motorola photon- 4g

Sometime this summer, an enhanced version of the AT&T Motorola Atrix (read out Motorola Atrix Review) – the first dual core Android smartphone, the one that can be jacked into a screen/keyboard accessory to create a laptop – will be coming to Sprint as the Motorola Photon 4G.

However, the Motorola Photon 4G, announced earlier this morning, won’t be able to use the Atrix charging/connecting dock or its Lapdock screen/keyboard accessory – its jacks are in the wrong position – and could keep the Atrix/Photon paradigm from becoming a bona fide ecosystem.

Photon itself will be a true 4G phone, running on Sprint’s WiMAX network rather than AT&T’s pseudo 4G HSPA+ system. Photon also ups Atrix’s ante in a variety of other ways.

Photon v. Atrix

Photon, which runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, has an 4.3-inch qHD screen, while Atrix, operating Android 2.2 Froyo, a 4-inch qHD screen – but both screens have the same 540 x 960 pixel resolution.

The bigger screen means Photon is slight larger and slightly heavier (by 23 grams) than Atrix, but Photon still felt light in the hand and fits fine in a breast pocket. It has oddly angular corners that seem more design flourish than functional but do give it a distinctive look compared to its squarish or roundish Android slab competitors, although not as sleek as the Samsung Galaxy S models. More Klingon than Federation style, if that makes sense.

Photon sports an 8 MP camera with dual LED flash, Atrix a 5 MP imager with a single LED flash – both have VGA front-facing cameras and shoot 720p HD video. Both phones include USB and a mini HDMI jack out, but Photon adds an HTC Evo-like kickstand for hands-free video viewing.

Photon runs on CDMA, WDCDMA and GSM networks, making it a world phone. Its included 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities enable up to 8 users to wirelessly connect.

And both will run Motorola’s social network aggregating MotoBlur interface and include the company’s WebTop app, which will allow you to use the Photon as a computing engine when jacked into an HDTV or, presumably, a similar screen/keyboard accessory.

Both phones also include secure enterprise-friendly apps, Firefox browser, and are Microsoft Quickoffice compatible.


In a brief hands-on, the bright, high-contrast screen easily defeated the bright overhead lights and the flash from my camera, which you can see in the photos. But the screen didn’t seem to have the cool tinted color temperature of Samsung’s Super AMOLED Galaxy S displays, which meant white backgrounds such as on Web pages stayed more, well, white, on the Photon.

Photon’s touchscreen was super-sensitive – scrolling and swiping were both naturally smooth and responsive, and its dual processors made jumping around tasks nearly as fast as thought. For instance, nearly no time was lost tapping the camera app and the camera being ready to snap a candid, which means you’ll be more likely to catch a fleeting moment. Sending an 8 MP photo took around five seconds (although the phone either compressed the full resolution image for emailing or wouldn’t send it all – I only received one of the sample photos I took, and I’m not sure if it was the low res photo I snapped first or a compressed high res shot).

As far as accessories are concerned, only the docking station was on view at the announcement this morning; Motorola reps said additional accessories – presumably a Photon-specific Lapdock, although no one would say so – will be available when the phone becomes available in a few months. No pricing was announced.

Motorola’s Triumph

That’s not an adjective, but a proper noun, the name of the newest Virgin Mobile Android phone, arguably the most powerful pre-paid phone available.

Triumph, a slim (.4-inch) EVDO 3G phone, is only slightly less impressive than the Photon: Android 2.2 Froyo,  4.1-inch WVGA (800 x 480) touchscreen, 2 GB built-in, and a 5 MP rear and VGA front camera with 720p HD video capture and an HDMI out jack. Since this is a pre-paid, you won’t get data-hogging mobile hotspot capabilities.

However, Triumph will the first handset from the pre-paid carrier pre-loaded with is the first handset to come preloaded with the Virgin Mobile Live 2.0 app, a social networking music app providing free access to the Virgin Mobile music stream hosted by DJ Abbey Braden, as well as live music performance videos, and “check in” features at special events.

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