Cell Phone Reviews

This is the one a lot of people have been waiting to get their hands on, and rightfully so! Verizon has loosened their belt a bit and finally allowed an Android phone on their network. The Motorola Droid, backed by a large advertising campaign, aims to stomp on the iPhone 3GS in every way possible. It is being released November 6th for $199 (w/ 2 year contract), and will be the most powerful Android device on the market.

Here are some quick specifications:
  • Android 2.0
  • 5mp camera w/ autofocus & dual flash
  • 3.7in display
  • 550mhz processor
  • 256mb RAM
  • 16gb microSD card (class 2)
  • CDMA Rev A
  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth
  • Magnetometer (compass)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

CPF managed to obtain a new Droid in its release state. Keep on reading, it gets good!

The first thing I noticed, after running around looking for something to open this marvelous UPS delivery, was a red eye peering back at me. Right away you get a sense that this phone means business and not in a BlackBerry way.

On the reverse:

After sliding the cover off:

Inside the box is a charger with USB cable - the cable doubles as the charger cable. The charging/data port on the phone is micro USB.

Backside of the phone with protective plastic on it:

The phone is sleek, kind of boxy, with a rubberized backing. Most of the body is made of metal so it doesn't feel cheap. It has some weight to it and gives you the impression that it can take a beating.

With the keyboard out:

Some side views:

Compared to a BlackBerry Storm2 (not really a good comparison, I know, but I didn't have another sliding phone laying around)

Compared to an HTC Droid Eris:

Boot Up
When turning the phone on you get a "DROID" across the screen, then a red eye like on the cover. DROID emits from the speakers and it boots up, quite quickly I should add.

This is a large screen! It comes in at 3.7in (854x480). It's very sharp and has a lot of contrast. The response of the screen is gratifying; the phone buzzes when you touch it (haptic feedback). Touch sensitive Back, Menu, Home, and Search buttons are also included. The only thing this screen is missing is multi-touch. (yes, the hardware supports it, but there is no trace of it in the built in software)

Some notes on applications:
  • Facebook, Amazon MP3 Store, and Verizon Visual Voice Mail all come pre-loaded.
  • Google Maps w/ Navigation
  • Naturally Google Gmail, Calendar, Talk, and YouTube come pre-loaded

Google Maps with Navigation beta is incredible. Here's the video that Google put out just a couple days ago:

I was able to pretty much mimic what happens in the video. This is the first phone to feature this application. In fact, right now it's exclusive. It works just how you'd expect any GPS to work, but it can have actual pictures of the road (satellite or street view) and just about live traffic data. I would buy this phone for this feature alone. Alas, I'm sure it will be on other phones soon though. This is really going to give GPS companies a run for their money.

The keyboard is flat and soft to the touch. It will take some getting used to if you regularly use a phone with raised keys. It's understandable why they had to use such a keyboard; One - it's a slide out keyboard phone. Two - to make the phone thin (and it is very thin for a slide keyboard phone). Still, they could've made the spacing of the keys better. Moto did make it easy to access all the important web and texting keys like . @ / and ? without pressing the Alt key. They also threw in a search and menu button. It's a mystery though as to why there are two blank keys. You would think they would have utilized this space better.

The directional pad is good, but I would've liked to feel a little more of a difference between what direction you're pushing and the center 'enter' key.

Of course you also have the option of using the on screen keyboard while the phone is in portrait. I should mention that the shift and alt keys are a toggle and you cannot press shift or alt while pressing another key at the same time.

Calling & Sound Quality
Call quality is great on the Motorola Droid. Verizon's network helps with this, I'm sure. Some notes about calls:
  • The standard dial pad operates quickly and easily.
  • I love the favorites feature built into Android.
  • You can use Google Voice if you choose to. Awesome!
  • A proximity sensor turns off the touch screen when you have the phone up to your face.
  • The speaker, found under the gold screen in the back of the phone, reproduces sounds surprisingly accurate.

Battery Life
The battery life is outstanding. The Droid is rated with a talk time of 6.4 hours and a standby time of 11 1/4 days on a 1400mAh battery! So with a running web browser, wi-fi, bluetooth, facebook, etc you'll get a whole days use out of it. That's pretty darn good. One of the things that Verizon is pushing as a feature over the iPhone is that you can remove the battery and replace it if/when needed. That's kind of funny considering how good the battery is anyway. I guess they really wanted to work it from all angles.

After removing the back cover you see the battery and 16gb microSD card (the battery does have to be removed to remove the microSD card)

Android 2.0
Google seems to have hit a home run with Android 2.0. They've added several new features that many people will love. Here's a couple:
  • Streamlined UI
  • Combined e-mail inboxs
  • New web browser
  • Voice commands
  • Exchange compatibility
  • Universal search (searches the phone and the web)

Things that are missing from Android 2.0:
  • Phone Password - you can't set a real password on the phone other then setting a unique gesture (literally a series of lines) to unlock the phone.
  • No password timeout setting - this means that the phone's screen will go to sleep and you're fored to unlock it every time at a hard coded interval.
  • A good Facebook app - I found the Facebook app to be lackluster compared to the BlackBerry version - you can sync contacts like with the BlackBerry version, but it doesn't give you dedicated Facebook notifications other than the standard e-mail. Also, I found duplicate entries for some of my Facebook contacts. This is a bug in the software, I'm sure. This really isn't Google's fault, but I'm sure this is a program that a lot of people will use and contribute to their experience of the phone.
  • No updates to music player (see below)

Motorola and Google also put a lot of thought into accessories that will be available for the phone. We're not just talking about cases and bluetooth headsets here, but special docks and car mounts that enable features of the phone when connected to them.

  • Home Dock - turns the phone into an alarm clock complete with large time display, weather and music icons
  • Car Dock - sets the phone to 'car home' which integrates with Google Maps Navigation (see video above)

Web Browsing
The web browser is smooth and fast. It just works how you'd expect it. You can easily zoom in/out (double tap), select objects, and navigate with the directional pad. I really like how when you select a form, it automatically zooms in and displays the keyboard. It's really sharp and ads to the whole phone's experience. There are also shortcut keys to add bookmarks, find text, select text, view page info, share the page, downloads, and settings. HTML 5.0 is supported. At the moment flash lite is not supported, but a plug-in is supposed to be on its way. Some may miss a pinch-zoom feature, but the double tap works fine for me.

Media Player
Unfortunately Google didn't do too much with the media player in Android 2.0. The music player has the standard controls that you're used to, but I still think the iPhone/iPod has won in this category. There is no way out of the box to sync music with your computer, although it can be done with programs like iTunes Agent. If you want to get music on the phone you have to connect the phone via USB cable and drag/drop the music files you want 'into' the phone. The other method is to buy songs from the included Amazon MP3 application. I'm actually surprised Verizon didn't put Rhapsody on the phone.

The phone does have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don't have to worry about adapters. You can also play the music through the phone's speakers if you want. Once more accessories are released I'm sure you'll see docks a la iPhone/iPod docks.

YouTube comes pre-loaded. Videos look great on the large screen and they load in a reasonable amount of time (depending on the size of the video). This is really thanks to the Verizon 3g connection. Of course having Wi-Fi connected will help on download time.


The 5mp camera includes auto-focus, dual LED flashes, and image stabilization. The user interface for the camera is better than on Android 1.0. Android 2.0 adds 'scene' modes like landscape, sunset, night, etc. You have several options to 'share' the photo, crop/rotate it, set it as contact icon or wallpaper. You can also geotag your photos. The camera application itself is a little slow, however. I should note too that that it froze a couple times while trying to open up.

Here is a picture taken of my cat that I immediately uploaded to Facebook:


She was moving a little bit, but I'm finding that the auto-focus could be a little better. The image is just a little bit fuzzy, something I didn't expect with a 5.0mp camera. It was having a hard time focusing on anything.

Video on the Droid is very good. Resolution is 720x480 in MPEG-4. You'll find that there are less options for video, however. There are no options to 'share' like with photos, presumably because of the larger file size.

This phone is going to make some people wish they didn't switch from Verizon to AT&T just for the iPhone. I'm positive that some people will switch to Verizon just for this phone. The music player and camera could be better, but all the other features make up for it. For those that say 'well, the iPhone can do that', well yes, I suppose it can if you find the right app. Big deal. I'm not saying it's better than the iPhone, but it certainly is a fierce competitor with a bad boy image. I'm sure this is exactly what Verizon wants. They're finally trying a different angle and I believe it's going to work out for them.

I will update this thread if I find anything else worth noting - stay tuned...

Post your thoughts in the Motorola Droid Forum

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