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Sprint Motorola Admiral review: Hoping to lure BlackBerry users

The Motorola Admiral, Sprint's latest Android phone, has its sights set on BlackBerry.

The rugged Motorola Admiral comes with a good number of apps and offers snappy performance.
The rugged Motorola Admiral comes with a good number of apps and offers snappy performance. Dong Ngo/CNET

If you're a longtime BlackBerry user (so, likely a big fan of that hardware keyboard), but are looking to switch to the Android platform, Sprint's Motorola Admiral is for you.

The smartphone is one of a few on the market that offer a full QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen that both work incredibly well. The coolest thing about the phone, however, is not its input method, but its push-to-talk capabilites via a Direct Connect (DC) button right in the middle of the left side of the phone.

By pressing and holding this button you can instantly call people who have phones with the same DC feature (up to 20 preset numbers). You can call them regardless of distance, the way you would with a walkie-talkie. In my tests, this feature worked very well and was fun to use. The Admiral is the first smartphone to support push-to-talk on Sprint's CDMA network. If you don't like push-to-talk, however, the DC button can be reprogrammed to quickly bring up any app or other feature.

Another quite cool feature of the phone is its Military Spec 810G trimmings, which means it can withstand dust, shock, solar radiation, vibration, low pressure, and high/low temperatures. The phone's screen is also scratch-resistant. But it's not water-resistant, unfortunately.

Performance-wise, equipped with a 1.2Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM, and running Android 2.3.5, the Admiral is speedy. Most apps open instantly. The phone also offers very good call quality and decent 3G cellular Internet speed. It does not support 4G, however.

Priced at just $100 (after rebate and with a two-year contract), the phone would make a great companion for anyone who needs a workhorse--a functional and low-maintenance phone. For more information about its features and performance, check out CNET's full review of the Motorola Admiral from Sprint.