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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Motorola Admiral (Sprint) review:

Motorola Admiral (Sprint)

The Admiral's 5-megapixel back-facing camera can also record HD video up to 720p. It features an LED flash and 4x digital zoom. You won't be able to take a lot of photos or videos with the phone out of the box, however, since it has only 4GB of internal storage, of which only about 1.5GB is available for file storage. As mentioned above, the phone does have a microSD slot (which also supports the microSDHC standard) to host up to 32GB more of storage.

The phone offers decent photo quality when used outdoors with good sunlight. When used indoors or with flash, pictures tend to be washed-out or look like a scanned photo: grainy and with the contrast being a little off. The camera's 720p HD video offers decent image quality for a camera phone.

The Admiral offers decent photo quality for a camera phone, as long as the lighting is good.

When the lighting is not ideal, it depends on the photographer to make the photo look great.

The Admiral's multimedia capabilities are similar to those of other Android-based phones. It can play back a variety of music and video formats, including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, WMV, MP4, and 3GP. As mentioned above, you definitely need to invest in a microSD card if you want to carry music or video with you, because of the phone's limited internal storage.

The Admiral is a dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) phone that works on Sprint's 3G EV-DO Rev. A network. The phone, unfortunately, doesn't support the carrier's 4G network, and since its 3G is not GSM-based, you can't surf and talk at the same time.

Call quality was great. During testing in the San Francisco Bay Area, I could carry on a long conversation without being disconnected, even when driving from one place to another, and the parties on the other end had no trouble hearing me. On my end, the voice quality is similar to that of a landline phone. I did find, however, that the phone's internal speaker is rather quiet, making it a little hard to hear in a noisy environment, even when I turned the volume to its highest level. Its speaker, however, is very loud, making it a great phone for push-to-talk.

The push-to-talk feature worked well, too. In my trials, at times, the two parties would miss the first one or two words of the first sentence. That's not unusual, though, and was most likely because I started talking before the DC connection was made. I even tested push-to-talk with a friend who lives in Seattle, and got nice results.

Note that because you need to put the DC-supported contacts in the contacts list, the push-to-talk feature takes just a couple of minutes to set up. Then, by pressing the DC button, you can select who to call from a list of contacts (you won't be able to manually type in a number). On the other hand, by putting contacts in a group, you can conference with up to 20 DC contacts at a time and ping all of them via just one push of the DC button. And, of course, you can turn this feature off temporarily or you can block certain numbers selectively if you don't want to be disturbed.

Powered by a 1.2GHz Snapdragon S2 processor and 512MB of RAM, the Admiral provides snappy performance. Most apps load instantly, including the camera. I especially like the camera's hardware button, which helps you take a photo quickly. You do need to press and hold the button for a second for the camera to start, but it's a nice touch to prevent the camera from being turned on by accident.

Equipped with a 1,860mAh battery, the Admiral lasted about two days of regular usage in my trials, with all of its functions, including talk, data, GPS, and running Internet-based apps. That's about almost twice the use time I normally get with the iPhone 4. Its battery is slated to offer 9 hours of continuous talk time or more than three days of standby. According to FCC radiation tests, the Admiral has a digital SAR of 1.06 w/kg.

I was happy with the phone's data connection speed. In testing around the Bay Area, the Admiral averaged around 1,350Kbps down and 670Kbps up, which is about the same as the iPhone 4S' speeds. I found Google Maps loaded instantly, and when I had good signal, YouTube videos would just need a second or two to play, without pausing to rebuffer. The phone's built-in hot-spot app works very well and would take just a second to turn on. The connection, however, wasn't fast enough if you want to stream YouTube movies on two devices at a time.

Internet speed (in Kbps)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Clear 4G+ Apollo
iPhone 4S AT&T
iPhone 4 AT&T
iPhone 4S Sprint
Motorola Admiral
iPhone 4S Verizon

The Motorola Admiral is a workhorse smartphone that delivers. While lacking 4G and a few other fancy features found in other smartphones, its good battery life, great performance, ergonomic design, and rugged build help make it a very good companion for those who want a tough yet stylish phone. The phone is especially a good fit for a group who needs real-time communication, thanks to its well-designed Direct Connect feature.

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