Motorola's Droid X for Verizon Networks delivers fine multimedia playback and recording capabilities, baseline support for Exchange security policies, and a somewhat flaky 802.11n radio. Touted for its support for Adobe Flash 10.1, the Droid X smartphone will lack that feature at launch, unfortunately.
The latest Android phone, Motorola's Droid X for Verizon,
delivers good multimedia playback and capture experience, network tethering
capabilities, and solid connectivity and policy support for Exchange e-mail
While I encountered a few problems with the device,
particularly with the WiFi implementation, those problems could be attributable
to the prerelease version of the software on my test device.
I tested a Droid X running a prerelease version of Android
2.1. Although Verizon and Motorola both tout the device's support for Adobe
Flash 10.1, customers will find that Flash support won't be present at the device's
launch. Instead, that feature won't be added until an unspecified date
late in the summer when Android 2.2, or "Froyo," will be delivered
via on over-the-air update, even though Froyo is already rolling out to other
devices such as the Nexus One.
The Droid X will ship July 15 for the Verizon network. The
list price is $580, but Verizon will offer the Droid X for $199 with a 2-year
contract, after a $100 rebate. Verizon representatives have said the Droid X
will have an unlimited data plan-with no hard or soft caps-for $30 per month
(on top of the voice and messaging plans). Also, at launch, the Droid X will be
available at that discounted price to all current Verizon customers who are
eligible for an upgrade any time in 2010.
The giant 4.3-inch touch screen (854 by 480 WVGA) dominates
the first glance at the Droid X, taking up the lion's share of space on what is
an unusually large device. At 2.6 by 5.0 by 0.4 inches and 5.47 ounces, the Droid
X is noticeably longer, wider and heavier than the iPhone 4 (2.31 by 4.5 by
0.37 inches and 4.8 ounces).
The lack of a physical keyboard lets Motorola keep the
device slim, for the most part. But the listed thickness of the Droid X is a
little deceiving, as that figure represents the unit at its thinnest point. Due
to the camera and flash assembly, the Droid X thickens to nearly 0.6 inches
near the top, making the device seem a little top-heavy and awkward to hold in
portrait mode, compounded by the awkward placement of the MicroUSB port on the
lower left side, which makes it more difficult to type in portrait mode with
the device plugged into a power outlet or a PC. For some reason, I had
particular difficulty triggering the space bar when typing in portrait mode on
the multitouch keyboard, leaving many run-on words in my wake.
Unfortunately, I also found using the device in landscape
mode a bit challenging due to the device length, as my natural hand position
made for a long stretch when typing characters in the middle of the on-screen
keyboard, although I found my typing slightly faster and more accurate than
when holding in portrait mode.
Thankfully, Motorola also added the outstanding Swypeon-screen keyboard to the Droid X, introducing drag typing to the smartphone. Not
only does Swype allow me to change the position of my hands while typing-changing
from a two-thumb pecking model to a single forefinger drag position-I found my
typing speed improved 10 to 20 percent, with improved accuracy.
To complement the large screen on Droid X, Motorola added a
high-resolution still and video camera to the device. The 8-megapixel still
camera features auto-focus, zoom controls and a multiflash option-although the
camera defaults to capturing 6 MP images. Shutter speed was a little slow,
however, as I could only take two manual pictures in 5 seconds (as opposed to
six in 5 seconds with an iPhone 3GS.) However, Android does offer a multishot capture
mode that takes six pictures automatically in rapid succession.
The Droid X also features on-device editing capabilities,
allowing me to tag the phone, change brightness, add effects, and rotate or crop the image.
The video camera can record video up to 720p at 30 frames
per second, but the real innovation lies in Motorola's assortment of
microphones. The Droid X comes with three microphones that can each be used with
video capture, allowing the user to change capture mode according to the audio
source. With one microphone on the front of the device, a second microphone on
the back and a third found along the top spine of the device, the Droid X is
poised to best record audio from the video subject, from the filmmaker or from
To tap those microphones, the Droid X offers four capture
modes: an Everyday mode that utilizes all microphones; an Outdoor mode relying
on the noise cancelling features of the top microphone to reduce wind noise; a
Narrative mode to focus on the device holder; and a Subject mode to focus on
the subject. In my limited testing I found the Narrative mode a bit
unnecessary, as it didn't seem to improve pickup of the narrator's voice over
what was captured in Everyday or Outdoor mode. I also tried recording video in
the white-noise-laden environment of eWEEK's test lab and found the Subject
mode did a better job of picking up subject audio and reducing white noise than
the Outdoor mode.
For video playback, the Droid X features an HDMI-out port
(cable sold separately for $30). The device also supports DLNA for media
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at email@example.com.