As some of you folks know, I bought myself a Sprint Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE when it became available.
As I've done before, I'm going to just write about my experiences with this device as I learn about it.
(A little background would probably help: I'm a retired communication engineer who spent a quarter century working in the old Bell System, primarily at Pacific Northwest Bell and Bell Telephone Laboratories.)
For a good while now I've been hoping that my carrier-of-choice, Sprint, would offer a "Droid 4" equivalent device, because that smartphone had an ideal match of overall size, screen size, and physical keyboard for my needs. The physical keyboard, for me, is almost a necessity, as I do not get along well with touch-screen virtual keyboards since my stroke.
While at first glance the new Photon Q ("PQ") looks like a Droid 4 ("D4") clone, there are substantial differences in detail that make the PQ by far the better device.
When I stopped in to my local Sprint corporate store to look at the new PQ, I'd already done a lot of research into the technical details of PQ, and was already familiar with the D4.
I knew, for example, that neither had a user replaceable battery, and that neither the LTE nor the GSM SIMs in the PQ were user replaceable.
Even though there are a number of devices on the market today that do not have user replaceable batteries, I still do not like that trend and would prefer either user replaceable or at least much larger capacity batteries in my devices.
In my first handling of the PQ at the store, it was almost immediately obvious that this was not just a clone of the D4, but a newer, better design. First thing I noticed is the PQ is noticeably faster than the D4 in just about everything it does, next was that it seemed to weigh a little less, and the screen was noticeably larger.
The slide mechanism was smooth, and seemed very well built, which is typical of Motorola, and the physical buttons were all solid feeling - not loose at all.
I played with one of the demo PQs, even took some pictures, and decided I'd go ahead and buy it. I flagged down Willanna, the floor manager (I bought my last phone from her), and told her I'd like one of the PQs.
She verified my account status, then got a tiny box out of the back room.
The box the Photon Q came in would quite honestly have fit into the battery compartment of my first Motorola cellphone...
To be continued...
There have been problems with the Photon Q sending/receiving MMS messages widely reported in many forums.
THERE IS AN MMS PROBLEM FIX!!!
Problem: Photon Q 4G LTE unable to send MMS on 3G and 4G
Discussion: It appears that some Photon Q smartphones had the "NAI" information in their profile corrupted during the activation process, and are therefore unable to send MMS messages unless on WiFi or by using third-party applications.
Correction: Customers with this problem should call Sprint Customer Support at 888-211-4727 from a different phone, and speak to a Customer Service Representative. Tell the representative that you have a Photon Q that cannot send MMS messages, and it may be a problem with the NAI.
The CSR should be able to find their instruction page for this problem on their screens, and should be able to talk you through the steps you need to take to correct the problem. The CSR will also refresh the NAI information in Sprint's database.
Result: The device should be able to send and receive MMS messages while on WiFi, 3G, or 4G connections.
Here are the steps you will take, guided by the Sprint CSR.
Do not try this on your own unless you know what you are doing.
You CAN brick your nice new phone...
Steps to follow:
1. Open your dial pad and dial ##3282#
2. Tap on Data Profile
3. Review Username
The user name (NAI) has extra characters after the first ".com"
When trying to edit this info it asks for passcode (MSL code).
You have to call Sprint to get this six digit number to update the info in your phone.
They will also update your profile (PDP1) within their system (be sure to remind them).
Just did it on my Photon Q and the CSR at Sprint found the note on the problem in her system and corrected my profile username IN THEIR SYSTEM too.
Call took about two minutes.
Pass the word on other forums you are on!
(Extra Bonus: You get your MSL with no hassle.)
Well, one more thing that has amazed me about the Photon Q is how much I've used it...
Since it is so easy to use, and always handy, in the month I've had it I've run right around 10GB of data...
That's not really as bad as it sounds, as only around 1GB was on Sprint 3G, and the rest was on assorted WiFi connections.
I find myself using the PQ more than any previous handheld device I've used. Before the devices were enough hassle that I'd often just wait 'til I was back at a computer, now it seems I almost look for reasons to use the PQ.
Still wish it had a bit more battery (and that it was user replaceable), but I'll have to admit I'm very pleased with it.
Sometime in May 2013 we expect to get Sprint NV 4G LTE service turned up in my area. That will almost be like getting a new device. It will mean that out in the Real World™ I'll get the kind of speeds I get now only with WiFi...
Oh! Since other folks in other places where I hang out are reporting the same thing, I'm probably not crazy... The PQ gets higher data transfer speeds than my two other smartphones from the very same towers and from the very same locations. I don't know why that is, it is just that "it is."
I really appreciate this informational post and than you very much for putting it together. I too have the same qualifications for a phone as you and so far I have been loving this phone... even the battery life which almost led me to the Samsung III because I could change the battery... but I have been pleasently surprised by the battery life and have a solution for the battery situation so I am again a happy camper.
I used to carry around at least one extra battery for my Epic 4G so instead I carry around a small USB device that will charge the phone to approximately 35%. I have been looking at different devices that are about the same size as the extra batteries but heavier where I could do a full charge but I haven't had to go there yet so all is great.
Thank you for the posting on the MMS issue as well as it has been driving me insane! I am about to call Customer Service and see if I can be on the phone for the 5 minutes or less like you were.... I am not optimistic but even if it took 15 minutes I would be excited.
Again... Thanks for the informative information about this phone and keep up the great posts.
MotoPhoton4G user and loving it....
Thanks for the good words. It's nice to know that there is someone out there who finds this useful.
I haven't written much about my PQ lately, mostly because it "just works" and I have little to say beyond that.
I have found that one still needs to be certain that SOME applications need to be absolutely shut down or they will run in background and suck the battery absolutely flat is near record time. I know know which of mine do that, and have since downloaded good old "Advanced Task Killer" (free) so I have something to use to ensure that "bad actor" apps are truly killed when I'm done with them.
(I ONLY use the task killer on those rare occasions when I need to kill something that just won't die on it's own. Other than those few apps, the built-in ICE handler does just fine on it's own.)
To be continued...
I ordered a PQ from Best Buy after a long drawn out beef with Sprint over my P4G starting to crap out on me and I am reading your review of the phone... It sounds like it's WAY better than the P4G and that's a big step for me. While I don't like what you said about not being able to remove the battery, the battery manager looks incredible and I'm thinking I will like the new functions of the PQ over th P4G, I love the idea of having a side mounted SD card again, saves me from having to practically tear the phone down just to get any data that I need to transfer since I can no longer get past the firewall on my P4G
I can say that since the P4G was given it's last update, all the stuff that Google has put on the Android OS has been problematic for me though. So much in fact that I seriously contemplated going iPhone, however, still the iPhone exceeds what I'm willing to pay for a phone. So Android it is. However, the only other difficutly I have is finding an Otterbox for it now, because I want it protected from the minute I pull it out of the box because I like to keep my trade in values high (even though they depreciate by the day anyhow.)
Anyways, I'm going off on a tangent and I really just wanted to say thanks for your review and it's really given me hope that Motorola hasn't gone cheap... They just have bigger things in store 😃