Motorola XPRT Hero

Android phones aren't always the best for the business set, but that's not for a lack of trying. Last year, Motorola and Verizon Wireless brought us the Droid Pro, a phone aimed right at BlackBerry defectors. Now Sprint users get their own version, the Motorola XPRT (see what they did there?). The XPRT is pretty much the Pro reborn on a different network.

Is it still good enough for the business-minded? Let's take a look, after the break.

Motorola XPRT ForumMotorola XPRT Accessories

Hardware

Motorola XPRT Front

There aren't too many hardware differences between the XPRT and the Droid Pro. They're almost the same size and weight – the XPRT measuring 61 x 120 x 13 mm and weighing 145 grams – plus have the same 3.1-inch TFT display and a 1-GHz TI OMAP processor inside. Essentially, all of the good things about the Droid Pro's design made it into the XPRT.

As mentioned in our previous review, the phone does feel solid and comfortable to hold one-handed. The volume buttons are in a convenient place on the left edge, just across the screen from the calendar button on the right edge.

Motorola XPRT Left Edge Motorola XPRT Right Edge

 Motorola XPRT Top Edge Motorola XPRT Bottom Edge

The power button and 3.5mm headphone jack sit on top; the micro USB port on the lower left of the phone. A soft white LED casts a halo around this port, so you can find it even in the dark.

Motorola XPRT Back 

The back of the XPRT is slightly different from its Verizon cousin. The Droid Pro's smooth plastic battery door starts off thicker at the top, then slopes down just under the LED flash. Here the matte plastic comes with an etched pattern that provides some extra grip. And the phone remains the same thickness from top to bottom. It's still easy to pry off the back to get at the 1860 mAh Li Ion battery, micro SD and SIM card slots. You won't need to remove the battery to get at the cards -- a big plus.

Motorola XPRT Battery

As a fan of large smartphone screens, I assumed that the XPRT's 3.1-inch display would be too small for me to deal with, especially with a resolution of 320 x 480. Not so. It's fine for reading e-mail and news feeds, and even web browsing was comfortable. When I needed a bit of extra space, I just rotated the phone sideways (orientation switching is on by default). As with the Droid Pro, the trade-off is acceptable if you really want a full keyboard at the ready on the front.

Motorola XPRT Keyboard

The small keyboard is very BlackBerry-esque, and those used to this style should find it easy to get up to speed on the XPRT. The slanted keys help with accuracy, especially if you have no fingernails and type with the pad of your thumb. Typing with nails isn't as comfortable, but the keys don't fight against you too much thanks to the light matte coating. Still, a wider keyboard and keys would suit most serious typists better.

Motorola XPRT Keyboard

The biggest drawbacks are that the numbers don't get a dedicated row, there are no arrow keys, and that long-pressing the keys doesn't bring up the characters you can access by pressing the ALT key in most cases. The last issue may be because you'd have to move your thumb up to the touchscreen to choose the character, anyway, which isn't any more convenient than just pressing ALT. A long press will bring up alternate letters (ones with accents and the like) for relevant keys.

The lack of arrow keys is more of a pain, especially if you find it hard to accurately place the cursor using the touchscreen.

Under the Hood

The XPRT runs on a 1 GHz TI OMAP processor and 2GB of ROM with about 0.95GB available for apps. The phone comes with a 2GB micro SD card and will take up to 32GB.

The XPRT, like the Droid Pro, benefits greatly from having a more powerful phone's processor even though the hardware doesn't tax it much. Even with over a dozen apps running in various states, the phone didn't slow down and offered up good performance. We loaded up Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds Rio and experienced smooth gameplay (even if the screen was a bit too small to make the games enjoyable).

The XPRT will last even heavy users a whole day and then some thanks to the 1860 mAh battery and the small display, which doesn't need a lot of juice. Even with the power hogging Google+ app installed, the XPRT lasted over 24 hours with medium usage. During an hour-long Google Talk session the battery only lost about 10 percent.

As with the Droid Pro, the XPRT is 3G only; no 4G on board.

Call Quality and Speaker

In my time with the XPRT I saw anywhere from 2 to all 5 bars on Sprint's service and across the board call quality remained clear on both ends. The speaker – a narrow, oblong affair inside a wall – offered decent volume when turned all the way up. Enough to hear callers even with a high speed fan running in the background.

Software

Despite Gingerbread being ready and available for some time now, the XPRT is running Android 2.2 Froyo with the Motoblur skin on top.

Motorola XPRT Full Home Screens

The Motoblur interface will be familiar to anyone who's seen a Motorola Android phone from the Droid X onward. Seven home screens, like other Froyo phones, proloaded with a combination of apps and widgets. Motoblur's trappings don't hold much appeal for me, but I do like that you can resize widgets by tapping and holding to select, then dragging the edges. It's very Honeycomb-tastic. The widgets for turning wireless radios and Airplane Mode on and off are also very welcome.

Motorola XPRT Resize Widgets

Icons for Phone, App Launcher, and Contacts are persistent at the bottom of each home screen, but I wish there was a way to customize what goes here. One-touch access to contacts is redundant when you've got the phone launcher right nearby. A browser launcher would be more useful. Here Motorola could take a cue from Samsung; in the TouchWiz UI users can put whatever apps they want in that space.

Since this is a Sprint phone, you can't escape the Sprint goodness when it comes to pre-loaded apps:

  • Sprint Football Live
  • Sprint Music Plus
  • Sprint Radio
  • Sprint TV and Movies
  • Sprint Zone
  • Sprint Mobile Wallet
  • Sprint Worldwide

The Mobile Wallet app is a convenient portal to a service which allows users to use the device as a credit card. Right now only Namco Wireless and Skymall are listed as partners, so maybe this one of those apps that will be good to have in the future.

Other apps on the device:

  • 3G Mobile Hotspot
  • Google Books
  • DLNA
  • File Browser
  • Latitude
  • Manage SIM Card
  • Media Share
  • Motorola Phone Portal
  • NASCAR
  • QuickOffice
  • Motorola Social Networking manager
  • Task Manager
  • TeleNav GPS Navigation
  • IPSec VPN/Basic VPN
  • Motorola Profiles

Motorola XPRT Profiles

Motorola's Profiles feature allows users to set up different groups of home screens for different scenarios. The XPRT comes with just two: Home and Weekend (you can rename them). It's nice that Motorola makes it easy to switch between your personal and work widgets. You might not need quick access to your social media buddies during the work week, and on the weekend you might not want that Exchange mail widget in your face. However, I would like to see a third profile as on the Droid Pro.

Camera

Motorola XPRT Camera

Bucking the dual-camera craze in Android phones, the XPRT has just one rear-facing 5MP lens supported by a dual-LED flash. The camera is nothing to crow about as it takes decent but not very detailed images and passable 720 x 480 video. It's good enough for YouTube or sharing on social networks.

Images open in a new window

Motorola XPRT Camera test - Outdoor Motorola XPRT Camera test - Indoors

Motorola XPRT Camera test - Outdoor Motorola XPRT Camera test - Indoors

There continues to be no hardware button for taking images, which is a shame. 

The wrap up

The bottom line on the Motorola XPRT is that it's the Droid Pro, but for Sprint. If you've been lusting after that phone but didn't want to make the jump to Verizon Wireless, now's your chance. No, the XPRT doesn't have the biggest touchscreen on the market, but it does utilize the pixels it has pretty well. And if you really need that always ready keyboard and candybar form factor, this phone definitely delivers.

And since the XPRT is a world phone, globetrotters won't have to worry over switching phones when traveling overseas.

For $129 with a two-year contract (and a $50 mail-in rebate), it's a nice price as well.

 
There are 17 comments

Looks like another phone to replicate a blackberry. However, I fail to see anything that makes it more inclined towards a business user type phone, other than looks. It's Android with a keyboard.

I suppose, there is no native function to synch with Outlook, which is the defacto standard in business.

In fact, other than the normal VPN, there isn't anything that warrants it being called a "business phone". Included apps are more for entertainment. If they wish to market it as a business phone, they should fill it with business apps.

Hell, it looks like there isn't even a document editor/viewer included!!!

Nice review though!

4cdndctn says:

My parents had a Blackberry and a Lotus, and were jealous of my Evo and my wife's Nexus... They see shiny trinkets and that their kids can navigate them with ease and they get jealous --- happens all the time.
The XPRT is the first Sprint phone I felt comfortable arming them both with that wouldn't overwhelm them with a familiar QWERTY board and a not-too-big screen. The net of it is that the XPRT was a perfect mix of a comfortable shape with a very capable phone that gives them tools to grow into without being intimidating.

But, is it a business phone as the article states from the onset. Are there any business apps included. No.

Don't get me wrong, it looks like a good phone for people who wish a physical keyboard. My point, is that the article at the immediate onset, suggests it's a business phone. But yet, there is really nothing stated, that suggests this.

Am sure your parents like their phone.

maddog2727 says:

No document viewer? It has it. It has a full version of Quickoffice. VPN? Yes, it's included. Also has exchange support and security features for your IT department to control. Just like Blackberry.

This may not be the greatest review (ok, it wasn't that good), but if you search other reviews on the web, you'll see all the business packing power it offers.

At 5.81 in³, this is as big as an 4.3" qHD (960x540) EVO 3D or Photon but with a 3.1" screen at a quarter the pixels (320x480).

c0ldburn3r says:

Cut those nails... I couldn't pay attention to the phone!

Efstratios says:

Women usually have long nails, what's wrong with that?

El Jefe says:

???

You realize that KT Bradford is a woman, right?

ETjumps says:

I've never had a blackberry, but I had about every vesion of treo and I love this phone. used evo for one year, but I will deal with a smaller screen for the keyboard (I never did get to where I really liked the virtual keyboard). And 4g service is scarce so I leave it off and don't remember to turn it on when I do get to a 4g area. I do miss some of the htc sense stuff.

And as far as needing arrow keys for editing (you must have missed it) this phone has the easiest editing I've seen yet--touch anywhere near where you want to edit then touch slide to where you really want it with the assistance of magnification--works great and its easy

oh ok then says:

The screen is the biggest problem I had with this phone. It's too narrow, for starters. There is an inch of wasted space on either side of the screen. The screen resolution itself is mediocre. It wasn't a pleasant screen to look at for reading by any means. I often would get headaches. The touch aspect of the screen was surprisingly poor. I had to mash repeatedly at times to get the touch to register.

The phone itself is on the narrow side. It's not comfortable to hold in one hand. Not sure why they didn't go wide, like a Blackberry. Finally, a optical pad would have been great.

It's a decent effort, but I hope the upcoming Titanium gets it right. All I want is a BB 8330 with a nice screen, camera, and Android.

El Jefe says:

2.2? Really? Come on now.

This is a great phone! It's unlock for international GSM which means you can get a local SIM card when you travel overseas without using Sprint's expensive international roaming charges.

It's small enough to fit in your pocket and the battery is relatively long lasting (e.g. comparing to an EVO 4G).

And the ready keyboard is more convenient than you think if you text or email a lot on your phone. No need to carry a bulky phone with a slideout keyboard or type on a screen.

And if you root this phone (very simple one click process), you can use it to provide wi-fi hotspot either through wireless or Bluetooth tethering. Good for travel to areas where there are no Internet. Turn on the wi-fi app on your phone and you can connect your laptop and tablets without any additional devices.

And tons of business and other apps for Android Froyo.

All that for $129 from Sprint!

oh ok then says:

Why are you trying so hard and obviously to sell this phone?

Who do you work for?

Dark_Blu says:

With less than a GB of useable storage, it has storage than my EVO and a smaller screen, so that's a no go for me. Thanks, but I'll pass.

maddog2727 says:

Do your homework. This has more usable storage than the EVO. I installed the same apps on my XPRT that I had on my EVO and I constantly got "Low Storage" warnings with my EVO, whereas I have plenty left with the XPRT. The XPRT has 2GB of internal storage, the EVO has 1GB.

So with all that being said some ppl like the xprt i do some ppl dont..ok i accidentally deleted google with b g and the search box launcher which ever and noticed other ppl looking for it also so now im looking for a browser to put on my hscreen any suggestions? In the past i liked opera mini but it changed too,so come droiders help a new lady droider have a better web browsing expierence...;) :)

I have had problems with the phone freezing up. When it works, it is great. The problem is it frequently does not work. I had the phone just four months when it completely locked up and would not work at all. Sprint replaced it, for a $30 fee. As the configuration was different on the OS when I got my new phone, there was obviously a bug that both Sprint and Motorola knew about, yet they did not tell their customers and they still charged me to replace it. Additionally, the mobile hotspot feature uses so much battery life and the phone gets so hot that it is impossible to use it. This is another problem that they obviously know about it, because the phone itself warns you that you should plug it in if you wish to use the mobile hotspot feature. Of course, even if you plug in a fully charged telephone activating the mobile hotspot uses battery life faster than the phone charges. I don't really understand the use of a "mobile hotspot," if the phone has to be plugged in, that isn't very mobile. All of these issues are compounded by the fact that Sprint's customer service is still utterly horrid. I have wasted over six hours of my life sitting at their repair center waiting for different facets of the phone to be fixed. I should have never given up my Blackberry. This telephone does not do what it advertises in any reliable manner.

It certainly is not a "phone for business." I would say it is more a phone designed by teenie boppers that think they know what business people need.