Customer Review

947 of 959 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Verizon's best phone, and a worthy competitor to the iPhone, November 7, 2009
This review is from: Motorola DROID A855 Android Phone (Verizon Wireless) (Wireless Phone)

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.

Other differences:

- 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.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 52 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 7, 2009 11:03:10 PM PST
Alex Honda says:
Great review. Did you have to pay for the droid's apps? If so, how much and were they subscription based?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2009 6:39:11 AM PST
Alex, the Android market is a lot like the iTunes app store: there are tons of free apps and tons of apps you pay for. All the apps I downloaded were free. The ones you have to pay for appear to be a one-time fee, not a subscription. (The prices of some of the paid apps are listed in Euros or British pounds rather than dollars.)

The Android market does a good job of breaking apps down into categories. Some of the categories have sub-categories. For example, the category "games" has subcategories "arcade & action," "brain & puzzle," "cards & casino," and "casual". The list of sub-categories shows a couple of sample apps in each category.

When you select a category or subcategory, the top of the screen has three buttons "top paid," "top free," and "just in." Also, you can search for a specific app or you can search for apps by keyword.

The selection is not as good as the iTunes app store. But it's pretty good and is growing very rapidly. Android has been around for a year, but until now there were very few phones running Android. Now, there's the Droid, which is a huge seller so far, and Verizon is releasing several more Android phones over the next couple months, as are most of the other major carriers. This will fuel rapid growth in the Android market, and developers who have good iPhone apps are starting to port their programs so they can run under Android. All this is great news for people with Android phones.

Any other questions, let me know.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2009 9:53:52 PM PST
Alex Honda says:
Thanks, Ron! That was very helpful! ;) So far, it sounds like a pretty cool phone! Please keep us updated if anything unexpected pops up. Thanks again!

Posted on Nov 11, 2009 8:06:00 AM PST
Ellie says:
Thank you for your very thorough and helpful review. On the webpage that I read your review, where would I find the "customer images" to access the pictures you posted from the Droid? Thanks. Connie

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2009 8:36:10 AM PST
Hi Elllie. On Amazon's product page for the Droid, there's a big picture of the Droid near the upper left corner of the screen. Just below this picture is a link to customer images and some thumbnails of those images.

Posted on Nov 13, 2009 12:11:05 PM PST
I wanted to add a few words about the GPS functionality, but I'll keep it separate, my review is already way too long.

You can use the Droid like a Garmin auto GPS. Enter any destination and Droid will give you turn by turn directions and display a map of your route and upcoming turns. The format of the screen, overall, very similar to that of a Garmin GPS. The Droid gives spoken directions - that is, it'll say "in one quarter mile, turn LEFT on 4th street," just like a Garmin. (You have to turn the volume up all the way, but it's loud enough to hear just fine. You can also plug it into your car stereo.)

Motorola and Verizon sell a windshield mount especially for the Droid for 30 bucks. I got one and it works well. It mounts very securely to the windshield just like the mount that comes with a Garmin unit. It holds the Droid securely but doesn't cover up any of the buttons you'll need to operate it while driving. There are other companies that sell generic windshield mounts for PDAs and MP3 players that will work with the Droid, and many are cheaper, though it's not a custom fit.

Once mounted to the windshield, the experience of using the Droid's navigation is remarkably similar to using a Garmin. An icon shows the progress of your car across the map, and the map orientation changes when your car changes direction so that the map always shows you your current position and what's coming up.

Yet, the Droid GPS functionality still lags the Garmin.

First, the display is smaller (3.7" for the Droid vs. 4.3" for most Garmins nowadays) and the road labels on the map are smaller and harder to read while driving. However, along the top of the screen, Droid displays the most important info in big letters: the distance to your next turn and the name of the street. Also, the graphic showing the route on the map is clear enough that you can see where you are and where you'll be turning next. You can also use the touch screen to move the map around and get a bigger or smaller picture of any part of the map.

Second, the Droid has less functionality than a Garmin GPS.

Third, operating the Droid (i.e., touching it to enter commands) while your car is in motion is probably a little more dangerous than operating a Garmin while your car is in motion, due to the access to controls and size of the buttons and map symbols. Of course, people really should pull over before messing with their GPS. But realistically, a lot of people operate at least some functions of their GPS while driving, and this is probably a little more dangerous with the Droid.

Fourth, when the sun sets, the Garmin's color scheme changes to "night mode," which is easier on the eyes when it's dark out. The Droid's display continues to have a bright white background, which at night is a potentially distracting thing to have glaring at you while driving. I'd bet $20 that this will be fixed in a future software update, but for now, it's a bit annoying.

I've used the Droid GPS to navigate me to places I already know, just to test its directions. Mostly, the directions were good. In one case, the Droid navigated me to an end point about 1/2 mile from the destination I thought I'd entered. But this was the exception not the rule (and this has happened to me once or twice with the Garmin). The Droid always showed my position on the map correctly. Like any auto GPS unit, I wouldn't rely solely on it. But it will surely be a useful tool when driving around an unfamiliar area, finding things, finding yourself on a map, and of course getting to where you need to go.

It would be useful to know how often Google Maps is updated to reflect newly constructed roads and changing locations of points of interest, like restaurants and gas stations. Garmin maps are updated once per year, though if you buy the new Garmin map update on the day it's released, the data is already 4-6 months old. I believe that the Droid's GPS functionality relies on Google Maps online, not on internal maps that you have to install on your device, therefore, any updates that Google makes to its maps will show up immediately on your Droid. This is a good thing.

One last thing about using the Droid for GPS navigation. This REALLY sucks up the juice. The Droid's GPS radio is always on, and the display is always on, both of which use power. When not in GPS mode, the GPS radio is off and the display is only on when you're using the device, which is probably not 100% of the time. You can definitely get a few hours in GPS mode, but you really should have it plugged into a car charger adapter. You don't want your Droid's battery to die while you're driving around a strange town.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2009 9:51:00 PM PST
hi ron
since you seem to be the most thorough reviewer i've ever seen, and some one who answers questions, i hope you dont mind if i ask you a question or two about the droid. I wanna upgrade to it soon from my lg dare, and i was curious about data charges? to be honest, i cant make heads or tails from the verizon site lol. i mean, i'm sure you have to buy some sort of data plan to use the phone, although there seems to be several that seem to me to be about the same. but what i'm curious about is, when using the wifi (which i have in my house and at work) is it possible to still have data transfer charges? can u still use the FB or youtube apps on the wifi, or do they have to run through verizon's network? If that's possible than i'd choose the cheapest plan they allow. i'm sorry, that's more than one or two questions lol.
anyway, thanks in advance.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2009 6:23:54 AM PST
Jeremy, I agree that pricing is confusing. I think Vz requires a $30/mo data plan for this phone (on top of whatever voice plan). I don't think you can get out of it by only using wifi. But honestly, I'm not 100% sure. I have a package plan that covers my droid and my wife's blackberry, with shared voice minutes. Your best bet is to call Vz customer service and have them explain your options and answer your questions. That's what I did and they were pretty helpful. Plus, I got a real human pretty quickly. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a more definitive answer. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2009 8:19:56 PM PST
gah! i hate callin verizon. lol but thanks for responding. i know u hafta choose at least the 30 buck plan. just curious about hidden fees anybody might have run into. i have trust issues lol. at least i think my gf's decided against runnin with the blackberry she thought she wanted and going with a non smart phone flipper. so i can whole hog the data plans! anyway, thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2009 6:21:25 PM PST
Ed says:
Jeremy, the $30 data plan is essentially the same as for Blacberry's. I switched from a Blackberry Curve and the data plan stayed the same. I recall being told maybe about a year ago that you must buy smartphones like the Blackberry, with a data plan, BUT that you could cancel the data plan at a later date. I do not know if this is still possible or how far into the contract that option is available. I'd say at least 30 days. Not a terrible idea to ditch the data plan if you only plan to use the data services around WiFi hotspots.
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