By September 5, 2010

Review: Motorola XT720

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The Motorola XT720 is the latest super phone from Motorola that packages a hefty 8mp camera capable of capturing HD Widescreen video. So what is it? Does it have the beans to take on the iPhone 4 or is it just a feature phone with an extra lump on the side?

 

Working around the device, the top contains a power button and a connector for the HDMI cable, alongside  a 3.5mm headphone socket and on the corner is a hole for a charm or strap.

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The right side has only a socket for the micro USB charger. Apologies for the use of a cropped stock shot, my camera had a really hard time focusing on the details with the almost mirrored surfaces.

The left has a volume rocker and on the bulge is a camera button and a button that takes you to the media gallery.

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The bottom has a bit of a signature styling and a small hole for the microphone.DSCN1668

The front sees a few sensors on the top left. There is a grill for a speaker and to the right is a large Motorola emblem. The 3.7” screen is generous enough but when you consider there is a bezel around the outside measuring a whopping 0.4mm each side you can’t help but wonder why there wasn’t a larger screen on here.
Under the screen are the soft buttons for Android. Each manufacturer seems to lay these out differently and it’s kind of annoying, especially for a reviewer. I am used to HTC’s Nexus One arrangement of Home, Menu, Back and Search. Here it switches to Menu, Home, Back and Search. Not the worst thing in the world but if you are going to this from a long time with a different Android device you’ll find yourself unnecessarily exiting apps by accident.
At the bottom right are a few little indicators to assist you with the media side of the phone. Each indictor will illuminate depending on what function you are using, media gallery, stills camera or video camera.DSCN1685 DSCN1686

The back is oddly blue and looks a little… industrial. There is a larger xenon flash and a 8 megapixel camera in the corner. The silver edge around the camera is raised ever so slightly to protect the clear plastic lens cover from light scrapes.

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Under the solid back cover is the 1390mAh battery. The sim card and SD card slip in here however the SD card has a rather cumbersome method of securing it. A piece of rotating plastic swings around 180 degrees allowing access to the slot.

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The Motorola XT720 is a pretty hefty device but this is by no means a bad thing. Many of the Android flagships we have seen of late have been a bit flimsy or as solid as this. The XT720 looses no marks on build quality. It’s heavy and durable. Many devices with moving parts can squeak after a while, thankfully the XT720 only has a couple of little port covers, that whilst fiddly, don’t feel as though the next time you use them it will be their last.

The screen doesn’t occupy as much space as one might expect given the overall footprint of the handset. There is a bezel that surrounds the screen and whilst hardly an obtrusive frame it covers a large percentage of the total area. It’s also a glossy silver plastic that is just waiting for your finger prints. You WILL need a polish cloth at the ready.

One of the biggest attractions to this phone is the camera and it really does disappoint. Whilst the camera function does take a few seconds too long to boot the photos are generally crisp and pleasing to the eye providing you are not moving. Turning the image capture settings to the 8mp Wide settings, which will be the preferable setting, will result in blur. The shots below are all taken on the 8mp Wide setting. The most pleasing is the low level light shot of my old Megadrive. At close range the flash bounce off the shiny black plastic is minimal and the picture is easily the best I have managed to capture. In the ideal lighting conditions, a sunny day in the forest, the camera struggles to produce a stable image even when I was completely static. Movement from the hounds was easily noticeable.

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Video is a different story. I would never expect a phone to produce superb quality video to rival a video camera. Of all the video I took I think the video below is the most ideal display of the phone capabilities. In the forest I panned across a number of different light intensities to show how well the camera adjusts to the different light conditions. There is quite a bit of grain and as the image flare blends in and out you can see the video becomes a little choppy. Whilst the output is a little disappointing it has to be said that video cameras on phone have come a long way and even though this really isn’t the HD video some customers will be expecting it’s still a cut above the rest.

 

The phone’s processor speed might be the route of all evil here. Maybe the 2.1 version of Android. An upgrade to 2.2 may help the grease the wheels the camera runs on. The HDMI out allows for some handy playback on a home TV however I’m not sure how often it would be used other than a one off to see it working. The playback is fine, didn’t seem to be really suffer from any hardware problems, only those generated during the initial shooting of video.

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One of my favourite features on the phone is the Moto Phone Portal. A software solution so handy I’m searching for a similar piece of software for my Nexus One. The clicking of the application, starts a client on the phone that operates over wifi or wire and it lets you interact with your phone without picking it up. You can transfer media, update contacts, send SMS and there are some shortcuts to Motorola’s website to find accessories.  As you can see from the above screenshot it isn’t entirely compatible with Google Chrome.

There has been much said by others about the look of the device. I am in the smaller community of lovers. For me the look is stylish, oddly retro and modern whilst combing design aspects of other recent Motorola handsets. From bulging in one corner to proudly pronounce it’s camera facilities to the back which looks much like compact camera ought to. This typical slab setup of the XT720 is that little bit different. The lines make the device very easy to handle. All buttons are accessible aside from the top power button that really feels like it should be on the other side of the top.

There is a bit of debate about the actual speed of the processor. Initially it seems snappy enough but when you hit the camera button you do have to wait a few seconds longer than most other devices. During the load time if feels almost criminal and that antic you are looking to capture will probably have lost it’s moment.

The price of the unit is roughly £340, for what you are getting, this is a pretty good price.

Overall the XT720 is a fine handset. If you are one of the few who see it as sexy instead of ugly and are happy enough with the somewhat lacklustre processor then the phone is a joy. The job this phone sets out to do well it fails at, namely, photos and videos. However, this is a phone, not a camera and when judging it on its main feature the handset is a success. Every Android handset continues in the tradition of having something to stop it from excelling and the XT720 is no exception to this rule.

Thanks go out to Clove who have supplied us this review device

Network – GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 1700 / 2100
Data – GPRS, EDGE,  3G, HSDPA, 10.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, DLNA
Bluetooth – Yes, v2.1 with A2DP
Size – 116 x 60.9 x 10.9 mm
Weight – 139 g
Display – TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 480 x 854 pixels, 3.7 inches
Memory – 150 MB storage, 256 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM, microSD, up to 32GB, 8GB card included
USB -  microUSB v2.0
Camera – 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, Xenon flash, Video [email protected]
OS – Android OS, v2.1 (Eclair)
CPU – ARM Cortex A8 720 MHz processor
GPS -  with A-GPS support
– Java
– Touch-sensitive navigation controls
– 3.5 mm audio jack
– Multi-touch input method
– Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
– Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
– Digital compass
– MP3/WAV/WMA/AAC+ player
– MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264 player
– TV-out (720p video) via HDMI port
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
– YouTube, Google Talk
– Document viewer
– Photo viewer/editor
– Face tagging
– Organizer
– Voice memo
– T9
Battery – Li-Po 1390 mAh
Stand-by – Up to 320h (2G) / Up to 320h (3G)
Talk time – Up to 4h 30 min (2G) / Up to 9h (3G)

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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