Motorola Admiral Review

Introduction and Design

Attention Nextel subscribers who have been patiently waiting for a smartphone not shackled to the painfully slow iDEN network, this one’s for you. The Motorola Admiral is Sprint’s first smartphone running Push-to-Talk on the company’s CDMA network. This Android device runs Gingerbread, sports a portrait QWERTY keyboard, a 5 megapixel camera with HD recording all wrapped in a rugged body. This upgrade to the Titanium brings better specs all around including a 1.2GHz processor and 4GB of internal memory. Included with the Admiral you’ll get the 1860mAh battery, microUSB cable and AC adapter.


We’ve seen a handful of portrait QWERTY Android devices from Motorola and the Admiral is the best design yet.  It is a bit more rounded, a millimeter thinner and half an ounce lighter than the others which all add up to an improved feel. The keyboard is an excellent blend of firm and soft; to activate a key you need to press just hard enough, but once the key is activated it finishes with a pop and a nice soft feel. We were able to type quickly and accurately on it, and we think business users will love this redesign.

You can compare the Motorola Admiral with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The screen remains at 3.1”, but the resolution jumps from 320x480 to 480x640. The screen isn’t among the elites, but the better resolution is noticeable and just makes things look better and more refined. It will wash out in bright light, but has good brightness and overall is easy to read. The capacitive buttons below are responsive, and the physical buttons around the Admiral (including a dedicated camera key) offer good response when pressed.

Like the Titanium, the Admiral is Military Spec 810G for dust, shock, vibration, solar radiation, low pressure and high/low temperatures. Unfortunately it does not have the “splash proof” coating found on the DROID RAZR and promised by Motorola for future devices. The battery door is coated with soft touch paint and has a nibbed texture, and with the angled back it fits comfortably in the hands.

Motorola Admiral 360-degrees View:

Interface and Software:

The Motorola Admiral runs Android 2.3.5 with Motorola Blur on top. The Admiral is not a SprintID device, but otherwise the interface is the exact same as the Photon 4G, so check out our review for a more in-depth look. With a 1.2GHz Snapdragon S2 processor and 512MB of RAM the Admiral runs very smoothly, something the Titanium struggled with. Quadrant scores were in the 2400s, which is pretty good considering the EVO Design 4G with the same processor and more memory only scored in the 1700s (Disclaimer: those scores don’t necessarily mean anything.)

Motorola includes a decent amount of pre-installed apps, such as their file manager, DLNA app and Phone Portal. You’ll find the standard Sprint apps as well, many of which are uninstallable. Quick Office Pro is included and will handle any Office file or PDF that you throw at it. There is 4GB total of internal memory on the Admiral, about 850MB of which are dedicated to apps and another 1.3GB can be used for file storage. Though it doesn’t ship with any card, the Admiral can take microSD cards up to 32GB.


Motorola has opted for the stock Android browser with the Admiral. All the gestures you’d expect are in play, and in general it runs smooth although there are inconsequential stutters here and there. Our homepage loaded quite quickly. The Admiral is a tri-band CDMA device running off of Sprint’s 3G EVDO Rev. A network with support for the Sprint Hotspot feature. It also uses Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR with support for the HSP, HFP, PBA, OPP, A2DP, AVRC and HID profiles.


The 5 megapixel camera did an OK job in strong, natural lighting but wasn’t so great otherwise. If you’re outdoors on a sunny day you can capture images that have decent detail and slightly-oversaturated colors, but indoors in any lighting the images become more and more grainy as the light decreases. The flash did a good job of lighting up the room, but also turned images yellow. Options are sparse with a few scenes and effects to select from and a panorama mode. Video options are even more restricted, but quality was good enough to share videos among friends and post on YouTube with.

Motorola Admiral Sample Video:

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Motorola uses their own music player which incorporates both your local music library with podcasts and internet radio. The first time we fired up Norwegian Wood it gave us the lyrics as the song played, but it hasn’t done that since and oddly we can’t find a setting for it anywhere. The player is a definite step up over the stock Android experience, and with so much integration is probably the best “standard” music player out there. It doesn’t, however, incorporate cloud services which holds it back.


This is the second time Sprint has tried to move Direct Connect onto the EVDO network, and so far the results are much better this time around. Initial DC setup (one-time) took a minute or two, but once the phone was provisioned calls connected in under a second and once the conversation was going it was instant. We interfaced with an iDEN device and it was seamless. The caller noted how good the voice quality was and did not have any problems holding a conversation with us. On our end the beginning of a sentence was cut off a few times, but this is often a result of someone not waiting until the DC has connected to start their sentence. They didn’t sound perfect, but they sounded good and they were on an iDEN phone which isn’t known for voice quality.

Voice quality on regular calls was just as good if not better, with callers saying we were nearly as good as a landline. They had no complaints, saying that we were clear and our voice sounded natural.  To us they sounded just as good, and overall the phone got rated 9/10. The battery is rated for a healthy 9 hours of talk time with over 3 days of standby.


The Motorola Admiral is a middle-of-the-pack device in Sprint’s lineup, but it has its significant strengths. The keyboard is great, feel and build quality are very good and the Admiral is the first Direct Connect smartphone that you can actually use data with. Even if the DC service isn’t for you, this is the best portrait Android device that we’ve used thanks to the well thought out design and the Military Spec trimmings. Great call performance, battery life and operating smoothness make the Admiral a worthy phone to find both in boardrooms and construction sites alike.

SW: 2.3.5
Build: 5.5.1Q-117_PAX-15
System version: 55.11.15.XT603.Sprint.en.US

Motorola Admiral Video Review:


  • Great keyboard
  • Good overall design with Military Spec toughness
  • Quick OS performance
  • Great call quality and battery life


  • Camera underperforms
  • Some water resistance would be nice

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

5 Reviews

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