HTC Nexus One and Motorola DROID: side by side
Android has caught fire in mindshare over the past few months, thanks in part to two crucial devices running the platform: the Motorola DROID and the HTC Nexus One. The former has been blasted into our consciousness by an advertizing onslaught from Verizon Wireless, whereas the latter has been more quiet, only touting itself via web ads. With two well-spec’d devices spearheading the Android revolution the inevitable question is: “which one do I choose?”
Neither of these devices is pretty. The Nexus One is an uninspired slap of AMOLED, whereas the DROID’s gaudy black and gold color scheme gives us bad 80’s flashbacks. Both devices are dominated by their 3.7” displays, but the Nexus One wraps it in curves while the DROID frames it with right angles. In terms of display quality the Nexus One is the clear winner with its super-vibrant AMOLED panel, but the DROID is still a top 3 display on the market and manages to pack in 54 more pixels (480x854, compared to 480x800 on the Nexus One.) AMOLED allows for better brightness, making the display readable in sunlight, as well as for a much wider viewing angle. That it is less power-hungry doesn’t hurt its case either. It’s like choosing between a BMW and Ferrari; we’ll take the Prancing Horse every time, but should get stuck with the Bimmer we won’t complain.
Usually curves lead to better contouring of the hand, and sharp lines make for a less natural feel (see: GSM vs. CDMA Hero) but we actually prefer the DROID to the HTC Nexus One in our hands. The Nexus One is oddly balanced, and we found it liked to make its way to the floor more often than any phone we’ve tried. The Motorola DROID, on the other hand, fits quite comfortably and securely in our mitts. The DROID is noticeably heavier, but with a glass display and metal casing the extra heft is the result of quality materials. The Nexus One didn’t feel cheap by any means, but we almost always prefer a metal frame over plastic.
The DROID of course features a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard, something that would usually be an advantage to an all touchscreen device. Not so much here though; the keys are so flat and close together that it is almost impossible to type without looking. We actually found ourselves preferring the onscreen keyboard, and after awhile didn’t even bother to slide out the QWERTY anymore. We will say that the 5-way directional pad does offer some functionality for the gamers out there. The slide mechanism is pretty nice as a whole. Although it isn’t spring-assisted, it is super smooth and offers a perfect amount of resistance all the way through the slide until it nicely clicks into place.
In terms of buttons both are pretty identical. The DROID offers a dedicated camera key along the right side, but both have identical capacitive navigation buttons below the display, a volume rocker on the side and a power button up top. Each feature a 3.5mm headset jack and 5 megapixel cameras with LED flash. The DROID features a dual LED flash, while the Nexus One offers a dual microphone (one on the back) for active noise cancellation.