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Review roundup: Motorola Droid, Verizon's first Android handset

post #1 of 159
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Verizon's first Google Android-based handset, the Motorola Droid, has been directly positioned as a competitor to Apple's iPhone. Reviewers have now compared the two to see how they stack up.

The Droid officially arrives Friday, sporting a 3.7-inch screen with a width of 843 pixels and a quick TI OMAP 3430 processor. It costs $199 with a two-year contract. The device is slightly thicker than an iPhone 3GS, and comes with a physical slide-out keyboard.

Verizon and Motorola have targeted the iPhone with an advertising campaign comparing the Droid to the iPhone. With a style and accompanying song set to parody Apple's own ads, the commercial ran a list of things the iPhone cannot do, with the tag "iDon't." The advertisement attacks the iPhone's lack of a physical keyboard, inability to multitask with third-party applications, and absence of a camera flash.

Tension has built between Verizon and AT&T in the weeks of buildup to the Droid launch. Last month, Verizon began running a series of ads lampooning Apple's famous "there's an app for that advertisements, by declaring "there's a map for that," comparing the two devices' coverage maps. This week, AT&T filed a lawsuit against Verizon over the campaign, alleging that the coverage maps shown are deceiving for viewers.

Reviewers like the Droid, saying it's a good handset and likely the best smartphone Verizon has to offer. Whether it's better than the iPhone, though, seems to come down to a matter of taste.

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg:

The Droid is the best smartphone on Verizon, the best handset from Motorola and the best Android phone.

"I can recommend the Droid to Verizon loyalists who have lusted for a better smart phone, but don't want to switch networks."

Android 2.0 is an improvement, most notably the free Google Maps Navigation turn-by-turn directions.

The 3.7-inch screen looks great, but lacks multi-touch and is not as responsive as some other hardware.

The keyboard is "awful" and causes frequent typos. The software doesn't include an auto-correct feature for the physical keyboard, yet the on-screen virtual keyboard does correct typos.

Android still only has three panels for displaying apps, versus 11 on the iPhone.

"The Droid is potentially a big win for Verizon, Motorola and Google, as well as for loyal Verizon customers."

The New York Times' David Pogue:

"The Droid wins on phone network, customizability, GPS navigation, speaker, physical keyboard, removable battery and openness (free operating system, mostly uncensored app store). The iPhone wins on simplicity, refinement, thinness, design, Web browsing, music/video synching with your computer, accessory ecosystem and quality/quantity of the app store."

New multi-function handsets need to be called "app phones," distinguishing "iPhoneish" phones from "mere smartphones."

The Droid has a "masculine" design.

"Is the Droid an iPhone killer? No, but it's certainly a killer phone."

It's fast, audio quality is great, and the screen is "gorgeous."

Though the Droid is only slightly thicker than the iPhone, the iPhone tapers off with its curved edges, so it feels much thinner in your hand.

The Web browser is good, but slower than the iPhone and hurt by a lack of multi-touch for zoom.

Android's 12,000 apps don't compare to the more than 100,000 available for the iPhone, which are largely "more useful and imaginative."



The Associated Press' Rachel Metz:

"The Droid stands out from a crowd of iPhone wannabes."

Google Maps Navigation worked well on a late-night ice cream run, with the phone in a pocket and the volume turned up on a motorcycle.

Voice search is nice, but not perfect. "I'll probably stick with using the Droid's keyboard to get directions."

Android 2.0 and the Droid multi-task well, but not perfectly. "I tried to make a call while the Maps Navigation application was running and had to endure very loud instructions about where to turn while the phone was ringing."

Verizon's network is strong and gets solid reception without dropped calls.

"Even if you aren't already using Verizon, if you're not swayed by the iPhone, you might fall for the Droid.



PC World's Robert S. Anthony:

"Will the Android Marketplace catch up to the iPhone's App Store? Therein lies the key to success for the Droid. The Droid certainly lives up to its promises and does a lot of things the iPhone doesn't. The iPhone will probably keep its smartphone throne for now, but it will have to deal with a powerful new competitor."

The hardware has a "solid feel and heft -- there's alot going on behind the crisp, 3.7-inch touchscreen."

The keyboard is "shallow and flat," and typing is uncomfortable and difficult.

"The Droid is also missing physical Talk and End keys, which are pretty much standard on every other cell phone ever made. You must access these controls from the call application."

Call quality is excellent, even in a noisy area.

The hardware comes with a number of installed applications, but lacks Verizon's V Cast streaming video and entertainment services.

Outdoor shots on the camera looked great, but indoor pictures were prone to graininess. The phone's dual-LED flash tends to distort colors.



Other reviews are available from Gizmodo, Engadget, CNet, and MobileCrunch. And for a rebuttal of the Droid "iDon't" commercials, read the latest column from Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times.
post #2 of 159
I love the review roundups.

The Android platform is shaping up nicely. The SDK, while not as easy to code for as that iPhone, is off to a good start, unlike the WebOS SDK, Mojo.

You get to a point where having more apps becomes a pretty pointless measuring contest. With Android’s 12k apps I think we can safely say that it’s a viable "app phone” and a real contender as an iPhone competitor.
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post #3 of 159
It's all fun and games until the 4G.
post #4 of 159
No double Motorola would put a good phone and the fact that Google is doing the software would make it even better, the only question now is how is Verizon going to screw it up. Verizon has made good products in to bad product but their over incisive need to control what you can and can not do on the phone.
post #5 of 159
I've seen a lot of statements that the Verizon network can not support simultaneous phone calls and data access. Is that true? If so, the network advantage would still have to go to AT&T and iPhone. That capability is becoming too useful to even consider a network without simultaneous voice and data as a viable contender.
post #6 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by X38 View Post

I've seen a lot of statements that the Verizon network can not support simultaneous phone calls and data access. Is that true?

Yes. It’s not an artificial limitation by Verizon, it’s an inherent limitation to their EVDO network. Same goes for Sprint. Both use EVDO Rev.A, they would both need EVDO Rev. B in order to support simultaneous voice and data. Both are looking to let go of the dead-end CDMA-based netowrks and move to different 4G networks.

PS: There is a work around for this but you’ll have to use an app like Google Voice on your Verizon or Spirnt phone. This would make your voice calls part of the data network. Of course, there are inherent problems with this method, too.
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post #7 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by X38 View Post

I've seen a lot of statements that the Verizon network can not support simultaneous phone calls and data access. Is that true? If so, the network advantage would still have to go to AT&T and iPhone. That capability is becoming too useful to even consider a network without simultaneous voice and data as a viable contender.

I have heard the same thing. Their version of 3G does not support phone and data access at the same time.

This is the first Verizon phone where users will be testing the capabilities of their network (capacity, bandwidth)....just like the iPhone did on AT&T. Since this device makes it easy to access the internet, Verizon users will finally put some stress on their 3G network.

Note: Verizon's 3G, although has a larger footprint, is slower than AT&T's. It will become even more slower as AT&T rolls out HSDPA (7.2mb and then 14mb).
post #8 of 159
I wonder what's on tap for iPhone v2010. Any predictions on whether/how Apple will advance the ball?
post #9 of 159
removable battery should be a negative point IMO
post #10 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

This is the first Verizon phone where users will be testing the capabilities of their network (capacity, bandwidth)....just like the iPhone did on AT&T. Since this device makes it easy to access the internet, Verizon users will finally put some stress on their 3G network.

On a per user basis it should be a data hog, like the iPhone, but I wonder how popular this device will be in general. AT&T, if I recall correctly, has over 1/5 of their entire network running iPhones at this point.

I wish Motorola made a more appealing phone. It looks like something design in Siberia during the Cold War. Which is funny, because Verizon already sent it back to Motorola once to make it look less blocky. I hope Im wrong but it has a style that may mostly appeal to Linux enthusiasts, not the average make and female consumer the way the iPhone does.
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post #11 of 159
Multicore & multitask???

More of the blazing speed and a phone that's not a chore to use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I wonder what's on tap for iPhone v2010. Any predictions on whether/how Apple will advance the ball?
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #12 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

PS: There is a work around for this but youll have to use an app like Google Voice on your Verizon or Spirnt phone. This would make your voice calls part of the data network. Of course, there are inherent problems with this method, too.


Are you sure about that? I thought Google Voice service used your voice minutes during a call (like a normal cell call) and the data portion of that was on their end.
post #13 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by steviet02 View Post

Are you sure about that? I thought Google Voice service used your voice minutes during a call (like a normal cell call) and the data portion of that was on their end.

When a call is made to your VoIP number comes into the server it forwards to the PBX to get to your cellphone, so that would be the voice network, but like any VoIP service if you call out from the app it’s using the data network on your end.
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post #14 of 159
I just wish somebody would put some real pressure on Apple. It would be interesting to see how the iPhone evolves in response to competion. It's been over 2 years and nobody has come close to dethroning Apple IMO.
post #15 of 159
I am happy for Motorola that they at least appear to have something good in their hands, and I commend them for not giving up.

Here we see another American company that offers at least some competition to Apple (as did Palm sort of), instead of an overseas company from the Far East or Finland (or Canada for that matter).

In the past we gave up the development and (mass) production of cameras, audio and video equipment, more recently home and kitchen appliances and even automobiles are threatened, but it makes me proud to see the US continue to take the lead in the world of smart phones.

I will not buy a Droid (I am all Apple) but I do hope that the phone will be successful, eventually resulting in more US jobs. Next step: producing them here as well, something I always hoped and still hope Apple would consider.
post #16 of 159
That new commercial shown during last noght's World Series game was like a feature length movie. Must have cost a fortune- very captivating. I thought it was a commercial for a new movie.

YANKEES!!!!!!!
post #17 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

I have heard the same thing. Their version of 3G does not support phone and data access at the same time.

This is the first Verizon phone where users will be testing the capabilities of their network (capacity, bandwidth)....just like the iPhone did on AT&T. Since this device makes it easy to access the internet, Verizon users will finally put some stress on their 3G network.

Note: Verizon's 3G, although has a larger footprint, is slower than AT&T's. It will become even more slower as AT&T rolls out HSDPA (7.2mb and then 14mb).

The question is how extensive the 3G rollout will be. They always seem to do the least amount of work on their network possible to keep customers.
post #18 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Yes. Its not an artificial limitation by Verizon, its an inherent limitation to their EVDO network. Same goes for Sprint. Both use EVDO Rev.A, they would both need EVDO Rev. B in order to support simultaneous voice and data. Both are looking to let go of the dead-end CDMA-based netowrks and move to different 4G networks.

PS: There is a work around for this but youll have to use an app like Google Voice on your Verizon or Spirnt phone. This would make your voice calls part of the data network. Of course, there are inherent problems with this method, too.


Thanks for the clarification.

I'll have to recommend to my friends to stay away from Verizon & Sprint until they go to a new network technology. Where I work most of us are constantly on the go and we do a lot of our work by virtual meetings that use simultaneous teleconferences and Webex presentations. The official company phones are AT&T Blackberries, but many of us have been unofficially using our personal iPhones for business and they are officially adding the iPhone this month.

They recently started to support the new Cisco mobile Webex app for Blackberry and iPhone and meeting hosts are now starting to take advantage of it. For some reason we never use the Webex voice feature though - it's always over a simultaneous voice conference line and the Webex is used for the presentation slides.
Since we can access both simultaneously on an iPhone, I see this rapidly becoming the next big step in our mobile work capability.

Looks like Verizon & Sprint users will be frozen out though, so this new Moto phone just isn't an option for our work. Too bad - I have a lot of respect for Moto's history.
post #19 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

That new commercial shown during last noght's World Series game was like a feature length movie. Must have cost a fortune- very captivating. I thought it was a commercial for a new movie.

YANKEES!!!!!!!


Yeah, I saw that during the game too. Nice to have a team that spends the most money finally win a world series in this decade. Very proud moment.
post #20 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by X38 View Post

Thanks for the clarification.

I'll have to recommend to my friends to stay away from Verizon & Sprint until they go to a new network technology.

I wouldnt do that. People should go with the phone and network that suit their needs best. Some areas just dont have good coverage for a carrier, none are immune. And besides that being a con for Verizon and Sprint, their network does have pros, too, over GSM networks.
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post #21 of 159
[CENTER]

This is not the droid your looking for.[/CENTER]
post #22 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by steviet02 View Post

Yeah, I saw that during the game too. Nice to have a team that spends the most money finally win a world series in this decade. Very proud moment.

The Yankees are an organization that only caters to obtaining premium players reulting in premium results. That's why Derek Jeter has 5 Rings. The Yankees won in 2000 - what decade was that?

I wonder if they use Apple's premium computers?
post #23 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solar View Post

[CENTER]

This is not the droid your looking for.[/CENTER]

Awesome!!!
post #24 of 159
The real fascinating thing about all this? Seeing the now famous Verizon/Droid ad "iDon't" right there on top of this article in the AppleInsider page. Think about it a second: this site lives Apple, breathes Apple, even uses the name Apple. And then, it advertises Droid. Voluntarily? Probably not, which is even worst. Did somebody say (Google)Ads here??? Or (Google)Droid, (Google)search, (Google)Analytics, (Google)Docs??? Oops. I really hope Apple is getting ready for this kind of war!
iWill survive
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post #25 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Awesome!!!

Who is that a picture of?
post #26 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I love the review roundups.r.


Me too! Great job, AI! Thx for saving me a lot of time!
post #27 of 159
Dunno why Moto made that phone look so fugly.

The Andriod phone I'm interested in is Sony's XPERIA X10. Hopefully it wont suck but it sure is better looking than the Droid. If the Kurara was Android I'd be thinking about it as well.

But these would be for development. My personal phone will be a 3GS.
post #28 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

More of the blazing speed and a phone that's not a chore to use.

What about the iPhone do you find to be a chore to use?
post #29 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I wonder what's on tap for iPhone v2010. Any predictions on whether/how Apple will advance the ball?

I like the question, and don't mean to be flip.

It will be thinner, faster and have a zoom camera, flash....

Others?
post #30 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

I like the question, and don't mean to be flip.

It will be thinner, faster and have a zoom camera, flash....

Others?

Larger screen....but same footprint. There is too much empty space above and below the screen. Software drivers can automatically compensate for additional pixels.
post #31 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Android still only has three panels for displaying apps, versus 11 on the iPhone.

Seeing as the Droid only has ~500MB of space for apps, 3 panels seem like more than enough. That 16GB microSD card you get with it? That's only for your music, videos, pictures, etc. All according to Pogue.
post #32 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

I like the question, and don't mean to be flip.

It will be thinner, faster and have a zoom camera, flash....

Others?

It'll send the competition back about 2 years. Again.

It's Apple.

As long as Steve Jobs and the current iPhone team exist, the competition will always be at a loss. It might sound simplistic, but it's true. Since 2001, Apple has successively redefined the handheld space. Even *wIth* the existence of Apple handhelds, as an example for others, no one was able to release anything as remotely successful and desirable as what Apple released.

Biggest threat to the competition: the very fact that Apple is a player in this space.

The only thing that can trump an iPhone . . . is the next iPhone. We have another iPod phenomenon here.
post #33 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

I like the question, and don't mean to be flip.

It will be thinner, faster and have a zoom camera, flash....

Others?

OLED, longer battery?
post #34 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

As long as Steve Jobs and the current iPhone team exist, the competition will always be at a loss. It might sound simplistic, but it's true. Since 2001, Apple has successively redefined the handheld space. Even *wIth* the existence of Apple handhelds, as an example for others, no one was able to release anything as remotely successful and desirable as what Apple released.

Biggest threat to the competition: the very fact that Apple is a player in this space.

The only thing that can trump an iPhone . . . is the next iPhone. We have another iPod phenomenon here.

?? Steve Jobs dies - the iPhone dies? Is that what you suggest?
And the last time I looked more people are still running around with Crackberries so not quite sure how you justify those claims. iPhone is not quite there yet.
post #35 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

I like the question, and don't mean to be flip.

It will be thinner, faster and have a zoom camera, flash....

Others?

Full Muti-app functionability.
Definitely a flash- though don't mention that to solipsism. He says that's not realistic and that we should get a real camera if we need it that bad.
post #36 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

The Yankees won in 2000 - what decade was that?

The last decade, the last century, in fact.
post #37 of 159
lets have two screens, one for the keyboard, that can double to run two apps at the same time, watch your email on one screen and internet on the other. or better turn by turn gps. and if its a little thicker, I don't care.
post #38 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

Larger screen....but same footprint. There is too much empty space above and below the screen. Software drivers can automatically compensate for additional pixels.

I like the aspect ratio and size. The curved sides make the iPhone quite durable while retaining a svelte design. I do hope for higher pixels and a higher quality panel tech (if that is possible), though some of these devices are going overboard with pixels density when power is still an issue. At what point does it become pointless to increase the ppi? IOW, how many ppi can the human eye discern as better or worse when looking at very images?


Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

OLED, longer battery?

Is OLED durable for longterm usage and does it offer any power savings at such a small size? Ive heard that it really doesnt. Between LED-backlit LCDs and OLED, the LCD seems like a better choice.

How about those silver-oxide batteries that made a splash a couple years ago as the future of portable battery tech?


Quote:
Originally Posted by floccus View Post

Seeing as the Droid only has ~500MB of space for apps, 3 panels seem like more than enough. That 16GB microSD card you get with it? That's only for your music, videos, pictures, etc. All according to Pogue.

I find this to be a serious problem for the device. I understand the desire for some to have a microSD card slot, but in this era of App Phones 500MB can be an issue.
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post #39 of 159
....better be sure you like Verizon and the new DROID....termination fee has been doubled to $350.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/10622...s-outrage.html
post #40 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by X38 View Post

I've seen a lot of statements that the Verizon network can not support simultaneous phone calls and data access. Is that true? If so, the network advantage would still have to go to AT&T and iPhone. That capability is becoming too useful to even consider a network without simultaneous voice and data as a viable contender.

True. However, there was an update to the CDMA standard finalized earlier this year which allows for simultaneous voice/data. Even after Verizon rolls out their 4G network, it will exist side-by-side with the CDMA network for the forseable future. So the question is whether Verizon will upgrade their CDMA network to the new standard?

But as of today, Verizon can not support simultaneous voice/data.

However, you should also keep in mind that ATT only supports simultaneous voice/data on their 3G network (from my understanding). And as Verizon clearly and correctly points out in their recent adds, ATT's 3G coverage is very limited. Basically, if you don't live in a big city, you won't have 3G and won't have simultaneous voice/data.
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