797 of 819 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2011
I've been watching the HTC Thunderbolt 4G phone and finally gave up on it due to all the bugs and horrible battery life. So after reading several reviews on the Samsung Droid Charge, I decided to take the plunge. Here's how my first few days with the new phone went - the good and the bad. First some qualifiers - I live in the Maryland suburbs outside DC where there is 4G service. My previous phone was a Blackberry Storm 2 (touch screen - no physical keyboard).
The first three things you notice are how big the phone is, how bright the screen is and how surprisingly light the phone is given its size. You should go to the Verizon store and check this phone out before you buy just to make sure you are comfortable with the size. The screen is as big as my Garmin screen! For me, it was a good thing. Web pages, email, maps, etc are generally easier to read.
Day 1-I bought this phone midday on the Monday following its release. There was a software update that installed even before leaving the Verizon store parking lot. No problems with the install. The phone felt a little buggy afterwards. So I did a restart which cured all problems. Coming from a Blackberry, there was a learning curve. So, I spent some time reviewing the included tutorial to learn the phone and get comfortable with the different features. I had to call Verizon tech support to figure out how to set up my POP3 email account. I have my own email server and couldn't find all the settings. Kudos to Verizon for being so helpful. I installed a compass & Sudoku apps from the Android Market (very cool) and paired the phone with my Plantronics Voyager Pro + headset. The volume on the headset was actually louder with this phone than with my old Blackberry. This was a welcome surprise. The HTC Thunderbolt has had problems with its bluetooth functionality. I'm happy to say the Samsung Droid Charge has caused no problems for me so far. I found the Contacts function to be missing one feature that my Blackberry had. I can't program the phone "Not" to ring when a particular person calls me (we all have one in our life). The silent ringer function exists in other places in the phone. It just didn't make it to the Contacts feature. Samsung, please fix this. Both the Samsung keyboards (regular & Swype) are far superior to that on my touch screen Blackberry!
Day 2-I'm happy to say that on my first full day of use, the phone made it through an entire day without charging (7 AM to 11:00 PM) with apx 40% battery life left when I went to bed! I used the phone normally - a little web browsing, phone calls, email, a few apps and 4G turned on and working all day!! I did turn off Wi-Fi and the GPS. Though, I turned the GPS back on while using the maps and a compass later in the day. I like the phone! I saw no noticeable problems or bugs with the phone. 4G is incredibly fast!! Sound quality is good too - both for me and for the person I'm calling.
Day 3-I spent a lot of time using the phone today. The included calculator is too basic - missing the memory buttons (M+,M-,MC,MR) which I need. My Blackberry calculator had them. While it's not a big deal given all the available apps in the app store, Samsung could have done a better job with a few of it's features and widgets. I spent the day doing everything I normally do (see Day 2). In addition, I downloaded 4 different calculators, uninstalled those I didn't like and installed Angry Birds! I now understand why people like that game so much. I also spent some time in an appointment out in the mountains where there is no cell reception. This causes your phone to constantly search for service and torches the battery. My old Blackberry did the same thing. So when 5:53 PM came, I got a low battery warning. So today, the phone made it from 7:00 AM to 5:53 PM without a charge and everything but Wi-Fi turned on. My advice... Buy a car charger! I discovered problems later in the day. I couldn't sign into my voicemail from my cell phone. I called tech support. Again, kudos to the Verizon guy for being so helpful. He confirmed that this was a problem with the phone and that Samsung is working on a maintenance update. I also found out that the Samsung Media Hub only works in 4G (not sure I really care - I have no intentions of buying any music, etc from Samsung). One other odd problem I had was with the Music Player. It keeps turning itself on periodically throughout the day. Samsung has a widget called Program Monitor that I REALLY like. It takes the place of an app killer app like you need on the Thunderbolt. It automatically tells you if any programs are running in the background and gives you the ability to easily turn them off, either one at a time or all at once. Doing this extends battery life. While talking to tech support, I shared the Music Player thing. He said he would include it with the info Verizon sends to Samsung. Getting back to my voicemail problem, I remembered all the app installing and uninstalling I did earlier in the day. The tech guy said it wouldn't hurt to restart the phone and try dialing voicemail again. This fixed the problem. Lesson learned - after installing or uninstalling apps or software updates, restart the phone! Spent the balance of the evening playing Angry Birds and messing with the phone. These new phones really are pocket computers. You notice this as you move from one app or function to the next. This phone seems to handle everything you throw at it very smoothly and with very few hiccups.
Day 4-Phone off the charger at 7:00 AM. Everything seems to work fine. The music player turned on 4 times during the day - don't know why or if it even matters. I turned it off using the Program Monitor widget. There was not as much time spent on the phone today. I did take a couple of test shots with the camera. It seems to do a really good job for a cell phone camera. Shut down at 9:00 PM with 50% power left on the battery. Everything was turned on except Wi-Fi.
Day 6-Saturday-Hardly used the phone today. Turned on at about 8:00AM. At 9:24PM, I still have 74% battery life left with everything turned on except Wi-Fi. Samsung has cured the 4G battery problem!!
***Update Wednesday 5/25***Day 10-This phone does have a few bugs beyond those already mentioned. The phone stopped making phone calls last Sunday. I got this loud screeching/static sort of sound right in the middle of a conversation. I ended the call and tried to redial. At that point, I could not make or receive calls without hearing that screeching sound. I called Verizon for the third time since purchasing this phone. They were good to talk to, but had no suggestions other than to restart the phone. This DID fix the problem. I have not had any more problems of any kind with the phone since last Sunday. My guess is this phone could use a maintenance software update from Samsung to improve stability. Verizon could still be having some 4G problems too. These bugs aren't that big a deal. Every problem I've experienced has been fixed by turning the phone off and then on again. It is something for you to be aware of though. I still like the phone!***End of Update***
***Update Sunday 6/5***Day 21-This phone has two bugs that I am aware of. The first - The Mobile Hotspot feature has stopped working. According to Verizon tech support, it's a Samsung problem. Verizon and/or Samsung are working on an update. Until that update is released, at least some of the Droid Charge phones won't have the ability to use the mobile hotspot feature. 4G and everything else seems to work just fine. The second - I'm having a very occasional problem using my Plantronics Voyager Pro+ headset with this phone. It seems the first call made with my bluetooth headset after powering on the phone has a problem where I can hear, but the person I'm talking to can't hear me. Verizon tech support wants me to go to a store and demonstrate the problem for one of the techs. I'll update this again after this has been completed. It would be interesting to know if anyone else is having this bluetooth problem. Verizon suggested that the bluetooth problem could be something that would allow for a replacement phone. The last item is minor. The power button is finicky, but only when trying to turn the phone on. I turn off the phone at night. The next morning, it requires just the right (firm) touch to turn the phone back on. All other functions supported by this button work fine. These are the first real problems I've had with this phone. While there is no excuse for the problems, this phone has far fewer bugs than phones like the Thunderbolt. I dropped my rating from 5 to 4 stars until they fix the problem. I'm still happy with "the rest" of this phone and have my fingers crossed for a quick fix/update to the hotspot feature.***End of Update***
***Update Saturday 6/11***Day 27-I just installed the maintenance update Verizon/Samsung prommissed us. It fixed a number of things - mobile hotspot works now, 4G reception is improved (I consistently have one extra bar of reception sitting here in my living room), battery life improved, the screeching noise I previously mention fixed, mild performance increase and a number of other improvements. There still seems to be an occasional issue with my bluetooth headset. This could be the phone or the headset. I just can't say right now. I'll update this review when I have more info.***End of Update***
***Final Update 6/16***Day 32-The last update seemed to take a day or so and a few restarts before it really took effect. It appears my bluetooth headset problem is the headset's fault. Plantronics replaced it for me under warranty. The predictive text seems to work better with the new update. Previously, it made you work a little too hard to choose the right word. The handoff between 4G, 3G & 1x works pretty well most of the time. Occasionally it will struggle with the switch back & forth.***End of Update***
***This is the "I hope this is my final update" update 7/1***Day 47-Some final details to help you with the phone and get started with the android operating system. I've played with a number of apps and decided to keep the included email, sms and contacts. They do everything I need them to do and seem to use fewer resources than some others I tried. Some business users may want to consider a replacement email program. I did not feel the need. I installed the Dolphin HD Browser for surfing the web. It seems faster than the stock browser. I downloaded a ringtone app from the android market that allowed me to assign a silent ringtone to a contact, thus solving my earlier complaint from Day 1 above. I did install a new home screen launcher - Go Launcher. It allows for more customization and speeds up the phone just a bit. Instructions are online. If you install Go Launcher, you loose the included Program Monitor Widget, but get to keep the Task Manager app which does everything the widget did. Look for it in the app drawer. In addition to my Gmail email, I also switched from a POP3 work email account to an IMAP (push email) account through the included email app. The weather clock I settled on is Beautiful Widgets. It's MUCH better than the included version. I've installed a number of other apps that were for personal use. These mentioned affect how well the phone functions. I feel like I'm done with my customizations and really like how the phone turned out. And yes... 4G is really worth it!!***End of Update***
***Update 7/29 One Final Bug Remains***The bluetooth bug is a Samsung problem. I've been through two Plantronics Voyager Pro + Headsets and three Droid Charge phones. They all exhibit the same behavior. There is an occasional problem where callers can't hear you, but you can hear them. This problem continues until the phone disconnects itself from the headset. To get the phone & headset connected again, you have to delete the headset profile from the phone and go through the process to pair them again. I've also been told that Jawbone and Motorola headsets exhibit this same behavior. Through trial and error, I've figured out a workaround that works most (but not quite all) of the time. If you pair your bluetooth device while the phone is awake (screen turned on), you'll eliminate most of the bluetooth problems. Pairing takes a good 12 to 15 seconds. This is important because after about 5 seconds, my headset says, "phone one connected". Well, it's not fully connected yet. In my case, there is a final beep after about 12 to 15 seconds indicating the bluetooth device is properly paired to your phone. If you don't keep your phone awake while pairing or accidently walk out of range of your phone while wearing your bluetooth device, the problem will return unless you power off your bluetooth device and re-pair while the phone is awake. According to Verizon, there is another software update (likely the upgrade to the Gingerbread 2.3.4 operating system) coming at the end of the summer. They could not say if this bluetooth bug will be addressed in that update. ***Verizon has now said they ARE looking into bluetooth compatibility issues. So hopefully, another update will be coming soon.*** According to Samsung tech support, they ONLY claim that this phone will work properly with Samsung headsets. This seems to be a problem with Verizon's other 4G phones as well. So, I can't offer anything other than to say this is something to be aware of. It may be related to the how the phone tries to save battery life while in sleep mode (screen shut off). The bluetooth bug is my only reason for 4 stars instead of 5. One final disclosure I feel I should make... Since I finished setting up the phone and installing all the apps, I have noticed that battery life has dropped off a little. On heavy use days, the phone hits the charger on my 5:00 ride home. On normal use days, I usually get the 15% low battery warning around 10:00 PM. On those low to no use days, I typically shut down with anywhere from 40 to 65% battery life left. It is also important when discussing battery life that you know my screen was set to auto brightness.***End of Update***
***Update 10/10/11***The bluetooth bug has finally broken my phone. Everything works great except my phone will no longer hold a pairing with my bluetooth headset beyond turning it off at night. Verizon is willing to replace my phone for free with a new Charge or any of their other 4G phones. There is a big update coming in perhaps the next month that will likely fix my Charge. Given that I'm a real estate agent that spends a lot of time on bluetooth, I've decided to try the Motorola Bionic instead of a replacement Charge. I really do like the Charge. Verizon tech support has been very nice and very helpful. The price of the Charge has been greatly reduced making it a better deal. If you can live without bluetooth until the update comes out, I still like the Charge. If bluetooth is important to you, I recommend you look elsewhere for at least the next few weeks.
Moving forward... My recommendation is to wait 30 days before buying a new phone. The updates for the existing phones should be out by then. You can check Verizon's community forums for information about the updates. There are also rumors of three new 4G superphones hitting Verizon between 10/18 and say 11/10 - Motorola RAZR, Samsung Nexus and an HTC. This will do two things. First, it will reduce the price of the existing line of 4G phones. Second, it will give you more phones to choose from. Either way, I truly believe Verizon 4G is the way to go.
If you want some initial thoughts on the Bionic, see comment number 42 in the comments section below.***End of Update***
***Update 12/2/11***The operating system and bug fix update is being pushed out by Verizon today. It could take a week or so before everyone gets the update. My guess is this update will fix the bugs and provide some new features. If you are thinking about buying this phone, It could be a good lower cost 4G phone. I would check the Verizon Communtiy Forum and/or other Droid Charge Forums to see what others think about the update. I own the Motorola Bionic now and am waiting for my own update from Motorola/VZW. I put so much effort into this review, I just wanted to close the loop. Good luck!***End of Update***
Final negatives-The Price! I paid $270.00 for this phone after a $30 discount from Verizon. It should be cheaper! I plan to update the included Weatherbug Widget. According to the Weatherbug site, the widget gives what has happened during the day, but not what WILL happen. For example: The included Samsung Weatherbug widget says today is 61 now, and 58 was the coldest so far today, a partly cloudy animation(neat looking) and the time. What's missing is the predicted high temp for the day. Kinda silly leaving out THAT piece of info, especially if you check the weather at 7:00 AM. The included clock widget leaves something to be desired as well. I'll go back to the app store to find replacements I like. When I read people's complaints about the Samsung UI, I think they are referring to things like these widgets that just don't function like they should. It's easy enough to fix with a trip to the app store. The question for Verizon/Samsung is... With as much money as we have to pay for this phone, why do we have to fix such simple little things? Note to Samsung: You have a great phone. Please fix these annoyances.
The bottom line-This phone is incredible and so is 4G! I got 12.2 mb download and 4.6 mb upload speeds with the speedtest.net app from the Android Market!! There are a few quirks in the way the phone operates. This phone and Verizon's 4G network are still very new technologies. With these few exceptions, Samsung has done a great job creating a phone that is smooth to operate, surfs the internet incredibly fast, seems to be relatively bug free and has really good battery life - at least for a droid. I can also say that the reception of the Samsung Droid Charge is better than that of my old Blackberry. I had little or no problems with reception and/or call quality. The speakerphone works well too. If you compare this to Verizon's other 4G phones, this IS your best option! I can find NO reason why you should not purchase this phone. I know there will be the few that feel they have to wait for the dual core processor in the Motorola Bionic when it gets released in another few months. For most people, this phone will have ample power and all the features you could want. I will even go so far as to say this phone is better than the iPhone. I say this in part because the speed of this phone (4G) simply blows the iPhone away!
Practical suggestions: Buy a car charger or spare travel charger. You won't need it every day. You will need it sometimes though. I'm not sure I see the need for an extended battery - unless you are a really heavy user. I never tried turning 4G off. Turning this feature off should extend the battery life beyond those I've reported. Perhaps I'll give it a try during my next camping trip where I won't have an option to recharge the phone. If you like belt clips, the Verizon store has the best I've seen. (Amazon sells it now for half the price: Samsung Droid Charge Shell/Holster Combo W/ Kickstand) I really like the one I bought. Remember to restart the phone after adding or removing apps or updates. It does make a difference and will keep your phone running smoothly. I did find replacement apps/widgets that I really like in the Android Market to replace those that were included with the phone that I didn't like. Install the included Samsung Program Monitor widget. It works, is simple to use and could help extend your battery life.
I rely a lot on reviews here on Amazon when I make purchasing decisions. I hope this review helps you with your decisions. I'm very happy I bought this phone and would buy it again. Highly recommended!!
128 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2011
I have had it only a few days. So this quick review is based upon that. I am your typical user. I use it as a phone, email, text, FB etc.
1. Build quality its nice and light feels good in the hands. I like the 4 physical buttons compared to capacitive touch buttons.
2. The super amoled + screen is the best on any phone out there..... No comparison
3. Using the phone I have no real issues with the Touchwiz interface. If coming from another phone you may not like it but its what you get used to. The phone is powered by a 1ghz hummingbird processor it works O.K. Sometimes the phone lags a bit. If anything that is my only complaint with the phone. Its not a deal breaker but when your pushing the limits of these processors for what you want the phone to do. You get the occasional hiccup. Of course this could be software related and it gets smoothed out in the future. Its really not that bad but something you notice once in a while.
4. NO notification LED's Really unforgivable Samsung. Would have been nice to look at the phone and see a blinking led to see if you have a VM, EM or PM. but nope. They do have a program out there that turns the screen into a LED since the screen uses such little power. (NOLED)
5. The biggest surprise. Unlike the Thunderbolt that I had that would constantly die in about 4 hours of use. I can get a day maybe a day and a half with out a charge. This is what a phone should be. You should not be afraid to use your phone for fear its going to die. With that being said keeping a charger around would not be a bad idea. After all you pretty much have a pocket computer in your pocket. Gone are the days of phones that just make phone calls and text messages and last for a week on a charge.
6. 4g LTE. What can I say it is seriously fast. If you use your phone on the 4g network and are forced to use the 3g network you will cry and find your self getting frustrated. The easiest way to compare this is the first time you used Cable internet, then had to go back home to your crappy dial up. That is what 4g to 3g is like. If you don't live in a 4g network area or will not use it for some time. You may want to look at the HTC incred 2. Its the Tbolts little brother pretty much. Same hardware - the lTE antenna.
7. In summary, great phone you can get it for 250.00 Here on amazon or 299.99 pretty much any other place. I think the price is a little to high for what your getting. For 80% of the users this phone will last you until the next contract is up. For that 20% of us, when the duel core phones start rolling out at the end of the year, and we still have a year left on the contract we might find our selves itching for more power, and paying the off contract price for those phones are not going to be pretty.
92 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2011
Overall the phone is a great 4G device, the screen is unmatched by any other vzw phone on the market today. It does have some flaws that makes you wonder who handles Samsung's QC.
~Screen- Readable in all lighting, including sunlight. Text and Graphics are crisp
~Keyboard- I found no problems typing on the included interface
~Volume- Phone Ringer is very loud and easily heard in noisy environments
~Camera- Takes solid pictures & has many options for taking the picture such as face detection, blink detection, etc
~4G LTE- Service is very fast & generally runs above the advertised speeds of 6-12mb
~LTE Switch- You can turn off the 4G radio when your not going to use it, saving battery life
~Battery Life- Big improvement from the Thunderbolt, last for about a day with moderate use. If you remember to turn the 4G off when your not using it, it last even longer
~Responsiveness- The touchscreen is generally responsive with no lag time when using it. The only time it begins to tire out is when your running many apps at once due to the small amount of RAM installed on the phone
~Samsung's Touchwiz interface- not much to say other then you either love it or hate it
~Call Quality- Callers say I sound fine on their end but when listening to them while loud and clear sound somewhat robotic
~LED Indicator- There is None! Seems like someone in quality control overlooked this. There is no indicator light telling you that you have text messages or missed calls
~Bloatware- The phone comes pre-installed with 3 pages worth of apps(48 total), most are useless and you cannot uninstall them, you can only reorder them in your app list
~RAM- It only comes installed with only 328mb of ram. If you run many applications at once you will notice the phone slowing down a bit, which can be fixed by going into the built-in task mgr & ending apps/processes running that you don't need. For a high-end phone, more ram should have been included.
I would buy this one for the battery life, the built-in ability to turn off the LTE, and because it has the best screen available on vzw today
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2011
I just upgraded my Blackberry Storm to the Droid Charge. I like the phone. The battery life is much better than the Droid X or Droid 2, similar to the storm. Screen display is awesome; there are some quirks when it appears to have a mind of its own. My dislikes, dropped calls and spotty reception. I still carry my Blackberry with me and compare signal strengths and the Blackberry is always at least one bar higher than the Samsung. In some remote areas the Samsung will display no network. So bottom line is this, nice phone but the antenna needs a little work. I don't feel comfortable with this phone everywhere I go. I have carried this phone over 260 miles across the state of NC and feel I need a backup. I have had at least 20 dropped calls the past 7 days in the same areas I used the Blackberry without any reception issues. Might be taking this back to Verizon and wait for them to address these bugs on the next release.......Turn on your old phone and compare signal meters when your not next to a cell tower :)
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2011
Really nice display, fairly quick, and comes with a 32 gigabyte card. Camera is decent -- for a smartphone. Battery life is solid, too. Downsides are that it has a single core processor, runs Froyo (not Gingerbread), can get bogged down on flash-intensive sights, and doesn't have an indicator light. You can get by this last downside by downloading noled (free) from the android marketplace. There's also a lot of bloatware. Verizon's 4g network is a little inconsistent, even in areas that are supposed to have great 4g coverage, as it will occasionally drop to 3g for not apparent reason. When it is connected though, it's lightning fast -- literally 40 or 50 times faster than 3g. I have yet to drop a call on this phone. Hopefully Samsung can get a Gingerbread update out to this phone soon. On an expensive phone like this, there's no reason for it not being there at the launch.
45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2011
I see a lot of real negative reviews about this phone and not completely sure why. Yes the processor is a carryover from the galaxy s but it just so happens this is the best single core processor for 3d performance and achieves the highest frame rate of any one core processor. Quadrant scores don't reflect this but its true. Also this is the most balanced phone in other aspects, hummingbird is also efficient, battery is larger than tbolt and screen if used right will give exceptional battery life (up to 2 full days with moderate use). The touch wiz interface isn't bad like people make it out to be it's actually very easy to use and quite colorful and pleasing to the eye, and swype is a must have for me i love it and it's not on the tbolt. Of course I do use launcher pro though. I have had other htc phones and while they are overall good phones reliability, efficiency, amazing screens, and good resale value is what Samsung does best(think of it has the Toyota or Honda of phones). I work for Verizon and have the chance to try all the phones and this has been nothing but a pleasure to work work! LTE is amazing and Verizon has bought the entire network from the fcc. Everything (including 1g areas will be 4g by 2013) Sure dual cores are coming but unless you do hardcore gaming or need 1080p video as a must this phone will get you better battery life and a more practical phone that doesn't overheat(bionic)As for updates my thought is better late than never and Samsung did come through as i'm sure 2.3 will on this one as well.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2011
My last phone was a Blackberry Storm and I upgraded to the Charge. There have been some hiccups going from a Blackberry (and very easy syncing) to the Android platform. If you are a new convert or considering converting:
1. You have to setup a gmail account and you sync through that.
2. Syncing Outlook calendar is easy as Google Calendar has a very easy setup and auto sync.
3. Syncing Outlook contacts is a pain. If you are on a network e-mail client there is a sync program but if you are just an individual you have to go through saving the file as a .csv file. Then import in your gmail account and then sync on your phone. There are some apps that make it easier but they don't support all of the fields I needed and reviews show they wiped some data. But now I have this 3 step process for every time.
4. Syncing files is also an issue. But I discovered Dropbox, free up to 2GB, that allows you to sync files amongst several computers and phones.
The Charge has amazing speed, a very bright and colorful display and is very easy to use if you have ever used a smart phone before. But there are some quirks. It added some icons to the desktop when I never intended it to. The online manual doesn't show how to delete but I found an Android platform that shows if you hold down the icon a delete button appears that you can use.
There are several cool apps for the Android market and many are free. Some that are recommended:
Advanced Task Killer - really helps with battery life
Google Sky Map - hold it up at the sky and it shows the constellations
Battery life is not great. I am charging the phone every other day and not using it that much. But the wall charger works very fast and the USB crawls. In comparison I used to charge my Storm about every 5-6 days.
Uploads and downloads were very fast and it displays if you are on the 4G or 3G networks. Reception in my neighborhood is one bar better with this phone than my Storm. Phone quality is great according to the people I call but on my end I would say average. It doesn't drop calls like my Storm did but even on the highest volume I sometimes cannot hear them very clearly.
You don't need Verizon Navigator with this phone. I cancelled it and have been using Google Maps program for navigation. It works well and it is so much easier to integrate with restaurants. You can see reviews, rate, navigate, call, go to website, etc... Much more detailed than Navigator and it has been accurate so far.
My research covered several providers and phones and I was hoping to try the Droid Bionic but the original phone was scrapped and my Storm was dying so the Charge was my second choice. I am very happy with it but wish someone would make an Outlook - Droid sync program. Most forums have people saying they would pay up to $50 for that program and I agree .... File integration would be nice too.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2011
I purchased the Droid Charge about 5 days ago, but I have only been able to really use it in the past 2 due to going on a camping trip over the weekend and being left most of the time with a dead phone. This happened because of weak car charging capabilities (I will get to this later). Also, upon getting the phone, I flashed it's software to the voodoo based kernel which is supposed to give it a faster and more efficient file system in addition to rooting the phone and providing superuser access. Based on these factors, I will give you my first impressions of this phone.
- The massive 4.3 inch SuperAMOLED display on this phone is BEAUTIFUL! I cannot stress this enough! It blows away the screen on any other non Samsung mobile device on the market. The text is crisp, and the colors are amazingly vibrant. Even in the sunlight, this display is still very easy to see. This, and the sheer size of the screen makes most anything you view on it easily readable.
- Battery life (After being fully charged) is extremely good for a phone in the high end segment. On the first day, with regular usage, I wound up having 50% battery left. The next day, after gaming a bit as well as downloading lots of apps and HD video to test, I still had 35% battery by the end of the day. Techies explain this increased battery life from other 4g smartphones as being a result of Samsung's SuperAMOLED display's lower power consumption and other software updates. I can only see battery life being a problem if you are constantly using the phone for something that will tax it's resources and thus require more power (such as high end gaming or constantly switching from a 4g to 3g area) As a comparison, I only had slightly better battery life on my original droid, so I am quite content to have a much faster, high end phone that does not have to be constantly charged. And an additional FYI - I turn Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi and data off when I am not using them. This I am certain helps my battery life and I advise that you do the same to conserve yours.
- Call quality is great on this phone. Even after being in a remote area with one bar of service, I had full use of my web browser (with 3g coverage) and crystal clear reception with no dropped calls.
- The keyboard on this screen is a huge improvement to my original android phone. I rarely, if ever, make typing mistakes like I had in the past on the touch screen. I attribute this improvement to the large 4.3 inch real estate and probably some software updates to improve touch responsiveness. Speaking of the keyboard, I enjoyed the new option of using "swype" to input text. This is an option found one some of the recent android based phones. It allows you to swipe the keys with your finger to improve the speed of texting and typing in general. In my limited experience with this feature, I found it to be easy to learn and I feel that once I improve I will be much quicker at sending messages than I ever was using conventional texting methods.
- I thought the 8 MP camera on this phone was very detailed and produced a great image, but I am not big into photography so I so not know how it compares to a professional camera. I feel that the one included in this handset is MORE than sufficient for a camera in a smartphone and is one of the best that I have personally seen. Again, this is coming from someone upgrading from a 5 MP phone.
- Speaking of cameras, it comes with a 1.3 MP front facing camera designed for taking self pictures and video chat although I haven't utilized this camera or it's associated features as of yet.
- This phone comes with a whopping 32 GB MicroSD card preinstalled - nuff said?
- Includes an HDMI out (I have not tested this yet)
- General responsiveness of the phone was great, but keep in mind that I flashed to a peppier "Voodoo" kernel with the improved EXT4 file system. I heard, and saw some videos, which voiced the complains of the slight sluggishness while changing menus and launching some applications with the native RTS file system that comes bundled with the Droid Charge. If you are a techie, you can resolve this lag issue like I did - by modifying the kernel. Keep in mind that by doing this, you will void your warranty if you send the phone back to Samsung or Verizon and they are able to notice the kernel modification. The responsiveness of this phone may also be hindered by having a few applications open due to the lesser amount of RAM that this handset has. This can be remedied by closing apps with the Charge's own task manager application or by installing a variant of "Advanced Task Killer", but keep in mind that you will notice some slowdowns after having a few applications open compared to if you had double the RAM on some of 1 GB phones in this class. This is definitely not a "deal breaker" or something extremely annoying (At least not at this point in the game) but it may become a problem down the road as applications gobble up more and more memory and you are still 1 year into your contract.
- I felt that the UI of the Charge was intuitive but only brought a few extra features to the table that don't currently exist on other Android handsets. I liked the fact that you can uninstall programs straight from the applications menu. I also liked that you can access all of the "battery drainer" functions of the phone (Bluetooth, Wi-FI, GPS, Data Services) straight from the notifications curtain which provides an easy way to save battery life without having to put a widget on the desktop. What I did not like was that the phone came with many useless bundled apps which are not easy to remove for the standard user. Also, the icons looked a bit "IPhoneish" for my tastes, but that is a matter of personal preference. Again, keep in mind that my comments on the UI may not be applicable to everything on the stock Charge since I flashed the kernel.
- The phone is lightweight (Much lighter than the original Android) and despite other reviews complaints of the feel being "cheap" because of the plastic backing, I did not get this same feeling. I suppose having a phone encased in metal would give it a more "upscale" appearance and feel, but this is a really minor detail. I suppose this matters to some people, so I rated the physical design as neutral. Still, you are really nitpicking at this point if you are making a commotion out of it.
- The 4g service is EXTREMELY fast on this phone - when it is working. Web pages load almost instantaneously and most apps download in seconds. A 100 MB HD sample I downloaded took well under a minute for me to receive. Unfortunately, I have seen the network bug out and cut service multiple times which required me to either turn on Wi-fi or disable and re-enable the data service on the device to remedy. This will soon change into a positive when Verizon works out the kinks and builds upon their 4g network. As a side-note, 4G and 3G data costs are the same price as this writing, but it is unknown how future pricing will work and it is unknown if current 4G cell phone customers will be "grandfathered" into any future pricing plans. Keep in mind that you may have to pay more for 4G service down the road.
- You can use this device as a Wi-Fi access point for up to 10 Wi-fi devices (and it is free until the beginning of July 2011). I briefly tested it and it was fast, worked very well and was easy to configure, but it will cause extreme drain on your battery if it is not plugged into a wall outlet. Verizon will definitely be charging for this service in the future.
- The phone charges pretty quick through a wall charger, but I found it to be very slow charging on the car charger - even after being plugged into a "quick charge" port. While using the Androids Navigation GPS service, and driving an hour, I found that the battery was at exactly the same level from when I plugged it in. Even after turning the handset off, and charging it for the hour drive back, I barely had 1/6 of a battery when I got home. Don't expect the car charger to be a viable way of charging your phone except on VERY long drives. Generally, it will only be useful for keeping your battery life at the same level when you need to use it on the go and while traveling.
- Although it sounds crisp and clear, the default speaker volume is not very loud even when maxed out (despite the warning it gives you that you may damage your hearing when you turn it up most of the way). I am sure that this can be remedied with different apps, but do not expect this phone be loud for media out of the box. On the contrary, the ringer, alert and speaker volume can be set to be relatively loud.
- Hardware: This phone includes a single core 1 GHZ Hummingbird processor with 512 MB RAM (328 MB user useable). While this is not necessarily a huge problem right now, it very well may be a year into contract when gamers yearning to play graphics intensive games want to use them on this phones beautiful SuperAMOLED screen. The only problem is that they will be using hardware from phones produced in 2010. I tried some of the more taxing games, and did notice sluggishness in some of them (Specifically the more intensive Gameloft HD series games like Extract 5, Assassins Creed - Altair and GT Racing HD). I feel that for the $200 price tag, there should have been at least 768 MB of dedicated ram and a Dual Core processor under the hood, not hardware that the year old Droid X features. As a side-note, I noticed MAJOR stuttering when playing 720P and 1080P videos, but I suspect that this may be a software issue that can be resolved down the road.
- There is no LED indicator on the phone, so you need to go through the phones interface to check battery life and other miscellaneous notifications like having a new voice mail or missed call.
- This phone gets pretty hot, even under moderate usage.
If you are not a big gamer, this device is wonderful especially considering it's gigantic 4.3 inch display and vibrant colors. Also, the call quality and ample storage for media mongols is welcome. The 3G service is great and the 4G service is even better on this device - it is more than enough for even those that are constantly browsing the internet. It's camera is one of the best used in phones within the high end segment. If your purpose for this phone is utilizing it's multimedia capabilities (Video, music, photos and web browsing) you will certainly not be disappointed.
On the other hand, if you are a gamer, you may not be satisfied with the hardware under the hood. There is currently some sluggishness while using high end games produced today, and this will certainly get worse as you get further into your contract. If you are one who primarily uses the device for gaming, you may be best advised to wait for the Droid Bionic or the Samsung Function. The Droid Bionic should be out by July 2011 and will feature 768 MB memory and a dual core processor with 4G capabilities, but you will lose the beautiful SuperAMOLED presently on Samsung model equipment. If you have even more time to wait, the Galaxy S2 equivalent for Verizon will arrive as the Samsung Function and will have a dual 1.2 GHZ processor with a beefy 1 GB ram and feature Samsung's popular display. Unfortunately, it is unknown when this device will launch, and it is unknown whether it will be in 4G.
Alternatively, the Droid X2 is a great gaming phone which is currently out and can be found for $120 on Amazon, but you will again lose the vibrant display and 4G capabilities.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
I have to admit, even though I am technical and pretty decent with computers, I am WAY behind the smartphone curve (I have never texted!) So my first purchase was the Samsung Charge. My reasoning: 1) Verizon will eliminate unlimited 4G soon and 2) of my three 4G choices, it had the best battery life and for me, the screen matters. I bought my phone last weekend (at Costco - don't hate me) and I am VERY happy with it. Prior to getting this phone, I used an Apple IPOD as my travel companion for games, books, maps, ... This phone takes the place of the IPOD, my dumb phone, and my camera. The battery easily lasts for 12 hours of use consisting of web browsing, software downloads (I am still adding apps to make it the ultimate travel companion), and reading email. I love it. It's fast, has a general good build quality (much better than other phones I looked at ... ). I wish it was global (note the Incredible 2 is, but it is only a 3G phone so you don't lock in 4G data). Another downside is it is so new, finding an extended battery seems to be tougher than I thought. Note at one time the Charge 4G was also called the Stealth. Anyway, I give it a big recommendation and I am very picky. Good luck!
PS. Google voice, maps, ... works great with this phone (Google products in general seem to work much better with Android - no mystery here).
Update (3 weeks of usage):
I am very happy with my purchase. Here are some additional positives:
1. you can pull down a menu and turn on/off: Wireless, Bluetooth, GPS, Mobile Date, Auto Rotation
> turning off mobile data you can still make/receive calls but it greatly enhances battery life.
2. fit and finish of this phone is very high (much better IMO than Motorola, have not compared it to HTC)
3. Android has a very similar application (main stream) selection to the iPhone
4. Android has a superior widgets (ex. airplane mode, screen brightness, ...)
1. compatible accessories are lacking - extended battery, inductive charging back, ...?
Well after using the phone now a good period of time, here are some more observations:
1. When someone says Samsung doesn't provide software updates and they only seem to care about the next big thing - it's 110% true.
2. Juice Defender doesn't work on this phone because the firmware is screwed up (2.2), too bad because it can really save battery life.
3. Getting your GPS to lock sometimes can take minutes, so if you know you are going to need it, turn it ASAP.
4. The phone would be a truly great phone if Samsung supported it.
5. Android could be great if Google unified their updates and forced compliance, but they don't.
6. If you want a care free phone you don't have to mess with, buy an iPhone.
Decided to try "rooting" my phone to install a custom version of Gingerbread. This is a first for me and yes, it invalidates the warranty so YMMV. It turned out to be relatively easy and now I am much happier with the phone. The phone is much faster (~2x), it finds GPS quickly, and I like the Gingerbread edit much better than Froyo 2.2. Plus, I am no longer waiting for the long delayed over-the-air upgrade.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2011
After too many hours with customer support at Verizon, Amazon and Samsung as well as 4 factory reset and 2 new phones, I give up on Samsung Droid Charge. All the complaints listed by others, I have experienced them. Poor battery life, poor/static sounds, dropped calls but most annoyingly Bluetooth that won't stay connected. It couples fine but after few hours to days, just disconnects and you can't restore it unless it is reprogrammed to connect as a new device.
Initially I thought it was the phone and Amazon Wireless replaced it with no hassles. Same problem. Talked to Verizon. Very understanding but punted to Samsung. Samsung customer support is indifferent but did acknowledge the issue but no fix or update in sight.
I am very happy with Verizon and can't praise Amazon Wireless enough but will never buy Samsung ever again.