Motorola's Droid Pro, which Verizon Wireless is selling now for $179.99 after a $100 rebate with a two-year deal, presents a case study in smartphones that look great, feel great in the hand, but whose user experience is wanting.
That sums up the Droid Pro hardware, which I will circle back to after covering the basics of the device and what worked for me.
Weighing at an industry average 4.73 ounces, the Droid Pro comes with a 1 GHz processor and measures 4.7 inches long, 2.4 inches wide and about a half inch thick. The screen is a compact 3.1-inch, HVGA 480 by 320 pixel display.
I used the Droid Pro as my main phone during a trip to San Francisco this week, grabbing directions and recommendations aplenty from the phone.
Web browsing was decent and I tested the Flash support by frequently using ESPN.com. Google Search, voice search and Google Maps did not disappoint, but the real fun happened with the new Google Places widget highlighted as a Google app.
The local search app aims to connect local businesses with consumers on the go. The app taps the user's coordinates to help them find not only restaurants, bars and other establishments nearby, but reviews, ratings and other info about those places.
I'm not entirely unfamiliar with San Francisco, but Places helped segment eateries by cuisine type, whether they were open and how far they are from us. See it in action here.
I quickly installed the new Twitter for Android and Facebook for Android apps from the Android Market, both of which were improved from the last handset I tested, the Samsung Fascinate.
These apps are looking more and more like their desktop counterparts. I used the Droid Pro to easily sync these feeds with Motorola's social networking app.
I find on these Android gadgets that once you sync your social feeds by entering your ID, it makes life a lot easier to sit back and wait for the streams to come to one of the five homescreens. You never have to dial up the app on the browser.
Calls were crisp and clear; I didn't get any dropped calls in San Francisco or here in Connecticut on Verizon.
The camera, a standard 5 megapixel utility, was serviceable, as was the video, which is listed at "DVD quality."
However, I really felt the degradation after using the 8 megapixel camera and HD videos apparatus offered on the Motorola Droid X and HTC Evo 4G. That was to be expected; this is not a media-savvy phone.
I still enjoyed snapping photos with the virtual camera button -- there is no physical button for the camera (more on that later) -- and "quick uploading" them to Facebook, Gmail, etc.
Battery life was below what I've been accustomed to of late with other Android units, but accurately reflected its list life of 390 minutes. I turned it on at 8 a.m. and had to recharge it by 6 p.m.