OK, Before I start feel free to flame me afterwards with the "this screen is gorgeous" or "something will always be better around the corner" posts. This is just my personal opinion on the device. Hopefully it will help other people in their decision on deciding on the right phone for them.
I have now had by Bionic for 1 week and figured I would write a complete and impartial review of what I have seen/experienced. I guess it would be beneficial for me to describe what I am coming from. I have had an OG droid for about 22 months. It is rooted and overclocked and has served me well but I feel like there are enough hardware limitations (application storage space/ram/etc) that it was time for me to upgrade. The Bionic is the first real “upgrade” I have seen come out that I could see myself being stuck with for two years (20 mos) and so I decided to pick it up. I picked up the Costco bundle for $279 and think this is a great deal. It came with what they claim is $160 in accessories which is probably accurate but if I was buying them I would not need/use them all. What it included:
Dock – OK, but I just plug my phone in. I have a case on it and personally it doesn’t buy me anything to put it in the dock so I just plug it in and haven’t even unwrapped the dock.
Car Dock/Charging station – This is nice and even comes with an insert that you can take out and the phone will fit in with a slim case….. The issue I have is that even though I got the thinnest case they had, it is still thick enough to disconnect it from power and I have to keep pushing it down…….I usually end up just taking the the case off and putting it in the dock…..My one issue is it puts it in vehicle mode which means you can’t get to your home screen……You have one screen where you can add apps (up to 4) but to get to the home screen you have to take it off of the dock. I think you should be able to hit a button to take it out of vehicle mode. EDIT - Thanks to comments below I tried it again and while the home button will not take you out of it, the back button will and the menu button --> exit will take you to the regular home as well. Thanks for pointing this out.
Extra Battery/Battery Charger – I love the idea of this…..it charges the battery separate from the phone and can charge the phone at the same time………I could see myself using it a lot in a year when the battery won’t last as long…….for now….It hasn’t left my counter where I charged it up because my battery life is enough to get me through without it. (more on that later)
Leather(ette?) case – Worthless…..Cheap feeling and it holds the phone upright on a belt loop……not horizontally. This phone is too big for that. I have not used this
Screen Protectors – Ehh…They are screen protectors and not custom….you have to cut them to fit…..and it’s hard to uncover the camera/speaker on the front of the handset. If you cover the earpiece speaker on the front with the screen protector it is very muffled and hard to hear. Plus this phone has Corning Gorilla Glass, which is very difficult to scratch.
The build quality feels good in hand and it is lighter than I expected…..I do wish the form factor was a bit different as it looks pretty much like a Droid X……I know there are a few small appearance differences and physical buttons vs. capacitive buttons, but when I set it down next to my wife’s X it has the same form factor and looks VERY similar. The back cover is plastic which some people are complaining about but it feels solid and doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. The glass on the front has a curved edge on it which adds some polish or finish to the phone. The speaker on the back of the phone is probably plenty loud, but it is not as loud as my original Droid. The power/standby button is in the top left corner which is a little more unnatural to reach with one hand but it is still not that difficult for someone with larger hands………This would likely be a big turnoff to someone with small hands. The notification LED IMHO is too small……at least it’s there but it isn’t very noticeable.
This phone is fast. I am able to have widgets on every screen and the phone does not lag. There does seem to be an awful lot of bloatware on it though…..I know it can be frozen/uninstalled but I don’t feel like you should have to. I really like the Motorola quick contacts widget….It puts your 20 favorite contacts onto a 4x1 widget……when you swipe it down all 20 contacts are shown and can be modified. I do not love the launcher button layout. The three buttons on the left can be customized…….the right one is always the app drawer. I do not like having the app drawer on the right and would like to change that. One thing I do like about the stock app drawer though is that you can group your apps together and it will open that “group” each time so you don’t have to see the bloatware.
One concern that I have over the long term which is probably nothing is the RAM. When you go into look at Running Services it shows you the RAM available/used which is a total of about 700 MB. I am assuming the other 300 is due to the OS and is not shown? That being said on my phone currently with not a lot loaded I have 377 MB free and 336 used.
Screen – I am really love/hate on this screen. I do not like how obvious the pixilation is to me…..It might not bother some people and that’s great…..it does bother me and its obvious on almost all icons/pictures/text….BUT man is this thing great in the sunlight. Even in bright sunlight you can see the screen without issue.
Camera - The camera takes fine pictures…..They are not great and they are not awful. It’s a phone first and a camera second. Pictures in bright light are better and pictures indoor and in low light leave much to be desired. Neither are going to give you SLR quality pics…Some people have complained that it takes too long to take a picture. I can open the camera app and take a pic within 5 sec. Videos taken with the camera are better than still shots.
Battery Life – I will preface this by saying I live in an area without 4G. I have turned my radio to CDMA only and have put the battery through about 5 full charge cycles. Battery life has been fine for me…..not excellent and not awful. If I am in a weak signal area and it is constantly searching for a signal it goes down pretty quick (I have seen it go to 60% from full in about 2 hours). If I am in a strong signal area…..with light/normal use it will usually last me about 9 hours before it starts telling me to charge it. One thing I will note is that no matter what, the top two processes killing my battery are Cell Standby (Battery used by cell radio) and Phone Idle (Battery used when phone is idle). The two of these basically ALWAYS make up about 75% of my battery drain. (40-45% CS and 30-35% PI). Display is usually around 10-15% and was always the highest on my OG droid.
Headphone Noise – It is faint, and I don’t hear it when something is playing but when the music changes between songs or there is an ad etc there is a high pitched whine through the headphone jack. I have tried 4 different set of headphones all with the same result. Again it is faint but I still think it’s worth mentioning.
Handset heat – This phone gets warm to the touch. It is definitely warmer than my OCed OG Droid. I would compare it to when my OCed OG is charging and gets extra warm only this is when the phone is just being used….Not charging.
Locked Bootloader – If you know what this means you already know it has one…..Basically IMO this limits the longevity of the phone. Being able to FULLY customize by OG Droid is the only thing that has kept it relevant for this long. By not being able to do this I feel like this device will show it’s age faster. I know Motorola has said they will start to unlock their phones but I’ll believe it when I see it.
OS – This phone comes with Gingerbread and it is heavily rumored that Ice Cream sandwich right around the corner. After using honeycomb on my tablet I really want some of the features that are in ICS (read: scrollable widgets) I actually really like the Motorola home/launcher changes and am preferring it to launcher pro but I am really missing the scrollable widgets. When I add launcher pro I miss some of the Motorola widgets.
All in all I think that the Bionic is a great phone….the best I have ever used. It is vibrant, feels good in hand and is super fast. All apps run really smooth and fast on it and IMHO it is the best phone out right now. If I had to buy one right now that would definitely be it. For me……I am not sure it is the right phone for me. I feel like after waiting this long when I upgrade I want to be sure that’s the phone for me. We don’t even have 4g in this area yet so I am not missing anything on that front…..I am concerned over the tech….I think it’s old technology (I know….I know…..this is the first dual core on Verizon LTE…it’s not old technology!!) Just because it’s new to Verizon doesn’t mean its new. The Motorola Atrix came out on ATT on February 22nd; That was almost 7 months ago. I know it is a different chipset but the NVIDIA Tegra 2 and the TI OMAP 4430 are awfully similar. And both are dual core running at 1Ghz. The only other real differences being .3” of screen size and 3MP in the camera. At this point I think I will return mine and see what the holiday season brings. I don’t really love the display and am not crazy about the camera. Honestly I think most of the things I have concerns about will be addressed with software releases, but the screen / capacitive buttons (rumored not to be used in ICS) are hardware and can not be changed after the fact. I also have my doubts as to whether the bootloader will ever be unlocked…….I guess time will tell and I might end up regretting taking mine back but I am willing to wait a few months and see……..worst case I should be able to pick one up at a lower price once my phone does finally die.