While it pains me to see, what could be a totally frivolous use of money on a device like a mobile phone in times of recession, I can’t help but feel a little completely and utterly envious of anyone who happens to own a handset as gorgeous as the Motorola Aura. If I had the kind of money to actually buy this handset I’d buy the Tata Nano instead, then again if I did have the money for it I’d probably own a fleet of Nanos. However, the Aura, is designed for those looking for a handset that caters to their tastes and not just features. Exclusivity and teh fact that it’s a work of art aside, the big question is the Aura really worth its Rs. 1,11,492 price tag? That’s what I’m here to tell you.

Form Factor
The Aura is the first and only handset to have a full 1.5-inch circular display that employs 16 million colors, 480 pixels in diameter and a 300 dpi resolution. This stunning display is safely nestling behind scratch-resistant 62-carat sapphire crystal. The curve of the glass makes the display even more visually appealing. Encased in Stainless steel with chemically etched textures, the Aura is a sophisticated handset that shows off class and although this may seem a bit off, a bit of distinction as well. The swivel outer panel is swung around by 130 precision ball bearings and Motorola guarantees the same grace at opening, even after 100,000 times of opening and closing it. While this may hold true, I did notice that the bottom of the keypad (lower level) seemed to loose a little color as it got scratched by the upper potion each time I opened the handset.

 
The scratched bottom of the keypad (circled).
The keypad is large and easy to use but sometimes the weight of the handset (141g) dopes make it a bit of an issue typing. The round navigation pad is only four way but all the relevant keys for activation and ‘returning’ to previous menus are close at hand. There are no other keys on the handset save the volume keys on the side that can also be used for zooming in with the camera. The other two viable buttons are merely for popping open the rear panel. 
The Aura is just a fancy phone that’s designed with a very unique blend of materials, a sophisticated look and feel and a brilliant display but underneath it’s a pretty standard Motorola handset with very, very standard features.
 
At the rear of the handset a transparent casing reveals three tungsten-carbide coated gears that assist in the handset’s panel rotation. The 2 megapixel camera’s lens is also plainly visible. You can see the gears in action while rotating the panel. A micro USB all-in-one port is located at the top of the handset. 
 
Features and Performance
I imagined the Aura basking in the glory of that blinding price tag to have features that would rival any phone anyone could come up with. However, at the crux of it, the Aura is just a fancy phone that’s designed with a very unique blend of materials, as mentioned, a sophisticated look and feel and one of THE most brilliant displays I’ve ever seen. Underneath that stainless steel exterior is a pretty standard Motorola handset with very, very standard features.

Interface
Although the UI has been designed to suite the round display it’s horribly sluggish most of the time. Multitasking is a b*t*h. With the audio player on in the back ground typing a simple message became a cumbersome task. Even with Motorola’s auto-complete feature, which is quite remarkable as is, I had already hit keys worth three full words before I had to stop and wait for the phone to catch up. Without anything running in the background, I was able to stay at least one and half word ahead of the handset.

 
The interface is simple though and not all that jazzy. The main menu system has simple icons and the sub menus are just the names of features that scroll up or down. The desktop uses specifically designed wall papers or simply expands an image from the photo gallery to suite the round display by cutting out the edges and centering on the middle of the picture. It manages to do this quite well, just make sure that the picture has enough space around the subject you wish the focus to be on.

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