You can't possibly expect a device with a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard and a 3.7" screen to be small. The MILESTONE, standing at 115.8 x 60 x 13.7 mm, is about as compact as such a package will get, the relatively slim waistline a nice little bonus.
The metal construction and the host of features also take their toll to bring the weight all the way up to 165 g. We aren't complaining when increased weight results in a solid feel and likely durability, and the case here is exactly that.
The design of the Motorola MILESTONE has its ups and downs but the overall impression is solid. The metallic chassis is strong and confident, and the rubbery rear is a thoughtful decision on a device that does need a secure grip. Of course, the large and impressive screen also contributes to the phone's appeal.
The chin that forms below the display when the slider is closed looks nice - possibly a nod to the G1 proto-Android - but is not really logical. It does make access to the main on-screen controls a bit harder.
The 3.7-inch display dominates the MILESTONE front when the slider is closed. The capacitive touchscreen has the highest resolution currently available on the market - 854 x 480 pixels. Its image quality is also great with deep blacks (although no AMOLED deep) and high maximum brightness.
Since the Motorola MILESTONE is the first handset to run on the Android 2.0, it enjoys 16M-color support and no color banding issues. The 65K-color limitation is taking some of the fun out of the other Android displays (the XPERIA X10 probably having the most to lose) and it's good that the Open Handset Alliance solved that issue.
The sensitivity of the display is top notch but that is to be expected in a capacitive unit. Since there is no need to apply pressure, even the lightest of touches from your (bare!) fingers will do. Gloves and long nails are a no-go with the MILESTONE but that is the price you usually have to pay to get this kind of touchscreen experience.
We are also quite pleased with the sunlight legibility of the MILESTONE. It's enjoying near iPhone-grade levels and usability out in the open is top notch.
Below the display are the four touch-sensitive controls, typical for the Android platform. The four keys are Back, Menu, Home and Search. They're haptic enabled and very sensitive, so the transition to and from the touchscreen is seamless.
The left side of the Motorola MILESTONE is pretty bare the microUSB port being the only element here.
The right panel has the camera key and the volume rocker. The camera key is perfect in size and tactility but the volume rocker is a bit too flat and hard to press. This is not something to worry about considering that it isn't the most frequently used control anyway.
Jumping to the top we find the power/screen lock key and the 3.5mm audio jack.
Opening the slider reveals the four-row QWERTY keyboard and the D-pad. Having a D-pad here and a Menu key means that in most scenarios you can operate the device even without the touchscreen.
The keyboard itself is really comfortable with the keys large and tactile enough to allow quite quick typing. Frankly, we feel it would have been even better without the D-pad but there is a decent amount of space anyway.
The inconvenience rendered by the only-four-row layout is that each key needs to accommodate two different characters. Yet, with the two available Alt keys, there's always one right under a finger so it's no biggie.
The back of the Motorola MILESTONE features the 5 megapixel camera lens and the dual-LED flash. The loudspeaker grill is also here, right below the battery cover.
Opening the cover reveals the 1400 mAh Li-Ion BP6X battery. Quoted at 350 hours of standby time or 6 hours and a half of talk time it certainly sounds like a decent performer. We will have to spend a bit more time with the handset to comment on its real-life performance though.
The microSD card slot is also here but unfortunatelly it isn't hot-swappable. That means that you will have to power off your MILESTONE each time you change cards. On the positive side it has no trouble handling 16GB cards, which are the largest currently available on the market.
The general build quality of the Motorola MILESTONE is excellent and the handset's body looks quite durable. The abundance of metal certainly conveys the feeling that the device is built to last.