Unlike the fancy and attention-grabbing Motorola Droid Razr, the Motorola Admiral is a middle-of-the-line phone, designed not to wow but to provide a working mobile commutation solution. And it does that job very well, with good call quality and zippy performance.
I also like the ergonomic and durable design that can stand up to dust, shock, solar radiation, vibration, low pressure, and high and low temperatures, and the fact that it's one of Sprint's first Android-based smartphones that brings push-to-talk to its CDMA network. Priced at $100 (after rebate and with a two-year contract), the Motorola Admiral makes a great day-to-day phone for anybody who needs a phone that's low-maintenance and functional.
At first glance, the Admiral looks very much like a typical BlackBerry phone with its portrait QWERTY keyboard. Looking above the keyboard, however, there's no mistaking that it's an Android phone with its four buttons for Settings, Home, Back, and Search.
The phone's 3.1-inch, 480x640-pixel-resolution touch screen provides an alternative method of user input if you don't care to use the hardware keyboard. Beyond offering more choice, it's also a great way for long-term BlackBerry users to get acclimated to the touch screen.
The display, made of Corning Gorilla Glass, is responsive, bright, and clear, making even small fonts easy to read. It seems a little washed-out under bright sunlight, however, which happens to most cell phone screens at the same price point. The hardware keyboard, on the other hand, offers excellent performance all around, with great tactile response. The keyboard offers easy access to special yet frequently use symbols, such as @, #, %, and $. As a longtime iPhone user, I had no trouble using the hardware keyboard.
On the left side just below the volume rocker is the Direct Connect (DC) button. By default it's programmed to activate the phone's push-to-talk feature. You can, however, reprogram it to run any widgets or applications. The control is positioned right in the middle of the phone, making it easy to use when you're holding the handset in front of you. When you raise it near your ear, however, it's slightly awkward to use.
Also on the left side is a Micro-USB port for charging and connecting to a computer. It has a rubber cover to protect it from the elements, which is part of the Military Spec 810G spec trimmings; again, the phone can withstand dust, shock, solar radiation, vibration, low pressure, and high and low temperatures. Note that the Admiral, unfortunately, isn't water-resistant like the Droid Razr.
Up top are a power button, a 3.5mm headset port (also covered by a rubber lid), and a quick-silent button. The latter works only when the phone is unlocked to keep you from accidentally pressing a button when carrying the Admiral inside a pocket. On the right side, the phone has a camera shutter that quickly turns the feature on and snaps photos or starts recording a video.
The microSD slot is located inconveniently beneath the phone's battery. The back cover is coated with soft-finish texture, which along with the curved back makes the Admiral fit ergonomically in your palm. The Admiral measures 4.7 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.5 inch and weighs only 4.7 ounces.
Overall it's about the same size as the iPhone 4, just slightly thicker, but actually more comfortable to hold thanks to the tapered edges.
The Motorola Admiral runs Android 2.3.5 and is topped with the Motoblur, which combines your social media, e-mails, and contacts in one place. As with other Moto phones, however, I found Motoblur rather, well, blurry to use. Though convenient to have all in one place, the interface can get overwhelming at times and doesn't provide in-depth access to an individual social network. I found that it's generally easier to manage separate apps for each network.
The Admiral includes a wide selection of preinstalled apps, including a DLNA app for media streaming, the Quickoffice suite, and the Reader for Android app for e-books. I especially like the hot-spot app that allows the phone to share its cellular connection with up to five Wi-Fi devices.
The phone offers all the basic personal assistant features of an Android device: calendar, contacts, tasks, and so on. If you're a Gmail user, all of your information will immediately become synced once you have added your account to the phone.