First Impressions of the Motorola Droid from Verizon

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First Impressions of the Motorola Droid from Verizon

by Clint Boulton

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First Credible iPhone Alternative

For Verizon, the Droid is the first credible alternative to Apple's iPhone, which has been stymied by iPhone carrier AT&T. "It's the best super-smart phone Verizon offers, the best Motorola phone I've tested and the best hardware so far to run Android," Mossberg said.

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No iPhone Killer, but...

It's certainly a killer phone, Pogue said. "The Droid is just incredibly fast, so it's a delight to use. Audio quality is superb, both on phone calls and music." Mossberg, meanwhile, said he never suffered a dropped call, thanks to Verizon's network.

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The Device Is Nice, but...

Mossberg: Droid is a handsome device with a gorgeous, 3.7-inch, high-resolution screen, bigger and sharper than the iPhone's. But it's 25 percent heavier, making it less comfortable to carry around. The Droid lacks multitouch features, such as two-finger zooming, and seemed less responsive than other touch screens. Pogue: "You have to zoom in and out by tapping +/- buttons or double-tapping the screen... you get far less control than -pinching and spreading with two fingers on the iPhone and Palm Pre."

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Pogue: "Its higher resolution-854 x 480 pixels-makes text look sharper and curves smoother." Like the iPhone, the Droid multitasks, keeping multiple programs open at once.

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The Droid has a higher-resolution camera than the iPhone's: five megapixels versus three megapixels, with a flash that the iPhone lacks. Mossberg added that pictures came out OK, though not dazzling. Videos he shot were "quite good." Pogue: "The camera itself is balky and slow to focus and fire."

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Battery Life Rocks!

Mossberg: "Battery life is listed at a whopping 6.4 hours, and, in my tests, the Droid easily lasted through the day on a single charge."

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Keyboard Option

Pogue: "Anyone who hates typing on glass will love that the Droid gives you a choice: on-screen keyboard or illuminated, slide-out physical keyboard." Mossberg: "For lovers of physical keyboards, I found the one on the Droid to be pretty awful. It has flat, cramped keys that induce too many typing errors, yet lacks auto-correction. I found myself using the virtual on-screen keyboard, which was pretty fast and accurate for me, and did include auto-correction."

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Android 2.0 Features

Pogue: "A single Inbox can consolidate all of your e-mail accounts; the software now handles corporate Microsoft Exchange e-mail/calendar systems; there's a system-wide Search command (and a dedicated button) and voice search." Mossberg: "A nice feature lets you tap a contact's picture and get instant options for ways to communicate."

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Pogue: "Sometimes the keyboard doesn't light up when it should. Sometimes the screen image doesn't rotate when it should."

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Google Maps Navigation was a popular selling point for the Droid when Google unveiled the GPS last week. Reviews are mixed. "In my tests, this navigation system worked pretty well, even showing photos of certain intersections. But it also gave me a couple of bad directions, such as sending me the wrong way at a fork in the road," Mossberg said. Pogue found: "Buy the $30 windshield bracket, which fires up the GPS automatically when you insert the Droid, and nobody will know you're not running some $500 GPS unit."

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Optional Car Docks

Droid also offers optional $30 docks for the car and for the desk or nightstand. In the car dock, the Droid displays large buttons, including one for the built-in navigation system. When placed in the desktop dock, the Droid displays the time and icons for music and an alarm clock, Mossberg said.

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Pogue Concludes:

"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."

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Mossberg Concludes:

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

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