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Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Motorola PHOTON 4G

Posted: , posted by Brian K.

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Interface and Software:

When we did our unboxing of the Motorola Photon 4G we mentioned that it featured SprintID but otherwise was stock Android  (as previous SprintID devices have been.)  We jumped the gun on that though, as the Photon 4G definitely runs Motorola’s customized version of Android.  This isn’t quite Blur, but the widgets and icons are taken straight from what we’ve seen from Motorola in the past.  They have their own style for sure, love it or hate it.

There isn’t anything too different about what Motorola has done with the software.  The dock has 4 icons, 3 of which are user customizable with the fourth being the app drawer.  In there the apps can be grouped into pre-existing or customized groups.  There is also a static link to the Market while the app drawer is open.  There are seven homescreens with the familiar Motorola widgets available, and they can be viewed in a consolidated view (like we originally saw in Sense) by double tapping home.  Unfortunately there has been no customization to the notification drawer like we have seen from Samsung and HTC.

The interface of the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
The interface of the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
The interface of the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
The interface of the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

We’ve seen an effort by Sprint to reduce bloatware on phones, and not only is there very little on the Photon 4G but most of what is there is uninstallable.  Motorola has added some of their own apps like a task pad, task manager and their familiar Social Networking app.  There is a generous 2GB available for app storage.

Dialer - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Contacts - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Messaging - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Dialer

Contacts

Messaging

 

On-screen keyboards - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
On-screen keyboards - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

SprintID allows the user to download alternative ID pack themes which replaces the wallpaper, installs pack-specific apps and sounds.  It isn’t a bad product for lower-level devices that play to a less tech-savvy crowd, but we have a feeling most Photon 4G buyers won’t be installing too many IDs.

The Photon usually flies through whatever you throw at it, and Quadrant Standard scores were pushing 2700 which is pretty good.  Benchmarks aren’t the be all and end all though, and every now and again it hung up, and while we can’t quite put our finger on why but it feels like the phone should be faster.   Maybe it’s just the enormous expectations from a device like this, but it isn’t as buttery smooth as we usually see from top-tier devices like this.  We’re admittedly picky though, so chances are most people won’t notice these small hiccups.

Social Networking app - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
SprintID - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Quadrant Standard - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Social Networking app

SprintID

Quadrant Standard



Connectivity and Internet:

The Motorola Photon 4G is one of only a handful of Android world phones, and the first available from Sprint.  Throw in 4G data speeds over Sprint’s WiMAX network and the Photon 4G is arguably the most connected phone ever made.  Other standards like Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and GPS are along for the ride as well.

The browser is extremely quick, maybe one of the best stock browsers we have ever used.  Double tap to zoom works exactly how it should and pinching is very fluid.  We didn’t having any problems loading complex pages, and being Android it handles Flash content just fine. 

Web browsing with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Web browsing with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Web browsing with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Though we didn’t have one to use, the Photon 4G supports the Motorola Webtop dock that we saw with the Atrix 4G which turns the phone into a pseudo-laptop. It is also compatible with Motorola’s HD dock.


Camera:

Motorola Photon 4G’s 8-megapixel camera performed very well, especially in strong light.  Details were crisp, color reproduction was accurate. We were particularly impressed with the macro shots the Photon 4G produced.  The dual LED flash performed about as well as you can expect from a cell phone but has a tendency to wash out close subjects. Keeping with Motorola tradition the controls are very limited, but thankfully the camera produces images just fine on its own.  The camcorder does quite well also, recording at a max resolution of 720p. We would have liked seeing 1080p though.

Camera interface - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Camera interface - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Outdoor samples made with the Motorola Photon 4G - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Strong - Indoor samples - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Medium - Indoor samples - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Low light - Indoor samples - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review
Darkness with flash - Indoor samples - Motorola PHOTON 4G Review

Strong

Medium

Low light

Darkness with flash



Motorola Photon 4G Sample Video:




Multimedia:

Motorola’s music player is a step up from the standard Android player.  It integrates your music, podcasts, internet radio and FM.  The integration is nice but unfortunately it does not work with Google Music Beta, so if you’re using that (or the Amazon MP3 store) you’ll need to use those other options.  It handled all of the various formats and sizes of movies we threw at it.  With the Tegra 2 dual core processor the Photon 4G is capable of 1080p video playback.  The Photon 4G supports DLNA, enabling you to stream all of those videos to other compatible devices around your home.  If your TV doesn’t support the wireless standard don’t worry, you can use the micro HDMI port to connect to your HDTV.

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PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
Display4.3 inches, 540 x 960 pixels (256 ppi)
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
NVIDIA Tegra 2, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
1 GB RAM
Size5.00 x 2.63 x 0.48 inches
(126.9 x 66.9 x 12.2 mm)
5.57 oz  (158 g)
Battery1700 mAh, 10 hours talk time

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