Motorola MILESTONE XT720 Review

Interface:

There is no real MOTOBLUR on the Motorola MILESTONE XT720, therefore it doesn't incorporate its custom widgets. What you’re left with is a relatively undisturbed iteration of Android 2.1 with tweaks being skin deep. Operation works as we would have expected with five home-screens which can be populated as the user sees fit by Android widgets and shortcuts, a pull-down  status bar at the top containing notifications, battery life, reception, connection type and clock, a dialler icon on the bottom left, a messaging icon on the bottom right and finally, between these two, a pull-up menu with your apps. While we will come onto the subject of the processor a little later in the review, it is worthwhile mentioning that while the interface is perfectly well put together, sadly, operation isn’t entirely smooth due to the lack of processing power underneath the Motorola MILESTONE XT720’s hood.


Everything regarding the phonebook, calendar and messaging apps is standard for Android, so no surprises there.

Camera and Multimedia:

After reeling from the wonderful screen, we were very excited to use the camera. At 8MP with auto-focus and a xenon-flash, the specs are stacked in the MILESTONE XT720’s favour. As for the results, it fares better than most phones on the market, especially Android phones, though overall, not as good as we might have hoped. The interface options are comprehensive, with a range of scene modes (auto, portrait, landscape, sport, night, sunset and macro) and the option to shoot at different resolutions ( 8MP wide, 5MP, 3MP, 2MP, 1MP and VGA), as well as the ability to manually select the point of focus by tapping on the screen. When taking a picture lag can be an issue, especially when multi-tasking, and when using the xenon flash. On the subject of the flash, it’s great. Able to illuminate even pitch black situations much better and more evenly than LEDs, it makes the XT720 usable as a camera in  a whole range of situations standard phone cameras would simply under-perform. The on-board processor over-softens the image, ultimately producing less noise, but considerably less detail in the final version to the point that it can even turn gradients into bands of colour. This is always noticeable, however, especially so when shooting macro-shots, where detail is paramount. On the other-hand, this softening means that noise is less of a hindrance than it might be on other handsets, so our advice would be to take a look at the sample images and decide if the results are sharp enough for you.




As for video-recording, the HD recording isn’t very useful. It only managed remotely smooth capture after we terminated all background applications which is very impractical. Due to the nature of the xenon flash being onboard, there is no video-light, and so noise in video was a real issue. This is a shame as much older devices such as the Samsung OMNIA HD i8910 capture HD video at a better frame-rate and also performs considerably better in low light. Still, you'll be able to record some decently-smooth video in 720x480 pixels at 24fps.





In contrast, the music experience of the Motorola MILESTONE XT720 is among the best we’ve seen on an Android device. When viewing albums, the music player displays a cover-flow like view in landscape mode, and a simple list when in portrait. It is smooth, and one of the few features in the phone that doesn’t noticeably suffer from lag caused by the processor. Plugging in a pair of good quality headphones produces a great sound both when playing back audio files and when using the on-board radio (reception depending).



With a 3.7” screen that pops, we were excited to experience video on the Motorola MILESTONE XT270. Supported video codecs are MP4, H.264 and WMV. Out of the box the phone provides MP4 support for videos up to its native resolution (480x854), and these videos look stunning. The screen size and brightness make viewing video a treat, except for in direct sunlight, where the glossy screen causes too much reflection. For playback of other formats such as DivX and Xvid, third party media players such as arcMedia player can be downloaded. It is worth noting, that large videos in these formats will have to be resized in order to playback smoothly due to the processor’s limitations.

Connectivity and Data:

With quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G on board, the MILESTONE XT720 also adds Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 and a GPS to its list of connectivity options.

Browsing the web on the phone is great, which is to be expected from a 3.7” Android device with such good resolution screen. Multi-touch worked well, and pages are displayed in Android’s default browser quickly and accurately. When using the pinch to zoom with tasks running in the background, the phone stutters more than on most Android handsets, however this isn’t enough to ruin the great web experience provided by the Motorola MILESTONE XT720’s large, sharp and bright screen.


The phone also comes with Google’s navigation software, as well as a trial version of Motorola’s Motonav.

Software:

With Android 2.1 on board, we expected Motorola’s MOTOBLUR to be hard-wired into the device, however, Motorola has chosen not to incorporate MOTOBLUR into the MILESTONE XT720. They have however included one of our personal favourite customisations, Phone Portal, which allows users to control their phone with a computer through Wi-Fi within a web browser (Firefox and Internet Explorer are supported), omitting the need for both a USB connection and PC software. For productivity, the phone also comes with Quickoffice and the standard Android calendar and organizer functions such as a calculator, notepad and alarm clock. Unlike some other Android handsets, the Motorola MILESTONE XT720 also ships with a very comprehensive task manager and task killer, which lends to assist the slow processor by enabling manual termination of background apps.


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15 Comments

1. N86 unregistered

Oh noo - very very bad photos compared to N86. Is this 8 megapixels or 2 ?? Weak flash...

2. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

I enjoyed the review. I've been waiting for this phone to come out on Tmo for months when I heard the XT720 went through the FCC with Tmo bands. Sadly this handset is never coming to Tmo, but it did launch with Cinncinati Bell, and also Newegg carries it unlocked. Problem is I don't live anywhere near Cinncinati, and paying $500+ for this phone cannot be justified when I can get a Vibrant on Craigslist for $350. Sucks cus I really like my Cliq XT and Motoblur, I just want a bigger screen and more powerful processor. Which I guess this one doesn't REALLY have, even 720mhz on an American version is a little skimpy when compared to $350 1ghz Vibrants. Another thing I found odd is that if you look at Motorolas North American Phone site they don't list the XT720. Which they should cus a regional carrier has them, but also cus they sell them unlocked. No love for the XT720, which is too bad, I'd have liked to get one subsidised through Tmo. I think you guys should have grabbed one from Cincinnati Bell and did a review of one an American will actually own. Cus I'm sure more people are buying these through C Bell than unlocked.

3. trentsinmypants

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 29, 2009

yikes.....is that motoblur I see running? (O_o)

4. Aryp unregistered

nope, this phone does not run MotoBlur on it.

5. vinsterdamus

Posts: 58; Member since: Feb 20, 2010

haha if this isn't motoblur then it's also not android :P Everything in the interface screams motoblur so please believe it son. (don't mean it in a bad way)

6. Aryp unregistered

i'm using one right now. isn't MotoBlur is those where they those Social Networking widgets on it?

13. johndru unregistered

yes it isn't MotoBlur. Just a stylish UI similar to "the blur". LOL.

7. cristianer

Posts: 42; Member since: Aug 20, 2010

Photos are really bad. My N73 takes better photos with 3.2mp

8. B unregistered

http://www.engadget.com/2010/09/19/motorola-europe-repents-restores-milestone-xt720-cpu-to-720mhz/ European version to receive software update to unlock it's 720MHz processing power.

9. Aryp unregistered

Singaporean's users also have received the firmware update.

10. cristianer

Posts: 42; Member since: Aug 20, 2010

Someone knows when milestone 2 is in the market?

11. OverRatedChild unregistered

Wow. This has EXACTLY the same photo qaulity as my super old Nokia 5320, which has a 2MP camera. really, wow. I almost feel as if Motorola just put in a 2mp camera and simply labelled it 8mp; and when questioned, they'll probably reply: "8MP Camera? What, no! It has 8 Mediocre Pixels! 4 Mediocre Pixels = 1 Mega pixel! This is the latest in phone camera technology! We at Motorola hope that people will enjoy this new form of measurement!" Leads to applause from easily-willed masses (Same guy's who think iPhone 4/3GS is better than every other phone on the planet).

14. johndru unregistered

my previous Motorola ZN5 (5mp kodak lens) can take way way better pictures than my xt720. It's like the original Milestone and this have the same camera module. They just upscaled to "8" and placed a xenon. lol

12. johndru unregistered

Just bought this recently and I'm loving most part of it. It's like my previous Milestone with better camera BUT don't expect it to be as good as Samsung Pixon12 in terms of image quality. I'd still say Pixon12 is the KING for cameraphones. Enough of the N8's marketing jig. Colors are too pale. The heck with the larger sensor. Is it really that large and significant? sheesh. Anyway, good job Motorola for challenging Samsung/HTC on the Android world. A little more and you might return to the top.

15. guest unregistered

@johndru , N8's image quality tend to be realistic not overly saturated. Please make your facts straight.
MILESTONE XT720
  • Display 3.7" 480 x 854 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP
  • Processor TI OMAP3430, Single core, 720 MHz
  • Storage 0.256 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1390 mAh(4.50h 3G talk time)

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