Jack

Bottom with USB connector

MPx top (the hinge)

The back

Size Reference


Microsoft SmartPhone

Motorola MPx200 Options page

Motorola MPx200 Accessories

AT&T Wireless/MPx200

ActiveSync 3.7.1

Microsoft Presspass/MPx200

AT&T/MPx200 Customer Center
Customize Your MPx200

Great USB Cable for travel
A must have

AT&T Announcement of MPx200
Press Release