With the Motorola Droid X hitting store shelves on July 15, a new battle and what will surely not be the last is erupting between the new smartphone and Apple’s iPhone. Although the iPhone will likely take the day when this generation of smartphones passes into history, Motorola could sell far more Droid X units than some folks might think.
After all, the company is building upon the success of the original Motorola Droid. It’s also delivering an Android-based device, which should help its chances of attracting consumers, given the recent success of Google’s mobile operating system. The Droid X is arguably the most capable Android phone on the market. It’s the obvious alternative to the iPhone for consumers who don’t want to get caught in AT&T’s grasps.
Realizing that, it’s time for consumers and potentially enterprise customers, to be informed on what the Droid X will offer them after they buy it. There are some obvious advantages to buying the Droid X, like the device’s 4.3-inch display, but there are also some less-known features that could make the smartphone a far more viable choice than customers might have originally thought.
Let’s take a look at the features that every Droid X owner should know about before running to the store to pick up Motorola’s latest smartphone.
1. The big screen
The first thing that will jump out at consumers upon buying the Droid X is its big display. According to Motorola, the smartphone boasts a 4.3-inch display, making it noticeably larger than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display. All that screen real estate really is important. Considering Motorola is trying to position the device as an entertainment product, having that larger screen to view movies and television shows will appeal to users. Plus, it will give owners more area to use the device’s virtual keyboard, potentially making it a bit easier to type on the Droid X. Screen size matters to the average smartphone customer. And for now, Motorola has the iPhone beaten.
A key component in the value proposition for the Droid X is its ability to deliver entertainment to consumers. That’s precisely why Motorola added HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) functionality to the device. Upon connecting the Droid X to an HDTV with an HDMI cable, users can view HD content from their phones on a big screen. The phone even includes DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support, allowing users to stream HD content to other DLNA-capable devices. Since such a focus on HD content is relatively new in the smartphone market, Motorola might have a hard time selling customers on it. But given the fact that the device boasts a 720p video camcorder, users might quickly find that snapping a quick video with the phone and displaying it on an HDTV is much easier than downloading it to the desktop and burning the content to an HD disc. HDMI-out might not be the flashiest feature, but it eventually could be one of the most coveted options.
3. Android 2.2? Not so fast
As much as consumers might want to be able to run Android 2.2 on the Droid X at launch, it won’t come with it. Instead, the device will run Android 2.1 until Google releases the latest version of the mobile operating system. It’s not such a big deal-Android 2.1 is a fine version of the operating system that’s doing a good job of competing against iOS-but most consumers (and rightfully so) want to be able to run the latest software Google is offering. When Android 2.2 eventually makes its way to the Droid X, the software will include support for Flash. At that time, just about any site on the Web will be capable of being displayed on the mobile Chrome browser. Until then, Droid X owners will have an iPhone-like browsing experience, since the vast majority of videos and games on the Internet will not work on the phone’s browser.
4. Access to the Android Market
Apps are quickly becoming a key component in the success or failure of smartphones. Devices like Palm’s Pre and Pixi failed partly because of their lack of available applications. Even RIM’s BlackBerry is under siege because consumers find more to like in other smartphones that have bigger app stores available to them. Luckily for Droid X owners, the smartphone is capable of running apps available in Google’s Android Market. Google’s mobile marketplace isn’t nearly as big as Apple’s, but that probably won’t matter much to most users. More and more companies are bringing their iPhone apps to Android. In fact, the Android Market is growing at an extremely rapid rate. And considering all the iPhone favorites, like Twitter and Facebook, are available in the Android Market, most users will be satisfied with what they find in the store.
Droid X Delivers Features for Work, Entertainment
5. Swype, anyone?
Motorola is delivering a new way to type out messages in the Droid X. Dubbed Swype, the technology allows users to place their finger on a letter, and without lifting that finger, drag it from one character to another. The company claims that it makes it much more efficient to type out a long e-mail or just about anything else text-related than tapping different letters and numbers on a virtual keyboard. That said, the Droid X also comes with a traditional virtual keyboard for those who want to be able to type the way they might have learned on the iPhone. Whether or not Swype will take off is up for debate, but if the Droid X is popular enough, it should help the technology’s chances.
6. A better camera than the iPhone
It’s worth noting that the Droid X will come with a vastly improved camera over anything Apple offers in the iPhone. Currently, Apple’s iPhone 4 boasts a 5-megapixel camera. It’s an improvement over the old, 3-megapixel version, but still far behind the Droid X’s 8-megapixel camera. And although some folks say that megapixels don’t play a crucial role in the quality of a picture, megapixel count has been a selling point for camera makers for years. The average, novice consumer sees more megapixels and thinks that device is better than alternatives with fewer megapixels. It’s a simple way for Motorola to best the iPhone. And it should work quite well.
7. The WiFi hot spot feature to best them all
Apple’s iPhone supports tethering, which allows users to connect the device to a computer and use the smartphone as a modem to access the Web on a PC. It costs an additional $20 per month. That’s certainly a nice feature, but it can’t compare to the Droid X’s WiFi functionality. For the same price every month, Droid X owners will be able to share their 3G connection wirelessly with up to five computers at a time. So, if the Droid X owner is in an area where WiFi isn’t available and is with a group of friends, five of them can connect to the Web over Verizon’s 3G network. Not bad.
8. Social integration
It might not be the flashiest feature, but it’s worth noting that the Droid X’s Motoblur software includes social integration features to extend what owners can do with the device out of the box. In fact, users can add their Facebook news feed and Twitter timelines to the Droid X’s home screen. Twitter and Facebook users might quickly find that such functionality is highly valuable. After all, rather than being forced to open an application just to view what’s going on with friends, the Droid X will allow users to quickly glance at their home screens to see what’s going on. It’s a nice option.
9. No physical keyboard
The Droid, Motorola’s most popular smartphone to hit store shelves before the Droid X, features a physical, slide-out keyboard. For consumers and especially enterprise customers, that was a nice feature. Rather than type away on a sometimes-annoying virtual keyboard, the smartphone allowed for more accurate typing on physical keys. Unfortunately, Motorola decided not to offer a physical keyboard in the Droid X. To past iPhone owners looking for something new, that’s not such a big deal. But for those folks who currently own a BlackBerry or another device featuring a physical keyboard, it could be a problem. Admittedly, Motorola is trying to market the Droid X as an iPhone alternative, so it would make sense to drop the physical keyboard. But it still would have been nice if it the company included it.
10. Verizon’s network
In the mobile space, it’s hard to determine which carrier provides the best service. After all, in some areas AT&T has the best coverage, and in others, Verizon Wireless has the best coverage. In either case, on a national level, most folks can agree that Verizon has the most reliable and robust network out of all the U.S.-based carriers. Luckily for Droid X owners, Motorola’s smartphone runs on Verizon’s network. That could be a major selling point for some customers. Those who don’t want to get bogged down in a contract with AT&T will be able to get a Droid X and go with Verizon. That’s not to say that Verizon is so much better-most carriers are difficult to work with-but if coverage and service robustness is what consumers are looking for, the Droid X will deliver it, thanks to Verizon Wireless.