Motorola Photon 4G coming to Sprint July 31, $200 with contract

Summary:Motorola Photon 4G is Sprint's first 4G world phone with enterprise-level security features. Will it please consumers as well as IT managers with its Atrix-like station and Vehicle Navigation Dock?

Sprint introduced the Motorola Photon 4G just last month and is already bringing the smartphone to stores by the end of July: pre-sale for Premium customers start July 28, while everyone else should mark their calenders for July 31. As Sprint's first 4G world phone that is designed to meet enterprise-level IT needs, Motorola is clearly trying to woo the jet-setting business professionals with this phone, but will it win over hearts and wallets of consumers?

At first glance, the Motorola Photon 4G looks just like the HTC Evo 3D as both Sprint phones share the same 4.3" qHD (540 X 960) touchscreen and run Android Gingerbread (2.3), but that's where their similarities end. The Photon 4G has a less powerful duo-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 1 GHz CPU than the Evo 3D, 1 GB RAM, but has a significantly higher internal storage capacity at 16 GB that is expandable with a 32 GB SD card (48 GB in total). It also sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash as well as a front-facing VGA cam for video conferencing, can double as a 3G/4G Mi-Fi hotspot for up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices, and comes with a built-in kickstand (as pictured above).

Hardware-wise the Photon 4G will be one of the best phones available, but what sets it apart are its consumer-friendly peripherals and corporate-minded features.

Consumer-Friendly Peripherals

Like the Motorola Atrix, the Photon 4G will also plug into a docking station for extra functionality; the HD Station that includes a wireless remote, a HDMI and 3 USB ports but not a keyboard, which connects the Photon 4G to a larger screen that uses the Webtop platform. (A bluetooth-enabled keyboard is also available for $70.) Other than the fact the dock will cost $100, no other photos or specifications are available yet. It seems like Motorola listened to the criticism for the Atrix dock and is offering the HD Station at a more affordable price point this time around.

The other interesting add-on to the Photon 4G is the Vehicle Navigation Dock, which adds maps, turn-by-turn navigation, hands-free calling and music streaming to your car via your phone. This device will cost $59.99, which is an inexpensive way to update a car with new technologies. That said, the the turn-by-turn directions could add significantly to your data bill but we won't know how it really works until the device launches.

World Phone

The Motorola phone works on Sprint's WiMax 4G network (CDMA), but it also has "international GSM capabilities for those who travel abroad," according to the press release. Although Sprint did not specify what steps users need to take this phone on the road, it could be similar to Verizon's Motorola Droid 3, where the Photon 4G will be equipped with a SIM card that will only work with Sprint's international carrier partners. Both consumers and business travelers can appreciate a phone that travels well, especially as vacation season heats up.

Enterprise IT Features

But what will please IT managers at corporations and government agencies is that the Photon 4G supports "data encryption and the option to wipe the device’s memory clean remotely," as Rachel King reported on Between the Line last month. I doubt many consumers look for these features in a smartphone, but perhaps businesses will be willing to consider the Photon 4G as the next company phone, so corporate-types won't have to tote separate work and personal phones anymore.

Consumers who are looking for something more fun will probably go for the HTC Evo 3D, but for those who want to take their phone everywhere and make it to do everything a pocket-computer could do will probably appreciate the Photon 4G from Sprint.

The phone will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract. Sprint requires an extra $10 Premium Data fee for smartphone users but does offer an unlimited voice and data service for $69.99 per month, as well as $30 per month for unlimited tethering.

[Source: Sprint press release]

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Telcos

About

Gloria Sin is a New York-based freelance journalist who writes about the tech toys that you can't live without for ZDNet. She has little patience for poorly designed user experiences, and is not afraid of opening the guts of her own machines for repair or hacking her gadgets for new uses.She has written for FastCompany.com, Popular Scienc... Full Bio

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