First Looks: The Verizon Motorola Droid

rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
Preliminary Review: The Verizon Motorola Droid
Three perspectives


Rockymtnhigh’s Review

The first thing I noticed about the droid upon opening the box was that it is a solid piece of machinery. It is mostly metal, and is a bit heavy. That is a positive, in that it does not feel like a toy; it is not in any way flimsy. The screen is huge with 854x480 resolution, and is sharp and extremely bright. The picture quality jumps out at you. The best comparison is to go back a few years to the first High Resolution Palm PDAs and compare it with the original Palm III color. It is that apparent. While I do not own an iphone, I do own an ipod touch and a Samsung Omnia, and neither phone’s resolution comes close. Why Apple continued with QVGA graphics in the latest model is beyond me, but I digress... this is a review of the Droid.

The droid has a fully qwerty keyboard that slides out under it. It has a flat keyboard, which takes a little getting used to, and it has a 4-way “joystick” (of sorts) on the right, with four directional buttons and an enter button. The keyboard is a bit small for my thumbs, but it is 100 times better than not having a keyboard, and I found that I could type with little errors with just a little training. My only complaint is that the space key is a bit small, and there are two unused keys on the left and right that are unexplained, and the space could have been used for larger keys. When the keyboard is open, the screen is automatically put in landscape (or widescreen) mode. If you close the keyboard and turn the device to a landscape position the accelerometer will automatically turn it, and just touching a text entry screen will open the virtual keyboard. The virtual keyboard is very easy to use in widescreen mode, although in portrait mode, the text is too small. The keys – and the soft touch buttons on the device all have “haptic” response – i.e., the machine has a small vibration in response to the pressing of the key. Very easy to use.

When you first setup the droid, you can either create a gmail account or link to an existing one. I did the latter, and it took about five minutes to initially sync all of my contacts. But once done, it did not require any configuration. That one step not only provided me with gmail access, but also gave me access to google calendar and google talk. For my university email, I clicked on the separate email app, and very quickly setup an IMAP link. It was much easier than on windows mobile. The program gave me total customization on how often to sync with the server.

There is also Facebook integration, which is very impressive. You enter your FB login, and then decide whether you want to sync all of your facebook friends info into contacts. Since I play Mafia Wars and have a couple hundred friends who I only know through the game, I did not select that. Yet, for the individuals in my google contacts, it recognizes any friends on FB, and provides an easy link to their profile in the contacts page. This also grabs photos for contacts. Again, easy to use, and extremely powerful.

The Droid runs on Google’s Android 2.0 mobile OS. As such it marks a substantial change for folks running Windows Mobile, Blackberry, or the older Palm OS. Android comes with a marketplace of over 10,000 “apps” with which the device can be customized. Android is open-source, so there is a lot of potential for future development. I have only started to play with Android apps, but there are several good ones, such as Google Voice (for a complete VOIP solution), Pandora streaming radio, as well as a wide variety of other things, like The Weather Channel’s weather app, and Amazon’s mp3 store.

The Droid features three home pages. The main page that opens after you unlock the device (with a swish of the finger on a virtual dial) has default application shortcuts. You can drag up a full program menu from the bottom (or side – depending on orientation) with all installed programs. You can also drag the main screen to the left or the right for two additional screens which can be customized with application shortcuts as well as “widgets.” I have added a widget for The Weather Channel and for Google Calendar on one screen, and shortcuts to my wife and son’s contacts on the left screen.

The main screen also has a notification bar on the top of the screen, which lists new emails, missed phone calls, voice mail, etc... You drag on the bar and pull it down and it opens (like a blind) and you see all of your notifications. It is very easy to use. When done, you close the blind by dragging the button up. Finally, the main screen has a google search toolbar with a buton for voice search. Voice search is impressive. You hit the button it brings up a box and says “listening.” You say “Call Joe at home” and it opens the phone app and places you one click away from dialing. Or say “Best Buy” and assuming the GPS has been turned on, it will bring up a google search page with Best Buy’s page for the local store, complete with a google map. Very cool. Speaking of GPS, Droid comes with the new Google Maps GPS-enabled mapping software. It can identify where you are and provide point to point directions. And the map quality just shines on the high resolution screen.

The OS feels like it was designed for a touch screen from the ground up, unlike Windows Mobile 6.1, which is so Windows-like, you absolutely need a stylus to get almost anything done. In this sense, Android is similar to the iPhone’s interface. The difference in Android is that you can multi-task and run several applications at once. The other difference is that you cannot use multi-touch features like on the iPhone. From my experience with the ipod touch, that feature is over-rated.

The Android OS includes a full-featured browser. The browser is one of the “wow” factors, given the huge screen. For many websites, you can load the “full” site as opposed to the mobile version. In widescreen mode the browser is slick. You can zoom in and out with a finger touch, plus there are multiple layers of zoom with a zoom button on the screen. It is very easy to use.

I installed Pandora on it, and am very impressed with the audio quality just using the Droid's external speakers. Crisp sound. Not tinny at all. Definitely an incentive to get the Multimedia dock.

The Droid's phone itself has pretty solid and easy to use software. I have not made many calls on it yet, but the ones I have made have been crisp in terms of sound quality. The speaker phone is excellent. Extremely clear. The ringer volume is excellent. I often missed calls with my Omnia because I did not hear it. Doubt that will happen with this phone with the ringer volume on high. The phone software has a large dial pad, and easy to use buttons when in a call. I have not used it with bluetooth yet, as I do not currently have a bluetooth headset.

Reviews on battery life will have to come later, as I have not used it long enough to be able to give a fair assessment.

The last feature I’ll touch on here is the 5 megapixel camera. So far, I am unimpressed with it. I don’t expect good results with a camera phone in dark situations, and the Droid does not disappoint. Its performance is no better than my Omnia, even though it has a dual flash feature. I am still experimenting with the camera in outdoor settings, and changing the ISO and other settings.

Finally, a bit of advice. Protect the screen. Go buy a Zagg Invisible Shield. It is incredibly high quality and does a great job to ensure that the iphone-killing high resolution screen you spent a lot of money on stays in great shape.



Stuart628’s First Impressions
First Impressions: Wow, I mean really WOW.. This thing is really solid (it is one of the heaviest phones in recent memory that I have had) it is built out of metal except for the little "chin" that houses the antennas. The slider is not a assisted slider, but you actually have to push on it, again I like this, less parts to break, and I believe it will last longer over time as compared to a wheel assisted slider.
Edit: I have now used this phone for the weekend, and I am still VERY VERY impressed with the build quality, but in one small area. The battery cover has come off on me twice. I know two other people with droids and there's are fine, and maybe you guys can comment too as I am thinking its just mine, but again I dont want to lose the battery cover, and I am thinking that's a possibility.

The phone to me looks good, I have always liked the look of it, ESPECIALLY when you turn it on as mike said that screen is amazing...more on that later. There are not alot of buttons on the side that get in the way I feel the buttons are placed with purpose so they are triggered by accident. The keyboard while small is not a problem for me, I have medium sized hands and I have had no problems typing on it, but I do have one question here..why the two blank keys? really you couldnt put somehting there? or given us larger keys somewhere (cough cough space key). I turn the phone on and the start up time is fast compared to my storm, and a little faster then the touch pro running a mighty rom. Oh the screen is amazing.
edit: Again after using this phone for the weekend there is nothing I would change here, this phone is VERY fast responsive and fits nice in my hand. I love the multitasking as I can do two or three things at one time, it really is all its cracked up to be!
When starting to use the phone I notice the speed, coming form winmo and storm (both had bad memory) this things is amazing, my first thing was to look for (on this screen I could look all day) a way to control what programs are open, I have yet to find that, i guess they arent concerend with memory. The menus fly and I have yet to find any lag. I fired up the camera to see if I could hear clicks and have 4 red corners (no focus) and of course its there!! dang it, how did that get by quality control,( stopr right here for a second...I have been reading there is a software fix for this and it will be out within a month month and a half).

Next up was Gps on this amazing screen and I have to say, this is beta? wow this program is nice and I really love the view it gives you while driving, it automatically adjusts the zoom level and just looks really nice, it was easy to use and the voice commands work flawless ( out of 5 searches, some trying to trick it, it got all 5). Powered by google maps there will never be another reason to update my maps program. Next up call Quality and in that area its top notch, Voices sound clear and my wife could hear me fine (also spent 2 hours on the phone with various companies without a problem).

Email is next and it is instant if you have gmail accounts...I am setting up my satelliteguys email so I dont know how push is doing yet, I will update this later.Battery life was good, not great as I went to one of our stores that is a VERY low cell signal area and it drains any battery fast, while there I used 30 % of my battery in one hour...but everywhere else I used 10% in the other 3-4 hours.
Web Browsing has already been covered by Mike, and he hit it right on the head, its like holding a mini computer..when flash comes to this phone (which should be early next year I think) I dont think I could ask for anything else. For me satelliteguys.us loaded in just over 3 seconds when connected to evdo..double tap to zoom, login and I am looking at the full page. While I would love to have the pinch feature that others (htc) have double tap worked for me when I needed it so far.

Music player I know people always want to compare them to the iphones, but to be honest, This is a nice player and gets me to where I want to be, It has album art work, and repeat options, what else could you ask for (yes it has shuffle and all that stuff, and while we are at it, do you really use coverflow a ton on your iphone other then to see how fast you can get album covers to go by?)

Now that I have had the weekend to play with this phone I have to say this, the signal levels and actual call quality are top notch, in a area where I use to get one signal bar, I now get three solid strong bars. battery life I will give you this example I took it off the charger at 6 this morning, I have made 23 phone calls, 17 text, and 8 emails, taken three pictures and surfed the web, I am at 70% battery life left, in other words, it is a great battery. The camera has gotten better for me, and I will attach a photo to another post in this thread...but I give this phone a 9/10...if it had a better camera, a keyboard that made sense and a little better media player it would easily be a 10.



Mloebl’s Review
Ok, I've been running it for a day or so since I got it... here are my thoughts.

- GET A SCREEN PROTECTOR I was foolish and figured it was Best Buy trying to oversell, but boy does the screen collect fingerprints like crazy.
- GPS is really good! Even inside it seems to be able to lock on pretty close. At work inside the metal building it seemed to be using the closest Cell tower location which is still very reasonable.
- Battery life seems good so far, no complaints yet
- Syncing Music... well I was able to use Windows Media player and Winamp, but since I have several lossless WMA files, it's been a PITA. Need to rethink those a bit.
- Cellular reception seems better than my PPC XV6800. We have poor coverage only at the house, and even here no problems on the first floor with 3G.
- Speaking of coverage, the Wifi is pretty slick too. No problems switching between the two, and it seems pretty snappy.
- On screen dialing/hanging up is taking some getting used too, I do miss my dedicated buttons, but it's not the end of the world
- Browsing seems to work very well so far, and I don't seem to miss multitouch as I've never had it.
- MarketPlace has a few gems on it, many for free! (I leave these comments to the other thread on here about favorite Android apps)
- Call quality seems fine, and speaker phone is definitely better than the XV6800 I had, even in a moving car
- Incoming call intelligence is pretty slick too. I had head phones on listening to music, incoming call came in, it autopaused the music AND routed the phone audio automatically thru the head phones, though watch the call volume or you may blow an ear drum
- Not a fan yet of the main screen and widgets, seems a bit cumbersome, but still playing with it.
- Google Voice Integration is NICE... played a bit and no problem. Just wish I could figure out why incoming calls go to voice mail?
- Voice Search is as good as everyone says it is! It seems to be very accurate, and does a good job figuring out what you want to do (ie call a person vs look up a location)
- I really miss the lack of direct (free) Outlook contact syncing, but I did export the CSV to Google Contacts, and I do like how it updates instantly
- If you use GMail, the integration is quite good so far.
- No issues with text messaging, seems to work fine, and the built in smilie was nice
- Camera so far is pretty buggy. Both for just taking pics, as well as the barcode app. Takes quite a few tries to get it to work just right. Hopefully this is a software fixable thing
- Also as other have mentioned it feels solid like a brick, but doesn't feel too heavy or akward, I think that they got it right. The thiness is appreciated, and no clumsy feel to the sliding keyboard
- Speaking of keyboard... drop the nav pad! Not sure why it's there as it has a touch screen, wish the keys were bigger or relaid out instead.
- I found a neat feature my WM didn't have was I can invidually route contacts direct to voice mail... wish I had this one in the past
- Facebook / contacts integration is nice, but still a bit buggy when associating to contacts. Even if name matches it works for some, but not others. But when it works, it's nice to autoassign the pictures.

Final .02... is it an iPhone replacement? Not sure as I've only played with an iPhone a couple times. I think it's probably not the phone for the average person, but for techies it is pretty slick and worth a look. So far I'm not regretting the switch from Windows Mobile.

-Mike
 
Last edited by a moderator:
riffjim4069

riffjim4069

SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Apr 7, 2004
35,213
287
SatelliteGuystonfieldville, U.S.A.
Um...you guys forgot to review the most important aspect of the new Droid here in the "The Phone Zone"...does is make and receive phone calls with quality and reliablity? While the googly-ap, whiz-mo-browser, pull-out key-bang-doodle are all important features---to some---how does the mobile phone features work?

Nice review otherwise!
 
rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
My bad... Phone call quality has been excellent. Haven't made enough calls to be able to say with confidence about dropped calls, or about battery life. Will edit the review.
 
rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
I edited my review, near the end of it, and talked about phone call quality and battery. I think it is too premature to say much about battery life with any confidence.

The Droid's phone itself has pretty solid and easy to use software. I have not made many calls on it yet, but the ones I have made have been crisp in terms of sound quality. The speaker phone is excellent. Extremely clear. The ringer volume is excellent. I often missed calls with my Omnia because I did not hear it. Doubt that will happen with this phone with the ringer volume on high. The phone software has a large dial pad, and easy to use buttons when in a call. I have not used it with bluetooth yet, as I do not currently have a bluetooth headset.
 
rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
Just downloaded the Amazon.com mobile app.

Wow -- you can scan the barode of an item (say you are in a store and thinking about buying something, but want to see how it is priced on Amazon and look at reviews). The camera scans the bar-code and Amazon pulls up the item. If that is not a tricorder, what is? :)
 
charlesrshell

charlesrshell

SatelliteGuys Crazy
Pub Member / Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Jan 14, 2006
9,548
4,160
O'Fallon, IL
Does it have TV? Can Sling Player Mobile be loaded in it?
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
May 22, 2004
6,232
83
Louisiana
Just downloaded the Amazon.com mobile app.

Wow -- you can scan the barode of an item (say you are in a store and thinking about buying something, but want to see how it is priced on Amazon and look at reviews). The camera scans the bar-code and Amazon pulls up the item. If that is not a tricorder, what is? :)

Screw the barcode scan, did you notice with the Amazon app, you can simply just take a picture of it? I've been using it on my Hero/Moment since I got my phone.

But honestly, that feature has been available since the G1 was the only android phone around that I knew of.
 
rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
Screw the barcode scan, did you notice with the Amazon app, you can simply just take a picture of it? I've been using it on my Hero/Moment since I got my phone.

But honestly, that feature has been available since the G1 was the only android phone around that I knew of.

Same app - can choose between barcode and taking a photo. I found it a very cool feature.

And I figured it was not a new app; but regardless, it points to the power of these things. :)
 
charlesrshell

charlesrshell

SatelliteGuys Crazy
Pub Member / Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Jan 14, 2006
9,548
4,160
O'Fallon, IL
Thanks rockymtnhigh. Good reviews by all
 
JamesJ

JamesJ

AKA Stuart628
Supporting Founder
Jul 21, 2004
8,199
29
Akron (Cleveland), Oh
no 32 card yet but soon.... I have some things I want to add to my review and I am going to do that by tommorow afternoon (unless I get time tonight, but I have to go to a prison for part of a ministry team I am on) I used this weekend to use this phone as much as I could, and I have to say I am VERY VERY impressed with this phone...and a note on the call quality, it has been one of the best (v710 and e815 both my motorola were some of the best I used as well) and signal levels have reached or exceeded anything I have had before. I just came from my mother in laws house where I usually get 1-2 bars of signal and I had a solid 3 bars with nice speeds on the net.
 
TheForce

TheForce

SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Pub Member / Supporter
Oct 13, 2003
33,581
10,640
Jacksonville, FL, Earth
I just spent about 90 minutes at the verizon store playing with the two Droid demos they had set up.

I suppose it all depends on where you are coming from, what phone you previously had and what service you had.

Will this be an iPhone killer? I seriously doubt it.
First of all the Mot Droid version is more like an HTC Touch with some additional features than an iPhone, however, there is the HTC Droid that looks like a slightly smaller version of an iPhone. The htc Droid has about the same responsiveness as does the htc Droid. The internet access, however is far superior on the Droid (both models) as the iPhone.

I loaded up 7 applications with no change in responsiveness on either version.

One issue we did have is with web conflicts. I'm not sure any mobile app could do this but we had Pandora running and tried to launch You Tube but it wouldn't allow that. It appeared that media applications may be one at a time.

What I didn't like:
Comparing the two phones, the screen scrolling was rather jerky and seemed to hesitate often on the Motorola version and less so with the htc version. I felt the rocker nav pad was awkwardly placed on the right of the keyboard. The keyboard itself was too small to my preference. Keys seemed more difficult to use than my XV6800. Hardware buttons on the Motorola were equally poor in response and I had to hit them often more than once to get a reaction from the phone. The htc version seemed like a lightweight iPhone and while it may be better for simple users wishing to have the iPhone look and feel but want a more solid carrier and network service of Verizon, it may not be as rugged as the heavier Motorola model. Only time will tell as to how these will hold up.

I said it all depends on where you come from as to how the Motorola version will fit your needs. For me, I just didn;t feel the ergonomics was very impressive and the response reminded me of my XV6800, although the Droid could do more.

On a scale of 1 to 10- I would rate the XV6800 a 3

The Motorola Droid an 8
The htc Droid a 7

The htc TP2 a 9

The iPhone 3G a 5




For me, it was worth the 90 minutes in the store reviewing the two Droids, but my first impressions, hands on, were a bit disappointing.

Score the Droid an A+ for hype! Same grade I gave the iPhone.


The store was it's usual crowded Sunday but myself and a 10th grader were the only two interested in playing with these new phones. This store does a great business in Blackberry and the new Storm 2 was getting lots of attention.
 
rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
For clarification, the HTC "Droid" Don refers to is actually called the Eris, which runs Android 2.0 as the Motorola Droid does. They are not both called the "Droid." :)

What you didn't get to see in the store was how stuff like notification works when you receive an email. That is a very nice feature. You also don't get to see how easily contacts are integrated, I like how if I open a contact, I can go directly to a facebook profile, make a phone call, send a text, or an email.

You are right that you cannot run Pandora and YouTube at the same time. You can, however, run pandora, and open a website. As I write I am listening to Pandora and loading SatelliteGuys. I would not say that the web browsing is as fast as when not running Pandora, but then again, it is streaming music and opening a full webpage at the same time over a 3G connection.

I am not noticing any jerkiness at all.
 
navychop

navychop

Member of the Month - July 2014!
Pub Member / Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Jul 20, 2005
53,256
18,411
Northern VA
Just downloaded the Amazon.com mobile app.

Wow -- you can scan the barode of an item (say you are in a store and thinking about buying something, but want to see how it is priced on Amazon and look at reviews). The camera scans the bar-code and Amazon pulls up the item. If that is not a tricorder, what is? :)

Now that's an App I'd love to have available for the iPhone. I wonder how much I'd be willing to pay for it? I'm sure Amazon will pass it out for free, since it increases their sales, but - how many times have I tried to look something up on Safari on the iPhone?
 
rockymtnhigh

rockymtnhigh

Thread Starter
Hardly Normal
Supporting Founder
Apr 14, 2006
30,193
917
Normal, IL
Now that's an App I'd love to have available for the iPhone. I wonder how much I'd be willing to pay for it? I'm sure Amazon will pass it out for free, since it increases their sales, but - how many times have I tried to look something up on Safari on the iPhone?

It was a freebie. And it is awesome. My wife was drooling over it; I suspect when her phone is available for an upgrade, we'll be moving to two data plans. :D
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 0, Members: 0, Guests: 0)

Top