Motorola Photon 4G Is a Monster for Multimedia Lovers

Sprint's Motorola Photon 4G is the latest entry into the Android army of high-end smartphones built for major multimedia consumption. The Gingerbread gadget doesn't disappoint.

The Motorola Photon 4G is one of the better smartphones on the market for multimedia consumption, boasting a kickstand to prop up the device while listening to tunes or watching YouTube clips and other content hands-free.

The Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" handset, which Sprint began selling last week for $199.99 on contract, can also be connected to an HDTV with an optional dock to let you port music, photos, video and other content onto a larger screen. More on that later as I go through the phone's key specifications.

The Photon is sleek and muscular looking. The front is imbued with a gorgeous 4.3-inch qHD (quarter high-definition) Corning Gorilla Glass display that adorns most of the 5-inch-long phone's real estate with a resolution of 960 by 540.

The typical Android input buttons comprise the rest of the phone's face. As spartan as the gadget's front is, the back has Sprint and Motorola logos. The metal kickstand is a strip of metal embedded in the phone's soft, black plastic enclosure.

There is an 8-megapixel camera that shoots great pictures, captures HD video in 720p and plays it back in 1080p. These accoutrements make it clear you're using a multimedia-friendly machine. A front-facing VGA shutter for video chat accompanies the 8MP shooter; this camera worked OK using Qik.

Watching videos and listening to tunes, as well as sharing such content through the media gallery on this handset is a blast. Several elements are at work here to make both actions enjoyable.

While the aforementioned kickstand for propping the device is a nice perk, the phone speeds data on Sprint's 4G WiMAX network via the Nvidia dual-core Tegra 2 1GHZ processor, a chip I've tested on myriad smartphones and tablets, and found to be more than serviceable.

I was able to easily port music from my PC to the Photon 4G via the phone's included USB cable. YouTube videos and games played without a hitch.

The device boasts 1GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard memory, expandable to a 32GB SD card, for up to 48GB of storage. So it should meet the data and application storage needs of most users.

The real joy of using the phone is something you will have to think about making an extra investment in. Sprint sent me the Motorola HD Station, a $129 dock that works just like the multimedia dock for the Motorola Atrix 4G.

I plugged the Photon 4G into the small dock, which connects to an HDTV via the included HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable. From there, I accessed any music or photos from the Photon 4G, as well as my Facebook photo gallery.