Motorola Citrus (Verizon Wireless) review: Motorola Citrus (Verizon Wireless)

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The Good The Motorola Citrus has a simple design and a functional feature set that includes a file manager. Call quality is quite good.

The Bad The Motorola Citrus forces you to use Bing for search and maps. The Web browser experience isn't great, and typing can be tedious on the small display.

The Bottom Line The Motorola Citrus is small and devoid of high-end features, but it works as a beginner Android phone.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

The Motorola Citrus for Verizon Wireless is part of a quintet of U.S. Android smartphones that Motorola released at CTIA Fall 2010. Positioned as an entry-level device with an eco-friendly bent, the Citrus lacks the physical keyboards of the Flipout and Flipside, the enterprise security features of the Droid Pro, and the higher-end offerings of the Bravo. It comes together well, however, especially with a price tag of $49.99 price tag if you buy it online and sign a new two-year service contract. True, we didn't love everything, but the practical feature set and satisfying call quality (data performance was another story) balance out any deficiencies.

The Citrus' minimalist candy bar design won't stand out from the smartphone crowd. Honestly, that's fine in our book; not every phone needs to be a looker. Plus, when you consider the recent avalanche of Android phones, it's getting more difficult to offer unique styling. With a name like "Citrus," we'd expect a more colorful skin beyond the standard smartphone gray, but that's not the case here.

The Citrus has a standard candy bar design.

At 4.09 inches long by 2.32 inches wide by 0.59 inch deep, the Citrus is small as smartphones go. Indeed, portability isn't a concern; the handset fits easily into a pocket or bag. Weighing just 3.88 ounces, it has a slightly wispy feel in the hand, a fact that isn't helped by the plastic shell. It doesn't feel too fragile, but we'd exercise care when handling the device.

On the right spine you'll find a volume rocker and a camera shutter. The former is flatter than we'd like, but you can find it when you're on a call. The Micro-USB charger port sits on the left spine and a dedicated power control and 3.5-millimeter headset jack are up on top. Unfortunately, the microSD card slot rests inconveniently behind the battery cover, but at least it's not behind the battery as well.

On the Citrus' rear side you'll find the camera lens and Moto's Backtrack navigation pad. The latter works just as it did on the Motorola Backflip. By sliding your finger across it, you can swipe through home screens and move around the main menu. Also, when you're ready to select items, you can do so with a double tap. Though its placement is better than on the oddly designed Backflip, we usually opted for the touch screen. By all means, it's a nice option to have--and it works as advertised--but we find it a bit redundant. Use it if you like or turn it off in the Settings menu.

As mentioned, the Citrus' display isn't the shiniest around. That's understandable considering the phone's wallet-friendly price, but discriminating smartphone users likely will be disappointed. It measures just 3 inches diagonally, which is about half an inch smaller than we prefer for an Android device. The menus and virtual dialpad were fine, but the standard Android virtual keyboard was pretty cramped, even when using Swype. We suggest giving it a try before buying. On the upside, the Citrus has seven home screens that you can customize with widgets, shortcuts, and app folders.

The Citrus' virtual keyboard was too small for our tastes.

Below the display are four navigation touch controls: Menu, Home, Back, and Search. Like the display, the controls are responsive and need only a light touch. Below them are two physical controls: a Talk button and an End/power key. They have a comfortable rubbery feel.

The Citrus is Moto's first Android phone to go for the green market. It's made out of 25 percent post-consumer plastic, it's free of harmful materials, it's certified carbon-free, and its box is made with recycled material. Sure, Samsung's Evergreen surpasses the Citrus with 70 percent recycled plastic, but something is better than nothing.

The Citrus' phone book is typical for an Android device. It's limited only by the available memory and each contact can be associated with multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses, a photo, a street address, an instant-message handle, a company name, a birthday and anniversary, a nickname, a URL, and notes. You can choose to send specific calls directly to voice mail and you can back up all contacts with the integrated Backup Assistant.

The Citrus offers caller groups, a contacts search feature, and 56 polyphonic ringtones for caller ID. That's quite a healthy assortment for a midrange phone, even if Moto's dreadfully named "Romancing the Tone" does make an appearance. If the provided assortment isn't enough, you can access Verizon's V Cast Tones and purchase clips of your favorite songs.

The Citrus runs Android 2.1 Eclair and the revamped Motoblur interface. We'd prefer Froyo, to be sure, but we'll take Eclair as a fallback. Moto promises that the Citrus will upgrade to Froyo at some point, but we don't know when. Motoblur has all the elements of the interface that first appeared on the Cliq, but Moto made some welcome refinements like resizable widgets, more access to your corporate directory, the ability to retweet Twitter updates with one touch, and enabling you to better filter the Happenings widget.