Hardware & Design
The Motorola Photon 4G is a slab style phone with a 4.3 inch qHD display which is awesome to look at with great color, clarity and viewing angles. With the kickstand on the back you can watch video content with easy and brings up a dock mode for easy access to content. Above the screen is a VGA front facing camera, earpiece and LED indicators. On the bottom you have touch sensitive buttons for menu, home, back and search. On the sides buttons for volume, camera, power and ports for micro USB, mini HDMI and 3.5 mm headphones.
On the back which has a soft touch finish is the kickstand, speakerphone and 8 megapixel main camera with dual LED flash and 720p HD video capture. The image, video and audio quality is on par with other recent Motorola phones released like the DROID X2 and the DROID 3. Outdoor video and pictures are good while indoor shots will look blurred and grainy. The camera isn’t going to blow you away but will get the job done for uploads to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. My disappointments are in the camera app is not easy to use and missing 1080p capture.
Inside there is a pre-installed 3G sim card for global roaming, 1650 mAH battery, micro SD card slot that is empty but there is 8 GB of built-in storage. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 4G WiMax and a 1 GHz dual core Tegra 2 processor to round-up the specs. The phone is light with a plastic front that for some will look cheap but the phone is build solid. The sharp but soft accents on the edges of the phone give it a unique and attractive look that stands out.
Software & Usability
The Photon 4G runs Android 2.3.4 with a combo of Motorola’s UX and Sprint ID’s. It’s a interesting blend that has some quirks in it but works well. You can download different Sprint ID packs that will download different apps, sounds, widgets and wallpapers tailored to specific themes such as entertainment, social networking, NASCAR and even company sponsored ones such as EA that has a focus on gaming. Just know when you do this that you will install extra software that you may not want and can build up a lot of bloatware.
The Motorola elements are what you have seen on the DROID X2 and DROID 3 but doesn’t contain some of the extra graphics and features that the Motorola UX has on the DROID 3. It seems that there is some fragmentations happening with the skin formerly known as MOTOBLUR. Even with that the UI experience works well and covers most of the holes that is found in the stock version of Android. There is a some lag when going through desktops. I know there is a lot of widgets but that’s the point of having all those desktops and other android smartphones don’t have this issue. Also the camera app crashed on me a couple of time to the point where I had to fully reboot to get the camera working again.
Battery life is good. Motorola continues to impress with what they can do to improve the battery life on Android phones. Using the battery manager you can get about 2 days of battery life with moderate usage. A heavy user can get through a full day on one charge. The call quality is very good with callers telling me that I didn’t sound like I was on a cell phone however when on the speakerphone callers told me that I sound distance even if I’m right next to the phone. Signal strength is also good with no dropped calls and solid 4G WiMax speeds.
Motorola setup the Photon 4G as a premier device and it’s not only meets that it surpasses the EVO 3D as the top phone available for Sprint. Despite some bugs that are easily fixable with future software updates the phone comes with good battery life, awesome screen, good software and user experience and solid performance. If your on Sprint and deciding between Photon 4G and EVO 3D I would recommend the Photon 4G.