Motorola DROID Review
The deed is complete and the joining of two unfamiliar players has come to fruition – finally. Verizon Wireless has held out long enough from embracing the Android camp because of the fear losing complete control in the way apps and media are carefully handled on their devices. It's been too long that customers were given only a single outlet for most of their needs with Verizon tacking on software like V-Cast music, VZ Navigator, and VZAppStore – all locking down the user experience. Now that the marriage between these two unlikely names is set in stone, it's a refreshing site to witness on sore eyes that Verizon has come to grasp Android and its community of open development.
It was over a year ago that Android came out of the depths of the Google corporation to take its first flight in the form of the T-Mobile G1. That device, thanks to being a first, was able to conjure up a small following that proved to be successful. We've seen a number of Android handsets since then hit the market, with most of them coming out from the HTC camp, but we're in the hopeful process of witnessing Motorola's transformation back to a big name player. For the longest of times, the former great American manufacturer partnered with Microsoft for their smartphone handsets – only recently moving towards Android for future development. They've seen what kind of impact Android will have down the road – especially now more than ever.
All of this brings us to one of the most talked about phones from Motorola's camp – the Motorola DROID A855.By now we’ve all heard how this reinvents both Motorola's vision of where they want to go and how the Android platform will be received by a new class of customers. It's the first phone on the market to get the Android 2.0 treatment – although its lacking the MOTOBLUR integration that's found on the Motorola CLIQ. Now that the DROID will sit side-by-side in stores and compete with other smartphones on Verizon's lineup, we'll see in due time if its solid design and user experience entices customers to make the change and take the plunge with something unfamiliar.
The package contains:
- Motorola DROID
- User Manual
- Charger with detachable microUSB cable
- 16GB microSD card preinstalled
This is one of the thinnest landscape-sliding QWERTY devices available on the market,something that we haven't seen too much of from Motorola in the past. Its overall footprint is similar to the iPhone 3GS, expect for the fact that DROID is slightly thicker at 0.54", where as the iPhone 3GS is 0.48", but this is due to the inclusion of the physical QWERTY. When comparing it to something like the HTC Touch Pro2, it doesn't look as massive – making it seem a lot sleeker and more streamlined. Frankly, the Motorola DROID is built like a tank,as its outer shell radiates a feeling of solid construction that should withstand most of the wear and tear it'll be put through. In addition, its metallic construction adds some weight to the DROID, but of course it’s something expected with such high-quality materials. We definitely enjoy the feeling of the soft matte coating on the rear, how it hugs onto the metallic materials, and that it compliments it well when placed in the hand. Even though its slim looks may fool your eyes in guessing its weight (5.96 oz), it won't be as noticeable when you close it up and throw it in your pocket. Motorola meticulously went through every portion of this handset to make sure they came out with something that would separate its design from the existing crop.
You can compare the Motorola DROID with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Hands down, the Motorola DROID has by far the best screen available on any Android handset. Following suit with the solid exterior design, the screen is treated to the same makeover which feels less plasticy and more durable like glass. This is the first Android phone to sport a 3.7” TFT touch screen at 480 x 854 with support for up to 16 million colors. It would’ve been nice if Motorola extended the front portion of the phone all the way to the bottom edge to allow more room for even a larger screen. However, powering it on for the first time, you can really see what kind of quality it outputs – text is easily legible while colors pop out with excellent tones. Although the screen will attract fingerprints easily, we did not have a hard time viewing it in various lighting conditions. The light sensor at the top will automatically adjust the brightness to the appropriate level, so you won't have to worry about manually doing it, but it does allow for manual adjustment.
Below the screen are four capacitive touch-sensitive buttons that perform various Android functions: back, menu, home, and search. They're close to the bottom portion of the screen and sometimes are accidentally pressed when using the on-screen portrait QWERTY. Honestly, we would've preferred going with real buttons here, just due to the fact that they will sometimes be accidentally pressed when touching the bottom of the screen – causing some frustrations. On the left side of the phone you will find the microUSB port for connecting to a computer or for charging. The camera button to launch the photo taking application and the adequate sized volume rocker are both located on the right edge. Out of all the parts on the phone, the volume rocker felt to us as the most vulnerable because it did not have that solid feel like the rest of the device. Music lovers will be pleased to see a standard 3.5mm headset jack located on the top side with the power/lock button close next to it.
Sliding the screen will uncover the four row QWERTY keyboard. Buttons are flush with the surface continuing the streamlined look. We’re not sure why Motorola didn't decide to go with a spring-loaded sliding mechanism here, as you really have to push the screen all the way until it locks into place, It may seem monotonous, but luckily it feels secured in both the closed and opened positions. Again we are realizing that another row could've been squeezed in if the screen were able to move open a little more – possibly adding a row for just numbers. Pressing the QWERTY keys felt stiff at first, then over time it felt a bit more responsive and tactile. We’re also not sure why Motorola left two blank spaces on the keypad next to the “Alt” keys. The separate d-pad on the right side was nice and easy to use for navigation if you don’t want to use the touch-screen. Fortunately the white backlight was adequate enough to see in almost any lighting condition.
Flippingit over to its back, you'll see the 5-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash towards the upper portion while the external speaker grid is lined up towards the bottom. When removing the metal back cover, the battery and microSD card slot will be exposed. We would've preferred that the microSD slot be located elsewhere because you physically have to remove the battery before being able to get access to the slot.The DROID may not win the award for the best looking phone, but it certainly will impress people with its combination of a physical QWERTY and slim looks.