Google’s Android operating system is clearly designed for touch input. Everything from the large buttons to the swipe and pinch gesture support built into the OS are designed to be used with your fingers. But the thing about an open source operating system is that you can customize it any way you want. I’ve seen a handful of laptops running Android without touchscreens. And now Motorola has launched a phone which appears to be running Android without a touchscreen.
The Motorola i886 has a 2.2 inch display which is not touch-sensitive. But the main screen looks awfully Android-like, with a clock widget, status bar, and virtual home screens which you can flip between. PC Magazine calls it “fake Android,” but the folks at Phone Scoop dug a little deeper and found an app drawer and settings menu that certainly looks like Android.
Instead of reaching out to tap the screen, you navigate through the menus with a directional pad below the screen. Instead of the Android web browser, the phone includes Opera Mini, which is designed to run on a wide range of devices, including those without touchscreen displays. Phone Scoop says it looks like this is the Java-based version of Opera Mini, and that the phone is designed to run Java applets rather than normal Android apps.
It sounds like you don’t get all of the advantages of Android with a phone like the Motorola i886, since there’s no access to the Android Market or some of Google’s more robust apps. But I suppose if you’re looking for a ruggedized phone with the ability to run some apps and a somewhat modern user experience, the i886 might be worth a look. At the very least, it provides a decent example of just how many different ways Android can be used.