Droid Bionic review

Category: Mobile

The Motorola Droid Bionic has been a long time coming. First announced in January, 2011, at the CES trade show, this Verizon Wireless smartphone didn't actually go on sale until September. But after getting mine a week ago, I can tell you the Droid Bionic has been worth the wait. Here's my review of the newest 4G Android smartphone from Verizon…

Droid Bionic: The Six Million Dollar Phone?

The Droid Bionic is Verizon's first 4G LTE smartphone to feature a dual core processor. The combination makes the Droid Bionic one of the fastest and most powerful phones available now. The 1 GHz processor is matched by 1GB of DDR2 RAM. It's also a rugged and stylish device.

The Droid Bionic measures 2.63" x 5" x .43" and weighs 5.6 ounces. That makes it a bit larger and heftier than the newly released iPhone 4S, but it slides easily into my pocket. I also have to say it feels good in my hand, and isn't slippery. I'm always afraid of dropping iPods and iPhones because of the slippery back.

Motorola Droid Bionic and Accessories

Unlike the Apple iPhone, the Droid Bionic comes with a user replaceable battery and a slot for a removable MicroSD card of up to 16 GB capacity. Another 16 GB of flash storage is built into the Droid Bionic, for a total of 32GB. Battery life is rated at 650 minutes of talk or 200 hours on standby. I use my phone sporadically throughout the day, for a combination of calling, texting, web surfing, while running a variety of apps that pull data to update my mail, news, weather and other data. (It also helps me write long run-on sentences much faster than ever.) The battery lasts the day, and I plug it in at night - no problem. If you use wifi or Google Maps, you'll drain the battery much quicker, but that's to be expected.

It's a little harder to get to the battery, as compared to my previous phone (the original Droid) but that's not a bad thing. No more accidentally popping off the battery cover while yanking the phone out of my pocket - the Bionic requires a determined tug to pop off the back case, where the battery, SD memory card, and SIM card are found. Wait, did I see a SIM card in a Verizon phone? Yup, the Droid Bionic has a 4G LTE SIM card (as do all Verizon 4G phones) that's specific for your phone. So it's no longer true that only GSM phones have SIM cards inside. The Bionic can operate in CDMA mode (like most Verizon 3G phones) or in CDMA+LTE 4G mode.

How Fast is Dual Processors and 4G?

Is it fast? Listen Bud, it's got radioactive umm, sorry. Mixed my metaphors and super-heroes there. But yes, the Bionic is fast. The dual processors make a difference in boot time, and everything feels more fluid than on my old-school Droid. Apps open quickly, and I especially enjoy quick access to my photos and videos. I'm lucky to have a 4G connection at my home office, and using the SpeedTest app, I've clocked top speeds of 12.5 Mb/sec (download) and 7.0 Mb/sec (upload). Yes, that's easily ten times faster than a typical 3G network speed, but surfing the Web on the 4G Bionic doesn't feel 10X faster than on a 3G phone. Faster, yes. Maybe a lot faster - but it's hard to quantify when latency and the occasional tall building factor in. But if you do any downloading, gaming or online video, you'll definitely notice.

The Droid Bionic's screen is a 4.3 inch qHD display with 940 x 540 pixel resolution. Its surface is Corning "Gorilla Glass" for extra protection against scratches and cracks. The rep in my Verizon store tried to sell me a bunch of screen protectors, but I really don't think you need one with this new glass.

Below the display are the standard Android touch-sensitive buttons (Menu, Home, Back, Search). The left side of the phone features a MicroUSB port and a Micro-HDMI port. On the right side is a volume rocker. On the top edge is a headset jack and a power/sleep button. Two cameras are included: an 8 Mpixel 1080p video camera on the back and a user-facing VGA cam for video chat and self-portraits.

The Droid Bionic, like other Droid phones, is compatible with three peripheral devices from Motorola. The Lapdock ($299) provides a netbook-like experience for your Droid Bionic, with a larger screen, real keyboard, and trackpad. A Vehicle Navigation system ($40) enables hands-free use of the Droid Bionic while driving; you can navigate via the phone's built-in GPS, listen to music, or make calls. The standard Docking Station ($40) is more than just a charger; you can also turn your Droid into an alarm clock, listen to your music, and more. Bionic can also connect to an HD Docking Station ($100) which connects the phone to a computer monitor or TV through HDMI. This lets you run apps such as games, video and a full Firefox browser on a larger display. You also get three USB ports, so go ahead and plug in a keyboard and mouse if you like.

The Droid Bionic is loaded with the latest Gingerbread Android operating system. It costs $300 and is available only on the Verizon network. Expensive? Yes, but it's the same price as the 32GB iPhone, which does not offer 4G. Overall, I'm very happy with the Bionic -- no iPhone envy here!

Your thoughts are welcome on this topic. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Droid Bionic review"

Posted by:

francis reilly
18 Oct 2011

That's all well and good,but then you would have to deal with Verizon,and I would do that if my life depended on it.

Posted by:

Ronald Melancon
19 Oct 2011

Is Novatel Communications (NVTL) inside? I know they have some dealings with Verizon.

Posted by:

19 Oct 2011

I too had the original Droid and waited, somewhat impatiently, for the Bionic. I got it first day out and I am loving it ever since. It does what it promised and more. One cool thing Bob did not mention is that I don't need a glare protector on the glass either. No problem using the phone in the sun. Wouldn't trade if for an iPhone. The speech/search is perfect. and being able to change the text size of email, texts, and Internet is super cool. I also own a Xoom. Kudos to you Motorola.

Posted by:

D V N Sarma
19 Oct 2011

Sad to see your announcement that Tourbus has stopped services. I have been with the Tourbus
from 1997 I think. Your detailed instructions about how to use Telnet, Gopher, Veronica, FTP, Listserve etc., were instructive and helpful. I have some of those earliest posts and compendiums with me. Your timely posts about problems associated with W95, W98,WXP etc were very helpful.

But nothing is permanent and the old order changeth yeildin place to new.

Once again thank you,

Posted by:

19 Oct 2011

I love my first generation Droid and would dearly love to upgrade to the Bionic. There are other vendors out there with far better service and prices than Verizon. If Verizon could match the $70.00/mo no contract plan + $10.00/mo int'l calling from T-Mobile, I might stay with them. I currently have a dream of one day being free from Verizon and not having the big V sucking up my money as quickly as they can with their weird ideas of customer service. I guess it comes down to "Independence from tyrannical price fixing"

Posted by:

Jeff Smith
26 Oct 2011

Hi Bob, When my time was up for my DROID I ordered a DROID 3 unawear that it was released 2 days prior. I can't live without a slideout QWERTY keyboard. You didn't mention if the Bionic had one so I'll take that as a no. I loved my first DROID but the Dual-Core 1Ghz processor and Sim card plus room for a 32GB SDHC Memory Card and Global ready phone twisted my arm. I live in a rural area and after talking to a Verizon Tech who said it would be about 2 years before Verizon had 4GLTE available everywhere I was happy with 3G. I had checked and 4G was not available anywhere around where I lived where I would be making 85% of my calls. I go to Europe once a year and I won't be renting a phone this year. Plus I have Magic Jack so I've got the 10 digit # taped to the back of my phone. It costs me 2 cents/minute to call to or from the UK, Germany, a little more for Scandivania. Plus I have my phonebook, address's and navigation. All in all after 3-4 months I'm very happy with the DROID 3. I enjoyed reading your review of the Bionic Bob. Now only if it had a 5 row keyboard with a row for numbers and.....

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