Motorola DROID BIONIC - was it worth the wait

Motorola DROID BIONIC - was it worth the wait
“Too good to be true”

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

Tragically, it turned out the expression should have been taken quite literally. Was the concept of the DROID BIONIC superphone really ahead of its time... to the point that it was impossible to finish by the targeted launch date? We guess so. Otherwise we wouldn't have to wait until now.

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?

Forgive our predominantly negative tone throughout this article. We do realize that we actually rated the Motorola DROID BIONIC a 9 out of 10 in 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.

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DROID BIONIC
  • Display 4.3" 540 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1735 mAh(10.83h talk time)

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74 Comments

1. Boo Ya! unregistered

Boo Ya!

2. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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: Jun 15, 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: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 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: Jun 15, 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. http://www.anandtech.com/show/4761/motorola-droid-bionic-preview

43. xmrrushx

Posts: 29; Member since: Aug 07, 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: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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: Sep 13, 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: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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: Sep 13, 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: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Also...factor in majority of the general public probably didnt even know the Bionic existed until commercials started popping up.

20. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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: May 10, 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: Aug 07, 2011

No bugs? you must not be using it enough. I've seen a few here and there.

11. nb2six

Posts: 298; Member since: Apr 27, 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: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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: Aug 24, 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: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 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.

14. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

Short answer. NO

15. Normil

Posts: 17; Member since: May 02, 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.

21. Mrhug3

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 14, 2011

My thoughts exactly.

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: 474; Member since: Aug 30, 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: Aug 02, 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: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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: May 11, 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".

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