Motorola Photon 4G / Electrify
Phone Scoop Review
Aug 1, 2011 by Eric M. Zeman
Motorola fields its first WiMax handset for Sprint in the Photon 4G, a new super slab that takes every feature to the nth degree. Motorola sends this Photon torpedo into the heart of the smartphone competition in hopes of blowing them all up. Does Motorola succeed? read review ›
Blown away by the Electrify!
I have this amazing device on U.S. Cellulars' awesome network, and I have to say the speed and raw power of this device is indescribable. As far as Pros well theres the great looking qhd display, but there is also the Nvidia dual core processor, the ram, the great build quality from Motorola, the list is long. As far as cons none yet that I can come up with. This is my first Android base device and am still learning its ways, however it is surprisingly an easy OS to adjust to. My 2 year contract was up and so I could have gone anywhere, but I really do love U.S.Cells network its insanely reliable and that weighed a lot on my decision. And having come out with some really nice Android devices lately kinda cinched it for me. I strongly recommend the Motorola Electrify from U.S. Cellular, trust me you'll love the device and the service!
Very Good Design
I have had this device for a week now, so I feel I can give it a proper review.
PROS: Very strong and clear Gorilla glass display.
-HD screen. It looks absolutely beautiful!
- Home screen rotation when kickstand is deployed. This is really a bigger bonus than you think, wait until you use it.
-Decent camera. I have no problems with the pictures it takes and they all look clear and crisp.
-The dual core processor makes this a fast device. Yes, it runs faster than the iPhone 4G.
- Loud speaker. I have used it for most media and it is louder than my former Evo 4G.
-quick gps lock
-Motoblur isn't my favorite, but it works fine fir what it does.
-Not much else...
Coming from an HTC Evo, I was just expecting a faster device. This delivers in spades. So yes, faster than the EVO. I am perfectly satisfied with it.
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What a phone!
This is one of the best phones I've had so far. (Hopefully I feel that way in the upcoming months.)
Has excellent reception. Battery life is pretty good too.
The screen isn't quite as good as the Galaxy S, but it is one of the best screens I've seen on a phone, very clear and bright. The screen also feels really good with the Gorilla Glass and responds exceptionally well.
The camera is very, very good probably the best I've seen on a phone. Video playback is great and apps like Netflix look amazing.
The only cons I can think of is that not all the applications are big enough to fit on the screen. For the life of me I can't figure out why Google and the developers will not make their apps for phones with larger screens. Now most every app does work well, but I have ran across 1 or 2 that will not fit on the phone.
Another thing is the VGA camera in the front is pretty much garbage. I wish they would've at least put a 2.0mp. That's really not a big deal, but for a high end phone you would think they could've put a somewhat decent camera on front.
Other than that it seems to be a great phone with solid build quality, battery, and reception. If you're on the fence about what phone to get I would give this one a try.
Good Phone with Problems
I'm sure you've read reviews on the phone by people much more skilled than I, so I'll stick to what the reviews rarely mention.
It's true; battery life and 3g/4g/wifi/phone reception are great. I loved my EVO 4g but the reason I bought the Photon is the unlocked SIM slot for traveling. If it wasn't for that I would have returned the phone, it's just not that reliable.
I often have issues opening programs, performing searches, making phone calls, getting directions, the list goes on. I'm willing to admit that it could be 3rd party software, HOWEVER, I don't have any more than a couple of apps on this phone that I didn't have on my EVO with no problems.
Also, the built in software is vastly inferior to the HTC Sense experience. i don't like the way it looks or functions and have essentially replaced every bit of "MotoBlur" with new stuff: keyboard, dialer, launcher, messaging, image gallery (horrible), etc. Not to mention you can't turn off the obnoxious "snap" sound of the camera. No more sleeping kids pictures for me. There are a couple of decent Motorola widgets though.
The Bottom Line: Great hardware, but the software is simply sub-par. If you don't plan on replacing any of the essential software you better spend a lot of time with this phone at the Sprint Store before buying it!
Review from HTC user
I've had this phone for about 2 weeks now. I wanted to wait this long before giving it a review because I wanted to really get to know the phone, and it took me a while to get used to everything since I'm coming from an HTC phone.
I upgraded from a HTC hero phone. At first I got the Evo shift, but then I decided that I wanted a bigger screen. I didn't want to get the regular EVO since everybody and their mama has one, so I decided on this since it's the newest phone. Have to admit at first I was regretting my decision because I was so used to HTC's Sense UI, but after a few days of playing with the phone it blew me away.
I love the fact that this phone never freezes up on me. I did have the issue where no one could hear me on the phone once, but an update came out that resolves that issue. Phone is faster than any other phone has out. Also the voice clarity is CRYSTAL clear, and you can turn the volume up loud enough to hear in a crowded club.
The camcorder feature on this phone records with amazing clarity. Video and audio quality is OUTSTANDING, even better than some so-called HD camcorders. Also the HTC phones notoriously get very hot when you have a lot of apps running at once, but so far it has not happened with this phone. Also Motorola's Facebook app updates a lot faster than HTC's.
Motorola has definitely hit a home run with this phone, and if your on the fence about this phone, definitely give it a try.
Great mobile device!
I've been using this phone for awhile and I can say I really enjoy using this device. It is solidly built, speedy, and simple.
Motoblur gets heavy backlash from some consumers, but I think it's mainly because of previous versions of the software. Motoblur (or Moto's new name, Motorla Applications Platform) on this device is very usable. Most widgets are customizable in size and function. The social networking widgets update and cycle very fast, which is nice compared to Sense's friend stream. Compared to the dark skin other manufacturers use for android, motorola's is very refreshing. White all around, with light complimentary colors.
The dual-core 1Ghz processor does an exceptional job and obviously does well in all the benchmark applications. Applications launch seamlessly and the added 4G functionality helps websites load at broadband speeds.
The design of the phone has been appropriately inspired by sprint's motorola iDEN devices. I say that because it has a very tough, masculine feel. Very sturdy device with no loose toggles or buttons. Everything is firm, humorously including the battery cover which is something of a feat getting it off.
That brings me to the screen. Many people are upset with the so called "pixelated" screen images. When I think pixelation I think of rough corners and unbearable screens (see Samsung Intercept). I do not find a problem. You can only notice pixels if that's what you're looking for, most people will touch about without noticing.
Thing's I am disappointed in:
Speaker - many people have to restart their devices because the ear speaker will go mute and you cannot hear the other caller. I had that problem but it wasn't a BIG deal. Hoping for an update that will clear that.
Mobile Data Settings - Motoblur doesn't include a toggle to turn mobile data off. It's not even under wireless&networks. You have to go Settings-Battery&Data-Data Delivery-Data Enabled/Disabled. It's inefficient for user and battery.
Overall good phone
I've had the Photon for almost a month now and I have to admit I have been pleasantly surprised. My previous phone was an Iphone 3GS with ATT that I retired because I just couldn't take the spotty 3G coverage and dropped calls another minute.
I chose Sprint because of their rather attractive rate plans and the discount I would get through work. I initially went to go look at an Evo 3D but the rep pointed me toward this and I am glad he did.
This phone does everything I ask of it. Texting is as easy as my Iphone and the menus seem very similar. Web browsing and using the phone as a mobile hotspot on 4G is actually rather quick.
There was one problem with the phone that almost got it taken back though. Without rhyme or reason, it would turn off its speaker and microphone not allowing you to hear or be heard when taking a call or trying to make one. A call to Sprint connected me to a very pleasant customer service rep who actually knew what she was talking about. She informed me that the "muted audio" problem was a known problem and that Motorola was working on a fix.
A follow up call a couple days ago connected me to yet another pleasant and knowledgeable rep who had the pleasure to inform me that the software update to address the problem was available to download. Long story short- downloaded the update and phone has been perfect since.
I am very happy with the phone and I'm glad I gave motorola and Sprint a chance to make it right. One of the other reviewers here seemed to have the same problem but gave up on it too soon.
perfect phone all around since sanyo 9000
since i got this phone, i havent had one day where i made changes to it and needed to wait to make sure this is the best phone for me. tested the wimax, tested the camera in shutter speed, and took it with me to disney. this is probably the key word everyone is looking for, but remember sanyo 9000 users we were looking for the phone to replace with best signal, best photos, and best user experience... well im confident to say this is the phone all users of the sanyo 9000 should return to. sanyo is known for the best phone signal, and this phone represents that. UI is fast and performs very well, the only gripe i have is not motoblur, but 2 things. the news widget on HTC and stock i like alot better and the blue signal bars. its hard to see compared to white.Speakerphone is perfect and my callers hasnt complained of any echo
4g works very well infact, too good. i got 7mbps speed in palm bay, fl with 1-2 bars. its hard to tell your signal strength with 4g because it is so small, and blue. grrr. but ping was around 100ms.
browsing speed is very fast with wifi,but browser is very fast and handles flash without buffer or buckle.
battery, this is where i was happy about. besides having it on wifi at home, signal is a bit better then evo. on wifi, i had it used since 10am and now its 5 and only 80percent left. i do hate the fact it doesnt go 84% or 97%, because it only has 80% or 40% so its alittle annoying when you dont know which side of the spectrum it is. with 4g on, battery on 3g lasts a good amount of time but if you want more time, go to sprint zone by *2 and on the bottom is diagnostics. you can set further battery savers.
GPS, its the real GPS, moves the arrows on google maps when you move the phone.
screen: besides the off yellow coloring.its no nexus, but its close to it.
signal, screen, battery, gps, appearence, performance
cons:blue signal indicators, sun magnet, stupid mustard yellow color on yellows
A subjective review
I have owned many android devices on both Verizon and Sprint. I don't understand why some reviewers are so down on this device. My previous phones have included (VZW) OG droid,droid2, DroidX, HTC droid incredible & droid pro. (Sprint) EVO 4g, Samsung epic,Nexus S 4g and evo 3d. This is by far my favorite Sprint android phone thus far.
-dual core T2 processor is snapy
-screen display is excellent in daylight
-earpiece and speaker volume are top notch
-battery life is above average
-build quality is nice too (i.e. button placement, overall contruction)
-HD video recording is killer
-UI is glitchy, but easily fixed by D/L launcher pro
-camera is hit or miss but satisfactory for what it is
-some pics come across pixelized because of limitations of screen
-charging port location is RETARDED
Overall this out performed the other high end android phones for sprint. The nexus and 3D didn't have the signal strength and the Photon seems to just be able to do it all. Having had other Moto phones on VZW I can say that I have come to love their products. While HTC is no slouch I just thought the #D was gimmicky and not woth the upgrade. I'm sure some HTC fanboys will harshly disagree, WHATEVER. It's all about personal preference.
Photon 4G vs EVO 4G
After one year with the EVO 4G I decided to do some research on the EVO 3D and Photon. I have been very happy with the EVO but was intrigued by the specs on the other two phones Sprint was now offering. I gave the EVO to my wife and decided the Photon was the better of the two options. I have now had the Photon for 10 days.
Brighter and higher res screen
Gorilla glass screen
Slightly better battery performance
Better audio including amplifier and speaker
Faster processor and response
Video capture is awesome
Camera exposure and focus settings are frustrating
GPS is slower to get the initial position lock
There's not enough negative to justify a return. I am honestly very pleased with the phone in general. I really enjoyed the camera on the EVO. Not to say the camera on the Photon is horrible. But I enjoy photography and have thousands of dollars in Canon camera equipment. My biggest complaint with this Photon camera is the inconsistent or unpredictable results.