Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Not too long ago Motorola was teetering on the brink of viability, but along came a little green robot and the company’s fortunes have changed drastically.  Sprint’s situation isn’t quite as bleak, but its hoping that their renewed partnership with Motorola helps turn the tide for the nation’s number three carrier.  They’re kicking things off with a bang with the Motorola Photon 4G, a beastly phone with a massive spec sheet.  Some of the highlights include a 4.3” qHD display, 1GHz dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 8-megapixel camera with 720p video capabilities and a kickstand.  The Photon is also a world phone with support for Sprint’s WiMAX 4G.  Included accessories are light: you simply get a microUSB cable and the AC adapter.


To be honest, the Photon 4G takes a lot of its design cues from the RAZR V9m.  From the dark gunmetal housing around the 4.3” display to the soft touch feel of the battery door the Photon 4G resembles the RAZR a lot.  Being one of the most beautiful flip phones ever it is not a bad source of inspiration.  The Photon 4G is definitely its own phone though.  It is large an unapologetic, but very well constructed and comfortable to use.

You can compare the Motorola Photon 4G with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

There once was a time that a 4.3” display would turn heads, but these days it has become passé.  Luckily the Photon 4G’s qHD display will still grab your attention by being brilliantly vivid, bright and crisp.  It has an above average viewing angle and we didn’t have much of an issue using it in direct light.

Motorola Photon 4G is very large, but feels well-balanced and natural in the hand.  Though angular at first sight, the back of the phone is rounded and that makes it more comfortable to hold.  The volume rocker and camera key are both ribbed, which makes them easy to find by touch and feedback is good when you activate the buttons.

Motorola not only upstaged HTC by including a kickstand on the Photon 4G, but they also included a sensor that launches the Widget Clock app, which is similar to a desk clock app.  The kickstand is very sturdy, which comes in handy.  The microUSB port is unfortunately on the left side of the phone, making it impossible to plug in when the kickstand is being used in the intended manner because it becomes the bottom.  The sturdiness of the kickstand allows the phone to be turned the other way however, an unintentional advantage to good construction.

All-in-all Motorola has done a good job with what is essentially another black slab device.  It’s hard to really differentiate yourself in an increasingly crowded market, but Motorola is letting the quality of their work stand out with the Photon 4G.

Motorola Photon 4G 360-degrees View:

More content with (PHOTON 4G)



1. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Wow, an Android phone that may actually be worth owning and *GASP* it's made by Motorola.

6. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

The DROID X got a 9.5 last year.

17. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

shh shhh...let him come to us.

32. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

So did the iPhone 4. What's your point?

34. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

that Motorola made a phone on Apple's level before.

41. JayQ330

Posts: 60; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

uh oh, here comes iphone man! always ready to throw iphone into the mix. even when a comment has nothing to do with the iphone! your a hero to all fanboys all over the nation mr.The_Miz... **smh**

19. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

That was both respectful and unexpected. Thanks for the open mind, Miz.

33. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

i give credit where credit is due.

23. rican

Posts: 132; Member since: Jul 02, 2011

i played with phone today and its by far the best phone ive ever played with. its smooth and very very well built, ive never liked blur but launcherpro fixes that, i would get this over the 3d anyday but im still waiting on the galaxy s

71. jake unregistered

I fail to see your excitement over any apple phone. I looked at the iphone4 and came to the conculsion that it was really just an ipod touch, both incapable of making calls. I suspect the iphone5 will remain the same dimensions and the "big" improvement will be that the phone will actually be able to make calls....................

2. Deacz unregistered

Yea maybe not since its a Motorola and that = horrible customer support. Slow updates on the software.

8. KingK unregistered

Actually they have quick software updates just depends on the carrier. Verizon is always fast with theirs for Droids. You must be in some non-US country to complain.

3. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

A 9? Wow. It doesn't look that impressive from the specs. Doesn't even do 1080p. Are we prepping the battlefield so that you can give the iPhone 5 a 10 in the event that its numbers aren't cutting edge?

4. xenover

Posts: 174; Member since: May 27, 2011

I'd give it a 8.5 for 720p video recording. An 8 mpx camera SHOULD be able to do it not to mention it has a dual-core processor.

5. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

What do you want to bet that the 1080p recording will come in a software update like it did for the Atrix?

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

it probably will, but at this stage in the game it shouldnt be an Update. Especially since its so far after the Atrix and that has already gotten the update. That said, I like the way the phone looks.. just enough to be different without looking nutty. BTW, the kickstand issue is easily fixed, u had the phone upside down on the kickstand.. it actually goes the other way. :)

14. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

with a 4.3 screen you will not tell the different between 720p and 1080p. 720p on a DSLR will a 100x person then one on a camera phone. So what is the point of having some like that?

24. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

HDMI mirroring to your HDTV will take advantage of 1080p. Agreed it's a small thing, but curious for a beasty phone from a manufacturer that has shipped many models with 1080p.

29. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

You better have a TV better then 32 in. HD recording suck big time compare to real camera. My friend DSLR take great look 720p video and I will put money that his 720p video is better then any 1080p video on a camera phone.

27. megamrambo

Posts: 37; Member since: Jul 19, 2010

Most average consumers do not know the Difference between HD and Full HD. All they car about is the HD. That is where phonearena is coning in at. And if the quality of the HD video is good then who cares. It actually works fine then!

50. JayQ330

Posts: 60; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

most phones with 1080p recording are always recording @ 30fps but its always stuttering & jumpy,detail in the background are always grainy & shows alot of noise in complex detailing like tree leaves & buildings *bricks* it turns out to be a gimmick & can be seen in recordings in youtube to see what i mean, cars pass by too fast for the recording to catch the video in every frame you get a frame skipping effect. try & find the youtube videos with the options of "1080p & original format" for those that would say its youtubes compression that degrades the video. also those DLNA & MHL connections with HD video output can only do 720p output so dont expect to watch 1080p videos from your phone unless you have a micro HDMI port. heres where it gets interesting for those that say *720p! they better catch up!* do some research & youll notice that the upscaling of 720p *which is a higher resolution than DVD format* & dvd are just as good as original 1080p depending on the upscaling software or hardware. so when recording @ 720p you dont get any frame skipping or stuttering nor any shaking effect,because the hardware & dualcore cpu's can actually handle the 720p's lower bandwidth processing & with the upscaling you get with the photon it turns out to be better than the 1080p that you get from these phones that stress out there hardware to levels that it cant sufficiently reach for 1080p thats worth recording. and of course most people fall for these gimmicks because they sound good & companies will put features that phones cant do properly,*gimmick* (3D isn't a gimmick!) they just want your money so why not? consider what i said & realize not only do you save battery,storage & get better video recording quality & detail..but you also have a company that actually cares about their reputation & there customers. build quality is always on the top list of motorola phones & were the only other phone makers besides nokia to use real xenon flash for there camera's although theyre both switching to the dual led setup.look back threw moto's past phones & youll see innovation,the moto razr was the first mobile phone to be a "fashion gadget" before iphone ever thought of thin,aluminum & glass, motorola had it & look at there smartphones...the only ones with built in touchpads & fingerprint scanners for unlocking your phone with security in a single swipe. sometimes there innovations are crazy but at least they try,the 1 year old *maybe older* atrix still has specs that are just being used on the latest super phones & even at that they dont use security & ease of fingerprint scanning for unlocking with password in a single swipe. i give motorola respect for being there from the beginning & after all this time they kept up with innovation.

7. Irad123

Posts: 32; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

A great phone. would've got it if it wasn't for my atrix, which is not that fast as the photon

9. sniperace

Posts: 95; Member since: Aug 20, 2009

News flash great phone ,but it only has 8 gigs of internal storage. How do you review a phone and not even check? and only 2 of the gigs can be used for storing apps.but still a good phone.

10. miikeyroks11 unregistered

As an owner of the phone is is still 16gbs of storage, but like every other smartphone with internal storage not all of it is user available- my Photon has 8.92 gigs of internal storage for media plus 2.9 gigs of app storage- so in all reality there is 11.82 gigs available to the user after all the UI customizations.

15. annonymous unregistered

it has 16 gigs, but 8 are dedicated to the phone and 8 for storage. of those 8 for the phone, 2 are for apps

11. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

If this phone came out with a single core processor, nobody would even look at it. That's how unimportant this phone almost is.

13. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

wow you can say that about any phone

21. kstagg

Posts: 7; Member since: Jul 04, 2011

What about Outlook Exchange Support? Worldphone capabilities? Yeah, you really thought that comment out.

16. theBankRobber unregistered

It's a very nice phone, I also like the fact I can use the webtop dock which at the Sprint store was fantastic. It looked like a Windows setup, it had a box you could minimize and full screen that is just the Android homescreen, and the rest of the screen was setup for whatever else like the web browsing. Really looked like a Windows OS setup, very nice in my eyes. The phone felt very solid and since you can pair the wiimote to the phone without root or changing the Rom is a deff plus in my book. But sadly I still have to wait until November for my next damn upgrade. Well enjoy the phone.

18. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

obviously this thing is faster than an EVO 3D but as far as the smoothness they exhibit the EVO 3D does win on that one luckily because it seems the Photon didn't get the extensive version of the Applications Platform that the Droid 3 has. my Droid 3 feels just as smooth as a EVO 3D and it puts out better benchmarks. why Motorola didn't put the more updated interface on the Photon i don't know, maybe it's a Tegra II issue. maybe it's a Verizon thing, i don't know but it's an injustice.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

  • Display 4.3" 540 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor NVIDIA Tegra 2, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1700 mAh(9.10h 3G talk time)

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