Motorola Citrus (Verizon Wireless) review:

Motorola Citrus (Verizon Wireless)

For written communication the Citrus offers everything you'd expect including text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, and e-mail from not only Gmail, but also most POP3 services (such as Hotmail and Yahoo) and some corporate e-mail.

You'll find the usual assortment of organizer features, including an alarm clock, a countdown timer, a calculator, and a calendar that you can sync with Google Calendar. More advanced options also are standard with a speakerphone, speaker-independent voice dialing, Microsoft Quickoffice, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth, a file manager, and access to Verizon's visual voice mail. Unfortunately, that last item requires a $2.99-per-month subscription.

Though it's an Android phone, the Citrus doesn't support the usual Google apps. For starters, the search module is powered by Microsoft Bing just as we saw on Verizon's Samsung Fascinate. Of course, you can access Google Search through the Web browser, but that's not nearly as easy as using the search bar on the home screen. The same goes for the voice search feature and the Maps feature; they are powered by Bing as well. As we said in the Fascinate review, using Bing rather than Google is annoying, and we hate that you can't change the setting. It's not that Bing is inferior; rather, we just don't appreciate Verizon making this decision for us.

The Web browser is fine, but we'd limit browsing time due to the display's small size. Luckily, the touch interface is responsive, but you'll need to scroll around a lot to take it all in. Graphics don't look especially sharp, either, but you do get pinch-and-zoom multitouch, bookmarks, and multiple windows.

The Citrus' camera lens sits on its rear side next to the Backtrack pad.

For media the Citrus has a 3.0-megapixel camera. That's a low resolution compared with most smartphone shooters these days, but it gets the job done. You can take still photos in four resolutions and videos in three resolutions (video capture is 24fps). Regrettably, additional options are limited to a panorama mode, a digital zoom, and geotagging. Needless to say we don't like this growing trend of stripping smartphone cameras of editing options. Photo quality was adequate, and getting images off the phone is easy. The media player is pretty standard for an Android phone; it supports album art and a shuffle mode, and you can organize tracks by playlist.

The Citrus has average photo quality. Colors were faded, and there was some image noise.

For a midrange handset the Citrus comes with quite a few applications. From Verizon there's access to the carrier's V Cast service for streaming video and VZ Navigator for getting directions. You'll also find AccuWeather, Skype, CityID, Facebook, MySpace, WeeWorld, and YouTube. And as a nod to the Citrus' eco-friendly theme, there's a Tree Hugger app that shows the latest environmental news. For more apps, there's the Android Market. The Citrus has 100MB of internal memory and its memory card slot accommodates cards of up to 32GB (a 2GB card comes in the box).

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) Citrus in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was quite satisfying on most fronts. The signal was strong with no static or interference, and voices sounded natural. The volume could be louder--we had a bit of trouble hearing in very noisy places like street corners--but we were pleased with the experience.

Callers also reported good conditions. A few mentioned a background hiss, but they were in the minority. Most could tell that we were using a cell phone, which isn't unusual, but a couple of friends didn't know. We didn't have trouble with automated voice-response systems, though it was best if we were calling from a quiet place. The speakerphone performed reasonably well, too. The Citrus is compatible with M3 and T3 hearing aids.

Motorola Citrus call quality sample Listen now:

Verizon's 3G connection was about average. CNET's Mobile site took about 30 seconds to open, and the full site took almost a minute. Naturally, busier sites will take longer--and simpler sites will open more quickly--so adjust your browsing accordingly. In any case, we wouldn't say this is a phone built for Web browsing.

The Citrus has a rated battery life of 6.3 hours' talk time and 12.5 days' standby time. Our tests reveal a talk time of 6 hours and 27 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Citrus has a digital SAR of 1.39 watts per kilogram.

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