Verizon's DROID series: a historical perspective

Verizon's DROID series: a historical perspective

They came, they saw and they conquered. The Motorola DROIDS' lives make an interesting story, not only because their existence gave hope to one of the fading giants of the mobile industry - Motorola - but also because the original DROID started the Android revolution which, in turn, changed the smartphone world. These historical facts aside, the thing that really matters are the DROIDS themselves and how much they altered the smartphone landscape.

Early Rumours

The original Motorola DROID has been one of the most leaked handsets in recent memory, since plenty of its specs, photos and hands-on reports were presented prior to its official announcement. Not only that, but the handset which ended as a "DROID" was quite schizophrenic in its infancy, being called "Calgary", "Sholes", "Shules" and "Tao" before Moto eventually settled with the DROID brand. The constant leaks, the impressive specs, the never-ending rumours, as well as the breathtaking photos all pointed that we're to see a monster of a phone - and some more hype was added with the now legendary "iDon't, the DROID DOES" ad that Motorola and Verizon ran at that time.

Common knowledge dictates that when something is so hyped up, it just can't live up to the expectations, but this is not your ordinary "something", so we can honestly say - the DROID DID and more than a year since its release, it still DOES.

The Launch

Almost all rumours concerned with the Motorola DROID proved to be correct and its release date was no exception. The handset was touted for a Q4 2009 release and sure enough it arrived on November 6 2009. To celebrate the launch of this quite special device, Verizon decided to open one of its stores in New York City on the above mentioned date in 00:00:01. It's a fact of life that we tend to see such events reserved for bestsellers - and the DROID didn't disappoint, selling 100 000 units in its first weekend. This feat aside, the DROID took its healthy dose of critical acclaim - the Time Magazine named it 2009 Gadget of the Year, while this phone is widely regarded as the device that started both the green robot revolution and the Verizon-Google love story. And like this is not enough, the DROID proved that it indeed DOES, when its processor was clocked to 1.3GHz (we don't advise anyone doing this one, though).

For more information, check our in-depth Motorola DROID review.


Simultaneously with the launch of the Motorola DROID, another Android-powered handset for Big Red was released, and once again it was a DROID. The HTC DROID ERIS is the only mid-range, budget-friendly DROID to date, but neverheless it packs a few nice features like the HTC Sense UI, a 3.2-inch capacitive screen, a 528MHz processor and a 5MP camera. This phone, which felt like a version of the HTC Hero, but for Big Red, didn't have the same impact as the Moto DROID, which is frequently credited as the gadget that started the green robot revolution, and yet it showed that the Verizon DROIDS are not only reserved for high-tech maniacs.

For more information, check our in-depth HTC DROID ERIS review.

The Incredible HTC Droid

It is easy to be hard on a mid-range handset like the HTC DROID ERIS and compare it with any high-end device, but the fact is that the Motorola DROID was the (DROID) phone everyone was talking about - a true standard to follow. Or, at least, this was what everybody thought at the time. But not HTC, which managed to do something incredible - to release a beast of a phone that was the next big thing in the Android world - the HTC Droid Incredible. This monstrous handset offered some specs that still sound pretty impressive today - like a 1GHz processor, an 8MP camera with a high definition video capture and a 3.7-inch AMOLED display, which was lated replaced with a Super LCD screen due to the shortage of AMOLED ones.

Somehow unfortunately for HTC, a few months after the release of the Droid Incredible, a new heavyweight DROID graced the Verizon scene, and it was none other than...

For more information, check our in-depth HTC Droid Incredible review.


It was a little more than a year ago when we told you for the first time that the original DROID is soon to be followed by another mighty handset, which was then called "Shadow"/"Mirage", and after that - the "Motorola Xtreme". Its specs were revealed in the (in)famous "Gym Accident" leak and they were every geek's dream - a 4.3-inch display, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, an 8MP camera, HD recording capabilities and the tasty Eclair running the show. Prior to its release, some photos were shown and the name was changed to the Motorola DROID X. The rest, as they say, is part of the history books and our in-depth Motorola DROID X review.



1. jay mal unregistered

Good article the droids are the best phone ever I've had the original droid, the eris, the incredible, then got the droid x currently, my wife has the droid 2 (and I was tore between geting her the droid pro) the bionic is my next purchase, but as good as the phones are I may jump ship and move to a motorola xoom and just use my second phone that I have for calls, and use the moto xoom for all my droid pleasures. Cause I think it wouldn't make since to have a motorola droid bionic and a motorola xoom tablet, but im a smartphone geek so I'll probably have both lol. hands down the motorola droids and the whole android os for that matter are the best things out there i dont ever seeing it being topped by any other phone, and lets not even talk about ALLLLLL the ways they are better than the Iphone. I think the iphone killer saying has finally come true when the original droid came out in 2009, sorry steve android is king

2. narley

Posts: 357; Member since: May 14, 2009

No mention of the HTC Thunderbolt? I know it isnt named "droid" but I would think it would be worth including... But technically in that case you'd have to include: Motorola Devour Motorola Citrus LG Ally LG Vortex ... and let me say for us all, not worth mentioning.

9. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

i imagine since all of the Android phones Verizon announced at CES had Google services instead of Bing that they'll all be marketed as Droids by launch like the Droid Thunderbolt, the Droid Revolution, etc.

18. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Droid is not the same as Android. It's the Motorola Droid powered by Android. Every Android phone that comes to Verizon is not a Droid. Just because it has google services doesn't make it by default a Droid. The manufactures have to call it a Droid for it to be Droid. There are no requirements. It's just random titleing. The thunderbolt will be a great phone whether or not it's called Droid or not. You guys are no different from Apple people. If a phone says Droid on it, you somehow think it's better when it makes no difference at all.

20. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

uhhh yeah, i'm not stupid you know. Verizon has a contract in place with Microsoft to use their Bing services on the carrier's Android phones like the Fascinate and the Vortex with the exception of Droid branded phones (for some reason) and the reason it would benefit the phone if it had the Droid Branding is because of Verizon's multi-million dollar marketing campaign behind the brand. it's a house hold name now and people would be quicker to nab up a "Droid Thunderbolt" than just a "Thunderbolt" plus..Droids are just cooler! xD Verizon did a good job promoting their star Android phones from day 1.

21. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Droids are just cooler? Why? Because of the red eye? But anyways I'm glad you do understand because there are many many who don't.

22. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

well..yeah! i've always liked the more hardcore approach Verizon has taken with their Android line-up with the "Droid Does" ads. of course that's not all that's important in an Android phone but i know that being a Droid branded phone can make all the difference like the Devour and the Ally for instance, if they had been branded as "Droid" phones then they would have sold more and Motorola and LG would have kept them updated fairly, the Ally would have Froyo and the Devour would likely have Eclair by now. oh and btw not everybody starts off knowing the differences between Droid and Android. people have to start somewhere and i'm sure everybody that has ever bought a Droid figured out they were in fact part of a much larger community.

24. tragichero

Posts: 163; Member since: Jan 07, 2011

wow... thanks for clearing that up. i always thought all android phones can still be considered "droid phones". yet, just so i dont confuse my customers... im still going to call them all droids and then just explain the difference in default search engines.

29. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

anytime man, just know that's only the case on Verizon.

12. VZW Rep unregistered

Yeah I guess it's implying that they only covered our handsets with the name "Droid" in them, although I'm pretty sure the upoming HTC phone is the Droid Thunderbolt, so...yeah who knows.

19. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Droid and Android are two entirely separate things, so no it shouldn't be mentioned.

25. tragichero

Posts: 163; Member since: Jan 07, 2011

in my opinion both the vortex and ally are in a class of their own. sure a downgrade on the cameras and prossesor and screen resolution as opposed to higher graded androids, but the pictures dont really matter if ur just viewing it over the phone. the speed is hardley noticable as opposed to others screen resolution isnt even that important if you factor in the price of the device. i like the ally because it has a better keyboard then the others in verizons line up and i especially like the vortex because of being capable of adobe flash. you take these factors and throw in the price for the devices and what you need from a them and then those two guys dont seem so bad. plus... they make me more money on secondary lines lol :)

28. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

sorry man, you're kinda wrong about everything you mentioned. the base price of the phone is the smallest factor when you're in a situation that you're going to be placed in a two year contract, that's where patience or deal searching comes in and if you're even on this site then a mid-range phone is not for you because you'll be paying the same price every month for less functionality than the higher echelon of Android Phones, the keyboard is a personal decision but the Vortex is NOT capable of using Adobe Flash because it does not meet the processor requirements.

3. mes215 unregistered

I currently have a Droid X, and love it, but unless Moto & VZW release something equal to, or exceeding the Atrix 4G, I may have to jump ship to AT&T. That phone should have been a Droid!

4. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You didn't read the end of the article. The BIONIC is the Verizon version of the Atrix. It's just coming out later.

5. SGKO unregistered

Also, Atrix has 1 GB of RAM as opposed to BIONIC with 512 MB. Not sure if a smartphone needs that much memory today.... Anyway... for me i cant decide to get which of the two. Its more like a choice between Verizon and AT&T

8. HH unregistered

Actually, the BIONIC does have enough ram, because it's DDR2, which actually makes it BETTER than the ram found on the Atrix. Too many people get caught up in the MB/GB numbers without looking at the technology. The difference is similar to how a dual core 1 GHz processor is better than a single core 1.3 GHz processor.

10. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

the Atrix has 1GB of the DDR2 RAM.. the Droid Bionic makes up for this however that it's going to be LTE.

26. tragichero

Posts: 163; Member since: Jan 07, 2011

from what i read here on the PA the attrix is not DDR2, but even with out it has only slightly better memory. yet, the use of a memory card blows that objection out the water and like you said Thump, LTE also just makes it all out better phone

27. tragichero

Posts: 163; Member since: Jan 07, 2011

but cant stress enough how much fuss everyone is making about the memory when it has plenty and only slighty less than the attrix. weigh out the pros and cons and the bionic is the right choice!

30. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

of course the Bionic is a better phone, i'm just making sure all the facts are known so everything has it's fair chance. believe it or not some people care about those differences. Motorola's own website confirms that the memory is in fact DDR2.

13. narley

Posts: 357; Member since: May 14, 2009

and again you're a moron...

14. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

then explain to me what exactly have i said to make myself sound moronic.

16. Itzatlas

Posts: 37; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

He is right... AGIAN

6. jogutier

Posts: 324; Member since: Feb 12, 2010

Great article. I can't wait to get the Thunderbolt or Bionic. Still haven't decided. Although I never play games on my phone (which the processor will really be needed) I would love to have a dual processor, but a 740mhz isn't bad either. Win, win! I guess the forward faceing camera of 0.3mp on the Bionic is kind of a killer. :( Why would you load this phone up in every which way, and then kill it on the one thing that's coming out new for that phone. Man, what were they thinking. I know I'll be face timeing it with everyone that has a forward faceing camera. O' well, we will just have to see what happens. LOL!

7. Fleanote unregistered

Yes the Droids are awesome, but I can't help to think about the marketing 'mess' they've created. For the non-technical, non-geeks of the world the marketing term 'Droid' is confusing. Lets hope Motorola never comes out with a 'Droid' running WP7 or there will be real hell to pay from a marketing/advertising perspective. I've heard questions like "I wanna get a phone running that Google Android system, do I have to get a Droid from Verizon?" Obviously not, but when your marketing term (DROID) and the operating system (AnDROID) share such a common name you can see how the mistake could be made for those who don't live on or other tech sites.

31. anotherguy unregistered

I think it should be noted that Verizon is the one who licensed the "DROID" branding from lucasarts.

11. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

my Droids have been the ultimate powerhouses of information and entertainment for me and they're getting better and better all the time. the Droid 2 is quite close to perfection but i think it might be time for my next generation of Droid, one that'll wad up the world's typical smartphone standards like a straw wrapper and stay state of the art for at least a year, hopefully that'll be a Droid 3 soon...

15. ron pierce unregistered

Great but were is the tegra 2 chip set and the front camera should be at least 1mp thx

17. orielwindow

Posts: 109; Member since: Sep 23, 2010

I was a loyal Nokia enthusiast for the last 8 years and switched to the HTC Incredible back in June. I have since started using the Droid Pro around Christmas and have loved my experience with both handsets. I think it's really remarkable that after literally years of exclusive Nokia use, I have not once even looked back after switching to the Droid line. Can't wait to see what they've got planned for the future!

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