Sprint's Motorola XPRT smartphone sports a small display atop a physical QWERTY keyboard. But who will buy it in this day and age? Hardcore enterprise email users.
Normally, when I lead off a gadget
review, I note how I've used a phone/tablet as my primary communications or
media consumption device for the past X number of days or weeks.
I can't in good conscience
claim that with Sprint's
(NASDAQ:S) Motorola XPRT
, which you can buy now for $129.99 on a two-year
I tried using it regularly
for the last week, but kept putting it down in favor of my
Motorola (NASDAQ:MMI) Droid X to watch YouTube clips, download applications
and do other things I like to do via a bigger virtual touch-screen.
It's not that the XPRT
bad phone. On the contrary, the device is solid, running Android 2.2 and
capably powering YouTube, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn and all manner of
applications with the 1GHz processor. See
the rest of the specs here
The device is almost exactly
like the Motorola Droid Pro Verizon Wireless launched last November for $179.99
with a contract. Both devices feature
3.1-inch HVGA (320 by 480 resolution) displays perched atop a full QWERTY
keyboard, and both promise encryption to secure corporate data. Both devices
enable international roaming in more than 200 countries, which is ideal for the
corporate road warrior traveling for business.
The XPRT's similarity to the
Droid Pro isn't the problem. The problem is the form factor; the device, which
is business-brisk gray and black enclosed in a pebbled plastic casing, looks
and works like a BlackBerry from Research In Motion.
As in, the BlackBerrys that
used to be super-popular all over the country, but are
being ignored or tossed aside for Apple's iPhone and Android smartphones
with bigger, crisper touch-screens and even 4G radios.
When I tested the Droid Pro
last November, I still believed smartphones with physical keyboards have their
place in the world for power email users on the go. Since that time, I've
tested over a dozen Android smartphones, with most of them featuring a
solid-to-great virtual keyboard.
I'm thinking of Sprint's
Samsung Nexus S 4G, AT&T's Motorola Atrix 4G, and my current favorite,
Verizon Wireless' Samsung Droid Charge. Heck, I'm even thinking of my own Droid
X, which turns 1 year old July 15. Old hardware? Maybe, but the phone runs
I'm no longer inclined to
use, let alone buy, a phone that trades off the 4-inch or greater virtual
keyboard to split the input work between a Lilliputian touch-screen and a
classic, BlackBerry-style QWERTY keyboard. That's exactly what the XPRT, like
the Droid Pro before it, offers.