Motorola MILESTONE XT720

Introduction

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The Motorola Milestone XT720, also known as the Droid in the US, has given positive results so far with its features. Widely advertised to be Motorola’s camera phone extraordinaire, this touchscreen phone has a traditional candy bar form with some exciting styling, a WVGA resolution screen and an 8MP camera on the back with auto-focus and a Xenon flash. It runs on Google Android.

Design

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The Motorola MILESTONE XT720’s shiny front panel is so reflective to the point that it can be mistaken as a mirror. The back panel is different from the front where it adds grip and has a solid feel. While being only 10.9mm thick, this phone feels hefty for a touch screen handset of this size. With its styling, the MILESTONE XT720 feels larger while holding it than its specs proclaim. The front of the phone is occupied by the capacitive screen. While it is large and beautiful with a resolution of 480×854 pixels, the display being sharp and bright, the vivid colours and viewing angles make it a pleasure to gaze at. Although the pixel density won’t be rivalling that of the Apple iPhone 4, against other Android devices, it is the king of the mountain, beating even the HTC Desire and the Samsung Galaxy S. As previously mentioned, the mirror-like screen shows fingerprint smudges very easily and while it isn’t very noticeable when the screen is illuminated, when on standby, the evident smudges don’t look good at all. Despite the glossy screen, the Motorola Milestone XT720 is usually viewable outdoors, except under very bright direct sunlight.

Below the display lie four capacitive Android buttons, the phone speaker and the microphone, as well as indicators of the camera and gallery at the bottom right (right below the camera button). On the top of the Milestone XT720 is the 3.5mm headphone jack, a (mini) HDMI port and the power button, with the volume up/down control, camera button and gallery button on the right. Under the back cover lies the battery, a 1390 mAh Li-Ion battery. The microSD card slot is hot swappable; all you need is to take off the back cover to access it without removing the battery. The phone’s left side has a micro-USB port while the loudspeaker, camera and xenon flash are all located on the back. This Milestone is much thinner, thanks to the removal of the keyboard.

Features

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However, its performance changes everything. The European release, which packs a 550Mhz processor under the hood is seeing slowdowns occurring more often than we expected it to on such a feature loaded phone. Some of the best publicised things in the phone, such as the screen and camera, are barely given the power needed to give users a smooth experience. The menus stumble quite a lot and flicking between home-screens is more often than not, laggy and indifferent. The camera also starts slowly. While the European release of the Milestone XT720 is flawlessly usable, the lack of subtlety mentioned above gives other premium Android smartphones the advantage in terms of usability. It seems that Motorola have picked up on criticisms regarding the processor which has led the US release getting a boost to 720Mhz, although sadly too late for the European Motorola-Fans.

The Milestone includes face detection, image stabilisation, the ability to set the ISO between 100 – 800, multi-shot mode and a series of scene modes like macro and portrait for its camera. The Motorola MILESTONE XT720 excels as a working phone. With excellent noise cancelling, the call quality is very clear, both when receiving and making calls. With very good reception, we’re pleased to announce that this phone is very pleasing to talk on.

Pros and Cons

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The Motorola Milestone XT720 has come a long way with its superb call quality and truly wonderful music experience. With its bright and sharp screen, 8MP Camera with Xenon flash and HDMI output, it seems as though it can hardly do anything wrong.

However, its slow processor ended up affecting many aspects of the phone, especially the European model. There is also the issue of the camera overcompensating for the images and the designs of capacitive buttons below the screen are not very optimal. The glossy screen shows fingerprint smudges after even a short use which may irritate certain users. The erratic HD video capture may also be a deal breaker for some.

Conclusion

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The Motorola Milestone XT720 is awesome but it’s still lacking the “oomph”. Its abundance of features means it will never disappoint, whereas a couple issues reduce it to commonplace when it could’ve been something awesome. The slow camera and agonizingly erratic HD video capture, stumbling when scrolling the menu and changing home-screens all make the European Milestone XT720 feel very underpowered for a new generation smartphone. However, it does deliver in providing a broad set of features which could be worth the sacrifice in subtlety. Lacking the smooth user experience that we’ve come to expect from other phones such as the HTC Desire and/or the Apple iPhone 4, we would certainly recommend either one of these as alternatives to the Motorola Milestone XT720. If you are in the market for an Android alternative with a decent camera, you may want to check out the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 as well.