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printed April 17, 2014
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Review: Motorola Photon 4G

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  13  

Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

The Photon 4G is distinctive. In the sea of me-too monoblock Android smartphones, the Photon 4G manages to look at least a little bit different from the pack thanks to its angled corners. Sure, it's another all-black affair, but Motorola deserves some credit for making this phone stand apart from even its own Android designs.

It's a heavy, and huge handset, though. As with all devices that include 4.3-inch displays, the Photon 4G is ginormous. Thankfully, Motorola angled the side edges steeply, so that the back surface is smaller than the front. This means the Photon 4G sits comfortably in your palm. The edges and back are covered in a soft-touch paint job, which lends the Photon 4G a bit of grip. The materials, fit and finish of the Photon 4G are top-notch. It's the highest-quality handset I've seen from Motorola in some time.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The front face of the Photon 4G is huge, and almost all donated to the touch display. The usual four Android controls are present along the very bottom edge as capacitive buttons. I found them to be responsive.

Motorola built the microUSB port and microHDMI port into the left side of the Photon 4G. They are positioned such that the Photon 4G works well with a series of accessories, such as a Motorola media dock. The volume toggle and dedicated camera button are both found on the right side of the Photon 4G. These buttons are metallic, and have a ribbed texture to them. They are easy to find, feel good to use, and have good travel and feedback.

The power/lock key is on the top edge of the Photon 4G. I wish this button had the same ribbed texture that the others did, but it was still easy to find. Travel and feedback were a bit mushy, though. The 3.5mm headset jack is also on top.

Sprint sure does love kickstands on its phones. The Photon 4G is yet another to include a chromed-out kickstand so that it can be placed on a table or desk and used as a mini video display. The kickstand is close to the bottom edge of the Photon 4G, and requires a bit of digging with your thumbnail. The kickstand and its hinge are made of metal and feel strong.

The battery cover - which is very thin - must be peeled off if you want to swap microSD cards. It is not necessary to remove the battery to get at the microSD card slot.

Though it is a bit big and heavy, everything about the Photon 4G has a solid, quality feel to it.

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