Motorola Electrify 2 (U.S. Cellular) review:

Motorola Electrify 2 (U.S. Cellular)

The 8MP main camera boasts plenty of scene modes and fun filters.

One feature Motorola talks up a lot is its Smart Actions app. Essentially, the software is meant to automate and implement smartphone functions to improve performance. If Smart Actions detects your Wi-Fi network it assumes you're home and that it makes more sense to connect to your router than via the nearest cell tower. Smart Actions will suggest other efficiency tactics, and you can also use the software to create your own rules for phone behavior. It's a nice idea in theory, but many times Smart Actions suggested or even forcibly connected to my Wi-Fi even after I repeatedly chose not to.

Based on my experience with the Atrix HD and Photon Q 4G LTE, I expected to be underwhelmed by the Motorola Electrify 2's camera. To the contrary, while indoor still-life shots were slightly on the dark side, colors were well-saturated. With the option to take either full 8MP or 6MP pictures to match the handset's wide-screen display, detail was relatively clear and sharp. Of course, other phones such as the HTC One V, though using a 5MP sensor, took images with more lifelike color.

Still-life shots were dark but colors were saturated. Brian Bennett/CNET

Moving outside, pictures I snapped in strong sunshine were also pleasing, with brighter colors and adequate details. Video quality wasn't spectacular; test movies I captured weren't as smooth as I would like, lurching from time to time during playback.

Flowers also had pleasing color. Brian Bennett/CNET
Motorola Electrify 2
The camera was fast enough to capture the action. Brian Bennett/CNET

Powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the Motorola Electrify 2 felt very quick on its feet. The phone flipped through menus and home screens and launched applications with no noticeable delay. That said, while Motorola has not confirmed the make and model of the handset's CPU, the Electrify 2 didn't impress when running the Linpack benchmark. It managed a low 71.5 MFLOPs, taking a long 2.36 seconds to do so. Still, that's double the score the HTC One V turned in on the same test.

Testing the Motorola Electrify 2 in New York and roaming on Sprint's CDMA network, call quality was decent but not outstanding. Callers reported that my voice sounded flat and they could immediately identify that I was using a cell phone. That said, they didn't hear any static, hiss, or other abnormalities. Voices piped through the phone's earpiece were clear but volume was on the low end even when set to maximum. The speakerphone, however, fooled callers into thinking we were speaking through the earpiece.

Motorola Electrify 2 call quality sample Listen now:

If you plan to rely on the Motorola Electrify 2 to provide a blazing-fast mobile data connection, you're in for a rude awakening. The phone is only capable of latching onto 3G signals and coughed up speeds to match during New York testing. Download throughput barely cracked 1.6Mbps while upload speeds plodded along at a slow 0.8Mbps.

Despite its thin size, the Electrify 2's 1,780mAh lithium polymer battery helped it demonstrate impressive longevity. It played an HD video file for a long 7 hours and 51 minutes continuously during anecdotal testing. That's longer than the HTC One V managed (6 hours and 4 minutes) but nowhere close to the Samsung Galaxy S3's fantastic stamina (9 hours and 24 minutes).

The $199.99 Motorola Electrify 2 takes a lot of Motorola's current design DNA and expresses it by being slim, stylish, lightweight, and eye-catching. The problem is it costs the same as Samsung's Galaxy S3 superphone and, as you might guess, the GS3 is the much wiser choice. While the Electrify 2's screen is bright, its 4.8-inch qHD (960x540-pixel) resolution LCD screen can't stand up to the Galaxy S3's 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED (1,280x720-pixel) display, which is both sharper and higher-contrast. The Galaxy S3 also boasts a faster processor and twice the RAM, not to mention a better camera and longer battery life. Simply put, the Electrify 2 might make sense at $99.99 perhaps, but not for much more. Also, compared with the Electrify 2, the $99 HTC One V is a smaller and more affordable U.S. Cellular option. I'd choose the HTC One V over the Electrify if you would rather have a more compact device that matches the Electrify's stylish construction but costs $100 less.

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