Motorola Milestone XT720 Review
Here is the FoneArena Motorola Milestone XT720 Review
At a time when Motorola was dying, a device they introduced brought back life into the company. The device was the MILESTONE or the DROID as it’s known in the USA. Motorola found this the perfect opportunity to get maximum sales and so they released a number of Android devices many of which included the MILESTONE/DROID badge such as the MILESTONE/DROID 2, DROID X/EXTREME/SHADOW and the MILESTONE XT720 which we are reviewing today.
The MILESTONE XT720 is the direct upgrade to the XT710 which was released after the original MILESTONE. The form factor and most other features and specifications remain same but there are a few upgrades. The camera unit has received a bump from 5 Megapixel to 8 Megapixel, the Gorilla glass screen, the video recording resolution has been increased from D1(720*480 pixels) to HD 720p (1280*720 pixels) , the slightly lesser battery capacity and the processor clock speed has been increased from 600 MHz to 720 Mhz.
The box that the XT720 comes in is quite similar to the latest Motorola phone boxes. A rectangular box quite small and everything is cramped up inside. Here are the contents of the package:
- Motorola XT720
- microUSB Cable
- Charger Adapter
- HDMI Cable (Quite a nice surprise!)
The microUSB cable when connected to the Charger Adapter enables you to charge the phone out of the wall socket. This is an idea that I quite liked and Motorola seem to be implementing it in their current phones. It helps save space for those who are travelling since both the charger and USB cable come together.
In some regions you do get a microSD card with the package, the size also can vary but in most cases it is an 8GB microSD card.
Design and Build Quality
The design is one of the most peculiar aspects of the phone. It is not something that will appeal to everyone but some will really like it.The problem with most touchscreen devices is that they are quite similar in terms of design. With the large frontal touchscreen there’s very little surface to style upon. But Motorola have done quite a bit of experimentation with this phone. The front bezel isn’t of a regular shape. It’s mostly rectangular with curved edges but at the right hand side bottom there’s a bulge.
As far as we’ve figured out the bulge could be due to two reasons, either to provide a better platform for the camera controls or because there wasn’t enough space to accommodate the controls without the bulge. We feel it’s better to go with the former as it does help in gripping the phone better.
The phone measures in at 116×60.9×10.9mm and weighs 139 grams. The phone is not small but quite right considering it houses a 3.7 inch touchscreen and an 8 Megapixel camera unit with Xenon flash. It’s quite easy to hold in your hands and the matte back enhances the grip. The phone isn’t on the light side but considering there’s a lot of metal, it’s not too heavy. Even the back is metal but is covered with rubber to enhance grip. There are no creaks or loose parts the whole phone is very solid and the metal adds to its quality.
The camera unit is gradually raised from the entire body and as a result the phone does not lie flat on an even surface. The camera unit is also not recessed and hence exposes it to scratches and smudges. The front portion quickly gets fingerprints whereas the back is fingerprint free.
The XT720 is available in just the one colour variant called black slate. The frontal touchscreen surface is surrounded by dark grey metallic colour, the bezel is in gun metal silver and the back is in dark blue. This again is a combination not most people will like but we found the contrast to our liking.
Keys and Controls
Being a touchscreen device the number of keys are limited. There are a total of 9 keys on the phone. On the top we have the power key which also doubles as the lock/unlock key. This we didn’t like much. We found it difficult to press the key as it is on the top and is slightly recessed into the casing. The key would have been more easy to use if it was placed on the upper right or left side. Alongside the button is the 3.5mm Audio Jack and to the left of the top portion we have the HDMI slot.
On the upper right side we have the single volume up/down button. Towards the bottom of the right hand side, on the bulge sits the camera control keys. One key switches between the Photo,Video and Gallery modes. The other key is the camera shutter button. The keys are easy to access and have sufficient feedback. On the upper left side we have the microUSB port which also doubles as the charging port.
On the front just below the touchscreen are the 4 touch sensitive buttons- Contextual Menu Key, Home Key, Return Key and the Search key. These keys function fine and you get sufficient response from the vibration upon pressing them.
The phone is equipped with a 3.7 “Capacitive touchscreen with 480*854 pixels resolution and gorilla glass. The gorilla glass protects the screen from scratches and breaks quite nicely. There accelerometer supports auto-rotation of UI from portrait to landscape and vice versa. The proximity sensor shuts off the display during a call to avoid mis-inputs. Multi-touch is supported.
The display has good feedback and even slight touches are registered properly. Styluses cannot be used unless they are made specifically for capacitive touchscreens.
The gorilla glass does not seem to be as clear as the ones found on other phones and as a result the legibility under sunlight is quite poor. The display performs quite ok indoors but still falls short of most other touchscreens. The screen even makes a slight ringing sound when you tap on it.
The 3 dots above the display are the proximity sensors and the ambient light sensor. Those look hideous and they could have at least hidden the proximity sensor as in other phones.
Calling and Messaging
Call quality was decent and its nothing we would complain about. The Messaging interface is just the native Android version with suggestions being displayed above the onscreen keyboard. You also have the ability to have your speech converted to text thanks to Google speech recognition.
The XT720 comes Android 2.1 on board and there is a slight chance it might get an upgrade to OS 2.2 . The UI looked pretty much like stock Android with minor tweaks by Motorola .We assume MotoBlur was missing. Below is a benchmark test. The Motorola MILESTONE XT720 performance is highlighted in yellow.
Connectivity and Memory
Connectivity is not a problem with most phones today and the Xt720 is no exception. It is equipped with GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 and a microUSB 2.0 port.
There is also a hot swappable microSD card slot under the battery cover. But we would have preferred it if it was on the outside and not underneath the cover. It supports cards upto 32GB and an 8GB microSD card is bundles with the sales package in most regions.
The data transfer rates to the phone are quite fast but we feel it could have been a little faster but it’s not slow in any way.
We were quite impressed by the audio quality of the XT720. Although it does not belong to the top category of audio performers, it did better than we expected, both through the loudspeakers and headphones. There is very little distortion even at full volume. You can connect your own headphones without an adaptor using the 3.5mm audio jack. The 3.5mm audio jack is located on the top of the device next to the power button and the loudspeaker is located below the battery cover at the back.
Both the audio jack and the loudspeaker are quite well placed. The music player is quite good but it can be improved. They could add equalizer presets and more visualizations. The audio formats supported include MP3, AAC, eAAC+, WAV and WMA9.
You can also stream your music to wireless Bluetooth headsets using the A2DP profile.
The MILESTONE has a large 3.7 inch Capacitive touchscreen with 480×854 pixels resolution capable of displaying upto 16 million colours. The disappointing fact however is that the MILESTONE is not able to take advantage of the beautiful screen. This is because of the very limited number of formats supported by it. The default video player supports MP4, 3GP and WMV9.
Popular formats such as DivX, XviD or MKV are not supported at all. This means you would have to convert most of your videos if you want to play it on your device. Conversion of videos takes a lot of time and thus causes inconvenience. This is one major issue we would like to be fixed in the video player. We are sure that the device will be able to perform exceptionally well given its brilliant screen and hardware.
The video player plays the supported video files just fine. Being a touchscreen phone it is easy to navigate through the video. The sound can be played through the loudspeaker, through the headphones or over Bluetooth to an A2DP compatible device.
The XT720 packs one of the most powerful camera units on an Android phone. It is equipped with an 8 Megapixel camera and Xenon flash.
The camera interface is pretty basic. There is a pane on the right with shortcuts allowing easy change of settings such as:
- Scene Mode (Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Sunset, Macro)
- Flash Mode (On, Off, Auto)
- Brightness (From -3 to +3)
- Capture Mode
For the other setting you have to use the contextual key to get to them. You can choose the :
- ISO setting (Auto, 100, 200, 400 or 800)
- Picture resolution (8 MP Wide, 8 MP, 5 MP, 3 MP, 2 MP, 1MP or VGA),
- Panorama resolution(2 MP, 1 MP or VGA),
- Video resolution [HD 720p (1280×720), SD (720×480),VGA (640×480), QVGA (320×240) or QCIF (176×144)]
- Review time (Off, 2, 4, 6 Seconds)
- Web upload address
- Face Recognition On/Off
- Image Stabilization On/Off
So it does offer some settings but not the extensive settings that a camera handset should give. Some of the things missing are the colour tones, contrast adjustment, white balance etc. One good thing about the camera is that it remembers the setting that you last selected without having to save them. They are saved as and when you select them and will be the settings chosen the next time you run the application.
The camera shutter key is great no doubts about that. It has a good feedback, not too hard nor too soft. Press it half way and it focuses and upon full press the image is captured. There is no touch to focus but what we really liked is the ability to choose the object that you want to focus on. Just drag the square to the object and then focus using the shutter key. There is no optical zoom just the digital zoom but it isn’t worth it.
Right next to the shutter key is the mode switching key which helps to toggle between the photo, video and gallery modes. The button is quite nice and below it are three icons which light up according to the mode selected. The raised platform on which the two buttons are placed also makes it quite comfortable to take pictures.
The image quality is good but not great. The brightness and contrast are on the lower side. Detailing is quite good but not to the level of the best camera phones on the market. The performance under lowlight is poor. That’s where we expected the flash to compensate but unfortunately the flash is quite poor even though it’s a Xenon. And even with the flash on we noticed a lot of noise in the pictures.
The videos can be recorded at a maximum of 1280×720 pixels which qualifies as HD. But the truth is that even though you get a large resolution the videos are quite crappy especially during lowlight conditions or indoors even if you select the night mode.
The videos are also quite choppy and even though Moto claims it to have 24 FPS recording, were sure it’s well below that mark. Also the videos are recorded in 3GP format and are compressed which further reduces quality. We would have liked mp4 format at least.
The camera unit is raised from the body and there is no protection for the lens. The lens is also not recessed into the casing which means its not just smudges you have to worry about but also scratches. Our review unit had a bit scratched out of the ring around the lens too.
Here are some of the samples, click on the images to get the full resolution pictures.
The XT720 comes equipped with a 1390mAh Battery. Motorola claim standby times of 320 hours. The capacity seems enough but during our review times we found the battery to last slightly over a day at max. That too it was in the 2G only mode.
One advice to users is to reduce the brightness and avoid using the auto brightness setting. This helped us get a couple of hours extra battery life with the handset.
The XT720 was first announced as the MOTOROI for Korea and we were really excited about it. But it has been launched in the market when there are lots of faster Android phones out there.The multimedia aspects of the XT720 are worth appreciating but the phone’s design wont impress everyone.It’s one of the best Android Camera phones .The phone is retailing at around Rs.25000 in the market and we would suggest you wait for a while for the price to drop if you intend to pick one.