Top positive review
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Verizon's best phone, and a worthy competitor to the iPhone
on November 7, 2009
UPDATED 5/14/2010 WITH COMPARISON TO NEW HTC DROID INCREDIBLE
If you're considering getting a Droid with Verizon, you should probably also consider the HTC Droid Incredible. I have one now and can tell you how they compare. (My wife's new-every-two came up and she kindly took my 6-month-old Droid off my hands so I could use her discount to get an Incredible. Is that true love or what??)
The first difference you notice is that the Droid has a physical slide-out keyboard while the Incredible does not. This makes the Incredible thinner and lighter (4.6 ounces compared to the Droid's 6 ounces). The weight difference doesn't look like much on paper, but it feels significant.
- The Droid's battery lasts a couple hours longer than the stock battery that comes with the Incredible.
- The Incredible's MP3 player has better sound quality when using good earphones or plugged into the car stereo. The Droid's sound quality isn't bad at all, but it's not up to par with the iPhone or iPod touch. The Incredible's sound quality is similar to iPhone / iPod touch.
- The Droid has 3 customizable home screens, the Incredible has 7, plus a cool way to navigate among them by seeing a thumbnail of all 7 at the same time. (I can't imagine filling up all 7, I've only filled up 2 of the 7.)
- Multitouch pinch and zoom is implemented better on the Incredible than on the Droid, though the new 2.1 Android software update that all Droids should have now has improved it substantially on the Droid.
- The Droid comes with a 16gb micro SD card, the Incredible either comes with none or with a 2gb card (mine came with none, but Verizon sometimes includes one). However, the Incredible has 8gb of internal flash memory, which is plenty to get started, and you can add a micro SD card later if you want.
- The Droid's camera is definitely not below average, and sometimes takes really good pictures. The Incredible's camera takes better pictures indoors and similar or slightly better pictures outdoors. The Incredible's camera has 8 megapixels, the Droid's has only 5. But 5 is as good or better than the vast majority of camera phones, and besides, if you set your camera at the maximum resolution, your pictures will take up more memory. With any camera, 3 megapixels is plenty enough for most purposes, including getting sharp 4" prints if you want them.
- The Droid's speakerphone is a bit louder than the Incredible's. The difference is not huge, but it's noticeable.
- The Droid runs the standard Android operating system, version 2.l. The Incredible includes that plus includes HTC Sense, which adds a few nice tweaks to the basic Android software. I don't think the difference is enough to influence most people's purchase decision.
- On paper, the Incredible's internal processor is faster than the Droid's. But I do not notice any difference in performance when running the same apps on both phones side by side. And the Droid's processor is faster than almost every other smart phone.
Overall, both phones are really really excellent, both are very fast, both have huge beautiful displays, and both have tons of great features. You can't go wrong with either phone.
I think the choice for most people will come down to the physical keyboard vs. thinness/weight issue, and possibly the camera if you like using your phone to take a lot of pictures.
That's the end of my update. Here's my original review of the Droid (sorry for the length!):
I wanted an iPhone bad, and finally gave up waiting for it to come to Verizon. Got a Droid and am very happy with it.
The screen is awesome - bigger than an iPhone's and more dense with pixels, so images are very sharp. The colors are great, and the screen is nice and bright. I had a Samsung Rogue for about 10 days. Everyone raved about the Rogue's screen. The Droid's screen blows it away. The touch screen is accurate and responsive, and very intuitive to use. About as good as the iPhone but much better than every other touchscreen phone I've tried and better than a few cameras with touchscreen controls.
The Droid's display is sharp enough and wide enough to view most web pages - including those not specifically formatted for mobile phone browsers. Because of this screen and because of the way that the Android OS implements the browser, surfing the internet is very easy, intuitive, and pleasant. Much less horizontal scrolling/panning. Much better than most phones I've tried, including the Samsung Rogue and Blackberry. The iPhone's browser is also a pleasure to use, but the Droid's screen is better at displaying full web pages.
Email is very well-implemented in the Droid. I was already a Gmail and Google calendar user before getting my Droid, and the level of integration is amazing, thanks to the Google Android OS. But any Android phone will also handle most other popular webmail, like hotmail, and also can sync with Microsoft Outlook and similar programs.
The Droid's call quality is good, and the speakerphone is loud and clear enough to be useful in most places. I get slightly better reception with the Droid than with my previous Verizon phones, especially in places with poor network coverage.
The Droid's built-in Facebook app is good, but is not as full-featured as the iPhone's FB app, which has been around longer and had more time to be improved. Yet, the Droid's FB app is as good as or better than FB access I've seen on most smartphones, including Blackberry and especially the new Samsung Rogue.
One extremely cool thing is you can easily import the contact info from all your Facebook friends into the Droid's contact manager, including their profile photo, email, phone, birthday, etc. Then, from your contact list, you can tap on any of their names and with one touch either call, email, or jump to their FB page. This is very well-implemented and easy to use, and makes the Droid's contact manager highly useful.
The Droid has pretty good voice recognition. I can tap the microphone icon in the upper right corner of the screen and say "Starbucks" and the Droid will show a list of the nearest Starbucks - and then I can pick one and either touch the phone number and Droid will call it, or I can touch the address and Droid will show its location on a map and give me driving directions.
Droid like all Android phones has Google maps built in, including satellite view, and Droid can give you directions (from your current location or any location) just like Google maps on a computer.
What's more, Droid has built-in GPS functionality and can give spoken directions, just like a Garmin GPS. I tried it and it works pretty well.
Loading music and photos onto the Droid is as easy as dragging and dropping files from your computer to a thumb drive. Droid's music player is not as refined as iPod/iPhone, but it is easy to use and works great. If you have an iPod, you probably have lots of music tracks in AAC format. The Droid will play them no problem, as long as they don't have DRM copy protection (and most don't nowadays). The Droid also plays MP3 and other formats.
The Droid has the standard 3.5" headphone jack so you can use it with any earphones, unlike some phones that have a non-standard jack. To judge the sound quality, I listened to the same track on the Droid and on an iPhone. Using $100+ headphones, the sound quality was better on the iPhone, but the difference was harder to notice with cheaper earphones or through my car stereo. Yet, the Droid's sound quality is as good or better than other music-playing wireless phones, and I've tried quite a few.
I have not yet loaded videos on the Droid. But I have watched streaming video, and it is very smooth, studder-free, and looks really great, best I've ever seen on any phone, including the iPhone and iPod touch.
The Droid comes with a 16GB microSD card. These normally go for 40 to 50 bucks at least, so I'm really grateful that Verizon and Motorola included it with the phone. It can hold a ton of music, video, and photos. For comparison, the highest-capacity iPod Nano also has 16gb of storage.
Plus, the Droid has internal memory for apps and its own operating system, so your phone will still work in the unlikely event the SD card ever fails. (My Droid worked fine even though the Verizon store guy didn't insert the SD card correctly when he set up my phone and the phone didn't recognize it. I reinserted it later and all was fine.)
The Droid's interface and OS (Android) is not quite as polished as the iPhone's. But it is still excellent, VERY easy to learn, and very easy to navigate around and use. Like most phones, the Droid is highly customizable (ringtones, wallpapers, placement of your favorite widgets and icons on your home screens), and the Android OS makes it super easy to do so.
The Droid has one-touch access to the Android app market, which has 10,000 apps so far. I've downloaded a couple dozen. There are lots of good ones, but overall the Android app market lags the iTunes app store in selection and quality, and specific apps available for both platforms tend to be a little better on the iPhone/iPod touch than on Android.
However, the Android app market is much younger than iTunes app store and is growing very quickly. Until the Droid, there were only a few phones running Android. That number will at least double over the next few months, and the number of people who use phones running Android will more than double, according to industry projections, because of the increasing quality and selection of Android phones on most major carriers. All this will fuel even more rapid growth in the Android app market. But even in its present state, you can find a lot of really useful and fun apps for the Droid, many of which are free.
The physical QWERTY keyboard is not as good as it could be. The keys are flat with no space between them. Still, I'm not a big texter and I find the keyboard fairly easy and pleasant to use. I also find the 5-way rocker button on the keyboard to be very useful. But if I were a big texter, I might not like the keyboard as much. So, my advice is to go to your local Verizon store and try out their demo unit.
The 5 megapixel camera has a built-in LED flash. I have taken a couple dozen pictures inside and out, and find the photos to be acceptable, good for a camera phone, but nowhere near as good as a dedicated digital camera, and maybe slightly inferior to the iPhone's picture quality. The flash is better than nothing, but causes the colors to be off. I have posted 6 pictures I took with the Droid to the "customer images" area so you can see for yourself the quality of photos you get with Droid. Once you snap a picture, you have to wait a couple seconds before Droid will let you take another; this lag is common on camera phones and cheap digital cameras, but seems slightly worse on the Droid.
I have not yet shot any video clips with the Droid, so can't comment on their quality.
The Droid is 1.5 to 2 ounces heavier than most other smart phones I've used or tried. Doesn't sound like much, but you can definitely notice it. For me, having the bigger screen and keyboard easily justifies the weight, but for some folks, the weight could be an issue. This is another reason why I wouldn't suggest ordering it online without first seeing it and holding it at your local retailer.
Everyone has different tastes, but I think the Droid is not the most stylish phone. It has kind of a masculine, industrial look to it, which I can tolerate but I'm not crazy about it. But, it is easy to change the wallpaper, and there are a variety of cases for the Droid - more coming out every week - so you can customize the look any way you want.
The only other thing I'm not crazy about is no physical dedicated call button. To use the phone, you have to press the phone icon on the home screen. This is a very minor inconvenience, and I got over it pretty quickly. But it'll bug some people.
I really like that the Droid has WiFi, and I've used it to connect to wireless networks at home, work and a Panera cafe. It's easy and works great.
If you've taken the time to read all this, then you're probably interested enough to justify a trip to your local Verizon store or Best Buy and play with their demo unit. Try the keyboard, try the browser, play around with the pre-installed apps or maps. Take a picture or video clip. See how the weight feels in your hand. I think you'll really like the Droid, especially if you'd been wanting an iPhone but didn't want to leave Verizon to get one.