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printed July 25, 2014
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Review: Motorola Citrus

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Screen

The 3-inch screen on the Motorola Citrus is awful. Motorola went for a QVGA display, which means it uses far fewer pixels than other smartphones with similarly-sized screens. The low-res screen probably brought the price down significantly, as a similarly sized LG Vortex with double the resolution starts at $30 more. The Motorola Charm uses a QVGA screen that is just a bit smaller, and though I complained about the lousy display on the Motorola Charm, at least that phone had a keyboard to balance things out. The Citrus relies entirely on the screen, which makes it even harder to stomach.

Almost everything looks worse on this screen. Text looks wiry and jagged. Pictures look blocky, with a noticeable screen door effect. Application icons look cheap and unpolished, like this is a Verizon Wireless feature phone, instead of an Android smartphone.

Inside, the screen was bright enough, but the viewing angle was fairly narrow, which means the phone displayed a shimmering effect from time to time. Outside, the screen almost disappeared completely under bright sunlight. I had trouble even finding the unlock slider on the screen, let alone tapping on icons or typing text.

Sound

Call quality on the Motorola Citrus was very good. This is usually Motorola’s strong suit, and the company came through with the Citrus. Calls sounded clear with voices that were up close and personal, with no static or distortion. On their end, my callers heard some fuzziness, but background noise was kept to a minimum.

The ringer was plenty loud. I had no trouble hearing the phone ringing from across the house or stuffed in my pocket. The speaker was also loud and clear, fine for talking hands-free during car rides. I would have liked a much stronger vibration. I had trouble feeling the vibrate mode when the ringer was off.

Signal

The Motorola Citrus fared about the same as other Verizon Wireless phones I have on hand, in terms of signal strength. Even when the signal dropped to one or two bars, I was still able to place calls and connect to the data network with no trouble. The phone would occasionally stall loading data, but this problem didn’t last long. All of my calls went through, and I never missed an incoming call.

Battery

Battery life on the Motorola Citrus was adequate, but not impressive. The phone easily lasted through a full day’s use with some charge left over. On a more intense day of testing, I was able to drain the battery before the end of a work day, but my testing days don’t represent typical use. I would charge the phone every night, and don’t forget your charger on trips, but you’ll have no problem making calls and doing some light browsing from morning to night.

Though the charging port does light up when the phone is charging, it would be nice if the charger shut off completely when the phone is fully charged. Here I noticed a strange anomaly. When the phone claimed to be fully charged, if I unplugged it for a minute then plugged it back in again, it would immediately claim it was only at 90% battery capacity, and it would start charging again right away.

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