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printed November 28, 2014
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Review: Motorola Photon Q for Sprint

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  10  

Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

The Photon has a 4.3-inch qHD LCD display (540 x 960 pixels). The size and resolution make for an attractive screen. Individual pixels were visible occasionally, but most of the time items on the screen look smooth and clean. It uses something Motorola markets are "ColorBoost" to improve its appearance, and indeed, it looks good. As for visibility, it is easy to see and use outdoors under full sunlight thanks to a bright backlight.

Signal

The Photon is a solid performer on Sprint's CDMA 3G network (we were unable to test in on LTE 4G.) While the signal indicator rarely reached more than three bars, the Photon was able to make phone calls and surf the web under all network conditions. It made calls just as easily with one bar as it did with four, and never dropped any calls during my testing. In the NJ vault (my local supermarket), the Photon lost Sprint's 3G network, which is typical behavior for a Sprint phone. Surfing the internet was good on Sprint’s 3G network.

Sound

Voice calls sounded so-so through the Photon. There was a constant hiss in the background that really got on my nerves. Add to this an earpiece that doesn't offer enough volume, and conversations were often difficult to understand. Even with the earpiece set to maximum volume, it will be nearly impossible to hear conversations in crowded coffee shops, moving cars, and busy households. The speakerphone is equally poor. Calls sounded choppy, and weren't loud enough to suit most users. I had no problem hearing the ringers or alert tones at full volume from a different room in my house, but set them half-way and you might miss a call. The vibrate alert is very strong.

Battery

Battery life falls into the "average" category for this class of device. The battery was fully dead in less than 24 hours (9AM to 9AM). This included periods of heavy use (streaming music, uploading pictures) and periods of casual use (phone calls and messaging). On average, it managed to live during the entirety of my waking hours for a full day (7AM to Midnight). This is one of those phones that will need to be plugged in each night. Those that live and work in markets covered by 4G may need to pay strict attention to battery life, as 3G battery life didn’t blow us away, and 4G can demand more juice.

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