Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure, I did at one point work for Verizon Wireless. However, I no longer do so (we parted on amicable terms) and my thoughts below are my own, not Verizon’s.
Shortly before the drop of the Droid, my colleagues and I had an opportunity to play with the Droid. I instantly fell in love. For those who are unfamiliar, the Motorola Droid is a smartphone manufactured by Motorola for use with Verizon Wireless’ network. I bought one about three weeks after launch (had to wait for my upgrade) and have had it a month or so. The operating system is Google’s Android OS Donut (for some reason, Google names all of their OS’s after pastries).
Before I had this phone, I had a Blackberry Pearl. I love Blackberries, and at upgrade time I was seriously considering the Storm 2 instead. Why did I pick the Droid?
Three reasons: A five MP camera, a keyboard, and the operating system.The first two are self-explanatory.
The Android OS is extremely simple to use. You have a series of home screens (three on the droid) that you can fill with Apps or games. You have a huge amount of space (free SD card with every Droid, although sadly, apps can’t go on the card). The internal memory is quite high too, however (256 MB if memory serves) and most apps are less than one MB. Not all apps can be deleted (sorry, but you have to leave the phone app on the phone), but you can get some really sweet ones from the Android Market.
Android Market is a brilliant idea. Essentially, any one can make apps for Android with the proper developer software (interested? Go here), and Google lets the market (no pun intended) on the utility. Many apps are free; even those that aren’t have a demo. You have to pay a one-time fee of $25 and Google gets 30% of your sale price if it isn’t free. As long as you stick to the guidelines, your app will be approved. The guidelines are very fair (nothing illegal, no porn, etc.) and unless you do it consistently, Google just kills the app and tells you why.
The upside is that there are lots of apps. The downside is that some of them suck. There’s no quality restriction, but the free market is pretty good at keeping them reasonable. Some are really innovative (Google Sky Map, although published by Google, lets you see the night sky even during the day and maps out constellations) and some of the games are awesome (AlphaMixr is my current favorite — I’m a sucker for word games.)
The keys are kind of small on the keyboard, but you can always use the touch screen keyboard. Call quality/reception are fine.
There are only two problems with the device, one minor and one not as minor.
First, the minor problem — it isn’t global capable, unless you’re in a country with CDMA (North America, India, China, Israel off the top of my head). This excludes a healthy chunk of the world, but unless you plan on going overseas soon, no big deal.
The bigger problem is battery life. I have to charge it every other day. Now, touchscreens as a rule require more juice, and if you have Wi-Fi running, it’ll kill your battery even faster. Apps don’t always close right away (luckily, there’s an app for that — Advanced Task Killer is my choice but there are lots more), further draining your battery. There’s not much you can do; you can fiddle with settings to make marginal increases, but you’ll still need to charge it pretty frequently (for a cell phone, anyway).
However, if the last isn’t a problem, this is definitely the phone for you. I will close with some of my favorite apps!
- Advanced Task Killer (ends programs on demand, very useful as your memory can get sucked up with too many active apps)
- Aldiko (free e-book reader, with loads and loads of free books to boot!)
- Daily Strip (comic app, I have mine set for Dilbert but pretty much any comic that appears in the Sunday papers is fair game)
- SportsTap (scores, news, transactions… sometimes more accurate than ESPN!)
Too many games to mention: board, card, and word games work best. Top three are AlphaMixr (word scramble game, first paid app I got), YZ Free (Yahtzee, essentially, quick way to kill some time if you’re waiting for someone), and PhitDroid (puzzle game, have to fit Tetris-style pieces into a square).
Got a favorite app or any questions? Drop me a comment!