First Look- Droid Phone by Motorola

Motorola Droid Phone from Verizon I just picked up the Motorola Droid phone from Verizon Wireless the other day, and have started taking a look at the features and benefits that the device has (or doesn’t have) over the iPhone, my current sidearm. My point in writing this is not to compare the phone to the iPhone, but to tell you what I found about the Droid so far.

Note to iPhone fanboys: I don’t think this is an iPhone-killer as much as it’s another scoop out of Blackberry’s bucket. This beats the crap out of the Storm, and probably also the Tour. I think the Palm Pre will also get smooshed a bit by this phone, too.

Let’s look at what it can do. (And quick note: I bought this phone with my own cash. This is not a sponsored review.)

For another perspective, I think Bryan Sherman’s reviews are all pretty worthwhile, too.

Easy Keyboard and Touch Screen Input

Verizon DroidThe Droid has both the ability to input information via a touchscreen, similar to the iPhone, but there’s also a slide-out keyboard. The keys feel flat instead of bubbled like a BlackBerry, so you can’t exactly type blindly (BB users know what I mean), but what I do like about the keyboard is that the special characters make a lot more sense, placement wise. There’s also a five-position controller that you can use to scroll around if touch isn’t getting you precisely where you need to go. The touch screen, when just using that keyboard, worked just fine for me, too.

Applications

Honestly, the real war will be fought and won over a few spots: the network and applications. I’ll get to the network part, but I’ll start by saying I’m already pretty impressed by the applications. The commercials for Droid say there are over 10,000 apps already (these are Google widgets and android-specific apps). I had no trouble finding pretty much all my iPhone apps for a Droid version, including a beta of my favorite note app, Evernote, SnapTell visual product search, a Twitter client, and more.

Most surprising of the apps was Google’s new Maps with Navigation. I clicked this baby on and suddenly, I had turn-by-turn instructions given in a typical GPS voice, with traffic condition overlays and more. When I say this app pretty much makes the phone a must, it could replace my Garmin (I know that both Garmin and TomTom are a bit uncertain what Google’s new app means for their future).

I’ll review other apps as I get into them, and if they make sense to share with you. For now, suffice to say that I was very impressed with their selection, with one exception.

I had to download an app to close apps that were running on my phone.

What? Unless I missed a really simple instruction in the manual that I didn’t read, that strikes me as utterly silly. (Someone may come here and correct me.)

Google Integration

The Droid seamlessly integrated with my multiple Gmail accounts, including my @chrisbrogan.com accounts. It also integrated with my Google Calendar, my Google Voice, and all the other Google apps I run. That was delicious to experience. Having these apps run native on the phone makes them even faster, and even more slick. The calendar, for instance, runs even faster than the web-based version (though I wish it had custom views like the web version).

I’m very impressed with that integration. This, if you’re a Google fan, is a great reason to consider the phone.

The Network

I’ve been using AT&T for over a year now, and switching back to Verizon was a breath of fresh air. The web browsing is markedly faster on the Verizon 3G network. Calls stayed up on the three times I made a longer call while driving. In short, it just worked. iPhone fanboys, you have to admit that’s a weakness.

The network might be the thing that sells more people into trying out the Droid.

The Phone

The phone is loud and clear. The contacts and dialing mechanisms and stuff remind me a lot of the iPhone. It’s really simple and easy to use, and I don’t have anything bad to say about it.

The Camera

I haven’t shot a lot of photos yet with the Droid. The few I took were in poor lighting conditions, but even that was a change, because hey, it has a FLASH. Oooh, modern technology has equipped the Droid cameraphone with something that other cell phones have had for 9 years, but that has eluded my other previous smartphone of choice. Oh, and the camera is 5 megapixels. It also shoots video. You’ll see a test video of that soon enough here, but why rush things?

I’m pretty impressed with the quality. I also used the app PixelPipe (also available for iPhone and also my Mac desktop) on my Droid so that I could shove photos to as many sites as I wanted all at once. (A worthwhile app to get).

What’s Missing – iTunes

The most obvious app/feature missing is something that emulates the iTunes experience of an iPhone. There’s a music player, a video player, and a lot of 3rd party apps (Pandora for Android is quite noteworthy).

But there’s no store where I can blow $1.29 every time a whim strikes me. I’ve got several gigabytes of media on my iTunes account and on my laptop, and I’ve yet to try and port it over, but I’m reasonably sure that won’t really go anywhere. In the absence of that, why hasn’t Verizon led with a similar-to-iTunes or even a better Amazon integration? (You can correct me here if I missed something).

Overall: A Keeper

Today’s Day 2 with the Droid, so let’s not get crazy here. But so far, I’m really impressed. I think it’s a great phone, and will definitely give Blackberry users something to think about. I’m not as convinced that there will be a mass exodus from iPhone over to Droid, but then again, some of the other frustrated masses might just give it some thought.

For me, it’s not as much about a religion. I wanted a phone that worked better than what I was using. The iPhone raised the bar on what I was willing to accept. Thankfully, I feel the Droid meets and/or exceeds those standards.

Have you tried it? Are you considering it?

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    Turning off applications does seem to be a chore. While some have a menu option to do so, others just keep running. I'll have to find that app you were referring to that helps shut apps down.

  • JF

    The slow camera start-up is only true of a hardware-start (ie: holding down the camera button). If you software-start the camera (touch the icon on the screen), it actually starts up pretty quickly.

  • http://homebiss.blogspot.com HomeBiss @ Saidul A Shaari

    Perhaps so but don't forget that DROID also has problems with autofocusing.. Do a search at Motorola Support Forums and find out what those problems are all about..

  • http://homebiss.blogspot.com HomeBiss @ Saidul A Shaari

    Well, you have your opinion and I have mine and I'm still leaning to the opinion that DROID is not the best hardware for Android 2.0. :)

  • Stan

    Download ADVANCED TASK MANAGER from the Android Market. It does cost a whole 99 cents, but is worth every penny.

    Place the shortcut icon on your home screen.

    This will allow you to one click access to the app. Then one click on Kill All will solve the problems you refer to.

    You can also exclude certain apps from being killed if you so desire, so that Kill All will leave those apps running.

    A number of apps tend to load at startup despite the fact you have not loaded them yet. So, the best solution is to immediately start Advanced Task Manager after start up is completed and apply kill all to free up memory. This takes two clicks to accomplish if you have loaded the shortcut to your home screen

    Another good app is POWER MANAGER. It has a free version, but for 99 cents you can get the full version. It helps you keep track of your battery usage and allows you to one click on and off various functions such as GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. Once again, you should put a shortcut on your home screen. I place mine next to the Advanced Task Manager icon and use both apps to control the issues they relate to.

  • jshaffer

    We keep hearing about all the apps that are out there, but when we went searching we couldn't find them! The Android Marketplace didn't have a search function. Handango was easy to use but kept coming up with “not available for this device”. Can you give us a list of websites we can tour to find out what's out there before buying the phone? Unless we can track down the apps my husband needs he's going to start thinking blackberry. (Pocket Quicken replacement, docs 2 go, mobipocket replacement, etc.)

  • Lisa

    It does NOT sync with local Outlook. It will sync with exchange, but not your Outlook at home.

  • lgrimm

    As always, a great post. It's likely because I haven't looked for it, but great and simple break down of the Droid. Very useful analysis. Thanks.

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  • http://www.zoombits.de/kabel Kristanna

    I currently have an HTC magic with fatality rom and love it. The only thing I miss is mini-jack and keyboard. Typing on the screen sucks. I hope this floats over the atlantic and into my open arms!Maybe this can get motorola out of the hole they have been in for a long time.
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  • http://www.zoombits.de/kabel Kristanna

    I currently have an HTC magic with fatality rom and love it. The only thing I miss is mini-jack and keyboard. Typing on the screen sucks. I hope this floats over the atlantic and into my open arms!Maybe this can get motorola out of the hole they have been in for a long time.
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  • Michael

    i'm confused over your comment: “…there’s no store where I can blow $1.29 every time a whim strikes me…” because not only is the Amazon MP3 excellent – and fast… you can also load the SHAZAM app to identify music OTA and then immediately purchase.

  • Michael

    i'm confused over your comment: “…there’s no store where I can blow $1.29 every time a whim strikes me…” because not only is the Amazon MP3 excellent – and fast… you can also load the SHAZAM app to identify music OTA and then immediately purchase.

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    One noteworthy factor with the Droid is, since the implementation of Android is standard when upgrades are available they are quite likely to quickly hit the Droid. On a custom user interface, the device will be left waiting for the device manufacturer to upgrade their compatibility.

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  • chez41

    Anyone know how to play an mp3 from the motorola droid without being interrupted by a phone call?

  • sheila

    how can you forward and messege to another person .. Like if someone sends me a picture or a funny video i cant figure out how to forward it.. Please help me…

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  • http://www.briankenyon.com/ kenyob

    Chris, I just got my Droid and it replaced my funky BB Curve 8330. Thankfully Verizon was good to me and allowed me to replace my Ill functioning Curve with this baby after 5 BB Curve replacements. Now thats good customer service!
    Luke Wilson knows nothing about that…
    My next step will be to figure out how to wirelessly tether my iTouch and my potential future iPad.

  • Mrs. Jackson

    I've recently purchased the droid and I must say that I'm having the hardest time learning how to forward a text to other people. Any suggestions?

  • dogbaked

    Since the implementation of Android is standard when upgrades are available they are quite likely to quickly hit the Droid. I have to buy one for me.

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    I currently love it with an HTC ROM and disaster is magic. The only thing I remember is the mini-jack and keyboard. Typing on the screen sucks. I hope this floats over the Atlantic and perhaps the Motorola hole in my open arms as they have been for a long time may be out!.

  • http://www.yuregininsesi.com yuregininsesi

    We keep hearing about all the apps that are out there, but when we went searching we couldn't find them! The Android Marketplace didn't have a search function. Handango was easy to use but kept coming up with “not available for this device”. Can you give us a list of websites we can tour to find out what's out there before buying the phone? Unless we can track down the apps my husband needs he's going to start thinking blackberry. (Pocket Quicken replacement, docs 2 go, mobipocket replacement, etc.)

  • Romo

    thanks for the info. i am considering getting rid of att and the iphone because for over a month i have more call fails than everrrrrr before. and i know im not the only one, its an att serious problem

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    I read the opposing article by Robert Scoble and he was more convincing not to get the droid. Speaking from a consumer point of view , the only thing the droid has over the iPhone is verizon – which many beleive is superior to the iPhone , dispite the lack of simontanious voice and data.

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    Can you give us a list of websites we can tour to find out what’s out there before buying the phone? Unless we can track down the apps my husband needs he’s going to start thinking blackberry.

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    I like this motorala.

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    I hope this floats over the Atlantic and perhaps the Motorola hole in my open arms as they have been for a long time may be out!.

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