Review: Motorola Droid (Verizon) Smartphone
The first Android 2.0 phone impresses with a strong suite of Web features and a stunning 3.7-inch display
The first time you pick up the Motorola Droid ($200 with a two-year contract from Verizon; price as of 10/28/09), you'll notice its solid feel and heft--there's a lot going on behind the crisp, 3.7-inch touchscreen. Making good use of Android 2.0's new features, the Droid is a powerful Web surfing and communications tool that has a chance of living up to its hype. The Droid's biggest flaw, however, is in its hardware design: The keyboard is shallow and flat, which can make typing uncomfortable.
At 0.54 inch thick, the Droid is slightly beefier than the 0.48-inch-thick iPhone 3GS, but it still has room for a 40-key, slide-out QWERTY keypad. At just under 6 ounces, it's about an ounce heftier than the iPhone 3GS. When closed, the 4.56-by-2.36-inch Droid is almost the same size as the 4.5-by-2.4-inch iPhone 3GS.
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Motorola is quick to point out that the Droid's 480-by-854-pixel display offers 409,920 pixels, more than double the 153,600 pixels that the 480-by-320-pixel, 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone 3GS offers. The Droid's resolution also compares well against that of Android 1.6-based phones such as T-Mobile's myTouch 3G, which has a 3.2-inch, 480-by-320-pixel display.
The Droid's keyboard doesn't occupy the full length of the phone; a four-way directional pad with a select button sits on the right side. The keys are backlit, but since they're mostly flat, you'll need to keep an eye on what you're typing until you get a feel for the phone. A small lower lip protrudes from the bottom when the phone is closed, revealing only the Verizon logo and the microphone. Like other Android phones, the Droid has an accelerometer and reorients quickly when you hold the display sideways.
Unfortunately, the handset has a few hardware-design quirks. The keyboard is so shallow--and the keys themselves are so flat--that our testers (with various hand sizes) had trouble using it. In addition, the top keys are very close to the ledge of the display, so your fingers are constantly knocking against it. The Droid is also missing physical Talk and End keys, which are pretty much standard on every other cell phone ever made. You must access these controls from the call application.
The Droid, which supports the 1900MHz and 800MHz CDMA EvDO bands on the Verizon Wireless network, comes with a 1,400-mAh battery rated at 270 hours of standby time and 385 minutes of talk time. It also has a preinstalled 16GB memory card and offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 support, which includes the use of stereo headsets and a Wi-Fi adapter.
The phone provided excellent call quality, even in a New York hotel lobby full of noisy Phillies fans headed to Yankee Stadium for the World Series. Parties on the other end of my calls reported no problems.