Found from my blog at Motorola Droid Review | Medic Three
Since I’ve had my Motorola Droid from Verizon Wireless since Friday morning, I think it is time for me to give an in depth review of what I think is possibly the best smartphone to come to Verizon Wireless ever, if not the best SmartPhone on the market.
Disclaimer/Background/whathaveyou: I have been using smartphones since 2004, starting with the Palm Treo 600, Treo 650, then the HTC XV6700, followed by the BlackBerry Curve 8330 and the BlackBerry Storm 9530. I like to think of myself as a little bit tech minded, but I am by no means an expert. I do look for advanced features in a smartphone, but am by no means an sort of expert. I believe I am proficient in Palm and BlackBerry OS, but honestly, prior to Friday I knew jack about Android OS. I had never used it and had conducted minimal research on it.
That brings us today, after 3 solid days of using, abusing, and misusing the Motorola Droid, I am confident I can provide a complete review…
So here goes!
There are Loads of reviews out for the Droid, So I’m going to brush on already covered topics and then hit on a few important, but not already covered topics. The Droid is a solid, hefty phone. When the VZW rep handed it to me in the store I was surprised by it’s weight, despite having been a Storm 1 user. While it is only half an ounce heavier than the Storm, the deceptive slim look of the phone makes it easy to be surprised by the weight. This doesn’t bother me, and I’m honestly happy it doesn’t feel flimsy. The glass screen is a must in touch screen phones, providing a scratch resistant surface for my grubby paws.
The often complained about physical keyboard is honestly much better than anticipated. The slider mechanism is solid and the key layout is just fine with me. The flat keys are challenging at first, and those use to typing without looking at all might struggle at first, but I have become rather proficient with the physical keyboard. The soft keyboard isn’t horrible, but I have never been great with soft keyboards. The Portrait keyboard is almost useless for me, but other reviewers have better luck with it. The landscape keyboard is adequate, but for those of you who want a little better layout, Android Marketplace has an App for that–Better Keyboard–which allows loads of keyboard layouts using keyboard skins.
This brings us to the best part of android–You can replace nearly every function of the phone with a 3rd party app. Don’t like the soft keyboard? Replace it. Don’t like the stock SMS program? There’s an App for that! The list goes on, and on, and on. If you are dissatisfied about any part of your Droid, there is or will be an app for that!
The next complaint of nearly every reviewer is the Droid’s camera. It is slow to start, the autofocus lacks, and despite a 5 MP resolution, it provides often grainy and noisy pictures. That being said, this is a phone and data device first, for me, and camera functionality is a distant 3rd for me, if not 4th or 5th. It takes adequate pics for quick snapshots, but it will certainly not replace the Nikon anytime soon. There is rumor of an update in the near future to fix some of the issues surrounding the Droid’s camera, so time will be the judge for this one.
Other features that are important to note: Google’s new Navigation with Voice guidance is fantastic. It works better than most GPS devices I’ve used. Google Voice Search is awesome–it loads results accurately and faster than my Dell Mini 9! The 3 home screens offer loads of options for users to customize them, from Widgets to shortcuts and speed dial options. Speaking of speed dial, and someone correct me if I’m wrong… But There is no speed dial system on the Droid from the phone dial pad. The only option is to create home screen shortcuts for direct dial of a contact, which is nice, but habit makes going to the phone screen an instinct. This habit will surely be broken in time, but when I make a phone call it is natural to go to the home screen, then use speed dial. Small issue if you ask me, but silly that it isn’t there.
Things missing from BUILT in apps:
Speed dial from phone screen
customizable ringtones for contacts
Bluetooth Voice Dialing/commands
Push for all email providers
Right now, Speed dial has several options, including the above mentioned shortcut, but no option to dial from the phone screen. Ringtones can be customized using Ringo Lite, and Push email works with GMail natively, with other email accounts being able to use a 3rd party app to get by that as well. There is no Android support for Bluetooth Voice Dialing. I imagine support for this may be in the distant future, but it seems silly to me that something so standard isn’t available even with Android 2.0.
The Android 2.0 interface is easy, fast and fun. I use the built in pattern lock, but the swipe lock is attractive too. The phone’s standby mode saves battery life by automatically suspending WiFi connections until reactivating the screen using the Lock/Power button on the top of the screen. One complaint about the lock button is that it requires the use of the swipe lock or pattern lock despite having pushed a hard button to bring it back to life. Some find this annoying, but I’m use to this having used Swipe Lock on my Storm for so long.
The Droid is a solid phone out of the box, but the best part about Android OS is the potential for apps. There are around 10,000 apps in the Android Market, and while not all are 2.0 compatible, and some show up with a blank bar due to the Droid’s incredible resolution, the options are nearly limitless. The best news is that with VZW taking on Android Devices, the popularity of this system is going to explode and developers WILL follow. These are some of my Favorites…
- Handcent SMS(replaces stock SMS program and offers several different views).
- Twidroid–easily the best Twitter app for Android
- Beautiful Widgets–offers HEROesque Time/Temp Display
- Advanced Task Killer
- Better Keyboard
- Backgrounds(get loads of backgrounds easily from your phone)
- Gensoid(Sega Genesis Emulator runs standard Sega Roms)
- Google Voice(awesome functionality compared to BlackBerry app)
- Listen From Google(podcast app)
- NewsRob RSS reader
- Pkt Auctions EBay
- Phonalyzr(shows graphic display of phone log)
- wpToGo(word press app)
- TV.com(get free TV episodes from CBS stations!)
- Ringo Lite
I’m sure there are other great apps, but those are the ones I have tried and liked so far. So far, this device more than lives up to expectations. Having recently tried and returned the Imagio, I am relieved to have found a device that I think I will be happy with for a long time.
Let me know if there is a certain aspect you’d like to have covered!