It seems like the wars between the major cell phone companies are always crossing borders. We often get an Android device that looks oddly like an iPhone, or a new Blackberry that borrows some design features from Android handsets. While this is sometimes a happy mistake, there are often targeted reasons for it. That’s the case with the Motorola XPRT from Sprint.
The XPRT is one of the “enterprise class” Android devices we are starting to see pop up. The trend really got heated with the launch of the Motorola Droid Pro on Verizon. These phones include Blackberry style QWERTY keyboards, with minimal specs and over the top security features. They often come equipped with 256-bit encryption and full Exchange mail support. The XPRT follows his trend, so let’s take a look at what makes the XPRT a true business class device.
Sometimes it feels like you see the same phone 3 or 4 times a year, with nothing really changing but the carrier branding. That’s the case with the XPRT. The phone it’s a rehash of is the Motorola Droid Pro, which I already mentioned is on Verizon. The body styles are almost identical, with only a few cosmetic differences. The keyboard on the XPRT extends all the way to edge of the phone, where as on the Pro is stopped a little short. The XPRT also features a rather nice textured back, where the Pro’s is smoother.
The keyboard is pretty nice, if you like hardware keyboards. It has a nice spring to it, giving it a satisfying typing action. The key spacing and size aren’t great for my fingers, but its something I think I would adjust to. When I was typing some test emails, I enjoyed using the hardware keyboard, despite not typically being a fan of them.
Overall, the XPRT is a solid device. It comes sporting a 1GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, a 5MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 2GB of internal storage, a 2GB removable SD card (with support for up to 32GB), and a 1860 mAh battery. Moto says that the battery will get 9 hours of talk time, and I got about that in my testing. It has a 3.1″ touch screen above its keyboard that isn’t the worst I’ve ever used.
Like I said, the XPRT has a 5MP rear camera with dual LED flash. While I think most consumers want a front facing second camera on their devices now, this phone doesn’t have one. While that won’t be a game changer for the target business audience, it will deter some people away from the XPRT.
The included camera is decent. I am not overly impressed with the image quality, but its not horrible. It comes with a couple of nice added settings, like panorama and self portrait. Panorama worked well for me, but I couldn’t get self portrait to work as advertised. Here are some test shots from the XPRT:
The XPRT comes stock with Android 2.2 FroYo. This is getting pretty annoying at this point. There is no reason that any phone released at this point in the year should not have Gingerbread 2.3 on it at the very least. Given that they should want the latest software for the best security, FroYo is almost unforgivable. On top of that, it also has MOTOBLUR on it, which makes it 10 times worse.
Despite my personal convictions regarding the OS, the XPRT was a nice device to use. It felt like a solid midrange Android device. I loved the camera app, mostly due to the extra features I mentioned above. I was also a fan of the contacts system offered by Motorola, which offers some subtle differences from the one shipped with Touchwiz on my Captivate.
The XPRT does, however, come with some nice enterprise-level security features. It has built in Exchange ActiveSync Server support, including password support, data wipe and encryption, and password and pin lock. It is also the first of Sprint’s Android devices to come with support for the previously mentioned 256-bit AES data encryption. While those are all thing I know enterprise users would want, I had no way of testing their usefulness in the real world.
The XPRT comes preloaded with some proprietary Sprint software, including Sprint Worldwide, Sprint Football Live, and NASCAR. I could not find a way to remove this bloatware form the device in my time with it. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, however. It also comes with Motorola Phone Portal, which enables USB and DLNA data sharing on the phone.
Motorola XPRT: Solid, but Outdated
Overall, I think that the XPRT is a solid business class Android device. It’s feature set will keep even the most paranoid IT guy happy. It has a snappy response time with lag only happening when loading apps that shouldn’t be on a business phone in the first place. It’s price tag of $130 should be attractive to many enterprise customers.
However, the software it is running feels outdated at this point. While its a problem across Android, I think that business users need to be on the latest firmware to prevent security issues. It’s aggravating to see a device with this kind of potential for capturing a new audience for Android be wasted by old software.
I give the Motorola XPRT a 3.5/5, for nice feeling hardware, a decent camera, and running outdated software. It is available now from Sprint and will run you $129.99 with a 2 year contract. However, you may want to wait on the Pax, which is rumored to be the XPRT’s beefier big brother.
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