Verizon's best phone, and a worthy competitor to the iPhone November 7, 2009
Reviewer: Ron Cronovich "Ron" (Kenosha, WI) -
UPDATED 5/14/2010 WITH COMPARISON TO NEW HTC DROID INCREDIBLE
If you're considering getting a Droid with Verizon, you should probably also consider the HTC Droid Incredible. I have one now and can tell you how they compare. (My wife's new-every-two came up and she kindly took my 6-month-old Droid off my hands so I could use her discount to get an Incredible. Is that true love or what??)
The first difference you notice is that the Droid has a physical slide-out keyboard while the Incredible does not. This makes the Incredible thinner and lighter (4.6 ounces compared to the Droid's 6 ounces). The weight difference doesn't look like much on paper, but it feels significant.
- The Droid's battery lasts a couple hours longer than the stock battery that comes with the Incredible.
- The Incredible's MP3 player has better sound quality when using good earphones or plugged into the car stereo. The Droid's sound quality isn't bad at all, but it's not up to par with the iPhone or iPod touch. The Incredible's sound quality is similar to iPhone / iPod touch.
- The Droid has 3 customizable home screens, the Incredible has 7, plus a cool way to navigate among them by seeing a thumbnail of all 7 at the same time. (I can't imagine filling up all 7, I've only filled up 2 of the 7.)
- Multitouch pinch and zoom is implemented better on the Incredible than on the Droid, though the new 2.1 Android software update that all Droids should have now has improved it substantially on the Droid.
- The Droid comes with a 16gb micro SD card, the Incredible either comes with none or with a 2gb card (mine came with none, but Verizon sometimes includes one). However, the Incredible has 8gb of internal flash memory, which is plenty to get started, and you can add a micro SD card later if you want.
- The Droid's camera is definitely not below average, and sometimes takes really good pictures. The Incredible's camera takes better pictures indoors and similar or slightly better pictures outdoors. The Incredible's camera has 8 megapixels, the Droid's has only 5. But 5 is as good or better than the vast majority of camera phones, and besides, if you set your camera at the maximum resolution, your pictures will take up more memory. With any camera, 3 megapixels is plenty enough for most purposes, including getting sharp 4" prints if you want them.
- The Droid's speakerphone is a bit louder than the Incredible's. The difference is not huge, but it's noticeable.
- The Droid runs the standard Android operating system, version 2.l. The Incredible includes that plus includes HTC Sense, which adds a few nice tweaks to the basic Android software. I don't think the difference is enough to influence most people's purchase decision.
- On paper, the Incredible's internal processor is faster than the Droid's. But I do not notice any difference in performance when running the same apps on both phones side by side. And the Droid's processor is faster than almost every other smart phone.
Overall, both phones are really really excellent, both are very fast, both have huge beautiful displays, and both have tons of great features. You can't go wrong with either phone.
I think the choice for most people will come down to the physical keyboard vs. thinness/weight issue, and possibly the camera if you like using your phone to take a lot of pictures.
That's the end of my update. Here's my original review of the Droid (sorry for the length!):
I wanted an iPhone bad, and finally gave up waiting for it to come to Verizon. Got a Droid and am very happy with it.
The screen is awesome - bigger than an iPhone's and more dense with pixels, so images are very sharp. The colors are great, and the screen is nice and bright. I had a Samsung Rogue for about 10 days. Everyone raved about the Rogue's screen. The Droid's screen blows it away. The touch screen is accurate and responsive, and very intuitive to use. About as good as the iPhone but much better than every other touchscreen phone I've tried and better than a few cameras with touchscreen controls.
The Droid's display is sharp enough and wide enough to view most web pages - including those not specifically formatted for mobile phone browsers. Because of this screen and because of the way that the Android OS implements the browser, surfing the internet is very easy, intuitive, and pleasant. Much less horizontal scrolling/panning. Much better than most phones I've tried, including the Samsung Rogue and Blackberry. The iPhone's browser is also a pleasure to use, but the Droid's screen is better at displaying full web pages.
Email is very well-implemented in the Droid. I was already a Gmail and Google calendar user before getting my Droid, and the level of integration is amazing, thanks to the Google Android OS. But any Android phone will also handle most other popular webmail, like hotmail, and also can sync with Microsoft Outlook and similar programs.
The Droid's call quality is good, and the speakerphone is loud and clear enough to be useful in most places. I get slightly better reception with the Droid than with my previous Verizon phones, especially in places with poor network coverage.
The Droid's built-in Facebook app is good, but is not as full-featured as the iPhone's FB app, which has been around longer and had more time to be improved. Yet, the Droid's FB app is as good as or better than FB access I've seen on most smartphones, including Blackberry and especially the new Samsung Rogue.
One extremely cool thing is you can easily import the contact info from all your Facebook friends into the Droid's contact manager, including their profile photo, email, phone, birthday, etc. Then, from your contact list, you can tap on any of their names and with one touch either call, email, or jump to their FB page. This is very well-implemented and easy to use, and makes the Droid's contact manager highly useful.
The Droid has pretty good voice recognition. I can tap the microphone icon in the upper right corner of the screen and say "Starbucks" and the Droid will show a list of the nearest Starbucks - and then I can pick one and either touch the phone number and Droid will call it, or I can touch the address and Droid will show its location on a map and give me driving directions.
Droid like all Android phones has Google maps built in, including satellite view, and Droid can give you directions (from your current location or any location) just like Google maps on a computer.
What's more, Droid has built-in GPS functionality and can give spoken directions, just like a Garmin GPS. I tried it and it works pretty well.
Loading music and photos onto the Droid is as easy as dragging and dropping files from your computer to a thumb drive. Droid's music player is not as refined as iPod/iPhone, but it is easy to use and works great. If you have an iPod, you probably have lots of music tracks in AAC format. The Droid will play them no problem, as long as they don't have DRM copy protection (and most don't nowadays). The Droid also plays MP3 and other formats.
The Droid has the standard 3.5" headphone jack so you can use it with any earphones, unlike some phones that have a non-standard jack. To judge the sound quality, I listened to the same track on the Droid and on an iPhone. Using $100+ headphones, the sound quality was better on the iPhone, but the difference was harder to notice with cheaper earphones or through my car stereo. Yet, the Droid's sound quality is as good or better than other music-playing wireless phones, and I've tried quite a few.
I have not yet loaded videos on the Droid. But I have watched streaming video, and it is very smooth, studder-free, and looks really great, best I've ever seen on any phone, including the iPhone and iPod touch.
The Droid comes with a 16GB microSD card. These normally go for 40 to 50 bucks at least, so I'm really grateful that Verizon and Motorola included it with the phone. It can hold a ton of music, video, and photos. For comparison, the highest-capacity iPod Nano also has 16gb of storage.
Plus, the Droid has internal memory for apps and its own operating system, so your phone will still work in the unlikely event the SD card ever fails. (My Droid worked fine even though the Verizon store guy didn't insert the SD card correctly when he set up my phone and the phone didn't recognize it. I reinserted it later and all was fine.)
The Droid's interface and OS (Android) is not quite as polished as the iPhone's. But it is still excellent, VERY easy to learn, and very easy to navigate around and use. Like most phones, the Droid is highly customizable (ringtones, wallpapers, placement of your favorite widgets and icons on your home screens), and the Android OS makes it super easy to do so.
The Droid has one-touch access to the Android app market, which has 10,000 apps so far. I've downloaded a couple dozen. There are lots of good ones, but overall the Android app market lags the iTunes app store in selection and quality, and specific apps available for both platforms tend to be a little better on the iPhone/iPod touch than on Android.
However, the Android app market is much younger than iTunes app store and is growing very quickly. Until the Droid, there were only a few phones running Android. That number will at least double over the next few months, and the number of people who use phones running Android will more than double, according to industry projections, because of the increasing quality and selection of Android phones on most major carriers. All this will fuel even more rapid growth in the Android app market. But even in its present state, you can find a lot of really useful and fun apps for the Droid, many of which are free.
The physical QWERTY keyboard is not as good as it could be. The keys are flat with no space between them. Still, I'm not a big texter and I find the keyboard fairly easy and pleasant to use. I also find the 5-way rocker button on the keyboard to be very useful. But if I were a big texter, I might not like the keyboard as much. So, my advice is to go to your local Verizon store and try out their demo unit.
The 5 megapixel camera has a built-in LED flash. I have taken a couple dozen pictures inside and out, and find the photos to be acceptable, good for a camera phone, but nowhere near as good as a dedicated digital camera, and maybe slightly inferior to the iPhone's picture quality. The flash is better than nothing, but causes the colors to be off. I have posted 6 pictures I took with the Droid to the "customer images" area so you can see for yourself the quality of photos you get with Droid. Once you snap a picture, you have to wait a couple seconds before Droid will let you take another; this lag is common on camera phones and cheap digital cameras, but seems slightly worse on the Droid.
I have not yet shot any video clips with the Droid, so can't comment on their quality.
The Droid is 1.5 to 2 ounces heavier than most other smart phones I've used or tried. Doesn't sound like much, but you can definitely notice it. For me, having the bigger screen and keyboard easily justifies the weight, but for some folks, the weight could be an issue. This is another reason why I wouldn't suggest ordering it online without first seeing it and holding it at your local retailer.
Everyone has different tastes, but I think the Droid is not the most stylish phone. It has kind of a masculine, industrial look to it, which I can tolerate but I'm not crazy about it. But, it is easy to change the wallpaper, and there are a variety of cases for the Droid - more coming out every week - so you can customize the look any way you want.
The only other thing I'm not crazy about is no physical dedicated call button. To use the phone, you have to press the phone icon on the home screen. This is a very minor inconvenience, and I got over it pretty quickly. But it'll bug some people.
I really like that the Droid has WiFi, and I've used it to connect to wireless networks at home, work and a Panera cafe. It's easy and works great.
If you've taken the time to read all this, then you're probably interested enough to justify a trip to your local Verizon store or Best Buy and play with their demo unit. Try the keyboard, try the browser, play around with the pre-installed apps or maps. Take a picture or video clip. See how the weight feels in your hand. I think you'll really like the Droid, especially if you'd been wanting an iPhone but didn't want to leave Verizon to get one.
Best Verizon Smart Phone Ever! November 8, 2009
Reviewer: Chromebook User (Washington, DC United States) -
I've own many of the Verizon smart phones including the Treo, Moto Q, XV6700, Sage, Omnia, Touch Pro, Blackberry Curve, Storm1, etc. The Droid is the best VZW smart phone I've ever used.
- Nice, big screen. The touch interface is will done.
- Full exchange email support including calendar, contact sync, and email folders. Separate corporate calendar is cool too.
- Voice search is the bomb. I searched "McDonalds", "home depot", and "gas station" and found the closest ones to my location. I searched on "Phone John Smith Mobile" and droid made the phone call. I even searched "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and got the wiki page. lol
- The free GPS is excellent. The satellite layer is awesome. I was going to buy a GPS so the Droid saved me a couple bucks.
- Facebook contact integration is nice.
- Tethering is available via the PDANet app.
- Battery life is surprisingly decent. I returned many good windows mobile phones simply because of the lack luster battery life.
- No Send or End Buttons. I'd much prefer initiating and terminating a call with dedicated buttons
- Flat keyboard causes some typos. The top row of keys are too close to the bottom of the screen.
- I don't like the window shade motion for notifications. I'd prefer a simple button press.
- When viewing emails in landscape mode, the on-screen Delete button is right next to the back button. I deleted 2 emails already. :-P
- I've observed some button press glitches when switching between landscape and portrait mode.
- No pitch and zoom in the browser. Browser seems a bit slower than with the iPhone and the Palm Pre.
- Many operations require a couple extra button presses compared to my old Blackberry.
- Right now, I'd only recommend the Droid to people with a bit of geek in them.
The Droid is a worthy alternative but it doesn't sniff the iPhone's total user experience. Syncing media with your iPhone is much easier. The iPhones web browser is still the best on any phone. The Droid's customization capability, voice search, awesome free gps, and comparable development platform does put it on the same playing field with the iphone. The Droid however still has to make the UI a little more polished and take steps to make syncing with your computer more seamless. Right now, I'd only recommend the Droid for people that have a slightly higher geek meter.
Cha... I never asked my Blackberry to do much more than send messages and make calls. And to date, it still does it better than any other device I have ever used. The sleep case, keyboard, trackball, and typing short cuts makes the BB the most efficient device you will use for messaging. The Droid (and the iPhone) will require extra button presses to complete the same tasks. Heck, the sleep case alone allows you to check a message without pressing a button. ;-)
This is a great Verizon smart phone, possibly the best. The voice search works brilliantly. It's unbelievably good. The GPS is great. The Droid development platform seems decent. I especially like the Droid's full exchange support. The Droid's battery seems decent but I'll find out for sure after a couple weeks at work. It's certainly not as bad as the launch Palm Pre- the Pre's battery life would count down in front of your eyes. :-P
One major gripe I have with the device is the lack of Send and End buttons. I would never ship a phone that doesn't have Send and End buttons. I prefer to locate these buttons by feel rather than locating them on the touch screen.
Another gripe is that many functions on the Droid requires several extra button presses to accomplish the same task versus my old BlackBerry. I just have to wonder if phone manufacturers ever have business people test their phone. (I'm available, Motorola! ;-)
Should you try the Droid? Absolutely! BlackBerry users should hang on to their receipts however. You will give up some efficiencies in exchange for the Droid's advanced features.
Fear The Droid November 10, 2009
Reviewer: Ed (San Francisco Bay Area) -
**04/10/2010 Update Below**
Is the Droid a phone? Computer? Personal media player? PDA? Navigation? It is all of the aforementioned. THE killer Verizon smart phone has landed with a resounding kaboom!
- Gorgeous 3.7-inch (480x854) screen
- Tight Google application integration
- Amazing HTML browser
- Microsoft Exchange support
- Good 5MP digicam
- Surprisingly good camcorder
- 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
- Google Maps Navigation makes standalone GPS units obsolete
- Large selection of free and paid apps available
- Slide-out full QWERTY keyboard
- Power hungry device gulps battery life
- Touch screen is extremely sensitive
- Bluetooth/headset voice dialing unavailable
- Heavy (5.9 ounces)
- Lacks physical direct dial/end buttons
- Physical keyboard could use improvements
- Short USB charging cable
- Included microSD card is Class 2
My two previous phones were the LG Dare and the Blackberry Curve. Without much research, I walked into a Verizon store on the Droid's launch day and bought the Motorola Droid. Initial uneasiness turned into sheer joy. The Droid amazes me at every moment. Here's why:
The 3.7-inch, 480x854 resolution touch screen is stellar! Everything is crystal clear. I transferred Finding Nemo to it and wow! When I moved to the Blackberry from the Dare, the large screen real estate is what I missed most. I compared the screen with a friend's iPhone and we both concluded that the Droid's screen is better. My only gripe about the screen is that it is extremely sensitive. I put a snap-on cover on it as well as a screen protector and it has helped immensely. The snap-on cover surrounds the screen with a little extra space so your fingers don't accidentally touch the screen. I originally used the Verizon screen protector, but recommend the ZAGG. The ZAGG feels more "tacky" so when I'm using the screen, I feel I can be more precise when typing or swiping. As far as I'm aware, there's no setting to modify the screen's sensitivity.
I have a hard time with touch screen keyboards, which is why the slide-out keyboard on the Droid was so important to me initially. The screen slides up about half way up to reveal the physical keyboard. The keys are flat, right next to each other, with limited key travel and backlit. It takes a little while to get used to but I've gotten good at it with practice. Still, I can type at least twice as fast on my Blackberry Curve. The touch screen keyboard is actually better than I expected. After a couple of months of use, I've essentially ignored the physical keyboard in favor of the touchscreen keyboard. A really nice feature when typing on the touch screen is autocomplete. For example, if I type "hel", it will list "Hel, he'll, help, held, hello..." then you can just touch the word you want.
The Droid has very good signal strength and the call quality is also excellent on both ends. Speakerphone is adequate as well. My first annoyance with making calls is that there are no dedicated dial/end buttons. In order to make a call, you must touch the "Phone" icon and dial the number or sort through contacts. I did find that you can create direct dial shortcuts on your screen. This allows you to dial a contact number with one touch of the icon. I have one of my 3 screens dedicated solely for direct dial shortcuts. The second annoyance is that you cannot initiate voice dialing via a Bluetooth headset! If you want to initiate a call, you have to use the phone interface. This is a major drawback as I always use headset voice dialing to place calls when I'm driving. You can still answer and end calls with a headset though.
If you're already a heavy Google user, Android OS smart phones are almost a necessity. If you're not yet a heavy Google user, the Droid will assimilate you. Gmail is such a joy to use I haven't checked my e-mail on my computers since the Droid. Google Maps is easy and fun to use and includes Latitude. Google Talk couldn't be simpler and heavy messaging sessions are fatigue-free with the slide-out physical keyboard. Swiping the chat screen left or right allows you to change chat sessions which lets you to carry on multiple chats with ease! Google Calendar is almost better on the Droid than on an actual browser.
The Droid's web browser puts Blackbery's browser to shame, but that's not hard to do. For kicks, I also installed Opera mini on the Droid and almost immediately uninstalled it. The Android browser is a superior browser to all others except for possibly Mobile Safari.
The Droid has a nice 5MP auto-focus digital camera with flash as well as a 720x480 @ 24fps camcorder. Both of them perform well. The still camera's autofocus is buggy however. When I activate the camera, the area near the lens makes a peculiar noise and the autofocus doesn't always work. Verizon is preparing an OTA update on 12/10/09 to address this and other bugs/enhancements. The camcorder is good enough that I'd have no problem leaving my Flip camcorder at home most of the time. Of course, both the still and video camera falter in low light so keep your real camera and camcorder for those really special events.
I plugged in my Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones and enjoyed listening to my MP3's. The built-in speaker also sounds pretty good for a phone. The Droid comes with a 16GB microSD card for storage and supports up to 32GB but is a slow Class 2. It would have been nice to get at least a Class 4 for faster read/write performance. To get music onto the Droid, you just drag and drop or you can use a Motorola application called Media Link. You can also use your MP3's as ringtones. I would recommend using Audacity to clip a song you like down to 30 seconds or less at 128kbps to save space.
The Droid's Wi-Fi connection is pretty good and I can take it all over my 2-story home and stay connected. It's also picked up many of my neighbor's wireless networks. When the phone goes to sleep, it will shut off the Wi-Fi service to save battery power. Interestingly, the Wi-Fi connection is only nominally faster than using the high speed 3G Verizon network. Next to the screen, I've found Wi-Fi to be the biggest battery drain.
GOOGLE MAPS NAVIGATION
Here's something I did not expect. The Droid comes with a beta version of Google's turn-by-turn voice navigation application that ties in directly with Google Maps. Search for a location then have the navi direct you there by voice. I tried it twice so far and it has been spot on! What am I going to do with my Garmin now?? For me, this app was the clincher. Just be sure to connect it to a power source for long trips because the navi will drain the battery mighty quick.
You can quickly browse thousands of Android apps and search for them by name. Must have apps include Advanced Task Killer, Movies (by Flixster), Pandora, WeatherBug, and Google Voice. On the down-side, the Droid is quite heavy. Having come from the Curve, it was very noticeable. Also, with heavy usage, the battery may not last an entire work day, so carry a charger with you.
Accessories are still pretty thin for the Droid. A screen protector and case were a must for me. I got both from Verizon directly. I eventually tossed the silicone case from Verizon and picked up the perfect case by [[ASIN:B0033TZBOK Seidio]]. Next, I needed a car mount but the Droid windshield mount would not work for me because I use a case and in California, I cannot mount it anywhere but the lower left corner. I prefer to mount it in the middle so I purchased a generic vent/adhesive mount from Verizon. I used the adhesive to stick it directly to my dash. It works fairly well except that when going over anything but smooth terrain, it wobbles a bit. I may decide to use the [[ASIN:B000U5TUWE Bracketron Dash Pad]] in combination with [[ASIN:B001G7PIDA Kensington Dash Car Mount for iPhone and iPod]]. This will allow me to mount the Droid in the center of my dash and swivel it from portrait to landscape as well as leave space to plug in a car charger. To complete the auto installation, I bought the [[ASIN:B002LARN9I Kensington Mini Car Charger for Mobile Devices with USB Port]] and plugged in the short USB cable that came with Droid. Voila! A Droid car kit for about $45.
I could go on and on about the Droid but Amazon limits my reviews to 1000 or so words. Even with the minor drawbacks, the Droid is easily the best hand held device I have ever owned. It replaces so many of my other devices that I can overlook those minor drawbacks and enjoy using it every second of the day. It is probably the single best technology purchase I have ever made.
I had to exchange my Droid for another one because the case I was using snagged on one of the keys and ripped it right off. The new replacement Droid has been ROCK SOLID and uptime has been over 2 weeks! No reboots, no forced app closures. Maybe it's my imagination, but the battery life seems to be better as I have gone at least 24 hours between chargings, except when I have used the GPS navigation. I'm still hoping Google provides an update in Android 2.0.1 for Bluetooth voice commands, though I didn't see anything in the changelogs about it. I believe the OTA update is still due in a week or so. Also interesting to note is that a version of the Droid WITHOUT the slide out keyboard and a built-in FM tuner is rumored to be coming out, but no word if it'll be available in the US or through Verizon.
I looked at my phone earlier and low and behold, I got a message that a software update was available. It downloaded and installed in less than 2 minutes and required a reboot. The first thing I noticed was that the unlock screen was different. The half circle swipe to unlock has been changed to just a left to right swipe while a right to left swipe will turn the sound on and off. Also, the font for the clock changed. Also, I swear there didn't used to be a Verizon Wireless banner on the unlock screen before, but there is now.
The big fix for version 2.0.1 was the camera's autofocus. And what do you know. It's fixed! I also noticed that the Power Control widget has gone through a face lift. I have not noticed any other changes really as I've yet to make a call on it since I only updated it 20 minutes ago. Call quality was supposed to have been improved as well. I am bummed they did not add Bluetooth voice dialing, but I didn't expect it anyways. Maybe another update down the road, please!!
Official Verizon info on the 2.1 update has finally been released. Pinch-to-zoom is available in the gallery, browser, and Google maps. New weather & news widgets. New voice-to-text entry. New 3D gallery layout. Live wallpapers! Official support for Yahoo! Mail, finally. Night-mode screen in navigation for easier viewing. And a few other minor improvements. Not a bad update. After a couple of false starts over a couple of months, the latest rollout date is 3/30/10, today. 1000 users will receive the update notice at noon today with another 9000 around midnight. If all goes well, apparently the remaining users will get it on 4/1/10.
It was taking forever to get the update on my Droid so I performed a manual update to 2.1. While I do like it, it wasn't as cool an update as I expected. My favorite part of the update was the new gallery. Now, I can view my photos full screen and swipe them to get to the next photo. Previously, I had to touch a directional arrow in order to navigate and swiping is just so much easier. The Live wallpapers were uninspiring and also slowed my phone down so I stopped using it. The weather and news widgets are just ok and I can get the same functionality in other apps so it's not earth shattering by any means.
An ambivalent new Droid owner... November 13, 2009
Reviewer: Karen Kelly "aka lizard, a geek" (ventura, ca, usa) -
I was so excited about this phone I bought it the first day it came out, even though I have 7 months left on my TMo BlackBerry 8900. It was everyting I've ever wanted in a smartphone, at least in theory. So, why do I say "ambivalent" in a 5 star review? Well, the only time I feel conflicted about it is when I am reading about it, or thinking about it. But when I have it in my hands, all that melts away.
* The screen, the screen, the screen. Everyone raves about it for good reason. It's just gorgeous.
* No need to jailbreak if all you want to do is run non-Android Marketplace apps. There's a switch for that, it's under settings / applications. It's the top option on that menu: "Allow install of non-market applications". That's it, just check a box.
* The GPS - wow. Really glad I didn't invest in a "real" GPS, which I'd been intending to do. The Droid's voice navigation is everything you could ask for, without having to ever buy map updates. Ooh - and get the Google Sky app (it's free) - awesomeness in stargazing.
* Google! This, to me, is the biggest advantage -- the power of Google's development. This is the first few days with a major upgrade of an OS, so, everything that is "not quite there" yet about it will improve. People say it's not as polished as the iPhone, but with an open development platform on Android as opposed to Apple's walled-garden approach, it's only a matter of time. This is the first Android-based phone that Google's devs were closely involved in every step, and it's a good partnership.
* The network - again, wow. coming from TMo, where my area didn't get 3G until a few months ago, and with dead zones galore, this is just such a relief.
* Call quality - again, wow. I have never, ever experienced this sort of clarity, I was at a point where I liked smartphones mostly because I hated trying to hear & be heard on them, so it was easier to communicate via text, email, etc. Also, a very impressive speaker.
* Tight integration with several of Google's services, with more to come -- how nice to set up my gmail ID, go to YouTube on the phone, and just be logged in. Expect good things with Google Docs and even Wave in the future.
* The camera takes awesome pictures in full daylight, but struggles with focus. Good news is, developers are aware of this, and a leaked memo indicates there will be an over-the-air update on or around 12/11 which will address the focus issues.
* The apps -- the reason there are not as many huge, shiny apps like some of the more elaborate iPhone games is that app executables can't be stored on the memory card, just in the phone's memory, so this severely limits the amount of space for larger, more elaborate apps[correction]. The good news this is also fixable by software, and you know Google will work towards this in order to compete. However there are still plenty of awesome apps, and considering how Apple tends to reject and censor apps while Google welcomes them, there will eventually be a much broader selection. (update: Facebook's iPhone app developer just quit the project because he couldn't deal with Apple's controlling tendencies.)
* Well, the physical keyboard isn't the greatest. A bit flat, not enough key travel. However it was so easy to get good at the onscreen keyboard that this doesn't matter too much, and the real keyboard IS better (and quite adequate) for times you need to do more than a little typing.
* It's heavy! The night I got it, I played with it for like, 8 hours straight, and my hands were *sore*. Um, well, maybe just don't play with a phone for 8 hours straight, your hands should be fine?
* Battery life, what can you expect? A device of this magnitude needs power. I carry a charger & have a power inverter in my car, and I like powerful devices so I don't mind, really.
The other reviewers here have done a great job of going into deep detail on all the various features, these were just a couple things I wanted to point out, most especially, that almost everything brought up as a flaw is actually just an area in which Google's Android shows much potential.
I'll be getting that media dock too, that seems like a wonderful addition. Also, I have the [[ASIN:B000HDTXDA Motorola S805 Bluetooth 2.0 (DJ Style) Stereo Headphones]] and they get along with the Droid very well. It's really, really helpful to have bluetooth controls when listening to music, because it's a pain in the rear when the screen goes to sleep and all you wanted to do was skip songs or pause.
All in all, I'm thrilled with the Droid, not just for what it is, but for what it will be - I have gone through *so* many phones in the past few years, finagling upgrades approx. every 9 months, but I believe this one will last me until I qualify for "new every 2" with Verizon - and by then, they'll have 4G. 4G!
Road Warrior's Dream November 14, 2009
Reviewer: Reckless Reader "Just Read"
The very best cell phone for use on the road that I have ever used. And I have used a lot of them.
1. Great telephone sound -- hugely important when you make calls all day and night.
2. Great email management -- integration with both gmail and Microsoft Outlook really works and keeps it all coming.
3. Great Verizon network -- puts ATT/iPhone to shame; and even better than my prior Verizon Palm in difficult locations.
4. Great music system -- I put in really nice headphones because it's 3.5 mm and my good cans go in easily. And provide great sound.
5. Great maps -- in each town, it tells me where I am, and navigates me to where I'm going...no bumps in the road so far.
6. Great keyboards -- the on screen keyboard is actually easier and less error prone than iPhone, and the flat slide-out keyboard backlighting actually helps in dark areas, and I find it as easy to use as the Blackberry and Palm 'bump' keyboards
7. Great bright screen for youtube movies when I'm bored and need a break.
What I'm saying is that it may be a geek's delight because it will do so much, and it may be incredibly versatile for people who want to play with app after app after app, but what I like is that it is so totally practical, so totally useful, so right for just taking care of business.
8 Great extra batteries --- lasts most of the day, lot of juice in its battery, but best of all, can change batteries. Worst thing about iPhone is when it's dead, you're dead. Not so with this one.
THIS PHONE TAKES CARE OF BUSINESS.
Decent but not phenonomal November 23, 2009
Reviewer: Christopher Tytler (New York) -
* Physical Keyboard - Small and cramped, but perfect for someone who frequently hits the wrong keys with the on-screen one. It is also easier to hold the device when surfing the web. If you aren't a fast typer (as I am on phones) the complaints against the keyboard are less important.
* Weight - slightly heavier than an iPhone but it feels more solid and durable.
* Easy to navigate - phone does not come with a user manual but one with average computer experience can pick it up quickly.
* GPS - still in beta, but works well enough to get around NYC by car. (Buy the mount if it will be your primary GPS device).
* Google Voice - integrated into phone - seamlessly integrated to allow it to call/answer phones based on a variety of scenarios rather than using Verizon minutes. (i.e. Automatically call using VOIP for international calls)
* 5MP camera - it won't take a picture worthy of a frame, but more than decent for web postings on the go.
* Tacky default "Droid" settings - The phone starts up by saying "Droid". Easy to turn it off though. The red eye reminds me of LOTR. I just wish that could be turned off too.
* Web app is a little buggy going back and forth between web pages. Sometimes it skips one or two pages back.
* Needs multi-touch (i.e. pinch-zoom) There have been countless times I tap to zoom in and click inadvertently on a link.
* Application Marketplace is a mess - no sort capabilities (i.e. # downloads, rating), organized by 8 main categories. Few quality apps exist- but hopefully will take off soon. (Recommended - Pandora, last.fm, Weather Channel, TV.com)
* Sharp corners - the iPhone is more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time when talking.
* Sound quality on calls is average at best. By far the worst phone for wind noise. A slight breeze will render a conversation unintelligible.
* Lack of music management software - Extreme default bare-bones app to listen to music by artist/album/song/playlist. No way to easily sort music. (something similar to iTunes would be ideal) Haven't been able to find a 3rd party app to replace it yet. One plus - there are some 3rd party apps to connect remotely to your PC's music collection (i.e. Gmote 2.0) but they are still buggy.
* Some websites are hard to click on intended links. (Not sure if it is the touchscreen or the website, but it is frustrating none the less)
* There are the basic camera settings (i.e. Camera flash, scenes, etc.) but they are frustrating to set. (The back button doesn't work when navigating through the sub menus. Each time you want to go to another category you need to reopen the settings)
No more iPhone envy... November 30, 2009
Reviewer: G. Argov
Ever since getting the iPod Touch, I've had an extreme case of iPhone envy; the Touch's intuitive interface, sleek design, and overall pleasant experience made me wish I could use it on the go, and not be tied down to Wi-Fi networks. As a happy Verizon customer, however, I was not going to switch providers just to get a new phone (although the thought crossed my mind more than once!). After a long wait, I finally got my hands on an iPhone competitor, the Motorola Droid. While it might not be the "iPhone Killer" that people have claimed it to be, it's a great phone in its own right.
For some reason, I get fewer service bars/seemingly weaker reception compared to my LG Dare. In the same spot, holding both phones, I get 5 bars on my Dare (which I've since given ), while I only get 2 bars on my Droid. Weird, but fortunately I haven't actually noticed any decline in call quality or reliability; it's been superb!
Loud, and good quality! This is important, because whether you're listening for driving directions using the built-in GPS, streaming music through Pandora, or talking, the speaker is very loud and clear.
Decent. Yes, the battery can run out quickly, but that's just because you'll find yourself using the phone so much! Some of the biggest battery drainers I've noticed have been screen brightness, GPS, and streaming radio. These problems can be resolved by turning down screen brightness (even at its lowest setting, still bright and crisp), turning off the GPS when it's not in use (through the Power Control widget), and not relying exclusively on streaming radio for music (with the included 16GB card you can store plenty!)
Gorgeous, crisp, and very bright display that makes other phones pale in comparison. I love it, and highly recommend those considering this phone to take a look at one in their local Verizon store. Even at its darkest setting, its very good. The high-resolution display also allows for text to appear much more detailed and crisp, a plus for those with glasses.
The Droid packs a 5 Megapixel camera, as well as video-recording at roughly DVD-quality. The camera is a bit slow to auto-focus, but pictures come out fine. Not great, but decent for a cell phone, especially at night using the flash. While its still pictures don't come out great, the Droid's videos come out really well. The audio recorded on videos is also really good.
LOOK AND FEEL
The phone isn't light, but it also isn't as heavy as I feared based on initial reviews. The only criticism is that there are no dedicated call/end buttons...instead, you have to rely on the phone application, which means you can't feel around for the call/end buttons, say you get a phone call in the middle of the night. Still, that's just a minor gripe. The phone feels sturdy, not cheap, and is pretty slim considering it packs a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
One of the major selling points of this phone was that it has a physical keyboard. The keyboard isn't perfect - keys are shallow, too close to one another, and there isn't a dedicated row for numbers. Also, the top row of keys is inconveniently located too high to the top of the phone. Still, despite these shortcomings, I would not use this phone without the physical keyboard. After a year with the touchscreen-only LG Dare, I still had difficulty with typing, and even after 2 years with an iPod Touch - which has a much better touchscreen keyboard than the Dare - I have difficulty with typing on that, as well. While the touchscreen keyboard on the Droid is very good, I still make many fewer mistakes with the physical keyboard than with the touchscreen one. While I'd say this is largely a matter of personal preference, I'd like to emphasize that the physical keyboard isn't nearly as bad as some reviewers online made it out to be.
As it stands now, the Android Market has over 10,000 apps, while the Apple App store has over 100,000. As a result, some reviewers have said - wrongly, I believe - that the Droid is somehow more limited. One should remember that while the iPhone/Touch had a headstart in developing its application market, many new developers have flocked to Android as more phones have come to market. There already is a strong selection of apps, and this will only grow over time.
The two major shortcomings of this phone - especially when compared to the iPhone - are that:
1. Not as intuitive as the iPhone. I think this phone is great for many users, but others might find it to be a little complicated. This phone is very capable, but sometimes to find things you have to dig around a bit more than might be convenient (I don't mind this too much).
2. No widespread and easily available alternative to iTunes. I use DoubleTwist, but without a doubt iTunes is a much easier way to transfer media to the phone than dragging and dropping or using iTunes alternatives, for most people at least. While I don't buy MP3s online, others have also pointed to the iTunes store offering much more selection than Amazon's MP3 store.
Who should get this phone? If this is your first smartphone, you might find things to be a little difficult at first, but well worth the patience. While this phone isn't for everybody, if you are already on/hope to switch to Verizon, this is without a doubt one of the strongest offerings. I don't know if I would necessarily dump my iPhone if I were an AT&T Customer, but I think that this phone will be a very useful tool for many people who have considered an iPhone but wanted a physical keyboard, more customizability, or more Google integration. While there are a few shortcomings in design and media integration, I can now say I've found the cure to my iPhone envy!
I wanted to say that while I'm still very happy with my Droid, one problem has arisen. For some reason, text messages I compose are not always going through...after minutes of trying, the phone simply notifies me saying that the text message was not sent. I have no clue why this is happening, but must say it is a bit frustrating. Fortunately, it doesn't happen too often, but it has happened enough to notice. This has happened to text messages I've sent to people on different carriers, so I'm assuming the problem is from my end on not the recipients'. Either way, a small price to pay for an otherwise amazing phone.
Will the Google Phone replace this? February 4, 2010
Reviewer: E. Dunn (Fairfax, VA) -
That was the question for me - should I just wait for Google's phone? I mean, it has nearly twice the processing power (1GHz, vs. 556 MHz). I'll explain below why I went ahead and picked up the Droid. (Likes/Dislikes/Contrast with what others have said/Etc). (Btw, sorry for the long review, but I do think you'll find the information helpful. :) )
- I LOVE the screen. It's mentioned in the description of the product that it can take DVD quality video - it also displays that video on an incredibly glossy and surprisingly large screen. I don't want to sound melodramatic, but it even feels amazing to the touch. Also, contrasting with my recent HTC Touch, when you make a call, and bring the phone to your cheek, it blanks the screen. That's fantastic because... well, it saves power, which is nice, but more importantly, you don't start making random phone commands because your face is touching the screen! ARGH that used to drive me crazy on the HTC. Not sure if the Eris does this or not, but it was enough to keep me from ever looking at an HTC again.
Additionally, when you bring the phone away from your face, the screen on the Droid turns on again, so that you can hang up the phone. Very intuitive, and such a relief! I used to have to manually turn the HTC back on again (it would blank after 60 seconds) and by then, I could never tell if I was hanging up, or what.
- Intuitive interface. Without using a manual (and I'm a huge manual reader!) I was able to navigate, check my email, make phone calls, open up the GPS, all within about the first three minutes of having the phone in my possession. The GPS is gorgeous, btw. I'm still learning things about the phone, as I've only had it for two days. I'll be updating this review at a later date.
- Apps. No, it doesn't have 140k apps and 3 billion downloads like the Iphone. But, as mentioned by others, it's not locked down like other Verizon phones. I've worked for a government agency that has been struggling with Verizon for YEARS to get a GPS on their BlackBerries. And now, voila, here it is. I imagine it would take someone with the leverage of Google to insist with Verizon to allow this type of functionality. Also, the Marketplace (where you find apps for the Android OS) is easy to find, navigate and purchase from, if you desire any non-free applications. It's right on your home page, and you'll be downloading and installing apps within seconds.
Recommended Apps. There is one called KeyRing, which is free, (with a link to a Youtube video with surprisingly succinct instructions on that beautiful screen!) that holds all those plastic UPC things that various stores want you to carry around with your car keys. The camera takes the picture, identifies the UPC code and gives you the choice of over 650 retailers to choose who the UPC code works with. Very neat!
There are also apps to lock down files (I am using one called Hide and Seek). If you want to show off your Droid, you may not want to let kids/friends/family see every last thing on your phone. An app allows you to expand your desktop from three screens to nine. (That's a big desktop! And extremely easy to navigate.)
- Keyboard. Okay, I know it's flat, it's small, and may take some getting used to, but it's a friggin keyboard! The new Google phone doesn't have one, neither does the Iphone. I guess I'm just one of those people who have to have the tactile keyboard to type efficiently. The keys (as well as other buttons) are a rather classy looking gold color. The keyboard itself has a very easy to read and intutive layout. I do have to admit that I couldn't find the "?" key for a while. ;) On this keyboard, you don't need a shift or the alt/function button to find it. The /, ?, @ are all standard buttons, requiring no shift or additional keypress.
The mouse thingy (for lack of a better term) looks like a fingerprint authentication device on the side of the keyboard. (If you're looking at pictures of the Droid, it's that gold square on the right side of the keyboard.) Also, very easy to use, very handy to have there (beats the heck out of arrow keys on so many other keyboards) and you can press the gold center to select items.
- Durability. Also, something I haven't seen mentioned, and perhaps I'm more sensitive to the fact since my last phone was the recently reduced in price HTC Touch Diamond (or Pro). For whatever reason, the last two HTC phones I had (I tried the Ozone for several days as well) both seemed SO FLIMSY. The back (very cheap feeling) covers on the phones would just fly right off. When I'd slide the top on the HTC up to start typing on the keyboard, it was just so slippery. And while I'm on the HTC - that was the first phone I ever had that I would make multiple accidental calls per day. Drove me crazy! More a function of the screen, but still.
Well, the Droid just feels tough. I mean, when you slide the top up to reveal the keyboard, it feels like you'd have to really struggle to break it and it snaps in place with an encouraging click. People have commented on the weight, but like others, I feel like I'm carrying around a computer in the palm of my hand; I can handle the extra ounce or two. I even use a belt clip (body glove case) and it works great. Very well balanced on my hip; hasn't fallen off yet.
- Sound quality. Fantastic. I had an ENV2 from Verizon in the past, and it actually had stereo speakers which gave great sound. Well, this (over?) two inch bar on the back of the phone delivers surprisingly loud sound. I'm glad for that, since (sorry HTC!) but the HTC Touch Pro - you could barely hear someone on speaker phone. We all know how important that can be while driving without a headset. Also, the 3.5MM jack is convenient.
There are few, since I gave it five stars.
- Manual. There isn't one enclosed! It's a good thing it's easy to get going on this phone, as that would have been enough to make me bring it back. I've yet to actually need one, but I'm sure there is a lot of functionality on this phone that I'm still missing.
- Phone button. I too wish there had been a hard-wired phone button. Not a big deal, as it's easy to navigate to, and if the phone's ringing, it's right there, but still.
- Customizable buttons. There aren't any, that I've found. Externally, you have volume, camera, on/off, home, search, back, and menu. On a BlackBerry, there are several buttons you can define for yourself, which is very handy on a PDA. Allows you to pull up email, your desktop, or whatever you like with one external press of a button. I miss that. Having said that, this isn't a BlackBerry. ;)
- No Itunes. Yet. Someone's working on an app already, though. Based on Steve Jobs' recent Google rant, I doubt Apple will make the app, despite it making business sense.
- Picture Gallery. Not thrilled with it. There's an app that will hide the folders for you, but as it stands, it's not particularly intuitive on how they organize it as shipped.
Contrast with what some others have said:
- I mentioned the keyboard. I actually am ecstatic that it has one! Could be better, but sheesh! You should see the size of this thing. It's actually a surprisingly slim phone for what it offers. Frankly, I find the phone to be quite elegant.
- The Camera. I like it. 5MP? Yowza. Very easy to use, and faster (though not stand-alone-camera-like) than any other phone I've used.
- Google vs. Apple. I haven't read all 100 reviews, but I haven't heard the companies themselves brought up yet. Fact is, Google has a tradition (if you call a ten-something year old company as having traditions) of giving things away for free. Apple does not. I think it's important to note that Apple put the same OS on their new tablet - which gives them a bottleneck for charging for every little bit of content on their device. Essentially, it's a computer set up to be a closed-end device. Google's "marketplace" is almost a misnomer, since so many apps are available for free. As much as Google may be the next "Big Brother" - so far, they give most of their stuff away.
- Google vs. Microsoft. One of my beefs with the HTC I just ditched was that it used Windows Mobile 6.1. I thought after seeing my wife's Omnia that I'd love it. BOY was I wrong. It crashed all the time, was slow as mollasses and was the case-book example of being a lot harder to use than other competing OSs, just like Microsoft has been since the days of DOS vs. the Macintosh. (Sorry to geek out, but have been a Microsoft user since 1991ish.)
I've already added more applications in two days with the Android OS than I did with 6 months on Windows Mobile. Oh, and I've already updated the Android OS. You can't even go from Windows Mobile 6.1 to 6.5 w/out changing phones. OUCH.
Love how much memory is shipped with this thing. 16GB? WOW.
Video looks awesome. Can't wait to try streaming music with Pandora. (Yep, there's an app for that. And programming DirecTV? Yep, there's an app for that too. With apologies to IPhone. ;) )
Hey, it's Verizon's network, which is just plain awesome.
The Iphone isn't due out on Verizon until Summer, from what I understand, and who knows when Verizon will get Google's phone.
I love Gmail and I love the integration (which is to be expected) between Android and Google's apps (like Google Docs, etc). Gmail looks plain awesome on this phone.
Long story short: If you were looking for an Iphone with a keyboard, this will do the trick. If you want a great phone that runs the Android OS, this is what you want.
To answer the question I posed in the title: No, I don't think it will. Here's why: Motorola has been making phones for a long, long time. I believe Motorola's expertise in the field and their consciousness of features, durability, battery life, touch screen technology, WiFi and all the rest - will simply outshine Google, at least in their first rendition. Keep in mind, even when Apple first put out the Iphone, it was hardly ideal. The 4GB IPhone was discontinued after less than 3 months.
Plus, the Google Phone doesn't ship with a QWERTY keyboard. ;)
Okay, a few things I've learned. One, the location of the manual. :) Thanks to a commenter, not sure if links are allowed, but look to the first comment reply to this post to find it.
Second - the screen that I love so much - well, I went looking for a protector. I'm a big suspicious of them, since I know you lose some sensitivity and have to press harder on a screen to get your phone to do what you want. Well, in Amazon's review section of one of the pricer screen protectors, several commenters mention you don't need one. I tend to agree. It looks better, feels better, and most importantly, do a google search on "Gorilla Glass" and do a Youtube search on "Droid Scratch", etc. There's a video that shows a guy using a key on his screen and it doesn't scratch. This is the same material they use to protect helicopter blades! It's amazing. This phone doesn't cease to amaze me.
Third - I discovered voice search! Oh, this is neat. Without "learning" my voice, there's a mic next to the omnipresent Google search bar. So, I pressed the mic button, spoke "Olive Garden" into the phone and voila, it listed Olive Garden and about the 4th link down even had the one that was closest to my location! How amazing is that?! Okay, geeking out a bit, but it was very cool. Also, you can just touch the phone number that's listed right there in the Google search listing. Say goodbye to paying 411 information fees! Nice.
Fourth - A couple of neat tricks:
--you press and hold an icon to move it around or toss it off your screen again.
--You can easily add applications to the keypad and you access them by simultaneously pressing Search and the letter. Several default options are search+B brings up your browser and search+C brings up your contacts.
--Pressing and holding your Home button brings up your six most recently used Apps.
Fifth - Look out for the new Android 2.1 coming out this week! Will come back with some details. The upgrades so far have been completely painless. Basically just accept the download and it downloads and installs in the background. I believe it requires a reboot.
Six - A couple of must-have apps:
--dockrunnner - is essentially the app that you use that is the same as having the doc station. Turns your Droid into an extremely serviceable alarm clock. :) With the weather!, and you have a button for turning your gallery into one of those stationary electronic picture frames (like I bought for my wife that cost me 100 bucks, though, admittedly it was about twice the size, but still...) - oh, one word of warning, some people, when they use this app can't "turn it off" and the screen "stays in landscape mode" - it's actually easy to turn off. Hold the home button down to bring up the list of six apps, and then press and hold the dockrunner button to turn it off.
--Screen Mode - oh man, I like this app. Essentially, it puts a 3 button bar on your desktop. One for keeping the desktop on all the time without blanking to save energy. Very useful when you have your wife emailing you a shopping list before a snow storm and you need to walk through CVS without having to try to keep the screen on :) Another button makes it so that it sleeps normally, but it removes the annoying unlock button. You can also use the camera button to wake the phone back up. And finally, the last button that makes it so that when the phone sleeps, it behaves normally (back to the unlock button being there).
Seven - found a really, REALLY good community site out there. Again, don't know Amazon's policy on links, but heck, there's even a Verizon support rep who posts there (and that thread has 150 pages of posts since November?!). Just do a Google search on "droid forum". Extremely helpful for help, apps, tips, etc.
Can you tell I love this phone? :P
March 02, 2010 Update -
Still loving the phone! Also, referring to the screen protector, etc. above - still no protector, still no scratches. It's not like I throw the phone around or anything, but I DO use a belt clip (still hasn't jumped off my hip with the Body Glove protector) and the phone still looks like it's brand new.
A note on battery life. One thing I've done this go round that I've never done with any other phone, is I religiously let the battery die all the way down to nothing. If I'm down to 10% or less (there's an App for that! called appropriately enough "Battery Indicator" - just do a search on the marketplace for it - it's free) - I turn on my screen and let it completely discharge and then start charging again.
This is completely anecdotal, but I'd swear that the battery actually lasts longer each time I do that. In the manual, it says to do that "a few times" if you find your battery life getting shorter - but I now go 3-5 days without a charge, despite heavy data usage. If there's one piece of advice I'd give any phone user, it's try to let your phone discharge completely for every charge to get the most out of your battery.
Also, I've learned a lot more about Google's phone. It has had a TON of issues, starting with Google's support. Get this - it was initially only via email! No phone support whatsoever, and T-Mobile wasn't supporting the phone either. It also had a number of issues, apparently. Also, Google had initially been charging some ginormous fees if you wanted to return the phone. The FCC even did an inquiry about it - it was a whopping $350 dollars initially. This was in addition to T-Mobile's $200 early cancellation fee! Google has since dropped the price of their equipment return fee to $150 (free if within the first 14 days), but still. From articles I've read, it definitely impacted sales. It also gave me no small measure of re-assurance that I went with the right choice.
Best overall Phone with the largest Wireless Network. December 2, 2009
Reviewer: Austin (Southern California) -
This phone is amazing. I've been waiting for Verizon to come up with a phone that can match up to the all mighty I-phone from AT&T or Black Berry Storm 2 and did Motorola fulfill those wishes. I never like the service I received from AT&T so I didn't want to go back to them nor was I very impressed with the first Storm. Several of my friends owned the I-phone and I always loved playing with their phones as it was a easy to use and just so many options you could do with it vs. my old LG Voyager. So when my 2 year contract ended with my old LG phone I began to research what phone was out. I was amazed on the reviews and features the Droid had so I decided to head down to my local Best Buy to have a look for my self. I wasn't too impressed with the phone as BB had only a dummy phone so I couldn't turn on the phone but I decided to purchase the phone anyways with my company rep and received the phone the following day. I wasn't happy when my rep told me about the $30 data plan charge but it's worth the $ for unlimited web and email features and with my 20% corp discount it wont impact too much. When I first turned on the phone I was amazed on how the picture quality was far better over the I-phone and much superior over the Storm 2, I love how the red eye introduces the start up menu (nice job Motorola).
Web browsing is super fast and picture quality is amazing;
Plenty of apps not as many as the I-phone but a decent amount and growing;
The phone is very responsive and fast similar to the I-phone;
Plenty of customization to ones personal preference an advantage over the I-phone as it is very limited to what customization you can perform to its layout;
All my emails easily accessible from my personal Yahoo, G mail account to my GroupWise account;
Music player is decent but can't compare to the I-phone;
Free navigation feature that really works like a Garmin with Google maps;
Phone service on the Verizon networks out performs AT&T, no drop calls or static with Verizon vs AT&T.
If I had to choose a phone today I would totally get the Motorola Droid again over the I-phone or Black Berry and I'm very satisfied with my purchase and recommend this phone to anyone who is thinking about getting a I-phone who does not want AT&T service or a Black Berry Storm who is not to crazy about the issues they had with the Storm 1.
Web Browsing 5 out 5
App Store 4 out 5
Processor/Response time 5 out 5
Customization 5 out 5
E-mail 5 out 5
Music player 4 out 5
Navigation 5 out 5
Phone Service 5 out 5
Overall score 4.75
Hooray November 14, 2009
Reviewer: Tim (Des Moines, IA) -
This phone is pretty great. I've been waiting for a decent smartphone to hit Verizon, and here we go.
THINGS YOU WILL LIKE
The screen is brilliant, and the touch interface is responsive. I expected to want the multitouch (which is disabled in the US on this device) but it's unnecessary here. You can still use it on apps, and on the browser you're not going to need it (you can tap to zoom, but unless you have trouble reading screens, you'll rarely need to zoom in. The resolution is very good, the text is crisp even in the smallest occurrences).
Lots of apps. I'm sure the quality and variety have yet to threaten the iPhone's, but I'm impressed with what's available, and for free.
Google maps is great. Last night on the walk home from a bar I called up a map of the area, located a pizza shop, hit the dial button on the map, and placed an order I could pick up. I've tested navigation once and it worked flawlessly. Quicker than my girlfriend's two year-old Garmin.
Keyboard is okay. I prefer not to use it, and it's thin enough that you don't even notice it's there unless you want to pull it out. (A friend had a different slider that was fat as a cheeseburger, but here the device is very nearly as slim as the Razr.)
THINGS YOU WILL DISLIKE
Takes a while to charge (1-2 hours). Battery life is good, if you can come home to your charger every night. (I get 20-36 hours depending on usage.)
No dedicated phone buttons. It's nice being able to back out of the call screen entirely if you want to look at a map or something, but if you want to hang up you still have to bring back the phone screen, touch the button to return to the call, and then hang up.
Overall this phone is great. I figured anything I got on Verizon would be a sort of good-enough-for-now alternative to the iPhone, but this device does everything I want and I wouldn't trade it.
A fantastic smartphone with minor issues November 30, 2009
Reviewer: Mark Davis (Bellevue, WA) -
The Droid takes the already strong Android platform and matches it with hardware worthy of the system. Android has been around over a year now. There are some very nice Android phones - the G1 & the Hero by HTC most notably. Droid blows them all away.
First and foremost, Droid has a beautiful screen. Its large (3.7"), high resolution (854x480, true 16:9 widescreen). The capacitive touch is very responsive. When you pick up the phone, you'll immediately notice two things - 1) the build quality is fantastic 2) the phone is rather heavy. The extra weight is likely caused by the higher quality materials used to construct the phone, and considering how remarkably thin it is for a qwerty-slider, that's really not a bid deal, in my opinion. The sliding mechanism is simple and feels solid, with no side-to-side play. The keyboard itself is not the best - other HTC phones like the G1 and Touch Pro 2 have superior keyboards. The keys are flat, which is necessary to make the phone so thin, but the layout is not ideal - they are aligned in a perfect grid, not offset like a standard keyboard. However, it is still far superior to a touch screen keyboard. Droid is also powered by a beefy Cortex A8 processor - the same architecture that runs the iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre. It is considerably faster than the older ARM11 processor in other Android/HTC/Motorola phones. Don't be fooled - the ARM11 528MHz processor is not even in the same realm is the A8 550MHz processor. MHz numbers don't tell the whole story.
The software in the Droid is also very strong. It is the first Android 2.0 device on the market. Android is really an underrated platform - it is very powerful, very easy to use, and has a huge number of apps on the Android Market. No, the total does not come close to the Apple app store - but how many variations of the fart app do you really need? When it comes down to it, with somewhere around 10-20k apps on the Market, there really is an app for just about everything you'd want to do. Also worth noting, most of those apps are from the pre-Droid era - now that we've got a mass-marketed Android device on the largest network, the Market will likely see an explosion of even more. The apps really are useful too, not just gimmicky - a brief list of useful apps is listed before. I've seen complaints over apps being stored in-memory and not on the memory card - this is less of an issue than you think. The core executable is stored in the 200MB or so of onboard storage - images, media, and other, bigger parts of an app are downloaded directly to the 16GB SD card. I have dozens of apps on my Droid and I still have 175MB free.
Call quality on the Droid is very good. I used the Touch Pro 2 on Verizon for about a month prior to the Droid, and reception was considerably better. In areas where I'd only get 1 bar of service, the Touch Pro 2 would cut out and drop calls, whereas the Droid is strong and clear pretty much everywhere. Also worth noting, I have never had a phone that obtained a GPS fix faster than Droid - fire up Google Maps and almost immediately your location is pinpointed. Data service over the Verizon EV-DO network is snappy, and I get 3G coverage everywhere I go.
On the subject of Google Maps - along with Android 2.0, Droid is also the first phone to have Google's free turn-by-turn navigation system. This is a great addition, although it should filter its way to other systems with time - in fact, Google has already released this update for Android 1.6 devices. The voice-guided navigation is not perfect, and does not rival a dedicated system, but for the price, it really is a great product, and it will only improve with time.
The included camera is not perfect. I have not had the autofocus issues others have complained about, but picture quality is definitely a little washed out - I was spoiled by the great Carl Zeiss 5MP camera on the N95, I haven't had a cell phone rival it yet. Video recording, on the other hand, is very good. Sharp, smooth video with rich color reproduction. Its amazing that they were taken by the same lens.
Battery life is actually decent with Droid. One thing you must realize, if you haven't used a smartphone before, is that ALL data-enabled smartphones have poor battery life. That said, Droid is slightly above average here. I almost always can go the entire day without charging, which is pretty good considering I run gmail, exchange, facebook, twitter, weather, sports, stocks, and more in the background all day. Android includes a useful tool that shows you what is using the battery (by %). So far, it seems that the 3G radio is actually very battery-efficient. I can run Pandora for hours and hardly dent my battery. However, wifi drains it pretty hard, and the big screen is a HUGE battery guzzler, even with the brightness turned down.
There are also some cool accessories for Droid. The car dock holds the phone (very securely I might add) onto your dashboard, and brings you into "car home" mode, with easy access to voice search (which works great), maps, navigation, contacts, etc. Combine the car dock with the standard headphone jack in your car to Navigate while streaming Pandora to your car's stereo system simultaneously. Get a call? Pandora cuts out, your car speakers become a speakerphone. Works great. There's also the multimedia dock, which turns Droid into an alarm clock/multimedia/weather station. Both are nice.
In summary, the Droid is a great smartphone on a great network. It is not perfect - the keyboard and camera could both be a little better, battery life is good but not great, but you won't find a better smartphone on Verizon - and depending on what you look for in a phone, you may not find a better phone on any network.
-Big, sharp screen
-Blazingly fast processor
-Good browsing experience
-Free turn-by-turn voice navigation
-Huge number of apps on the Android Market
-Decent battery life
-Very solidly built
-Very thin for a phone with slide out keyboard
-Keyboard could be improved
-Camera shots are somewhat washed out
-No multitouch in native apps (although apps downloaded from the Market do have Multitouch - its a software thing, not a Droid thing)
-A bit heavy
Some of my favorite apps:
-Better Keyboard, a replacement for the on screen keyboard. WAY better than the stock Android keyboard
-AppSwipe, Slightly more powerful task manager than included
-Dolphin Browser, Adds multitouch, gestures, and some nice interface touches to the default browser
-Twidroid, by far the best Twitter app on Android
-Key Ring Rewards, stores all of your store cards (Safeway, QFC, Petco, Blockbuster, etc). Don't carry around a dozen cards, just pop open Key Ring Rewards and it displays the scannable UPC
-Listen, made by Google, downloads/finds/plays podcasts
-My Tracks, also made by Google, works with Google Maps & GPS, tracks information about runs/walks/drives with speed, distance, etc
-MotoTorch LED, uses the camera's LED flash as a flashlight
-Quote Pro, the best stock app on Android
-Pandora, free streaming music
-Pure Grid Calendar, a nice home screen widgit for your calendar
-Shazam, listens to music playing and tells you what song it is
-SportsTap, the best sports scores/stats app on Android
-TasKiller, kills all running apps to free up memory
-Weather Widgits, gives you an HTC Sense-style weather flip clock widgit
iPhone better watch out. Droid is here! November 23, 2009
Reviewer: Lenny D (Akron, OH) -
It seems inevitable to review the phone without comparing this unit to iPhone. First off I want to say that I am not iPhone owner but my family owns them so I get to play with device a lot. So here we go.
I like iPhone more with its round corner and friendlier look, it's also lighter. Droid looks industrial but a bit outdated and bulky, although the dimension is about the same considering Droid has physical keyboard.
The Winner - iPhone
Droid's screen is simply amazing due to much better resolution. Lets just say that I am okay with no pinch-zooming feature (on iPhone) as the detail is already fine as it is, worst case I only need to zoom in once. Text and graphic is much clearer.
The Winner - Droid
Virtual + physical keyboard = win for me. Yes, the directional pad looks goofy but is still useful when typing. The keyboard itself is not as bad as some people claim to be once you get used to it. In fact I have no problem at all. Each key is not completely flat so you can feel the difference.
The Winner - Droid
iPhone is easier to learn how to use. It is simple yet effective. There is no dedicated call button on Droid which I prefer. However, I do like notification system on Droid more with a slide-out drawer that you can pull out instead of in-your-face notification.
The Winner - iPhone by a little
Droid seems to have more dedicated GPS with turn-by-turn direction and voice recognition (Google Maps duh). iPhone has Apps with turn-by-turn direction but you have to pay for it while this feature comes with Droid.
The Winner - Droid
Video and graphics look better and faster on Droid due to its dedicated graphics processor. iPhones clock rate is higher but does not matter as it lacks a dedicated graphics processor.
The Winner - Droid
iPhone is faster for page loads and web browsing. On both phones, you don't have to wait for full page to load before navigating. Multitouch is a neat feature for zooming on iPhone. For Droid, you have double tap zooming or button for zooming in and out.
The Winner - iPhone
Droid is more open-source and allows more flexibility. Customization on the iPhone is almost nonexistant with only wallpaper and ringtone change.
The Winner - Droid
Apple carries much more apps than Google (100,000 vs 10,000). However, quantity does not always equal quality, majority of applications are plain crap or junk. Both do have great applications however. The strength of the Android market to me is its openness. In the end, iPhone has a tremendous lead in term of apps with the product being out for quite some time.
The Winner - iPhone
Droid's auto focusing sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. The user interface is more messy on Droid and there is a lag between shot. After taking pictures for comparison, they are both average.
The Winner - iPhone
Droid comes with 16GB removable and expandable SD card while 3GS has either a fixed 16GB or 32GB. However, Droid can only store 256MB of apps as it runs through internal memory instead of SD. Then again, I am not much into gaming on the phone.
The Winner - Tie
Droid easily win as iPhone can only multitask within Apple apps unless you jailbreak the iPhone. However, this may lead to other problems (virus, warranty etc). Not to mention that Apple is actively trying (and failing) to subvert jailbreaking attempts.
The Winner - Droid
CDMA cannot support phone calls + internet browsing at the same time unless there is Wi-Fi connection. GSM networks also dominate the world market.
The Winner - AT&T and thus iPhone.
This is a bit subjective as it depends on where you live. One service may get you better coverage than the other. For me I live and travel frequently in Northeast (Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Philly) and Verizon seems to work best. I had AT&T for several years and I have had lots of dropped calls. The voice/data plan with apple to apple comparison is also cheaper for Verizon.
The Winner - Verizon and thus Droid
So far I'm impressed and very pleased with Motorola Droid.
I swtiched from AT&T/iPhone...and LOVE the Droid!!!!!!!!!!! November 8, 2009
Reviewer: Mindray (USA) -
I went over to AT&T about 13 months ago to get the iPhone. I was so excited at the time, thinking the iPhone was the next best thing. It was everything I wanted for a while, until I realized how horrible AT&T's service is. Dropped calls, poor service and worse customer service were just some of the problems I encountered. Not only that, but Apple is not the best when it comes to open development of their products and software. We have all heard horror stories about Apple preventing apps from being placed on the market for absolutely stupid reasons. Well, have no worries, because Google and Motorola are hear to save you.
I was in New York this past week and while I had full bars in the city, none of my calls would through on my iPhone and the calls that did go through, dropped after a few seconds. Needless to say, it was time to switch. I walked into the Verizon store two days ago and got the Droid. The people couldn't have been nicer. The phone is amazing. Sure, the Android OS is not as polished as the iPhone's OS, but it definitely still gets high marks in my book. There are great apps for the Droid and there are even widgets that you can put on your home screens. The screen is incredible, probably the nicest screen on the market. The phone is fast too and I love that it can run more than one application at a time. Just by holding down the Home button, you can move to one of your most six recent apps.
The internet browser is awesome. The phone has the ability to handle multiple browser pages (tabs..sort of) and has incredibly fast load times. Also, Android will be getting Flash support soon (something that Apple has not allowed for the iPhone).
This is the best phone I've had yet and it's on the best network. I would highly recommend this to those people who are fed up with AT&T and Apple, or those Verizon customers who have been waiting for an iPhone worthy competitor.
Nice alternative to iPhone February 7, 2010
Reviewer: Busy Executive (Long Island, NY) -
My company develops mobile software for a number of phones, including iPhone and now Droid - and this gives me a chance to work with lots of phones, including several Android based phones, iPhone and the various Blackberry devices.
I suppose comparisons with iPhone are inevitable, so since I use both every day, let me get a few of those comments out of the way first. In my opinion, both are very good, but Droid wins in a head-to-head compare against iPhone in these ways:
1. About the same size, but Droid includes the slide-out keypad. I avoid systems only having touch-screen (such as iPhone) because my aging eyes and fingers find physical keypads easier to work. For whatever reason, once you get used to it, the Droid seems marginally faster to use, and I find the mix of touchscreen and physical buttons to be about ideal - as well as having the option to slide out the keypad (okay, one complaint is that the keyboard doesn't slide out quite far enough...if you have big fingers, reaching the top row of keys is difficult).
2. For some reason, the Droid screen just seems more readable for text. Apple does a terrific job on overall usability, as everyone agrees, it's just that for me, basic text and email are much easier to read on the Droid.
3. Droid includes 16GB, and it can be replaced by the user if you want more, and same goes for the battery. Apple tends to build this stuff into iPhone, so you need to buy a whole new unit if (say) the battery dies.
4. The Droid has a few hardware features (Bluetooth, built-in camera) that either iPhone lacks or where the implementation isn't quite as high quality. For me, the touch screen is one of these items...I prefer the Droid, and I seem to be much more accurate with it.
5. The GPS function and Google Maps with Turn-by-Turn voice directions are very good, and it's all free (except for the data transmission part).
6. Droid integrates really well with Google's Gmail service, if that happens to be your email provider. Most others work, but not quite as well...secure Microsoft Exchange Server (corporate) email seems notoriously difficult to configure if you use some of the more sophisticated Exchange security features, which is a deal-breaker for many.
7. Droid's mix of support for 3G (cellular) and WiFi (802.11 wireless LAN) is very good. You just set it up once, and the Droid always seems to do the right thing - if WiFi is available, your apps go that way...but if not, it strikes up the (more expensive) 3G path. If you use apps like Pandora (Internet Radio), then this can have a major impact on your monthly charges.
Where I'd say Droid loses to iPhone is:
1. iPhone seems to have better battery life. For example, using both as a media player, I get about 16 hours between charges on iPhone and only about 12 on Droid (except of course it's possible to have multiple batteries on Droid...a big plus). On the default settings the Droid screen seems to draw a lot of power (Droid shows you where the power is going...typically more than half goes to driving the screen).
2. iPhone has full iTunes integration and the ability to play podcasts, etc from Apple's community, all built right in. There are similar apps available for the Droid (Google Listen, Pandora, etc for instance), but you'll probably find most of them less integrated than iTunes is with iPhone, and of course, the iTunes store is a big convenience. DoubleTwist is a popular way to sync iTunes with Droid, but as good as it is, it's still an add-on.
3. The iPhone app store is more mature than what you find on Droid today. As Apple says, there's an app for nearly everything on iPhone, and although Google and the open-source community are strong in their own right, they just aren't quite there yet in my opinion. For example, XM Radio is available on iPhone and Blackberry - but not Droid yet...you get the idea.
4. Hardware add-ons. You can find all sorts of docking stations, speakers and other add-ons for the iPhone...even many high-end car companies build-in iPhone integration that only works with the Apple devices. Yes, Droid has Bluetooth and so it's possible to integrate basic phone functions in your car...but today, there's much better integration with iPhone than Droid in most vehicles. I have an Infiniti, for example, and when I connect my iPhone to it, the display in the car lets me search for music, navigate through my playlists, charge my iPhone and so on. Although I can connect the Droid as a Bluetooth-compatible phone, I don't get all these extras.
Okay, with that out of the way, let me say that I really, really like the Droid. Setup is simple, and Verizon's coverage and basic phone functions seem to work better where I live (Long Island, NY) than AT&T. I'm sure there are people who would say the opposite, but for me, I seem to get better coverage and higher signal quality with Verizon, and this shows up as more consistent and faster performance on the Droid. I've been able to pair the Bluetooth parts with Windows PCs as well as two or three different cars and a few Bluetooth headsets, so that part works great too.
If you like Google's apps, the Droid is also great. Getting my Gmail account setup only took a few moments, and it works about as well as my Blackberry (my long time favorite email device). I tend to get a lot of mail - often 500 a day - and the Droid seems to have no trouble keeping up. The one thing I find missing compared to Blackberry is that I could generally operate my Blackberry with one hand and without paying much attention to the device itself. iPhone is really bad this way - I find I have to use two hands most of the time, and I also have to stare right at the device in order to navigate around and use it properly (indeed, the original iPods with the wheel were better at one-handed operation in my opinion). Droid is somewhere in between, better than iPhone (mostly because of the discreet keyboard) but not as good as Blackberry.
Having said that, the Droid keyboard is solid with keys that are about the right size and feel. There's what amounts to a touch-stick type of pointer device included...anyone who has used IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad computers will feel right at home with it. I tend to use the keypad about half the time...generally, if I'm just reading email, I don't need it...only when I'm replying do I resort to it. To me, this is a whole lot better than any of the touchscreen devices available today.
The Droid connects to your PC (or Mac) via a simple USB cable, and once connected, you can simply see it as a connected drive. This lets you copy various files music, photo or other files to it just by dragging and dropping. There are starting to be some third-party apps that also work this way - install on PC, and it copies whatever content you need over to the Droid. You can also connect to your network using the built-in 802.11 client on the Droid, if you like.
One thing I'll give Motorola credit for is the charger. I used to have a Motorola phone that used a very common mini-USB connector, but software in the phone would verify that the charger was an authentic Motorola part...imagine my surprise when I plugged my Motorola phone into a Blackberry charger (which also used mini-USB) and got a message on the phone about "Unauthorized Charger". Well, I'm happy to report that the Droid has none of this, and I can use the micro-USB charger from even my Amazon Kindle with Droid.
If you happen to be a software developer, the Droid is also pretty cool to work with. The SDK is comprehensive, and since it's Linux underneath, many of the skills you have from that environment transfer pretty directly, making it easy to be productive right away.
Bottom line is that if forced to choose just one device for all my needs, today I'd probably choose the Droid as that device (shhh!).
The Droid Experience February 26, 2010
After looking through the many Droid reviews on Amazon, I saw a lot of talk about customizability but not enough examples. This review is intended to illustrate exactly why customizability is so important to many of us happy Droid owners. I also want to give people who are new to both smart phones and the Google experience an idea of what it was like to transition to that world. But mostly, I just want to add my perspective to the mix.
Life Before Droid:
I had a Verizon Moto Razr. Loved the light weight, hated the battery life (having to charge the phone every other day). Loved the voice and reception quality (at first, but reception deteriorated over the years). Hated the Verizon calendar and the lack of a useful home screen appointment reminder feature (and the fact that appointments would shift on their own by one hour--a bug Verizon never fixed). Hated the call reminder beep every five minutes (but refused to disable it because I needed that reminder). Liked notes but hated the limited notes features and most of all, hated the lack of backup of all my contacts and notes (My Verizon services came late to the game, and in any case I wanted better portability). Oh yeah--loved the voice dial.
What I Wanted:
My background is in IT and Windows, so I was a heavy user of Outlook. I wanted a "Today" screen. I also needed to be able to share emails with my work Outlook, but not all of them. I did, however, want all of my personal emails to go to my phone. Here were my priorities:
1) Better than average voice, speaker, and reception quality.
2) Synch of all contacts data with an external, portable data storage area.
3) A satisfying internet browsing experience.
4) Emails and calendar with a Today screen.
5) Better than average battery life for a smart phone.
6) A decent notes app, a voice recorder, a password keeper, etc.
7) A decent photo and video camera.
What I Got:
I tried the iPhone just long enough to determine that it failed my expectations for voice quality. I am a stickler that a smart phone is primarily a phone, so it better perform well as a phone!
I also saw a friend's Palm Pre and the interface was annoyingly slow, so add snappy performance to the list.
Finally bought the Droid. At first, I was annoyed by the physical keyboard. The weight didn't bother me at all (until I picked up a Droid Eris). The touch-lag on the screen was never an issue, as I found that the Droid was actually pretty snappy compared to other touch phones (until I compared it with an iPhone).
With the Droid, I initially met all of the above objectives, except 6 and 7. That is, I would have to find the apps and customizations I needed and the photo camera was not great (videos looked ok, though).
A Google calendar Today widget came already installed on the Droid. It only showed the next appointment, so I thought I might want to find a better widget from the app store (turns out later the stock widget was my preference after all). Clicking on the widget took me to my calendar or my task list, so I was pretty happy with it.
After seeing how Blackberry phones were an absolute failure when it came to browsing, I was extremely happy with the Droid's Google Chrome browser. I know the phone is not as fast as the iPhone, but it has better overall speed and quality than just about anything else. The Droid display is second to none, and really adds to your browsing experience. In comparison with my friend's iPhone, you could easily read fine print on my display that you would have to zoom on his. The iPhone also had a strong blueish tint to its screen. My friend said my Droid had a yellowish tint, but it looks all white to me. ;-)
Speaking of zooming, Droid handles automatic zooming and formatting of the text column very well (others say better than iPhone), and with Android v2.1, it has multi-touch. That's not to say there aren't some bonehead omissions on Google's part, such as the lack of zoom when reading emails. I hope they fix that soon.
As for battery life... I had adjusted my expectations that I would need to plug-in the Droid every night and possibly during the day if I used some of its features (ahem, games) heavily.
I knew from the reviews that synching with Outlook was problematic to impossible, so I opened a gmail account instead and setup my home Outlook client to download but not delete emails (my phone would be where I permanently deleted my mail). I then altered my email router settings (You don't use an email router service? You should!) so that my mail would transparently go to my gmail account instead of my ISP account.
I exported all my personal Outlook contacts and imported them into Google. It was a piece of cake! I had used many Outlook folders before, so I had to find the equivalent in Google. Eventually, I managed to categorize all of my contacts. After backing-up my Outlook contacts, I then deleted them from Outlook and imported the ones from Google. It was seamless and, apart from some very minor data issues, proved to me that I could rely on Google as my main contact database and import them into Outlook whenever I needed to update my local computer.
So now I was ready to setup my phone. After entering my gmail account in the phone, everything synched fine. All of my Google emails were pushed to the Droid and when I deleted them on the Droid, they were deleted on the Google database. All of my contacts, with thumbnail pictures, showed up on my phone. There, too, modifying a contact would propagate the change to the Google database, so the change was permanent.
I tried forwarding an Outlook calendar appointment from my work computer to my Google account. The Droid received the email and I promptly deleted it. And within a few seconds I would see the appointment in my calendar and on my Today widget.
Now I tried to setup the wireless interface. My wireless router uses encryption and I had a lot of problems getting everything working, but eventually I figured out that there is a flaw in my router when I use both wireless G/N (I have a D-Link router). I simply set it to G only and the Droid had no problem connecting. On the many public wireless sites, the Droid connects easily and performance is of course fantastic on wireless (although with a good 3G signal, performance is not too bad either).
Life After Droid:
Sometimes my Droid shows a koi pond as its wallpaper, with a realistic water animation--the rocks and koi waver and ripple as if it was a video. Other times it will show a stretch of wet sand at the beach, with a foamy wave that ripples up and down. It also randomly shows several other scenes that I found to work well with the animated water effect. This is thanks to an app I downloaded that runs on Android 2.1 [Waterpaper Live Wallpaper]. At one point however, I found the app to run a little choppy. And after adding Google Earth, I started to experience some serious home screen freezing and refresh delays of many seconds. But then I realized my Droid was starved for internal memory and was spending too much time clearing space to run the home screen. So I removed Google Earth and a few other apps, bringing my free internal memory up from 60MB to 100MB. That resolved the home issues and made everything perform snappier than ever. It really is too bad they don't store the apps on the SD card, as that would address this problem.
When I want to voice-dial, I just hold down the camera button and it works (albeit a little slowly) the same as on my Moto Razr--but with deadly accuracy. The stock Droid was an epic fail when it came to voice dial, but I found a much more accurate voice dial app [Voice Dialer HF] and another app [Button Shortcut] to link any function to my camera button, and tadaaa!--one-click voice dial.
When I miss a phone call or email, the LED light blinks (pink for phone call, green for email) and I get the notification ringtone alert once every 20 minutes for the first 2 hours, after which it shuts up. Niiiiice. This customizability was thanks to yet another app [Missed Reminder].
I'm making a call to an acquaintance in China. As soon as I've dialed the number, the display assures me that the Google Voice service will be used for the international call instead of direct dial (which is the default action for all U.S. calls). I'm saving money and I didn't have to dial the Google Voice number first or use a special app interface to dial out--the feature worked transparently as soon as I configured the Google Voice app. And I don't ever worry about my phone going on standby during the call and having to unlock my screen just to get back to the dialer, even though I set the screen timeout to 30 secs. That's because the KeepScreen app prevents the timeout for any set of apps I specify (including the phone app).
I'm stepping outside my car and need to quickly note the parking location in this huge parking garage. On my Droid, I just touch a widget and I'm instantly recording a voice note. The same app that does voice recording also keeps my text notes, drawings, checklists, and AES 128-bit encrypted passwords, in a tree-structured folder system. I highly recommend this app [Note Everything]!
Oh, and I got used to the keyboard. ***Addendum 3/12 *** But I also downloaded a new keyboard app. It's a port of the HTC touch keyboard, and is available from several of the Android app library sites, but you may not find it in the official app store. It not only does calibration so you make fewer fat finger mistakes, but it allows voice-to-text input at any time in the middle of typing. In fact, I used it now to complete this paragraph. Actually, voice-to-text is now a standard keyboard feature in Android 2.1, but I still prefer this alternate keyboard.
There's more--a lot more. I'll stop now. I love my Droid.
A Mac User for life, but so happy I picked Droid over iPhone January 28, 2010
Reviewer: J. Kim
Review is split by Pros, Cons, and Negligible Factors (to me, but maybe not to you) -- I've had the Droid for 2 weeks now, and already can't imagine life without it. Overall, I give it an 8 out of 10. I also have an iPod Touch (how I became familiar with iPhone's platform), and an ancient work BlackBerry -- I count the Droid as my first "real" smartphone.
THINGS I LIKE
- Total gmail, calendar, maps, google-happy-sync world: All you do is enter your gmail address and password, and boom. Your whole life is on there (assuming you live on google apps).
- Android 2.0: Super solid. App switching is AWESOME. Much like google itself, I didn't realize how much I needed it until I had it. Today on the Metro I was looking up a Mark Bittman recipe and while that was loading, I sent an email and checked my calendar. To be able to do all that at once is a huge advantage the Android platform has over iPhone. Also background updating is nice.
- Service: It works on the DC Metro. It works everywhere. And it's pretty fast. Typically less than 10-15 sec for page loads.
- Design: It's only 1mm thicker than iPhone, and about an ounce heavier. I was pleasantly surprised by how portable it is.
- Battery life: A single charge powers a day of regular use, easy -- 2 days with light use.
- Screen: I'm not a pixel snob by any means, but the screen is GORGEOUS. Resolution and image quality are fantastic. The touchscreen keyboard is a pleasant surprise -- autofill is as good, if not better, than the one on my iPod Touch (same as iPhone's). I use it way more than I expected, partly because it's so easy to use, partly because the keyboard is so bad (more on that later).
- Sound quality: I'm not much of a phone person, but my family is -- talked to my mom for 20 minutes today. Everything she said was crystal clear.
- Price: $149 with my New Every 2 discount. That's a great deal. Monthly bill is about $100, which is expensive, but standard for smart phones, and worth it to me.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
- Keyboard: Surprisingly bad. Flat keys, not very responsive, which makes it hard to type quickly w/o mistakes. And I have small, nimble Asian fingers. Maybe I just need more practice?
- (For Outlook/Exchange users): No "search" function in the Droid's internal email client! There's a search in the gmail app, but if you aren't using gmail, you'll want to throw this phone into a wall. Alternately, you can download a $20 app by Touchdown that will fix this. Still, WTF?! That's a crazy oversight.
- Camera: It's OK, but hard to focus. I expected better from a 5MP w/flash. I looked it up online, and other users had similar complaints, but expect it to be fixed with a software update.
- On/off/sleep switch: Why is this located on a tiny button on the top right and not on the front? This is the only flaw of the design, but it's a pretty annoying one, seeing as you use the on/off/sleep switch so often.
THINGS I DON'T CARE ABOUT, BUT YOU MIGHT
- Music player: Music menu isn't great (though sound quality is), but I don't use phones as MP3 players anyway. I prefer my hot pink ipod nano.
- App selection: There are enough to keep me happy, and plenty of freebies. Recommend Spare Parts to keep tabs of all your apps and their battery drain. Bar code scanner is included too. [Side note: I know Apple has 140K apps for iPhone/iPod Touch, but honestly, I've never cared much for them. I'm generally against useless time-sucks like the bubble wrap game, or the one that turns your iPhone into a flute or other wind instrument. Like, that was fun for the first 5 minutes, um, now what?]
- Video camera: All the reviews say the video recorder is excellent, but I never use it.
- Storage: 16gb is more than enough for me. You can add up to 32gb total.
Outstanding!!!! December 10, 2009
Reviewer: Dana Spencer "Nyteez.com" (California) -
This is my first Smartphone, so I have nothing to compare it to. I guess if you are used to using something else, of course you will not like anything that is different. I love the design. It stays in my hands. My friends are constantly dropping their curvy iphones. The rubberized back, weight of the phone and the lip at the bottom allow me to use this phone with one hand, with the keyboard open or closed. I love the keyboard, but again, I have never had a phone with a keyboard, so I can't compare it to others. The design of this phone may not be stylish, but it is totally more functional than the curvy lightweight phones. I hope they don't change the design.
I see people complain about not having the the multi-touch pinch zoom. (this is actually available if you want it) The one tap zoom is awesome and easy to use! Pinch zoom is very awkward if you happen to have fingernails.
The reception on this phone is amazing! I live in the mountains and rarely got reception with my LG phone. I had to hook it up to amplifiers & antennas to get a usable signal. I don't have to hook this Droid up to my antennas to access the internet or make calls! The signal is not great, but it's usable most of the time and it gets great reception hooked up to the antennas.
This phone has eliminated my need for a net book. It does everything my laptop does. I have an internet business and always need to be checking up on things, answering emails, etc. I no longer have to fire up my desktop or drag my laptop everywhere I go. The droid is like a pocket laptop, a phone, a mp3 player, a GPS and more, I love it!
The battery life is no different than my LG that had an extended battery.
I have had no problems at all with this phone.
It comes with a home charger, that has a USB data cable that plugs into it. So you can also use the cable to hook up to your computer. The cable also charges the phone when it is hooked up to your computer. I can also use the cable with my ZEN car charger that has the same USB plug in design. Thanks Motorola!
Finally, a Fully-Featured Phone for Verizon December 7, 2009
Reviewer: Matt (TN, USA) -
Let me preface by saying that I've been on Verizon for about 4 years now and was seriously considering switching to another carrier simply because of Verizon's practice of crippling their devices. While I can't complain about their coverage, call quality, or dropped calls, I was miffed by the fact that for almost 2 years, I had a Blackberry 8830 that had no GPS, no WiFi, and no MMS. No GPS because Verizon wants to charge you $10/mo for VZ Navigator. No WiFi because they want you to use their data services. No MMS because no on-board camera must obviously mean that I wouldn't want to receive picture messages if I can't take pictures of my own.
Enter the Motorola Droid. It not only has GPS, it has turn-by-turn text-to-speech navigation through Google Maps Navigation. It is WiFi-capable. And, it has a camera that can take 5MP stills and capture NTSC-resolution video. Ok, fills the 8830 voids, so does it have its own? Well, the 8830 was GSM-capable and the Droid isn't, but unless you travel internationally, a lot, then this shouldn't be a problem. Also, tethering isn't available yet, but should be in 2010.
Transitioning from a Blackberry? Chances are you are concerned about 3 things: email, calendar, and contacts.
- If you already use Gmail for email, then there's nothing you have to do for that.
- Use Outlook for your calendar? Google has a sync utility that you can install to your computer running Outlook. It's capable of doing 2-way sync or 1-way (either Google -> Outlook or Outlook -> Google).
- Sync contacts? This took some work. I had several contacts in Google via Gmail and several contacts on my Blackberry. I used Blackberry Desktop Manager to export my contacts to a CSV (you might need to search around to find out how, it's not very intuitive and varies by Desktop Manager version). I merged that CSV in with my exiting contacts in Google Contacts and went through a process of manually merging duplicate contacts and having to move data to the appropriate fields because there was a mismatch in field names. Most of the phone numbers and emails that I had stored in my Blackberry wound up in the Notes section of each contact. For the 150 or so contacts that I imported, it took maybe an hour to clean everything up. Not too bad for a one-time thing. If you have contacts in Outlook, it might be easier to merge since, at the very least, Google allows you to export to a format readable by Outlook.
Since I had already synced my calendar and contacts ahead of time, I linked it to my Google account with all of my email, contacts, and calendar entries and within 5 minutes of activation, I never had to turn my Blackberry on again.
Other stuff (not a comprehensive list by any means):
- The WebKit HTML5 Browser is gorgeous and fast. When viewing pages in landscape mode, most sites are readable and look as they would on a computer. Navigation and image pop-ups function very well, and even online shopping is doable. For example, while amazon.com defaults to their mobile page, there's a link to their main site. If you follow it, it should look very familiar. I went to the Gold Box deal page and was amazed to see that the Lightning Deals were there and the counter was counting down.
- GPS/Navigation is the best I've seen from a phone. Direction recalculation was quick. If you're listening to music, it will pause to give the next step in the directions.
- App interaction is slick. You can look up a pizza place on Google Maps and add it as a contact, then make it your destination in Navigation.
- There's an app called "Car Home" that puts everything you would need while driving available for fast access: Voice Search, Navigation, Map View, Contacts, and Search
- The home screen is actually 3-wide. It's like having 3 separate desktops for shortcuts and widgets.
- The audio player is pretty basic, which is fine with me. No EQ (This is a good thing. As a music/audio production nut, I would recommend buying good headphones as opposed to coloring the sound with EQ settings). There is a player widget that you can put on your home screen, which is good for use in the car.
- I tried Google Docs in the browser and it worked.
- No Google Wave yet.
- Webmail is OK. I linked my basic Hotmail account. It pulls new messages but does not do any reconciliation of deletions or read messages from phone -> account.
- I've gotten used to the virtual keyboard to the point where I don't use the physical one for anything.
- Battery life is great. After heavy use (playing music, browsing the web, demoing the apps a couple times, making a few calls) almost nonstop for 8 hours, I had 60% of the battery left. If you can't figure out where your battery life is going, you can go into the phone info menu and it shows you power consumption by app. In most cases, the screen will be about half of your total battery consumption.
- For those interested in writing apps, I downloaded the SDK and Eclipse plugin with ease. Java is the flavor. There are emulators for the different releases of Android.
For the wow effect, I would recommend Google Sky Map, Google Goggles, and Compass. All of which are free.
How does it compare to the iPhone? Is it an iPhone killer? Who cares? After using this phone for 72 hours, I haven't found much that it can't do. It's intuitive and lets me leave the netbook and a dedicated mp3 player at home.
From a Former iPhone & Blackberry User November 12, 2009
Reviewer: Always Samsung "ravereviews" (New York, NY) -
The best review from a former iPhone and Blackberry user.
This phone is everything that the G1 and MyTouch 3G should have been, but better. This device comes with Eclair (Android OS 2.0). This is a great PDA smart phone for anyone who is heavy into texting, emailing, and surfing the web. It's a full featured phone, but at the same time it's nothing groundbreaking. There is definitely some acclimation when it comes to the Droid because I am so use to my Blackberry Bold 8900 and I think its one of the best built devices with a very responsive well built OS. If you're looking for a device that is very similar to the iPhone on the Verizon network then this is probably the closest that you will ever get.
Android OS - Many people have said that the Android OS is a game changer since its release back in the fall of 2008. It seemed like the only thing at the time to combat with the forces of the iPhone. To some extent it is and to some extent it's just not quite there yet. To be honest it's a bit on the clunky side. It does take a few seconds to exit out of certain applications, or to even get to the main home screen menu when exiting out of email and texting. When you become so use to using your cell phone for just about everything - speed is everything. That also includes how responsive and quick your phones OS is. My only gripe is that I wish there wasn't that few second lag in-between operations.
Email - This is also not an Android device that has Google branding with it. It's just a Motorola phone using the Android OS. There is NO G1 branding logo anywhere. However, you can still sync up your Google email address, but the Gmail feature is such a disappointment. Synchronization has to be turned on for the Gmail to function to the best of its ability & that's a BIG battery draining feature. You can also sync your Yahoo & AOL email addresses. The AOL and Yahoo email feature is way better then Gmail and doesn't require synchronization to be turned on. This helps save tremendous battery power. When you send an email from your desktop it doesn't come to the phone right away, but you can set the phone to check for new emails every 15 mins, 30 mins, or manually, etc. It doesn't work the same with Gmail which is a big let down. I am a big fan of the Blackberry and it's the only device on the market that gets an email within 2 seconds of sending it. The same can't be said for the Android OS. Much work needs to be done.
Web Browser - One of the best features on any android device including the Cliq is the web browser. Surprisingly, it doesn't launch Google as the main homepae when you click browser. The Android Browser is probably one of the best browsers on the market right now and is up there with the Safari Browser and the Palm Pre's browser. You can't pinch and zoom to enlarge the way you can on the iPhone, but there are zoom in controls which are easy to use. You also get a dedicated YouTube app that lets you watch Youtube videos. Though the video clips aren't as sharp as the iPhone - There is a setting and option when you are watching the YouTube clip where you can see the videos in "Higher Quality" so its crystal sharp and less blurry.
There is a big difference that one will notice when switching from standard to HIGHER QUALITY.
Instant Messaging - The DROID comes with Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and AIM pre-installed. My Blackberry 8900 came with all 3 and included ICQ & Windows Live. Another thing about the IM that was such a disappointment is that synchronization had to be activated in order for you to sign into the messaging client, which in turn drains the battery power like crazy. This was such a disappointment. My BB never had this issue. You sign in and start chatting. There was no extra setting that had to be activated in order to chat, but on the DROID & because of Android it's a requirement. The extra requirement only means that you have to charge you phone twice in one day because of heavy unnecessary usage.
Motorola really could have done a better job with the DOIRD, especially for the price. But I think most of the minor flaws have to do with the Android OS. I was originally an iPhone user that became a Blackberry user and I have to hand it to the Blackberry because it's quick, responsive, and built in such a way that its function is superb. Everything from Email to text to instant messaging is just so quick. There is hardly any lag and it's easy to learn how to use & exit the operation quickly. The Blackberry so far is the best PDA I have ever used, but its web browser needs work.
Synchronization - This option is probably what I hate most about this phone. As stated before my Yahoo & AOL email comes pretty quick, not right after I send it but usually within 10 mins or so. The same cant be said Gmail. In order for you to get your Gmail more quickly the synchronization has to be turned on which in turn kills the battery like crazy. This also has to be turned on in order to instant message. No other phone does this but an Android phone. However, you should pick up the DROID phone because it's still a winner. There are some minor flaws, but the pros outweigh the negative.
Android OS (Can be a pro & a con)
Full HTML Web Browser
Threaded Text message
Full qwerty keyboard
Big vibrant screen
3.5 MM headjack
Mini SD up to 32GB
Use your songs as ringers
Personal Email (Up to 10 accounts can be added)
Excellent Multimedia Player
Includes 2 chargers (Wall Charger & USB charger)
T-Mobile offers the best minute and data plans on this planet
Poor Battery Life (Lower light setting and turn off synchronization to save power)
Gmail is a disaster (Not push capable)
Needs better notification options when next text/emails come through
No PUSH email capability
Trackball (I miss you)
Occasional lag time when entering/exiting a screen/app
Micro USB (No more Mini USB)
No free carry case
Over PRICED Data Plans
A stunning new piece of technology! December 14, 2009
Reviewer: The Information (United States) -
While holding on to a 5 year old Verizon phone I was starting to get jealous of the iPhone crowd. Had the iPhone been made available to Verizon wireless I probably would already have one. But the AT&T problem became coupled with my overall dislike for Apple's business practices. I recognized the beauty of the iPhone's engineering, but as a die-hard Google fan I jumped right on the Droid bandwagon. One month after buying a Droid I decided to let you all know what this month has been like. With the 2.0.1 update I am glad to say the Droid is a real winner.
While it's not perfect the unit endears itself to the owner with a plethora of incredible features. Before the 2.0.1 update I was on the fence, considering returning the unit to Best Buy. Then I experienced killer app # 1: Google Maps with Navigation. Go right ahead. Chuck that old GPS right out the window--or give it to a friend in need. You don't need it anymore. The Droid has replaced the need for a stand-alone GPS. Enjoy carrying one less device around.
Next is the media playback performance. This little gadget plays music and video on a large super-bright hi-res screen. Out of the box the headphone jack produced crackling sound but the 2.0.1 update seemed to fix it. More and more formats can be utilized each day as new apps are delivered, either free, or for a price. Browsing all the free apps is a bit too much fun. So that old iPod? You might not need that anymore either. While gapless MP3 playback does not yet occur on the Droid's default media player I expect a gapless playback option for the Droid in about 2 seconds from now--all it will take is a better app. Enjoy carrying two less devices around.
Out of the box I was concerned about the camera quality. From slowness to image quality I was wondering why this camera was so poor. Then the 2.0.1 update sped up the auto-focus, and after watching the playback of Droid captured videos I can say the camera is decent. Does it replace a Canon SD780IS? No, but I wish it did. Overall the pictures and videos are good if you can provide the camera enough light. At 5 megapixels the bottom line is that the Droid can be used on the go for casual photo-taking use without bringing a separate point and shoot camera with you. That's three extra devices you wont be needing.
Now consider the GPU, CPU, loads of free apps, and synchronization with your Google account. It would appear that instead of carrying 4 devices (a phone, a camera, a GPS, and an iPod), you only really need to carry one. That makes life simpler and gives you a lot more free pocket space. The cost of ownership is far lower than the competing iPhone because the platform itself supports freedom and free apps! This is the opposite of Apple which tries to restrict their users with an expensive app store and the frequent rejection of developers' efforts.
I think Google is living up to their claim of No Evil by doing such a fantastic job with their Android OS and working to undo the vice-grip-like restrictions that have previously been imposed by handset manufacturers and wireless companies like AT&T and Apple. Verizon deserves a lot of credit for opening their corporate minds to a device that completely defies their previous traditions. It just astounds me how much this device can do. This shows that Verizon is willing to evolve with technology and not let their bean counters run the show. At the end of the day, Verizon will be keeping my business because of this.
Is the Motorola Droid absolutely perfect? No. Is it the most powerful piece of technology you can hold in your hand today? You decide.