Motorola PHOTON Q 4G LTE Review
The QWERTY is dying. Once considered a must-have feature on any top-tier smartphone, the QWERTY is beginning to fall by the wayside as touchscreen technology and keyboard software quickly advance. With the original DROID line moving towards mid-range, even Motorola opted for all touch devices on last year’s flagship devices in the Photon, the RAZR and the Atrix. They may have stuck with thin for the follow-up Atrix HD and the rumored forthcoming RAZR HD, but the sequel to the Photon has broken that trend and the Photon Q 4G LTE aims to offer one of the best QWERTY experience this side of Waterloo. Featuring laser-cut keys, individual LED backlighting and a full five rows, the Photon Q certainly makes a strong case for this fading piece of technology. Of course, a healthy feature set such as Android 4.0, 1.5GHz dual core processor, 4.3” ColorBoost display and an 8-megapixel camera don’t hurt the Photon Q’s case either. Read on to find out how the Photon Q compares to its all touch competition.
At first glance the Photon Q 4G LTE does not stray far from the original Photon design, retaining the same color scheme, screen size and funky corner design. Unfortunately Motorola did not carry over the kickstand to this new Photon, but that was likely at the expense of the Photon Q’s physical keyboard. Despite that, size is nearly identical too, with the Photon Q coming in just 1.5mm thicker and half an ounce heavier than the Photon.
You can compare the Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Sliding open the Photon Q reveals the large, 5-row QWERTY keypad. It is wonderfully constructed with adequate room between the keys, good tactile feedback and a natural layout. The laser-cut keys are each outlined with white LED backlighting that really pops even in bright light. There are plenty of extra keys, including directional arrows and a tab key. It may not be as good as the BlackBerry Bold, but the Photon Q’s keyboard is very good and is quite pleasant to type on.
Around the phone you’ll find the requisite physical buttons, including a camera shutter. They are styled like the original Photon and offer good travel. Next to the microUSB port is a microHDMI port, which seems a bit outdated in this day and age of MHL. The back has a soft-touch trim and a textured coating, making the Photon Q comfortable to hold.
battery and SIM card. We knocked the EVO 4G LTE for its fixed battery, but at least the EVO is super slim and the battery rated at a healthy 2000mAh. The Photon Q is far from thin and only has a 1785mAh battery. The fixed SIM means that while the Photon Q is a global device, it can only be used on Sprint’s terms. This means paying high international roaming rates versus popping in a local pre-paid SIM.
build quality from Motorola and the Photon Q does not disappoint. The phone feels very solid in the hand, and the spring-assisted slider mechanism glides smoothly while offering good initial resistance. There is a slight amount of wiggle at the top when the slide is closed, but not enough to worry us. All-in-all Motorola has done a good job refreshing the Photon design with the slide form factor, though we would have preferred a higher resolution display.
4.3” qHD display was top of the line. Unfortunately the same cannot be said today, and with the 4.7” HTC EVO 4G LTE and 4.8” Samsung Galaxy S III both sporting 720p HD displays in Sprint’s lineup the Photon Q’s display is a bit behind. The 256ppi though not into the 300+ range like the HTC and Samsung is still pretty good.
Like the Atrix HD, the Photon Q’s display features ColorBoost technology which promises to make colors more bright and vibrant. Motorola claims ColorBoost offers the color saturation of an OLED with the performance and efficiency of LCD. However they go about it, we will say that in spite of the lower resolution the screen is still very good, plenty bright and colors do indeed pop.
2. mas11 (Posts: 1003; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
Yeah I was expecting something more like an 8.5
6. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
yea, not get your hopes up. I Did :( and I got to play with it (I work at sprint) and its Mediocre.
7 is pretty accurate. Was very disappointed myself.
12. Izzy_V (Posts: 216; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
PA has been butchering reviews a lot lately, particularly those of non-Samsung devices with the exception of the N7. Too much S3 hype I suppose.
14. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
You kinda have to use it to know what they to see what they are talking about. If they rated the GS3 a 9.3 I think its very fair that this received 2.3 points less. Especially since they have the same price tag.
15. mas11 (Posts: 1003; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
But you should also take into consideration the market this phone is meant for. It's not a flagship device, it's just a high-end physical keyboard phone. I should be compared to other high-end physical keyboard phones, not superphones like the SGSIII and the One X.
18. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
very true. Not everybody has the same needs. This is aimed at Business people that travel outside the US and get frustrated at touchscreen typing.
For them this is a 9.9
but for the average user still a 7
47. user312 (Posts: 68; Member since: 21 Aug 2012)
I'm an average user and would would give the phone a 9 I've used it and it's amazing!
28. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
You should take into consideration that we want flagship specs and we had flagship specs in the Samsung Epic. So if you want to compare it to other sliders, compare it to that one. Samsung Epic, a Galaxy S slider that went toe to toe with EVERY SINGLE SLATE that was introduced around the same time including the tops from HTC (Evo and Incredible). So your argument is crap. We have been stuck with the Epic for TWO YEARS and we get a phone that would've been premium last year. It has a fixed anemic battery that is counterproductive to the business user especially with sprints non penetrating signal. It is not "global friendly" as Motorola points out since it will put you in the poor house should you use it when you travel. Sprint users are now stuck for two years with a phone that has last year specs and piss poor battery. Going to a fixed battery should provide more space to max out the battery like HTC did with the One. If you're going to go that route and skimp on the battery but keep the phone nice and bulky, you might as well gone with a replaceable battery and kept the kickstand.
Learn the market and the user next time.
19. downphoenix (Posts: 1987; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
Actually its very fair to compare it to those phones, since its being priced the same as them, but offers less phone for that money.
22. Commentator (Posts: 1868; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
Not necessarily. Everybody will put a different value on something depending on their needs. Somebody that needs a QWERTY keyboard may pay $200 for this phone, but wouldn't pay a cent for a GSIII. This is why number-ranking systems for reviews are worthless.
24. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2375; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)
same price tag.....True! but a 9.3 for the galaxy and a 7 for the photon?? come on dude the galaxy s has a HORRIBLE design and a HORRIBLE screen with a blueish tint...........If anything the S3 should have a 8.5 and phones like this should have a 8....becuase the photon has both good design and alot of power.......nuff said
25. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2800; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
A horrible design and bluish tint? My ass it does sir. Its slim, removable large battery, and a great super amoled display at 720p. Its the hottest and most popular cell phone there is right now.
I agree, this was a bad review and should have gotten a better score but come on, don't bash Samsung, they didn't review this phone.
26. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
Specs look good on paper but I go to a Sprint store and play with one 1st hand and you will see eXactly why it scored what it scored. At most this phone is a 7.5.
Anyone that thinks it should score over 8 has not seen it in person. For the same money I would get the EVO LTE or the GS3.
37. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
i've seen it in person and i'd give it a pretty solid 8.5.
it's got a very good design (MASSIVE improvement over the Photon) and great build quality, the display is okay, i don't know why they decided to stick with qHD for this but whatevz, maybe there'll be a Photon HD to complement this? anyway i digress, it's an okay display but it has a 4.3" display and on top of that (technically below that) it has the Droid 4's fantastic keyboard. you use this keyboard long enough and decide to give it up it'll be like you just got off of crack. i to this day think about having a relapse of that keyboard...and in terms of power this matches the heavy weights and that's all that really matters, the rest is pretty much subjective to your needs. i'd give up the higher resolution display for that keyboard though let me tell you.
29. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
A 7 is kind especially for users coming from the Epic. anemic battery compared to the Maxxx, and it's fixed to boot. SIM is fixed so it's useless overseas unless you have FU money. Design is still bulky considering the anemic embedded battery and SIM (space saving decisions even if they screw the customer). Last year's screen resolution while losing the physical buttons means your lackluster screen res takes a hit due to the onscreen buttons using your real estate. GS3 has 2gb of RAM. Business users multitask and are power users. They are used to having a flagship slider in the Epic. They waited over two years for a replacement. And this was the best Sprint could get them. A 7 is generous considering user expectation of a replacement.
45. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Unfortunately it probably doesn't mean I won't pick it up. Not like we have options. the LG will be even worse at WVGA. Love my Epic, but I'm in need of new tech and need a keyboard. Don't know how people work in Office with on screen typing.
40. Izzy_V (Posts: 216; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
Just to point out a few things:
1. The Razr Maxx was basically Moto's flagship at its time, hell I don't know why this phone was really expected to have that size battery given the it was gonna be a bit thicker because of the keyboard plus we didn't see it on the Atrix HD, shouldn't have expected it on this phone.
2. I'm mixed on international roaming since I wouldn't think many people who are on Sprint would be the kind to have the money to travel.
3. I hope you're not forgetting keyboards add bulk to phones.
4. "Last year's screen resolution" + "lackluster screen res" This sort of attitude makes me look down on some consumers because it shows how efficient companies are when it comes to convincing us newer means "must have". If a qHD screen isn't cutting it then you need to reevaluate your standards.
5. Comparing it to the S3 = read #4.
6. Business users would probably get a phone built for that kind of stuff but w/e.
7. "The best Sprint could give them" Sprint isn't the phone manufacturer last time I checked. It's not like they had the power to force Motorola to make a phone with a keyboard that could compete with the current top phones.
3. pats4thewin (Posts: 29; Member since: 10 Jul 2012)
i work at a sprint preferred retailer and we have activated a few out of my store, and im highly surprised a 7 is what this phone gets. I personally think that even though its a smaller screen size than the other phones to pick from (evo LTE, GS3) but it has a beautiful screen with the colorboost and i love the smartactions feature and the circles that motorola has started putting on their homepage to differentiate themselves. and the keyboard is good with smart placement of keys, and the only drawback ive seen is that the microphone dosent pick up your voice on calls if your phone is held farther than an inch away from your face. but thats better than me having to have my phone in speaker or use a bluetooth to even talk to someone! I personally have one on order and cant wait to use it and get rid of this evo shift (bleh)
just giving my two cents :)
7. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
Its not so much the screen size. Yes colorboost IS nice, but the Standard now is 1280x720 for hi-end phones and the ppi density is also low @ 256.
Yes its a world phone but the SIMcard is sealed inside the phone along with the battery which defeats the whole purpose.
I too work at sprint btw (prefered retailer) and holding this phone reminds me of the Epic :/
9. pats4thewin (Posts: 29; Member since: 10 Jul 2012)
i wouldnt have known any different i just love this phone haha.
10. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
On another sidenote, it is currently the best slider phone Sprint has, also it is better than the old Photon in every category. But the EVO LTE and SG3 are still better options
4. Commentator (Posts: 1868; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
Pardon my naivete, but why does the review state that the Photon Q's keyboard is every bit as good as the Titan II's keyboard when the Titan II doesn't even have one?
Also, Blackberry's keyboards are over-rated. The keys are tiny and uncomfortable to press. There, I said it! Come after me, tech-world...
5. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2952; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
Mr Brian K, what do you mean by "Two big disappointments with the phone is the fixed removable battery...."
Is there anything called FIXED removable battery???
8. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
lol that mustve been a typo. he probably meant Non-removable battery.
good catch xD
38. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
maybe the Droid 4's battery? it's removable but it voids your warranty to do so.
43. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2952; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
What's the purpose of having a removable battery if it can't be removed??
46. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
they made the back cover removable to be able to access the microSIM and microSD Card slots but the battery is sealed in by plastic wrapping. take it out, warranty voided. silly i know. it might have something to do with it staying water resistant.
52. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2952; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
Bugger!!!! I wouldn't want to buy that!!!
11. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 722; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)
MicroHDMI outdated?? Are you kidding me? The only reason MHL is popular is because manufacturers don't want to put another port on their phone. Its a great idea that fails in practice because it requires you to power the adapter, making you not even want to use it. Even consumers will tell you having a separate HDMI port is the way to go. Until they figure out a way to make an MHL port that doesn't require that, microHDMI is the clear winner.
21. downphoenix (Posts: 1987; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
Agreed. And its not like the port is very big. Lazy phone manufacturers is what not having the port means.
13. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2952; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
Oh, i was thinking about that too... Since when did having an HDMI port get outdated?
Are you from the future reviewing a present phone thinking of the past??
16. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
I think they mean because of what both Samsung and HTC are doing. there are adapters that plug into the microUSB. 90% never use the HDMI and confuse it with a charger port and jam their charger in there.
Personally: one port should be my data/charger/tv/audio port. One less hole in my device = one less hole in my case
17. mas11 (Posts: 1003; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
what if you wanna use the lapdock or charge your phone while sharing your screen, it does use up a lot of juice
20. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
If you notice HTC got rid of the extra HDMI port and Samsung doesnt use it either. This can all be done on one universal port, hence its name Universal Serial Bus
39. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
well it keeps me from having to buy a compatible adapter and the inclusion of the micro HDMI port makes it backwards compatible with the Webtop accessories and HDMI is way faster than DLNA, that's not as viable an alternative and mas brings up a good point.
58. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
The webtop dock was a fail. The Motorola rep even offered them to us at $99 since they didnt sell. I almost got one to sell on ebay.
you do make a valid point about HDMI being faster than DLNA though
59. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
well the gains for NOT making it backwards compatible don't outweigh the losses.
73. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
They will discontinue it...
Here's a link from the future, please do not click on it till 9/15/2012
74. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
oh well, the HDMI port still doesn't bother me. it still means one extra adapter you don't have to make sure you have.
42. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2952; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
I'd still choose HDMI over the single universal port...gives me more freedom and option of connectivity.
23. downphoenix (Posts: 1987; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
btw can you guys also review the Kyocera Rise? I know it will be crappy compared to this, but my wife wants a qwerty and feels the Photon Q is priced too high, so Im interested to see how the Rise is.
60. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
It is overpriced, We just got our Kyocera Rise in today and I was quite impressed. Ive never liked Kyoceras phones, but this is the first device I would ever recommend to anyone that needs a slider.
63. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
definitely not over the Photon Q, you should know as well as anybody that the cost of purchasing the device is insignificant compared to the cost of owning the device for the 2 years that you extend your contract by getting that subsidy.
64. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
overpriced... any way you want to look at it. Its your opinion against every review out there.
Not worth it and I agree 100% with PAs review and their 7 score. Your opinion does not matter because you will take Motorola to your grave. Its the only brand you like.
66. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5425; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
if it was between that and the Rise then i'd definitely pay the $200 because i don't want to have to pay the oodles of money i'd have to pay for my two year contract to get a price break on a cheap Pantech.
if it was between the Q and an SIII the choice would be subjective as far as what you want out of your daily driver but in terms of value the SIII has it beat because of it's resale value.
i'm just using my numbers here guy and you're right i probably would bring a Motorola to my grave that is until someone else improves enough to change my mind about that, i'm not closed minded, i like Samsung plenty actually and i even like HTC, not Sense but i like their Hardware so i would consider an HTC WP device since Motorola is clearly not an option there and their devices would probably pretty much have the same specs even if they were an option. Motorola is just really holding it down for me, it doesn't mean i dislike other companies that do a good job in one way or the other. just that i like one more overall.
27. the_dave (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Non-removable batteries is the worst trend in electronics.
I'm tired of my Epic 4G qwerty but I have a total of 4 batteries for it. They are small, go in a wall charger, and I can carry 1-2 extras in my pocket at all times. It is the best way to fly. I guess with this phone I could use an external USB battery pack but they are bulkier.
I admit I'm a bit of a niche user but ffs, if manufacturers can't make adequately-powered batteries for smartphones then at least let us swap them out.
30. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Your not as niche as you think. I have a few 1800mAh batteries and a few chargers. This is supposed to be a business class device and it's not very business like or productive to be tethered to a battery pack or ac outlet in the middle of the work day. I don't understand the bulky design yet the space saving embedded battery and sim card. I don't understand having an anemic sub 1800mAh battery or a 3500mAh battery but nothing in between. At least HTC threw a 2000mAh battery in there. Battery life is and has been a major Android issue/slash complaint. Why would they not address it in a 4th plus generation phone? It's also not very productive to have to buy a 2nd phone to travel overseas when you're spending $200 on a phone that is touted by Motorola as being "world friendly". What is world friendly about getting a phone bill for a week or two that will be roughly a quarter of the cost of the entire trip when you could pop in a $ 60 prepaid sim and get through your whole trip without refilling it?
48. Jimstar (Posts: 259; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)
Couple problems with your logic, "business class" does not mean "will replace your laptop". The key advantage to having that keyboard is that you can text more effectively, but that alone shouldn't and probably won't, drain your battery to the point of tethering you to a charger.
It isn't a "bulky" design. The only device of this description that is any thinner is the Droid4, no other qwerty slider is thinner.
And lastly if you're involved in a business, which requires you to go overseas and use your phone for anything important, they typically reimburse you for the fees you incur, which includes cell phone bills. So unless your job BLOWS the cost shouldn't be a problem.
It is world friendly in that you don't need to worry about finding a new SIM card at all or the specifics of what some pay as you go outfit allows. I guess you prefer the other approach sure, and honestly so do I, but you make what this has sound like pulling teeth when it honestly aint that bad.
50. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Sorry, but I already work extensively from my phone in documents to go. Why should I step backwords? These are convergence devices with plenty of horsepower to do most basic business functions. I've even done goto meetings on my phone and tablet. I create and edit various office docs, write lengthy emails and have serious sms conversations because the work environment doesn't dictate phone calls. Any of this would be a chore to break out the laptop. You need to step into the modern age and see how these devices can get utilized by today's "bussiness user" more importantly the road warrior types.
Bulky design is in reference to what was current over the last two years on top of the idea that embedding the battery and sim should provide space savings as well. There is more real estate on a two piece slider and there is more room without the casings for the battery and SIM for user accessibility along with larger removable battery cover. This should either allow for a slimmer overall design or room for a larger battery. There are neither of these. The Droid 4, a phone that is a year old is thinner with a slightly larger footprint. The footprint is less of a concern to being pocket friendly than the depth as it spreads out weight over a larger area where a smaller footprint and thicker device just concentrates it.
I'm a 1099, I pay my own bills, but that means i make more too. If I drop $2500 on an overseas trip I don't want an additional 1/5th of that cost in a phone bill that used to cost $60. And maybe you wouldn't care because it's not your money, but just because a business can pick up the tab, when you submit an expense report and your phone bill is now ten times more than it used to be and again a much larger portion of the overbill, that will send up red flags. Your attitude towards that is what is wrong with this world. It's not my money so what do I care what it costs.
So again, worldy friendly because it can is not the same as world friendly for the consumer. And these devices are marketed towards consumers and how they use the product.
31. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)
i love the keyboard on the Titan II! It was so awesome it disapeared
32. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)
well atleast the bootloader is unlockable...
33. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
at the expense of your warranty. Though I'm sure that can be worked around.
34. mickrussom (Posts: 6; Member since: 03 Aug 2012)
Obsolete garbage. No jelly bean. SIM is welded in place, battery is stupid-small and welded in place. Piece of utter garbage. Disgusting.
51. crogs (Posts: 7; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
A little harsh at least on the first point. There is no jelly bean in any non nexus device at the moment.
54. whoisnetworkdood (banned) (Posts: 27; Member since: 22 Aug 2012)
the big positive thing on this is that you can buy the phone and go to MOTO's website and unlock the bootloader.
62. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
aaand thats about the only good thing.
I wouldnt go as far as mickrussoms rant, but I was soooooo expecting this device to be better than it turned out to be. I went off in a similar rant when we got our training at Sprint for this device, however, I am over it. Its not that bad.
Best Slider at Sprint to date.
36. 12013E12T (Posts: 37; Member since: 08 Sep 2009)
Wow... a 7 is kind of surprising, I was expecting better. I mean, I can understand this being a 7 when compared to other super phones out there, but how does this compare to, say, upgrading from a Samsung Epic 4G?