Social networkers, you may have just found your phone.
Motorola's big-deal new phone is the only one here with a slide-out keyboard. But atop Google's Android phone software, Motorola has built an ingenious, if initially overwhelming, archipelago of social-networking "widgets" (little floating windows). Each reports the latest from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, with incoming text messages and e-mail notes — all on the Home screen. In one place, you get a complete picture of your online social network and can post your own updates, too.
Similarly, the address book fills itself with information and headshots from those online worlds, and the awesomely powerful History tab shows you a complete list of recent communications with each person: text messages, calls, e-mail and so on. (It's therefore simple to contact that person using any of these channels.)
And when someone calls — your brother, say — you see not only his photo, but also his latest status broadcasts from Twitter and Facebook. At the least, this display provides a built-in conversation starter; at best, you have advance warning about your caller's mood.
There's good news if you lose your phone, too. Motorola lets you locate the phone on a Web-based map, and even erase its memory by remote control — just like the iPhone.
If you're not that into online networking, the Cliq is a wasted opportunity. The slider keyboard makes the whole thing bulky, and the two halves feel as if they don't fit especially well together. The keyboard is plenty big, but something about the domed square keys makes it harder to type on than it should be.
And then, of course, there's the reliance on the T-Mobile network. Its tiny call coverage area and even tinier 3G (high-speed) Internet coverage area are recipes for disappointment.