Motorola Photon 4G hands-on (photos)

If you're a business user and haven't been thrilled with Sprint's smartphone collection, you might want to take a look at the new Motorola Photon 4G.

Bonnie Cha
1 of 13 Bonnie Cha/CNET

Motorola Photon 4G

Vowing to work more closely together to bring new devices to market, Sprint and Motorola introduced the Photon 4G at a special event in New York today. Sprint says the Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone addresses the need for more corporate-friendly devices and includes extra security features and global capabilities. The Photon will be available this summer, but a release date and pricing were not announced at the event.
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Features galore

As some speculated, the Motorola Photon 4G shows a number of similarities to the Atrix 4G. It has a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, a 4.3-inch qHD touch screen, and laptop dock connectivity. Compatible with Sprint's 3G and 4G networks, the Photon also can be used as a mobile hot spot for up to eight devices.
3 of 13 Bonnie Cha/CNET


In addition to the standard Google services, the Photon 4G will come preloaded with a number of apps, including various Sprint services. Among them is Sprint Mobile Wallet, which provides a one-click payment option for making purchases on the phone. However, the Photon does not come equipped with an NFC chip.
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The Photon's qHD display is quite fetching, though as we've discussed before, the way the subpixels are arranged makes the screen less sharp than it could be. The handset itself has an interesting shape and measures 5 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 5.6 ounces. It's not huge, it's not small; it's somewhere in between.
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Right spine

On the right side of the phone are a volume rocker and a dedicated camera key. We're thrilled to see the latter, since having to use the touch screen as the capture button requires some steady hands.
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Left side

The left spine features a Micro-USB port and an HDMI port, so you can connect the phone to your HDTV and view its content on a bigger screen.
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Top view

Not much to see here other than your standard power button and 3.5mm headphone jack.
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The Photon 4G actually one-ups the Atrix with an 8-megapixel camera instead of a 5-megapixel camera. Though the dual-core processor supports 1080p HD video recording and playback, the smartphone is only capable of 720p HD video capture and 1080p HD video output via HDMI. However, as with the Atrix, we suspect that this functionality will come in a future software update.
9 of 13 Bonnie Cha/CNET

Front-facing camera

On the front, just at the top of the screen, you'll find the smartphone's front-facing VGA camera, so you can make video calls or take self-portraits.
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Who would have ever thought that a built-in kickstand would become such a popular feature? Well, the Photon 4G's got one, so you can place it on a desk to watch videos, view slideshows...
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Fancy alarm clock

...or use it as a desk clock and weather station!
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Sprint ID

The carrier will offer its Sprint ID pack as a way for users to customize their phones.
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As with the Atrix, there will be a number of Photon-compatible accessories at launch, including a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, an HD multimedia dock, and a car dock.

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