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Motorola Droid smartphone
The first Android 2.0 phone impresses with a strong suite of Web features and a stunning 3.7-inch display, but some users might have trouble with the shallow keyboard.
- Snappy Web browsing, gorgeous 3.7-inch display
- Some camera images come out grainy, flat keyboard is difficult to type on
The Motorola Droid certainly stands out among the growing Android army due to its superior hardware and enhanced 2.0 software. But will the Android Marketplace catch up to the iPhone's App Store? Therein lies the key to success for the Droid.
Motorola is yet to reveal when — and, indeed, if — its Android-based Droid smartphone will reach Australia. It's been released in the US on the Verizon network, however, and below are the impressions of our North American colleagues at PCWorld.com.
The first time you pick up the Motorola Droid (US$200 with a two-year contract from Verizon), you'll notice its solid feel and heft--there's a lot going on behind the crisp, 3.7in 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 0.54in thick, the Droid is slightly beefier than the 0.48in-thick iPhone 3GS, but it still has room for a 40-key, slide-out QWERTY keypad. At just under 170g, it's heavier than the iPhone 3GS, which weighs 133g. When closed, the 4.56-by-2.36in Droid is almost the same size as the 4.5-by-2.4in iPhone 3GS.
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, 3.5in 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 3.2in, 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 pre-installed 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.
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PCW Evaluation Team
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I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
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