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.

Motorola DROID 360 Degrees View:



1. jmill75

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 22, 2009

Seemed like a pretty unbiased review for the most part, but how in the hell are you going to knock the score down so low because of the battery, you mean running multiple apps at once all day affects battery...... really really......and compare it to phones that dont even offer multi-tasking,strange. You had me till that point.

36. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

ya phone arena's scoring is horseshit. like seriously... because the droid seems like an awesome phone. sure it has flaws... but what doesn't? i rly dislike what they base their criteria on. it makes no sense at all.

62. Dadler22

Posts: 243; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

It was a good idea, but motorola made it, and honestly if there was a phone that was a 9.5 and it was made my motorola, i would knock of a point just because i knew that it was american crap.

2. seebeatty

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 21, 2008

Yeah, I don't get this score at all!! The scores for the Storm2, Imagio, and TP2 all rank 9 or above and you come forward with this? Hmmm,... I think I smell bias even if you didn't write it into the review.

38. Phoney

Posts: 13; Member since: Aug 16, 2009

IMO I think the others were too high. I tried out my friend's DROID this morning... I had such high expectations and desires for this phone, but the first impression didn't meet them :(. I agree with the PA ranks.

3. idiotwind13

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 29, 2008

Does anybody read the "How we rate" section of the page? The numbers aren't really meant to be put up against each other for phones that are in different classes, but rather what they are saying is "How squarely did this manufacturer hit the nail on the head with respect to what they were trying to do?". The newest iPhone is rated lower than the enV Touch, do you really think that they are saying the Touch is a better phone? the Storm2, Imagio and TP2 are not the same type of phone as the Droid, even though they are all smart phones, they are trying to accomplish very different things. Not saying that there is not some bias in the reviews, but just because a certain phone gets a slightly lower score doesnt mean that was the case here. This seems to me to be a very fair review, and accurate, I've had my hands on one and I think everything PhoneArena had to say is quite accurate in this case. Though I do agree that a dig on battery life is not really fair, especially considering it "lasts only a day", that is pretty standard for the type of phone it is.

4. vzwman

Posts: 385; Member since: Oct 26, 2009

know im not sure if i should get this phone :(

37. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

tbh.. if you read their reviews... you wouldn't want ANY phone. nothing is ever good... and the comparison and scoring criteria is bullshit.

42. sgtslayer321

Posts: 36; Member since: Oct 01, 2009

I can say that this phone is great! I own it. I also owned the Imagio before this and took it back. The Imagio had horrible battery life much worse than the Droid and the Imagio got a better score. That just goes to show that they favor HTC phones. I'm not saying they are that bad but this phone is in a hole other ball park than the Imagio. I know I tried the 2 of them out. P.S. They did the same thing with the omnia2

5. JASON666

Posts: 20; Member since: Oct 31, 2009

Maybe I'll get an unlocked. 2yrs.+Data plan services still dont add up that well does it.....just my thought.

39. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

why does this have -6...?

72. haste_the_day

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 27, 2009

because people are sick of complaints about data plans? get over it already. you pay for what you get. Now if you want to spend 29.99 a mo. w/ Att, then you get less haha. But honestly, i work for VZW and every day people call in and complain about data plans being a requirement for a phone like this.... like VZW is suppost to put BILLIONS back into the network, set up plans for LTE, and not charge you to use it? a dollar a day for most reliable 3G dosnt seem like alot to me at all... So to answer you question as to why -6 (soon to be -7 after i vote) its bc of the ranting about plans.....GET OVER IT.

6. luisandres58

Posts: 21; Member since: Mar 16, 2009

In all of the reviews so far, be it PA, Engadget, etc..I see a lot of nickpicking...ugly, KB cramped, you could say the same things about all of the phones...I think that is a matter of choice....I loved the Glyde with the small KB, the only thing was the problems with the touchscreen...I have the Dare now....KB is also cramped...I have the iTouch and I still make mistakes while typing....I think that I'm getting the sure looks promising.....was hoping for the HTC Passion, but it looks that is gonna take a while before it shows up. People there isn't the perfect phone.....

73. haste_the_day

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 27, 2009

to be honest,i though the same thing about the keypad (physical) until i tried it. It take a bit of getting used to, and, as i have huge thumbs, is still a bit clumbsy, but overall alot better than just a touch screen.

7. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

i'm totally getting this phone. it looks like it has endless possibilities!!!! good bye crapple iphone and my crappberry storm!

43. sgtslayer321

Posts: 36; Member since: Oct 01, 2009

ya I had the storm before and this blows it away but I can say the storm did have good email

8. Miacol

Posts: 40; Member since: Oct 10, 2008

This would be a great phone if it was on the GSM networks, the CDMA single use network is a killer. I want to be able to surf and talk on the phone at the same time. Does anyone if a US GSM/3G will become available?

54. Fair&Balanced

Posts: 31; Member since: Jul 29, 2009

Just to be safe you might want to wait until its equivalent is produced by a reputable manufacturer.

63. Dadler22

Posts: 243; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

lol, like HTC.

9. lennydude

Posts: 23; Member since: Jun 06, 2009

QUOTE: "but how in the hell are you going to knock the score down so low because of the battery, you mean running multiple apps at once all day affects battery...... really really......and compare it to phones that dont even offer multi-tasking,strange. You had me till that point." END QUOTE. Exactly ! This type of "comparison" review is really BS. Phone Arena could have easily rated the battery on 2 levels, normal use and multitasking use. Why rate a phone so low based on something that is a very positive feature of the phone? Phone Arena really should change the review..........of course they will not..............being iPhone lovers.

44. sgtslayer321

Posts: 36; Member since: Oct 01, 2009

I think they are htc lovers

64. Dadler22

Posts: 243; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

or they just dont like shitty smartphones.

70. destardi

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 24, 2009

You're a tool and a douchebag rolled into one; that's pretty amazing. FYI - Droid - 24% of the Android market in just over 2 weeks. I guess you suck at knowing what's up. Good luck with that!

74. haste_the_day

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 27, 2009

or maybe you dont have anything constructive to add to the conversation? seriously? wow...

10. Vandro

Posts: 17; Member since: Aug 12, 2009

Interesting to see the knock on battery life when BGR claims more than ample performance for a days use. I charge every night, so that isn't a problem. And, firmware update. Still looks like the best offering on Verizon, and probably my first smartphone buy. Droids DO do it better.

65. Dood

Posts: 269; Member since: Mar 23, 2009

hah. doodoo.

11. hockeyfreakb4

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 01, 2009

wow.... so biased.... your only three cons were because; 1. it CAN multitask, so you DO, and YOU run the REMOVABLE battery down... your an iphone lover so how about you get an extra battery, something your phone cant do... 2. your too stupid to avoid the touch sensitive buttons. 3. lose some weight and maybe your fat fingers will fit on the keyboard.... and, you talk throughtout the review as if this phone is better than the htc hero, yet the htc hero got a 9 on almost everything, especially the places where the droid beats it.... and sound, cmon, dont knock the volume just it goes to high for your baby ears... turn it down... design, you say its quality built and you give in an 8.5.. you gave the hero a better one and this one is built way better.... camera, the droids camera is obviously 10x better than the hero and you gave them relatively the same score... multimedia, ok what it ships with isnt that great as far as music, but everything else is great and you can download even better stuff in the app store.... and organized, who gives a $H!t if it comes with a freaking voice recorder or the other usless stuff no one ever uses... if u really want it, pick from the plentiful apps for free in the market... most biased review i have ever read... no wonder i prefer

13. JonMayer

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 01, 2009

I wouldn't be as harsh, but this review is one of the worst I have seen. I just wanted to say Amen brother! The original iPhone's camera got a rating of 7.5... That piece of crap camera in the original iPhone got 0.5 better than the DROID? The battery rating is just BS if they pounded the hell out of the phone and it actually lasted all day. Plus, go buy a second battery if you are worried about long weekend trips to the Australian outback or some crap where you somehow can't find a USB socket. I used to look to phone arena for generally good reviews and now I will take anything posting here with a grain of salt. I registered just today so I could share my complaint with this terrible score.

25. koustik

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 02, 2009

The reviews are based on the technology at the time of its release, of course you would only know that if you read the little "how we rate" link. PS: its ok, alot of people that come here forget to notice that little link.

32. idiotwind13

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 29, 2008

Don't tell anybody that- notice the flaming i took from pointing out that nobody pays attention to what the number actually means. It's not an absolute scale, but don't try to bring up that. It is unfair to say that the battery gets drained by multitasking, but that doesn't necessarily mean that a very good score of 8.5 is unfair or biased. The 0-10 scale is relative, not an absolute. But nobody wants to hear it.
  • Display 3.7" 480 x 854 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP
  • Processor TI OMAP3430, Single core, 600 MHz
  • Battery 1400 mAh(6.41h talk time)

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