Motorola DROID BIONIC - was it worth the wait
You know what this expression means. In the field of mobile technology, we would use it to signify our admiration to a particular product or service that seems to be ahead of its time. In this relation, the Motorola DROID BIONIC, announced on January 5, seemed like a smartphone that was too good to be true, with its ubiquitous spec sheet, which almost magically combined all that was considered trendy and cool at the time.
Back at CES 2011, the DROID BIONIC made one helluva splash, with its promise to be the first handset to deliver both 4G LTE connectivity and a dual-core CPU, which would enhance the overall experience of using the phone, presumably surpassing anything we've seen up to this point. And, probably the best thing about all this was that users actually wouldn't have to wait so much in order to get it. The phone was scheduled to be released in the beginning of the second quarter of the year. Awesome plan, but eventually a teeny-tiny problem with it arose – it never happened.
Too good to be true
Well, no wonder that we were so wowed back in January. After all, Motorola came and showed us a phone from the future, claiming it's able to produce it now. Someone there must have greatly overestimated themselves, if you ask us. The thing is that when you try and build so much hype around your upcoming product, you should be absolutely certain that nothing can go wrong with it, and your work will be able to live up to customers' expectations. Because if you fail, it gets bad. Yes, Motorola managed to rise from the ashes, producing the almighty DROID, but just one phone wasn't able to rehabilitate the company to its strong position of the past. That's why it had to continue innovating, delivering top-notch products, without screwing up a single thing. That's what would have really brought Motorola back to its feet. But, with blunders such as treating users to seemingly innumerable delays for your most expected, and most hyped smartphone, failure is somewhat inevitable.
Unfortunately, the development issues that the company encountered with the BIONIC forced it to completely redesign the model, or in its own words, to incorporate “several enhancements to make this an even better consumer experience.“ This was just Moto's way of saying “Hey, forget what you saw at CES, we'll be doing something completely different now, and call it DROID BIONIC. Well, it'll take us some time, but overall, you should be grateful for our efforts!”
So how did this sad story end? Finally, a few months more passed, September came and brought us a device that looks like a cross between a DROID 3 and a DROID X2. Not that this is bad, but it's far from exciting, to say the least. In other words, it was something completely different from what got users turned on in the first place. Indeed, it's still the first smartphone to combine LTE and dual-core, but does that matter anymore?
So, was it worth the wait?
our review, and, as a matter of fact, continue to stand firmly behind this. But our point here is different.
From purely technological point of view, the DROID BIONIC is still quite impressive, and noticeably better than most of its competition. So it deserves its high mark. The problem is that we're looking at it with a sour taste in our mouths. And every time we look at it, it reminds us of all the waiting and disappointment that have been accompanying the BIONIC throughout its whole existence. That's not how you make a great product. That's how you ruin brand recognition, and, simply put, how you lose the game.
Well, folks, this was just something we had to say. We couldn't close our eyes now that the phone is out, and pretend that nothing has happened. And now that we said it, we feel better. As strange as it may sound, it looks like Motorola screwed up big time with the BIONIC, while still making one helluva phone in the process. It surely wasn't worth the wait, because we shouldn't have waited for it in the first place. Sanjay and company should have announced it last month, instead of in January. With that said, the BIONIC is still worth getting, as it's easily one of the best smartphones out there. Though, it will never be what it could be.
1. Boo Ya! (unregistered)
2. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Well said. The Bionic will have its defenders, and it's a good phone that may sell well, but the time for Motorola to release this phone was in May, when they released the warmed-over Droid X2 instead. That device was clearly Moto's way of both stalling and using up any Etna parts they'd already ordered.
I like Motorola, and I'm glad they didn't foist a fatally buggy Etna Bionic on us, but with the Vigor/Tbolt 2 and Droid Prime just around the corner, their phone will have precious little time in the spotlight.
67. thinnairr (unregistered)
Yes, well said indeed! Thanks for telling it as it is, even after months of excited hype.
I look forward to coverage on the dual-core, 4g, 720p screen upcoming phones-along with all the other interesting featured articles.
3. iankellogg (Posts: 155; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
This phone has a lot of neat features but the most important metric for success for me is the battery life and unfortunately even with the huge battery this is one of the worst phones for battery life on the market.
7. ayephoner (Posts: 849; Member since: 09 Jun 2009)
such is LTE. until coverage is blanketed, that radio will suck juice like crazy.
this is why apple wont adopt the technology until next year or the year after. so many people are so anxious for it, but its just not practical unless you spend all day everyday in a metropolitan area.
8. iankellogg (Posts: 155; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
Yeah I understand, it is a real shame LTE is so crappy on the battery, considering I have seen HSDPA preform just as good as LTE in some areas while not blowing the battery away. (see GS2) I think the worst part is that it has the largest battery yet isn't the best LTE phone for battery life, it is still behind the LG revolution.
43. xmrrushx (Posts: 29; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
While LTE may be hard on the battery i managed to get nearly 9hrs of Heavy use (streamin NFL, pandora, zumocast) with a quick 15 min charge a car ride to store. So i think the may have worked out the kinks.
10. jroc74 (Posts: 5646; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Lets let it be out for longer than a few weeks before we can say its the worse for battery life on the market.
Remember...that Anandtech article was a preview...not a full review. it didnt even go over talk time battery life.
How many know the GS2 had an update to address battery life? And performance?
4. el bory 360 (unregistered)
almost a week with this amazing phone and still learning about it. A new discovery everyday.Love it.
5. Leskid (Posts: 5; Member since: 13 Sep 2011)
I got this phone on Friday, planning to just play with it for 2 weeks, return it, and then wait for the release of the Droid Prime - Vigor - Iphone 5, and compare all the reviews before making a final choice. This was due mainly to the bad taste in my mouth surrounding the Bionic highlighted by the article. At this point it is going to be very hard to give this phone back. Great voice quality, super fast, no lags, battery on par with my OGD, and no bugs. I'm now glad Moto waited and got it right as opposed to pushing it out prematurely. So now I'm ready to say the past is the past and it's time to deal with the NOW. I know what I have with the Bionic in the present. I don't know if I'm ready to switch from being "past fixated" to "future fixited" and dealing with rumored release dates, unofficial specs, and finally how the devices actually perform. Decisions, decisions...
6. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Your story illustrates Motorola's problem though. Had they released the Bionic even as late as August, few people would have the option to return it for a better model. I'm glad it's a great phone, but Motorola already lost the expectations game.
9. Leskid (Posts: 5; Member since: 13 Sep 2011)
Yes Moto flubbed the PR game. But reality vs. PR; again as far as better models dropping soon - yes, specs wise that is pretty much a safe bet to make. My point is that release dates and performance are unknowns until they actually drop. All the specs in the world won't make a poor performer, poorly made, worth it.
12. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
People in general will buy when they're ready to upgrade, not when the perfect phone arrives, I agree. And while the Bionic delay made a few headlines earlier this year, it wasn't a gaffe of Antennagate proportions. Factor in that the average consumer is likely to get his information from Cnet (which gave the Bionic an Editor's Choice and a Droid Incredible/iPhone-tying score), and Moto still has a clear winner on their hands. But for how long?
18. jroc74 (Posts: 5646; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Also...factor in majority of the general public probably didnt even know the Bionic existed until commercials started popping up.
20. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
The commercials are a bit much in my opinion. "Rule all machines" makes it sound like it'll program my DVR, thermostat, and garage door opener.
Unless of course there IS an app for each of those, in which case, sign me up!
35. Thump3rDX17 (Posts: 2160; Member since: 10 May 2010)
forget about Google pursuing Android controlled appliances? might be a hint towards what they've achieved on that front with ICS which the Bionic is already primed for. ;D
45. xmrrushx (Posts: 29; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
No bugs? you must not be using it enough. I've seen a few here and there.
11. nb2six (Posts: 298; Member since: 27 Apr 2011)
People still need to realize that this is currently the best smartphone on Any U.S. carrier for the time being. The GS2 has yet to be released here and we still do not really know when. Let the Bionic have it's moment in the spotlight for the time being. Granted it should of been in it much much longer but I also give props to Moto for not throwing a phone out on the market that they knew had some serious issues.
19. jroc74 (Posts: 5646; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Yea they coulda went the HTC and TBolt route, but they didnt.
Folks saying its overhyped...look at the EVO 3D. Some ppl either returned it for the Photon, or just plain passed it up for the Photon.
3D a game changer, right? I think it is...but it also shows ppl will get what they wanna get, regardless of hype.
Look at the first dual core phone in the US, the LG 2x. How is that doing?
The only Android phone from the this year that had sooo much hype was the Atrix and GS2, maybe the T Bolt. After those 3...only hyping of anything else was done by us in the forums, blogs.
Hell...I mentioned the Cnet reviewer actually saying" I really didnt wanna like this phone, after the delay I was prepared to be disappointed"
And for some folks that knew about this phone since Jan, I think thats gonna be their reaction too. Not even trying to give it a chance out the gate...
72. mwebber473 (Posts: 5; Member since: 24 Aug 2011)
Yes, I give Moto props too for not selling a phone with bugs. What I don't want to see is a commercial in Jan for the Bionic and it's not released until Sept. As a manufacturer you need to bring your "A" game and ensure that your phone is released near the projected release date. Only the IPhone can get away with releasing a product months after the projected release date. That's only because people are willing to wait hours outside there're favorite store to purchase one. The Andriod phones hasn't earned that right yet.
I believe Moto dropped the ball on this one.
13. bossmt_2 (Posts: 444; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)
If it wasn't for the Prime being so close I'd be all over this, and depending on what the Nexus Prime has (like lack of Bing and having LTE) I'll go for that instead but I may instead go for the Bionic in a month.
15. Normil (Posts: 17; Member since: 02 May 2011)
Having waited sooo long for this phone, it couldnt really EVER live up to the expectations, Having one since launch date now, I can however say that the phone has been flawless since I got it. Rooting was easy, the phone runs smoother than my X ever did. Pretty much in my opinion it was everything I wanted in a phone. Now to say I wont want another in like 3 months is a joke, for now though, this phone more than meets my qualifications of what I needed from a phone.
16. bionic (unregistered)
I got the bionic on Friday and honestly I don't understand why everybody keeps on remembering how delayed this phone was and all that crap. What really counts is the fact that this phone has great specs, its running on LTE, and the battery life is comparable to my old DROID x. Yes there are other phones coming out but what I like about motor, is that they make durable phones not like samsung or other. Let's gives its props to this amazing phone and its high tech specs and the fact that is on the most reliable network.
25. Bob (unregistered)
I second what he says. I have always seen Nokia announce a model and actually launch it a good 6 months later and miss the bus (they seem to be stuck with this even now despite MS' presence .. first WP7 will be now be launched in Q1-2012) and therefore its a rarity to see a phone being announced in Jan and still come up trumps a good eight months later. So hats off to Motorola. I own a neat model called Defy (MB525) and I have to agree with bionic ... my phone looks, handles and feels way better .. way way better ... than even a Samsung Galaxy SII that supposedly is the best Android phone ever ... till ofcourse Droid Bionic showed itself. A one-on-one among Android superphones that includes Bionic may just drive the point home.
17. Mr.Mr.Upgrade (Posts: 454; Member since: 30 Aug 2011)
I was one of the ones that waited for this phone, its not worth the wait,it is the best phone out now,but the evo and photon, have similar specs, minus the fast 4g lte, this phone could have made history, instead it over hyped like, lebron James
50. darth8ball (Posts: 520; Member since: 02 Aug 2011)
I was one of the ones that waited for this phone, its not worth the wait,it is the best phone out now,
You may not know it but I think you just contradicted yourself. If Moto and Verizon released the phone sooner, people would be saying they rushed it to beat the iPhone5 and look at all the problems it has.
Remember this is not the device that was announced in Jan, that device was scrapped, this was going to be a Christmas release that was pushed ahead and given the name Bionic.
53. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
I wonder what the original plan was for the Targa, ie which phone was it going to replace, what would it be named? Was the X2 supposed to exist in the first place, or was it born from the ashes of Etna? Was this to be the X3? The Bionic 2?
22. trin (Posts: 88; Member since: 11 May 2010)
Techies will never be satisfied in any scenario. Release a device too soon, with bugs and poor battery life and you'll hear: " they should've waited until they got it right." Release an almost perfect device and it's: what took so long?"
You guys will praise the next device, sight unseen as the next greatest thing. And i'll bet when the new next best thing drops, it'll still be " what took so long and when's the next great phone coming out?"
The bottom line to this is the fact that the phone game is a " my dad can beat up your dad" tug of war. Some of you only want to own the latest device so you can point and go: "neener neener".
23. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
I got tired of waiting. The EVO 3D caught my attention, and it was time to move to Sprint. LTE and WiMax are kind of a hit-or-miss proposition where I find myself traveling, so 3G coverage is more important at the moment. If the Bionic had been available as late as July, I would have remained on VZW. But delay after delay occurred and with other good options available elsewhere, it was time to move on.
24. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 465; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)
What is all the complaining out there about the phone not being released on time. Did you expect Motorola to do like HTC and release a failure of a phone like the Thunderbolt?...phone is already 5 months old and the Vigor is replacing it...The Bionic is an excellent phone.....beats The Charge, Revolution and Thunderbolt by far....I want even say iphone 5 because that phone is competing with feature phones in my book...if it's not graced with LTE, keep your iphone4--and wait another year..Let's see dual core, 1gb ram, LTE, front and rear camera, hdmi, 1080p recording, 32gb of memory, 4.3 qhd screen...What else can you put in a phone? I don't see quad core anytime soon---so these will be the specs for the coming months if not year with maybe a 4.5 screen as potential upgrades...Until LTE is blanketing America like 3G we will all suffer sub par battery life and with the phones packing high end specs like dual core and LTE and 4.3 and higher hd screens--don't expect much life from even a 1900 mah battery...DROID DOES
30. superguy (Posts: 280; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)
Sorry, that screen absolutely sucks. I've seen better screens on 2 year old phones than on this thing.
It's a good phone outside of that and the locked bootloader. I liked it a lot. i just can't get over the feeling that I'm looking thru a screen door on it.
Mine's going back today. Shame. I could have dealt with a locked bootloader (I'd still grumble about it) since it's rooted but I can't deal with that screen. Back it goes and I wait for either the Vigor or the Prime.
32. Mother (unregistered)
The screen is a compromise, but to say it "sucks" is to not look at the benefits.
It hardly uses any battery at all, especially compared to my Droid X that I always kept at the lowest brightness to try and conserve battery. Also, I can view it in direct sunlight without messing with it at all, something I would struggle with on my X even on the highest brightness level.
The "screen door" effect seems to be noticeable sometimes, but really only when you're moving it or adjusting your view. Once you're refocused (at a reasonable distance, not 6" away) it disappears.
33. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Did you see the screen before you bought it? This is why I wouldn't buy any phone without thoroughly toying with it in a VZW store first. PenTile LCD definitely detracts from the experience on the Bionic, X2 and D3. Especially if you're used to a crisp screen like the OG Droid, DInc, etc.
The Vigor looks to be VZW's take on the EVO 3D. After looking at its screen (and overall build quality), I say it'll be worth the wait. (If HTC can tackle the battery life that is.)
36. Thump3rDX17 (Posts: 2160; Member since: 10 May 2010)
i went from a Droid 2 to a Droid 3 and the Pentile Matrix effect was just annoying for a day before i got used to it. if you decide on a certain trade off it may take more than a few minutes of play time with a demo to decide if it's worth what you decided to give up.
54. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
It's definitely less noticeable on the D3 than the Bionic, but it still annoyed me. To my eyes, Pentile negates any advantages of qHD. And per PA, the RGBW display also affects viewing angles. So all that's left is the power consumption argument.
I keep harping on this point because I like Motorola and I wish they were above this kind of marketing ploy, claiming qHD when in their case it imparts no visible improvement.
61. Thump3rDX17 (Posts: 2160; Member since: 10 May 2010)
i have a Droid Bionic too and it is a little more noticable but you're just being rigid and inflexable. it's really just fine after a few days. i don't even get the point of viewing angles. seems like a review filler to me. chances are when i use my phone i'm going to be looking straight towards my face.
68. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
I agree on the viewing angles. That's something that's more relevant for a TV than a phone.
I'm sticking to my guns on the screen issue though, because unlike many posters here, I only buy one phone every 20 months. If I had the option to buy every few months, I wouldn't be so picky, but if I'm going to be stuck for that long, I want a phone that's powerful, future-proof, easy to use and easy on the eyes. I can't afford to compromise.
26. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 465; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)
So what are all peope saying about the SGS2? Are you still going to get it? It's been out forever now...So is is DOA?
27. Mike V (unregistered)
The Galaxy S2 was announced BEFORE the Bionic, and STILL not released!
28. Mike V (unregistered)
Released In the US that is.
29. David Lee (unregistered)
This phone is not perfect. This is a major problem with a nasty squeal coming when listening to audio over headphones / 3.5mm jack.
31. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 465; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)
David Lee, nothing is perfect.....That's why a OTA fix (just like the Droid 3) is getting will be forthcoming...What has came out perfect...If I remember correctly the iphone4 was not perfect either--antennae in wrong place--needed that fancy sleeve around it. Thunderbolt--numerous OTA's because of reboots-not staying on 4G, etc. Samsung, LG, HTC, Apple, Motorola--all of them are not perfect...No one is....and to complain about a squeal coming from the headphone jacks in which most of us have not even used yet is miniscule with the problems the phones face in today's environment...Good job Motorola in doing your homework on this one!
38. David Lee (unregistered)
Mr. Droid, what if this is a hardware problem that can't be fixed with an OTA update? How will someone know within 14 days? What if you spend a lot of time using your headset? Would it be reasonable for that person to regard this problem as "miniscule"?
47. Goku (unregistered)
go flog yourself!
63. jroc74 (Posts: 5646; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Agree 100%. No phone is perfect out the gate. Not the iPhone 4 and the GS2. The GS2 had a maintenance update to address battery life and a camera bug right after launch.
Look at the T Bolt. With all the issues it was having....after a few updates it seems to be a lil better.
34. Sniggly (Posts: 7296; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
So... we'll see an article like this about the iPhone 5 when it comes out as just a minor upgrade over the 4, over three months past its usual launch date, right?
I prefer Motorola discover a major problem with the phone, stop its release, fix the problem and make sure it's fixed, and THEN release it. Moto will be better served in the long run by the massive delay in the Bionic's release than by releasing a device with embarrassing battery life and other bugs. If I hadn't been forced into a last minute change in carriers, and if I could afford a 300 buck price tag, I would've gone with the Bionic. And even though I didn't, I still bought Motorola.
64. StillStuckWithDroid (Posts: 65; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
I wonder if the PA fanboys will hold their precious Apple products feet to the same fire they did the Bionic?
Really very little innovation?
3G????? in a 4G world....nice
same old look.....basically haven't changed it much since the original iPhone?
you know these tards from PA will all get together in a circle for the unboxing and just sit there and stare at it quietly for an hour before even speaking.....
I got Ten bucks says that Roy S. (the article writer) owns an iPhone for a personal phone.......and he wrote this because he is angry that this phone is already well past the POS that he is waiting for (nice release date bungle there Apple)
come on Roy......everyone knows you are probably an egomaniac and read all the comments about you agenda driven article......reply to this and admit you are an Apple Fanboy and that had a lot to do with this article.....you have zero professional integrity if you don't
mad that this phone is already better than the iPhone 6 and maybe even 7.....when does Apple plan on putting 4G in?
37. Thump3rDX17 (Posts: 2160; Member since: 10 May 2010)
sure i was ANNOYED by the delays but was it worth waiting for a phone that even after 9 months of delays STILL came out as the best phone available on a U.S. carrier? ohhh noooo! i'm far too upset with Motorola for robbing me of my bragging rights for a few extra, precious months to get anything like that from them. i may never buy anything from those patient bastards Motorola again! lol jk, fan up or stfu. the Droid Bionic is a future-proof beast.
39. droiderrific dude (unregistered)
lovin' this phone to the max..
though i aint gonna lie about the "improved" yet s**tty battery life..
this phone's overall performance and output is friggin awesome..
anyone wanting a dual core powerhouse along with LTE connectivity..
i recommend this phone to you..
wait, its the ONLY phone with such specs.
BOOM, go bionic, get one today.
Own the machines to rule all machines including apple iphones
40. davidg (unregistered)
I don't think the $300 price tag is worth it. I ordered an X2 which has the same display, it also has a dual core 1ghz and the same size camera. What's best is it only cost $59.99 from amazon. I just couldn't justify paying that much more just to have the latest and greatest.
41. Sniggly (Posts: 7296; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
The Bionic does also have almost twice the RAM that the X2 does, which is a major plus. Also more internal memory and a bigger included memory card. As in, twice as many of both.
51. roldefol (Posts: 3630; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Hence his statement about the price tag. He chose to buy a lesser phone because he couldn't justify the cost of The Best. He's not saying the X2 is just as good, rather it was good enough for him.
52. Sniggly (Posts: 7296; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Fair enough. I was just pointing out that there was more value for the higher price than he was letting on.
42. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 465; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)
davidg--The same goes for EVERYTHING IN LIFE--not just phones...Can I justify paying $236K for a 2012 Ferrari? Probably not, since a $19K Honda Civic will get me there also....Its all in what you want to do and can afford with your money....
44. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 465; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)
So many rookies in this forum who don't know the facts--who want to talk about a $300 phone...and ridicule about not worth the wait..OK the iphone4 for example, no lte, 32gb storage, RAM--not mentioned, no flash, single core, 3.7 inch screen, 1.5 year's old, 5 mp camera, and is still costing $299.00...
Bionic-Gorilla Glass, LTE, dual core, 1gb ram, front-rear camera, 8 mp camera-rear, 1735 mah battery, 32 gb storage internal and sd card, lightweight, 4.3 qhd screen...and $299.00
Do the math---unless you are completely biased or just want to complain about something....
49. Sniggly (Posts: 7296; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
A couple of points: the iPhone also has Gorilla Glass-the problem is that almost the entire outer shell of it is made of the stuff. I don't care how strong glass is, you can't make an entire phone out of it and expect it to be as durable. Also, the screen is 3.5 inches, and if you dig you can find its RAM-which is 512 mb.
Your overall point still stands strong though. I approve this message. :)
58. Paden (Posts: 262; Member since: 07 Jul 2011)
Those are all just numbers.
I've used both and still prefer an iPhone 4. The numbers (specs) for the iPhone aren't the best, but everything is optimized for it. The OS is optimized for it. The screen, although it's smaller, Retina Display is incredible. Pixel density > Screen Size. The pictures on the 5MP camera look better anyways.
Ugh, not too mention all that bloatware.... And don't say "Oh I can just root it." Because, I could say, "Oh I could just jailbreak it."