The Motorola XPRT for Sprint: Our Review
Once, success or failure in the consumer electronic business depended almost exclusively on pure performance data. And while it’s true that some might still consider it more fun to talk about chip speeds, screen size, gigabytes and megapixels, the truth is that today’s electronic devices are generally so capable and can be had with so many features, that selecting the right one has become much less about the hard performance data than about determining how well it fills the needs of the individual consumer. It is into this new reality that Motorola has elected to introduce their new Motorola XPRT Mobile Phone for Sprint – leveraging the lessons learned from the already well received Motorola Droid Pro – and resulting in one of the most capable business-oriented smartphones we’ve ever tested. Join us as we take a closer look at this great new mobile business device.
As noted above, the Motorola XPRT is the evolutionary cousin of the highly touted Motorola Droid Pro, with some significant refinements that contribute to an even better user experience; the Motorola XPRT is also Sprint’s first Android-based dual-mode world phone, meaning it can work on both CDMA and GSM bands.
The Motorola XPRT, as befits its mission, is an attractive if somewhat serious looking device. Featuring the now ‘smart-phone’ standard rectangular design, the XPRT combines both a touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard housed within a solid-feeling black chassis; it’s surrounded by a nickel/chrome border on the front and a matte black, soft-touch cover on the back that together give the XPRT a comfortable, quality feel. And while it is somewhat smaller (and easier to slip into your pocket) than a number of its flashier competitors, measuring 4.69” x 2.36” x 0.46” wide and weighing in at 4.73 ounces, the XPRT retains the heft and feel of a quality, purpose-built device.
The Motorola XPRT’s screen measures 3.1 inches diagonally and has an HVGA (320×480 pixels) resolution supporting up to 16 million colors. While we must admit that it’s not quite as sharp as some of the higher resolution displays on the market today, we still found the XPRT’s screen bright and easy to read. Additionally, we found the touch screen responded quickly to any orientation changes and consistently responsive, registering all of our touches and allowing us to smoothly navigate through the various home screens and menus. As we’ve found in all of Motorola’s recent Android devices, the Motorola XPRT uses a scaled-down version of ‘Motoblur,’ complete with resizable widgets for news feeds and social network streams and seven customizable home screens. Just below the screen are the standard Android shortcuts for menu, home, back, and search, and just beneath those is the QWERTY keyboard.
The rest of the phone’s hardware retains much of the overall layout of the earlier Droid Pro, including the volume rocker-switch and Micro-USB port on the left side, a user-customizable shortcut key on the right, and the camera lens and flash located on the back. Lastly, the top of the device plays host to both the power/screen lock button as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The four-row QWERTY keyboard features rectangular buttons with an easily discerned chiseled ridge that makes them especially easy to find and select. All of the most common symbols as well as numbers share space with the letter keys, as does a single shortcut button (for the voice search function). While there are a number of good keyboard designs on the market, we must say that we found Motorola’s approach – combining uniquely shaped, sized and spaced keys – especially effective and easy to use. The Motorola XPRT comes packaged with an AC Phone Charger and USB Cable, extended life Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery, pre-installed microSD Memory Card, SIM Card and all of the usual documentation.
While good looks and ease of use are critical to the assessment of any smart-phone, the one element we always make a point of evaluating is just how well it handles its most basic task… enabling clear and effective communication as a phone. So, we put the Motorola XPRT through its paces, testing the dual-mode Motorola XPRT in and around Los Angeles using Sprint Nextel service… and found call quality to be quite good. Throughout the test we consistently heard callers clearly, experiencing little annoying background noise, clipping or distortion. Just as importantly, friends reported that our voices were similarly clear and natural sounding. Finally, given the business leanings of the phone, we spent more than our usual time testing the surprisingly good speakerphone… an especially important, if too often overlooked, feature of any mobile business device. It’s clear that Motorola has been doing its homework – and we’re happy to report they’ve succeeded again. Finally, it’s also worth noting that we were easily able to pair the XPRT with a number of different Bluetooth headsets and headphones.
Having assessed its basic communication capabilities, we next tested the data delivery side of things and happily experienced generally reliable 3G coverage via Sprint’s network. While the XPRT cannot match the performance of some of its 4G brethren, sites loaded surprisingly fast virtually everywhere – and we truly never found ourselves wishing for better performance (or, for that matter, felt willing to trade away its excellent battery life for increased data speed… a worthwhile lesson for both users and manufacturers).
Like the Droid Pro, the XPRT was no slouch when it came to overall use or navigation thanks in large part to its 1GHz TI OMAP processor. Start-up was painless, apps launched quickly, and we never experienced any significant or troubling delays while multitasking. Finally, we used the Motorola XPRT as a mobile hot spot and found it offered especially effective download and upload speeds – proving its worth as a useful tool and key element of any mobile office. As for battery life, the Motorola XPRT ships with a 1,420mAH lithium ion battery with a rated (and in our testing, conservative) talk time of 6.5 hours and up to 13 days of standby time.
First and most importantly, the Motorola XPRT offers dual-mode functionality – meaning that the phone supports both CDMA and GSM technologies for world-wide roaming capabilities. Here in the states, the XPRT will operate on Sprint’s CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A network, but can automatically detect and switch to the international GSM bands, allowing users to seamlessly make calls and receive data while traveling.
Staying true to its ‘dedicated business device’ roots, the XPRT offers enhanced security features, including remote wipe (in case your phone gets lost or stolen), while also supporting complex passwords and coming preloaded with a VPN client. Additionally, the XPRT also supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. While we welcome the addition, we’re even happier to report that we had no problems synching our Exchange account, and received messages at nearly the same time they hit our Outlook… something that has proven problematic in the past. Additionally, the XPRT includes all of the usual Android 2.2 features, so alongside all of the standard Google services, you get several Sprint apps, such as Nascar, Sprint Football Live, Sprint Mobile Wallet, Sprint Music Plus, Sprint Radio, Sprint TV & Movies, Sprint Zone, and Sprint Worldwide–a page that provides access to Sprint services when travelling abroad.
Rounding out the XPRT’s software suite are a number of other smartphone-standard features that together work to ensure that your life won’t be all work and no play. First, the Motorola XPRT comes with the standard Android media player, which allows you to listen to or watch virtually any music or video files, regardless of encoding. Additionally, while the Motorola XPRT comes pre-installed with just 2GB of onboard memory, it does ship with a 2GB microSD card and its expansion slot can support up to 32GB cards – a welcomed feature, depending on your needs and use.
Finally, the Motorola XPRT is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera and dual-LED flash. While perhaps not the match of some of its higher-end competitors, it does include a number of worthwhile editing options, including a range of different scene modes, effects, face detection, and geo-tagging. Generally, we found picture quality to be good if not great – and have to admit to being especially pleased with its performance outdoors and in natural lighting. Recorded video at the highest resolution (720 x 480 pixels) looked good… and as with all of Motorola’s latest Android devices, the XPRT includes DLNA support, so it’s possible to wirelessly stream content from your phone to any compatible device.
Wrapping it up
The Motorola XPRT is Sprint’s latest entry into the increasingly competitive and important Android based world-phone and business market… and we think among its best. The Motorola XPRT’s responsive touch screen, easy to use keyboard, and attractive design combined with it’s surprisingly complete enterprise-level security, mobile hot-spot capability, 3G speed and world-roaming capabilities… all underpinned by excellent battery life and Motorola’s legendary dependability, make it an excellent choice for business users looking for the capabilities of today’s best business devices together with a healthy dose of the most popular entertainment features of today’s most popular smart-phones. Combining the best of both worlds makes the Motorola XPRT an excellent value and one worth serious consideration should you be in the market for the perfect mobile business solution.
The Motorola XPRT sells for $99.99 on a 2 year Sprint contract.