The Droid Phone

Category: Mobile

There's a certain segment of the population that is addicted to gizmos and gadgets. They're always waiting for the Next Big Thing. Those people are anxiously awaiting November 6, 2009, when the Motorola/Verizon Droid smartphone will be released to the masses. If you can't wait to get one in your hands, here is a sneak preview of the latest in a succession of iPhone killer devices…

Droid Phone

Verizon's Droid Phone - Yet Another iPhone Killer?

The Droid is based upon Google's Android operating system for smartphones, and runs on Motorola hardware. (See my companion article Android Everywhere for more information.) The Droid will work on the Verizon network only. It has a full QWERTY flip-out keyboard, in addition to a touchscreen, with a spiffy graphical interface. Verizon is tweaking Apple with their 'Droid Does' video and the more informative Droid website of the same name, which tout all the things that Droid does and iPhone doesn't.

Droid Specs and Features

Screen resolution is perhaps the biggest and best improvement over the iPhone. The Droid's sliding screen is 3.7 inches diagonally and displays at 854 x 480 or 267 ppi (pixels per inch). That's a big improvement over the iPhone's 3.5-inch display, which has 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi. "Text is ridiculously crisp," says the Christian Science Monitor.

The Droid is Microsoft Office friendly, which will help it penetrate the lucrative business market. It comes configured for MS Exchange synchronization right out of the box, allowing one to sync contacts, email, appointments, and tasks painlessly. Support for Gmail and IMAP are built in as well. That's a good thing, because I spend half my waking hours interacting with Gmail.

The Droid's 5 megapixel camera will take big enough photos and does video, too. It includes a dual-LED flash, something every phone should have. By contrast, the iPhone has a 3 megapixel camera, and no flash. Droid's Web browser is "especially snappy," says PC World, crediting the phone's 550 Mhz processor and graphics accelerator. It even plays high-definition YouTube videos without pauses or lost audio.

The Droid's case is mostly metal, reassuringly hefty and sturdy. The screen rotates outward smoothly and clicks into place securely. The Droid's keyboard will appeal to those who like tactile tradition. The keys appear flush to the surface but are actually "humped" slightly in the middle and give a bit to facilitate touch-typing. The rubber-textured surface of the keys gives traction. But at least one reviewer found the keys too close together. If you have large fingers the Droid's keyboard may give you similar displeasure.

Other goodies include built-in WiFi; a 3.5mm headset jack; 256MB of RAM; a microUSB port; and 3G cellular technology for faster browsing and downloading. The GPS, magnetometer and accelerometer will enable developers to create mapping and game apps that have become so popular on the iPhone. In addition proximity sensors tell the phone when it's near your face during a call, or in your pocket. This enables it to turn off the display and save battery power, or disable touch input to prevent accidental butt dialing.

Battery life is reported to be the best that Motorola has ever achieved. One reviewer had no problem going all day with Exchange synchronization and Facebook updates running frequently, although Bluetooth and WiFi networking were both disabled. The battery is user-replaceable, thank goodness. One of the major iPhone gripes is that the battery is not replaceable, at least not without a hammer and an X-Acto knife.

So will the Droid "kill" the iPhone? Probably not. But if Droid is successful, it may kill any chances that Verizon will ever support the iPhone on its network. From a technology standpoint, Droid seems as good or better, and from the user perspective, the Droid looks good in feature-for-feature comparisons.

I expect that Droid and its successors will become of the top-selling smartphones, giving the iPhone and Blackberry some healthy competition. That will spur to Apple and RIM to keep improving their products, and it will satisfy those who want something different. Different is not always better, but better is always different.

Some something to say about the Droid phone? How do you think it compares to the iPhone? Post your comment or question below…

 
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Most recent comments on "The Droid Phone"

Posted by:

Bob
03 Nov 2009

I saw one of these this weekend. It looks great and does everything they say it does and does it well. With this phone and Verizon's network, ATT and Apple have something to worry about.


Posted by:

Joe M
03 Nov 2009

Looks promising, but will it be enough to make me ditch my Palm Treo 700p? :-)


Posted by:

Bill Morris
03 Nov 2009

Will the Droid support international usage?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, it's available in Europe now.


Posted by:

Cindy
04 Nov 2009

If I switch to Droid from Blackberry, can I drop my data plan with Verizon?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Probably not. If Verizon classifies it as a "smartphone" then they will require a data plan.


Posted by:

Dave in Indy
09 Nov 2009

Will there be a "Droid Touch," like the iPod Touch, a Droid without the phone?


Posted by:

Susan
10 Nov 2009

This is a great phone, I picked one up on 11/6 and have been happily using it ever since! I had a Palm Treo 650 for years & multi-tasking is a major necessity for me. This phone does that and more, much lighter than my old Treo & a snap to setup Exchange sync. Camera is one of the best on the market right now with a flash!


Posted by:

traincompbox
12 Nov 2009

Yes, but does it do Bluetooth?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, I think even the cheap phones do Bluetooth now...


Posted by:

Conn
12 Nov 2009

One of iPhone's top selling points was Internet access that looks and feels the way it does on a PC/Mac. How does the Droid browser compare? Is it more web-like than, say, the version of IE that comes with Windows Mobile?

EDITOR'S NOTE: From what I've read and seen myself, the browser is very good. It uses the same Webkit engine that iPhone and Palm Pre use.


Posted by:

Cindy
17 Nov 2009

Picked up my Droid on 11/12. So far I love it. Verizon Wireless offered a class on 11/15 prior to opening and it was informative and worth attending. It would be especially useful to people not familiar with smart phones.

Crashed a few times when trying to use downloaded apps, but rebooted, uninstalled and was fine after that. Would not recommend using default gmail. Limited options. I just use gmail in my browser.

Hope this helps someone.


Posted by:

Dave in Indy
15 Jan 2010

Well - I have answered my own question, from above. Yes, Monile Internet Devices (MID) that support the Android OS are coming. Chinese maker Smart Devices are offering a unit with a 4.3" touch screen for about $200. It is at dealextreme.com and it is the SmartQ V5. It only has 2 Gb of memory onboard and of that only an eighth of that is free but it has an SD slot for more. Looks neat.


Posted by:

Katie
21 Sep 2010

Nice post on the Droid Bob. I actually just sent over an email about prepaid smartphones instead of having to commit to a longer term 2-year contract.

Looking forward to your response


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