Sprint’s Motorola XPRT, essentially a clone of the Motorola Droid Pro ($199, 3.5 stars) on Verizon Wireless, has an unusual design for an Android phone: it pairs a portrait-oriented touch screen with a small hardware QWERTY keyboard below it. The XPRT isn’t particularly cutting edge. But with support for enterprise-grade encryption and a range of Microsoft Exchange security policies, the XPRT is a good choice for business customers looking for an Android smartphone for their globetrotting employees.
Motorola XPRT Design, Call Quality, and Apps
The Motorola XPRT measures 4.7 by 2.4 by 0.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.1 ounces, which is a little heavier than the Droid Pro. The XPRT is made of a mixture of glass and matte plastic, with a textured, soft touch back panel that makes the phone very comfortable to hold for long conversations. The 3.1-inch, 320-by-480-pixel touch screen is a little small and not particularly vibrant, but it’s a standard resolution compatible with most third-party apps. The QWERTY keyboard is roughly the same size as what you’d find on a BlackBerry, and the keys are sculpted similarly to the BlackBerry Bold series. Typing was a little cramped, but perfectly fine.
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The XPRT is a true world phone, with dual-band EV-DO Rev. A (850/1900 MHz), quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), and tri-band HSDPA 10.2 (850/1900/2100 MHz) support. It also has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but no 4G. It also works as a mobile hotspot for up to five devices with the appropriate $30-per-month Sprint option.
Call quality was good overall, with a warm, full tone in the earpiece, plenty of available gain, and clear transmissions through the microphone. I heard a little choppiness here and there, but it was nothing to be concerned about. Reception was solid. Hands-free modes fared worse, though. Callers sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset ($129, 4 stars), which was good. But voice dialing recognition was hopeless, either over Bluetooth or through the handset microphone. The speakerphone was another disappointment, with a thin tone and not nearly enough volume to use outside. The oversize 1860mAh standard battery was good for an excellent 7 hours and 14 minutes of talk time.
Motorola XPRT Specifications
- Service Provider
- Operating System
- Android OS
- Screen Size
- 3.1 inches
- Motorola XPRT Screen Details
- 320-by-480-pixel, 16M-color TFT LCD capacitive touch screen
- Motorola XPRT Camera
- GSM, CDMA
- 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100
- High-Speed Data
- GPRS, 1xRTT, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, EVDO Rev A
- Motorola XPRT Processor Speed
- 1 GHz
Under the hood, there’s a 1GHz TI OMAP Cortex-A8 processor. The XPRT runs Android 2.2; there’s no word yet on when we can expect an upgrade to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). There are seven customizable home screens you can swipe between. The UI didn’t feel quite as responsive as I would have liked; credit Motorola’s heavy handed social networking additions for the slowdown.
Aside from that, all the usual Android features are present, including free GPS navigation, excellent Web browsing and e-mail integration, and the ability to run over 150,000 third-party apps that are available in Android Market, plus Motorola’s added unified contacts and support for multiple Exchange accounts—perfect for a business looking to ditch old BlackBerry servers. The lowish screen resolution keeps this from being a true powerhouse device, though.
Motorola is trying to sell this phone to corporate IT managers, so the company says it’s more manageable than a standard Android device. Specifically, the phone supports pin or password lock, password recovery, and remote wipe for both the phone and microSD card, as well as a more complete set of Microsot Exchange security policies than the standard Android phone, according to Motorola. The manageability features still fall short of BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which lets you turn almost every feature of a BlackBerry on and off remotely.
Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
For consumers, this isn’t a bad multimedia phone. There’s a standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack. Motorola buried the microSD card slot underneath the battery cover, and behind a plastic lever; my 32GB SanDisk card worked fine, and Motorola includes a 2GB card. There’s also just under 1GB of free internal storage.
Music tracks sounded a little bright through Samsung Modus HM6450 Bluetooth headphones ($99, 4 stars). Motorola modified the music player heavily; it streams Internet radio and displays lyrics to songs, which is cool. But it requires more taps to cue up each track than the stock player. Standalone full screen videos played smoothly, but my high-definition 720p test files didn’t play. Motorola altered the video player as well, adding a jukebox style scrolling display that looked cheap but worked okay.
The 5-megapixel auto-focus camera includes a dual-LED flash. Test photos looked good, with decent sharpness and detail, and some graininess evident in lower light indoor shots. The LCD made each photo I snapped look horribly grainy, but when I opened the pics on a PC, they didn’t look nearly as bad. Recorded videos maxed out at 720-by-480-pixels and a slightly choppy 20 frames per second, but they looked fine otherwise.
With this phone, Motorola is targeting companies with existing BlackBerry contracts, given the XPRT’s exposed QWERTY keyboard, Exchange connectivity, and enterprise encryption support. That said, if you don’t need the encryption or world phone capability, the XPRT doesn’t come close to matching class-leading devices on Sprint like the Samsung Epic 4G ($149, 4 stars) and HTC EVO Shift 4G ($99, 4 stars). Both of those devices have higher-resolution touch screens and connect to Sprint’s high-speed WiMAX data network, and we prefer them for those reasons.