Long overdue (sorry about that), pending the setup of this site, I am now happy to give a review (with obviously a decent history of usage behind it) of the Motorola Droid, available on Verizon Wireless.
I am not going to get into the debate (for now) about Android vs. iPhone. Simple reason being is that this is a pretty pointless venture. Just as it is virtually impossible for somebody to convince me that having a closed system like that on the iPhone is worthwhile, those that are more interested in games or don’t mind being tethered to iTunes will prefer their iPhones.
That now being said, I purchased the Droid when it was released back on November 6th. Being a technology junkie, in 6 months time, I normally would be tired of whatever phone I had purchased and would be drooling over the latest and greatest phones, those faster, sleeker, cooler models that always seem to come out right after you buy a new phone and wind up stuck for another 2 years. That has not been the case so far with the Droid. I still think this thing rocks as much as the day I purchased it. That is not to say it doesn’t have its flaws. The Droid has some annoyances, but I have yet to see a phone that doesn’t, so this is not surprising.
First lets start with the physical phone itself. Unlike every other “me too” player to try and copy the iPhone, the Droid stands strong, silent, and all business. Some complain about the “boxy” look of the phone, but I don’t have a problem with that. The phone is sharp looking, has clean lines and a distinctive look all its own rather than looking just like every other phone on the market. Also, unlike many other phones, the blend of plastic, steel and glass gives the Droid a very solid feel. It doesn’t feel like a toy that might break if look at it too hard. The drawback to that is that it is a bit weighty for some, and definitely pulls on a shirt pocket, but it is comfortable to hold.
The big selling point on this phone at launch was the physical keyboard. The Droid is the slimmest phone on the market that has one built into it. Unfortunately, the compromises made to do that is one of the drawbacks. Motorola made some odd design choices in the layout and feel of the keyboard. This makes it take a while to get used to. I tend to use it only for longer e-mail or notes I am taking, and use the on screen keyboard for text messages, twitter and other short messages.
The processor, an OMAP3430 (600 Mhz, underclocked to 550 Mhz) is in theory slower than some of the newer phones on the market, but for the most part, you won’t know the difference. That is because the OMAP3430 has a Graphic Chip built into it, providing superior performance and rendering than typical ARM processors. This is a good thing too, because the Droid has a simply outstanding 3.7 inch high resolution (480 x 854) display that blows the iPhone, Pre and most every other phone out of the water.
There was much complaining about the lack of multi-touch on the Droid when it was released. That has been since fixed with the 2.1 Android update, and the much loved (and personally I think highly overrated) “Pinch and Zoom” is now available in the browser, Maps, Gallery and several other apps on the phone.
The Droid sports a 5MP camera that is spotty. The resolution is good, and in ideal conditions it takes some pretty nice snaps, but in murky or mixed lighting the results are hit and miss. The camera is usable, but you won’t (and shouldn’t) depend on this to replace your camera.
Now here is one place I will pick on iPhone users. The one great this about the Droid that it has over the iPhone, no questioned asked… is the fact that it is actually a good phone for phone calls. Call quality on the Droid is the closest to land line quality that I have every seen or heard on a mobile phone. Whether it is the iPhone or at&t to blame, I don’t really know, but I tend to believe it has more to do with the iPhone since not EVERY phone on at&t has call quality issues.
Of course, no smart phone today is complete without apps. There are now more than 20K apps in the Android app store, which is of course still way short of the 100K plus apps in the Apple store. The quality (and quantity) of the apps in the Android app store is of course growing wildly, but still short and a bit weak if you are looking for games compared with the iPhone app store. But, like I said, it is getting better daily. Plus some features like the voice search, just jump and are leaps and bounds ahead of anything else in the “cool factor.” I love showing off to people, hitting the microphone on the search bar, saying “Sushi restaurants” and the Droid returns a list of Sushi restaurants in my area.
Finally, the next biggest issue for most Smart Phones these days is battery life. On a typical day, I get 15 – 18 hours out of the battery. This is considerably shorter if I am using the GPS or Wi-Fi. It is also greatly reduced in poor signal areas, where the constant signal searching can drain the battery is 6 hours or so.
Bottom line is I love the Droid. It is a bit “geekier” than an iPhone, but that is what I like about the phone. It is easy to tailor and alter to how I like to work, rather than having to work the way Apple has decided. The menus and such do not have the stylish character of the Palm Pre, but the multi-tasking while not as flashy as the Pre’s “card deck” is much faster and efficient.
There is a new phone coming to the Droid line of phones, the Droid Incredible by HTC. This may finally steal some of the limelight away from the flagship Droid. On the plus side, this may cause a drop in price from the current $199 (with 2-year agreement) price tag. The phone is a workhorse and does everything asked of it and then some, and has lived up to the “Droid Does” hype of the initial marketing campaign. I have no qualms about recomending this phone to anyone. It really is a great phone.