Motorola DROID, HTC Imagio and DROID ERIS: side by side

Introduction and Design

Over the past few years, Verizon Wireless has been known for its limited smartphone line-up, as there was little choice available to consumers, and even less of a difference between devices. Recently, that has begun to change, as more innovative and user-friendly smartphone have emerged. Today we are going to take a look at 3 of the most recent devices, the HTC Imagio XV6975, Motorola DROID A855, and the HTC DROID ERIS.

Design &Form Factor:

Both the HTC Imagio and DROID ERIS  are constructed with black plastic throughout and have a soft-touch coating with sleek lines on the exterior, though the DROIS ERIS is the smaller of the two and is lighter in weight. Because of this, the DROID ERIS is the most comfortable while holding it in-hand, and is also the least conspicuous when placed in a pocket. Meanwhile, the Motorola DROID has a more solid feeling, thanks to its metal construction, which makes it the heaviest of the three devices. It too has the soft-touch coating on the back, but due to the square corners and extra weight, it can feel like a tank while holding it, or like a calculator in your pocket.

All three devices sport a touchscreen on the front, with the Motorola DROID’s being the largest at 3.7” with a resolution of 480x854. Up next is the HTC Imagio with a 3.6” 480x800 display, and then the HTC DROID ERIS with a smaller 3.2” 320x480 display. Both the Motorola DROID and HTC DROID ERIS use capacitive touchscreen technology, which allows them to be quite responsive and sensitive to the touch, while the HTC Imagio uses resistive technology, which requires more pressure to get a response. Images and text also look the best on the Motorola DROID, not only because of the larger display, but because it has the highest resolution and is the only one to support 16 million colors. When testing the devices outside on a sunny day, the display on the Motorola DROID is the easiest to view, since it is the brightest, followed by the HTC Imagio and DROID ERIS.

All three smartphones are equipped with a 3.5mm headset jack, which comes in handy for listening to music. When connecting the device to a PC and when charging, both HTC phones use the larger miniUSB port, while the Motorola uses the smaller and more common microUSB port. All three also have a 5MP autofocus camera on the back, though the Motorola DROID is the only one to include a dual-LED flash. For extra data storage, both the Motorola DORID and HTC DROID ERIS come with a microSDHC memory card preinstalled (16GB and 8GB respectfully).

Since the Motorola DROID is the only device to come with a sliding physical QWERTY keyboard, it will appeal more to the hardcore user that types a lot of messages, though all three devices offer on-screen keyboards as well. Despite this, the on-screen keyboard offered by the Motorola DROID is the largest and easiest to use out of the bunch.


All three smartphones offer different ways of interaction, some being more user friendly than others. The Imagio runs on the new Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional operating system, but comes with HTC’s familiar TouchFLO 3D interface that takes the guess-work out of many tasks that normally can be daunting on a Windows Mobile device. The DROID ERIS uses the Android 1.5 OS, but HTC also adds their Sense UI interface, which is very similar to TouchFLO 3D in the way it simplifies things for the user, but is also very customizable with 7 home screens. The Motorola DROID runs on the latest Android 2.0 OS, but lacks any further “add-on” UI enhancements, such as MOTOBLUR, but still remains relatively easy to use, though it only has 3 home screens and isn’t as customizable as the DROID ERIS.

As expected, adding a contact is primarily done by saving them directly to the phone, but each device does allow for some syncing. With the HTC Imagio you are limited to sync contacts from Outlook or an Exchange server, while the HTC DROID ERIS can sync contacts from your Google account and Exchange server. This is also true on the Motorola DROID, but it adds syncing of Facebook contacts as well.

There are also differences with the calendars, but they all basically do the same thing. It starts off by showing the current month with day selected. From there you can add multiple events to each day. On the Imagio, you can sync and update the phone’s calendar with events from Outlook on your PC, while on the HTC DROID ERIS and Motorola DROID; you can update the phone’s calendar directly from your on-line Google account. Once again, it comes down to the consumer’s choice as to which device and method is best for them, though we feel that Google syncing is the easiest way.

For social networking, the HTC Imagio only allows you to link saved contacts to their Facebook profile. Then whenever that person has a change in status, it shows up on the phone, but clicking on it opens the Facebook page in the Opera browser, as the Imagio doesn’t come with its own Facebook application out of the box, but you can easily download it from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. On the HTC DROID ERIS you can also link contacts to their saved Facebook profile, but the device has its own Android-based Facebook app that opens up. The Motorola DROID is similar; except that you can actually import contacts from Facebook directly and then view them in the dedicated app. Google Talk and Peep (Twitter app) is also included on the HTC DROID ERIS, but only Google Talk comes with the Motorola DROID, though additional apps can be downloaded from the Android Market.

Because of the differences with the interface and operating systems between the devices, each one is targeted to a specific audience. The Imagio is more for the business professional who needs (or is required) to have a Windows Mobile device because of their job, mostly due to the integration and syncing of the phone to a Windows-based PC with Outlook and Exchange server. The HTC DROID ERIS is more for the casual consumer who has never owned a smartphone before and wants something easy to use, yet offers plenty of features and customization. While the Motorola DROID fits right in with consumers who are more familiar with smartphones and want a more powerful Android device.


There are more similarities than differences with it comes to messaging options on the three smartphones, as all are capable of sending and receiving SMS and MMS messages. On the HTC Imagio this is done with the Messaging program that is part of the TouchFLO 3D interface, while the DROID ERIS has its own program as part of the Sense UI interface. Only the Motorola DROID uses the stock Android app, though threaded messaging is supported by all of them.

Sending and receiving E-Mails are done in a similar fashion, as once again the Imagio and DROID ERIS have their own personalized HTC apps, while the Motorola DROID uses the stock Android program. All of them support POP and IMAP accounts, as well as Exchange servers, but only the two Android devices come with a specific program for GMail support. On the Imagio it lists all your E-mail accounts on the right side of the screen, where you can select the one you want and view part of the messages on the same screen, or go directly to the inbox where all the messages are listed. With the HTC DROID ERIS there is an E-Mail widget that will show your mail directly on the desktop that you can flick through and select a specific one to read; though you can go directly into the normal Mail program where messages are listed. On the Motorola DROID, however, it displays all the accounts in a list. If you click on one directly, it takes you to the inbox for that account, but if you click on the folder icon, you can choose to view any items in the draft, outbox, sent and trash folders.

When composing a message (MMS, SMS, and E-Mail) you have several keyboard options.  The on-screen QWERTY keyboard on the Motorola DROID is the largest of the three smartphones. In addition, only the Motorola DROID comes with a physical QWERTY keyboard that slides out from under the display. Its layout isn’t the best we’ve seen, as the keys are quite small, there’s no spacing between them, and they are perfectly flat, though they do provide a nice “click” and feedback when pressed. Regardless of which keyboard you prefer, either on-screen or physical, we feel that the Motorola DROID is the easiest to use here.

Web Browsing:

The HTC Imagio comes with Internet Explorer and Opera Mobile, with the latter being the default, while the HTC DROID ERIS and Motorola DROID use the WebKit based Android browser. All of them show web pages in proper format and as they would appear on a PC, though only the DROID ERIS has limited Flash Lite support. We tested all three devices by loading the main page while in a EVDO Rev. A coverage area, with the HTC Imagio taking 50 seconds to completely load using Opera Mobile, the HTC DROID ERIS finishing in 35 seconds, and the Motorola DROID in 28 seconds. We tested other web sites, and the Imagio was continually the slowest in loading, while the Motorola DROID was the fastest. However, once we changed to Wi-Fi, they were all nearly the same speed, with only a few seconds between them.

Panning around web pages can be a chore when using the Imagio, regardless of the browser, as pages are slow to move around on the screen and often times show gray squares while images are loaded from the cache. The HTC DROID ERIS is better, as pages move faster, but there is still some delay. The best experience was when using the Motorola DROID, as pages can move around incredibly fast and with great ease. All three smartphones support double-tap zooming, with the HTC Imagio also having a dedicated zoom bar on the side, but only the HTC DROID ERIS currently supports multi-touch pinch zooming of web pages. Both the Motorola DROID and HTC Imagio have higher resolution screens, which make text more readable when pages are zoomed out.

Camera and Multimedia:

Even though all three smartphones come equipped with a 5MP camera, the ease of use and image quality varies between them. The HTC Imagio takes generally sharp images outside, while the DROID ERIS is not as sharp, through with both devices, the colors are a bit off and bright areas are highly overexposed and lose all detail. The Motorola DROID does somewhat better here, as images have finer detail than the HTC DROID ERIS, and also exhibit more accurate colors and are not over-exposed in bright areas. Unfortunately, all of them go downhill when taking pictures indoors and under low-light conditions, as more grain is shown and there’s a change of them looking blurry, but the Motorola DROID does have a dual-LED flash, which is quite bright, and has a decent range of about 12 feet. Video recording is also supported by all of them, but only the Motorola DROID is capable of recording at 720x480 resolution, which looks good even on a PC or when uploaded to YouTube.

For video playback, each device will support MP4 videos with H.264 encoding, though the Motorola DROID and HTC Imagio can play higher resolution videos because of the display, which obviously looks better. The Imagio also natively supports WMV and MP4/H.263 encoded videos, as well as DivX and XviD when you download and install the stand-alone player from the DivX web site. Furthermore, the Imagio is the only smartphone to stream live TV through Qualcomm’s FLOTV network, though there are only a handful of channels to view, and quality isn’t that great once the video is enlarged to fill the 3.6” screen.

Applications & Software:

Both the HTC DROID ERIS and Motorola DROID can download a wide variety of applications from the Android Market, almost anything that you can think of, including games, tools, productivity programs, even other E-Mail and messaging programs. One of our favorite downloads was the Google Sky Map, which uses the GPS and magnetometer to show where stars, planets and galaxies are in the sky. Both devices also come equipped with Google Maps, which displays your location based on GPS and can plot driving directions, but only the Motorola DROID has the free Google Maps Navigation program, which will show turn-by-turn directions while you are driving and provide audio prompts. VZ Navigator is included on the HTC Imagio, which does basically the same thing, but requires a monthly fee for usage. You can also download programs on the Imagio from the Windows Mobile Marketplace, but the selection is limited, and you have to pay for most of the apps.


Both the HTC Imagio and DROID ERIS come with a 528MHz processor and with 512MB ROM / 288MB RAM, while the Motorola DROID is equipped with a slightly beefier 550MHz processor, though the RAM is less at 256MB.  Despite these differences, the Motorola DROID not only has the fastest boot time, but is also the quickest when opening programs, switching between them, and performing different tasks.

Call quality is about equal on all three smartphones, though voices did sound somewhat better on our end with the Motorola DROID, as it lacks the distinct background “hissss” that could be heard through the earpiece speaker on the HTC Imagio and DROID ERIS. Also, people that we called, who were using a landline, said our voice was clearer and less “hollow sounding” when we were talking to them using the Motorola DROID. The signal reception was the same across the board, with 3-4 bars of 3G EVDO and 2-3 bars of 1x showing in high-coverage areas, and no dropped calls while in use in south Florida. The Imagio stands along as the only one to support GSM Roaming while in other countries and has a preinstalled SIM card.

The HTC Imagio comes with the largest battery of the bunch, rated at 1500mAh, which was able to provide us up to 5.5 hours of continuous talk time on a full charge. The Motorola DROID comes with a slightly smaller 1400mAh battery, but we were able to get almost 7 hours of talk time on it, though the 1300mAh battery on the HTC DROID ERIS got a measly 3.5 hours of talk time. Regardless of the device, while it is operating with mixed usage (talk, web, email, programs); you will only get about a full day before needing to recharge it.


All three smartphones are the newest for Verizon and have a wide variety of features, such as large touchscreens, updated user interfaces, connectivity, and multimedia capabilities. Because of this, there is no true winner here, as different types of consumers will gravitate to the device that closely matches their needs. The HTC Imagio is geared more to the business professional that is familiar with the Windows Mobile environment and needs a powerful smartphone for use with their job. The Motorola DROID is for the more advanced consumer, who has used smartphones before, but wants a device for more personal use. Finally, the HTC DROID ERIS is closely matched for the novice smartphone user, or someone who wants  ease-of-use and extra customization.

Currently, Verizon has the HTC Imagio and Motorola DROID priced equally at $199.99 after a $100 rebate with a 2-year contract, while the HTC DROID ERIS comes in at $99.99.

Motorola DROID, HTC Imagio and DROID ERIS: side by side video comparison

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless