Motorola Droid for Verizon Wireless First Impressions – Apple, Beware

motorola droidVerizon Wireless fans, rejoice: You now have a smartphone that’s impressive enough to quiet your smack-talking iPhone counterparts. Or at least you will have one when the Motorola Droid goes on sale next Friday (November 6th) for $199.99 with the usual two-year contract and rebates.

Droid, the first cell phone to run the latest Android OS, v2.0 Éclair, includes almost everything a mobile handset owner could want, presents it all intuitively and performs most functions swiftly. We had a couple of hours to play with the Droid today and form some initial impressions, most of which are positive. We’ll naturally have a full review in a couple of days as well.

Among the Droid’s top-level features are a slide-out horizontal QWERTY keyboard; a 5 MP camera with a dual LED flash and a 720×480 H.264 camcorder; Google Maps with voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions; a Google search function that scans not just the Internet but your phone for relevant files as well; a phone book that merges contact information from a variety of email and social networking lists; and connectivity with Verizon’s peerless 3G EV-DO network.

The Droid’s metallic body also feels solid, giving you the sense you’re holding a serious piece of high-tech hardware – which, of course, you are.

The Droid’s LCD Display

The handset’s most obvious attribute is its beautiful and relatively huge 3.7-inch 16×9 LCD. Not only is the Motorola Droid’s WVGA display on the large side for a cell phone, offering an impressive 480×854 resolution. (Most smartphone LCD screens measure a mere 320×480.) Practically, this intense 400,000 pixel packed screen displays extraordinarily crisp, sharp text and bolder colors than any rival cell phone screen in recent memory as well, including the AMOLED on Samsung’s Moment.

Such display precision enables the Droid to display easily-readable thumbnail Web pages as bookmarks, for instance. And at 3.7 inches diagonal, while the Droid’s display is pretty beefy, the phone is only a hair larger and actually a bit thinner than the Motorola Cliq. To put it simply, text, map details and colors are sharper, bolder and crisper than on any other cell phone LCD we’ve seen.

motorola droid

Synchronized E-mail and Contacts

Better yet, the Motorola Droid intuitively makes keeping in touch easier. Borrowing some attributes from the MOTOBLUR interface found on its Cliq sibling, the handset combines all your email and social networking phonebooks into a single master contact list. And instead of requiring that you boot Facebook or some other social networking site to post to a friend’s wall, you can do so right from that friend’s phonebook entry. Plus, instead of making you check individual e-mail addresses, the Droid creates a combined email inbox, with vertical colored bars identifying specific email accounts.

Motorola Droid Sample Photo
Motorola Droid Sample Photo

GPS Features and Google Maps Navigation

The Droid includes a beta of the free Google Maps Navigation app, which will certainly piss off Magellan, Garmin, Tom-Tom, et al. Features include voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions, the ability to search for points-of-interest along your route and street views, Wikipedia access for info on local sites, and options to lay a traffic or satellite view over the usual map view in varying combinations instead of one at a time. You also can share your location with other Google Maps Navigation users or keep track of your peeps via photos instead of push-pins placed on the map.

Initial Complaints and Feedback

The Droid is slow to process large images and, despite image stabilization, indoor shots lit via the dual LED flash often were blurry no matter how still we stood. What’s more, the Droid’s slide-out horizontal keyboard lacks a dedicated row of number keys. But let’s be real – these are minor quibbles. Perhaps we’ll find more to complain about as we dig deeper into our full review, but even this early into the evaluation, we highly doubt that the Droid’s negatives will outweigh its thus far way more impressive positive attributes.

Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. iPhone XR: Cut-price flagship showdown

The Samsung Galaxy S10 range has been revealed, and it heralds a new age of powerful technology. The Galaxy S10e packs the new power and design into a cheaper price point. But is it better than the iPhone XR?
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Gaming

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.
Gaming

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.
Mobile

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.
Mobile

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Mobile

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.
Mobile

Sony partnership with Light aims to take smartphone photography to new heights

Smartphone photography is in its ascendancy, and a new partnership between Light and Sony hopes to lift it to new heights through the development of multi-image sensor solutions for smartphones. We spoke to Light to find out more.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Google Pixel 3: Can Samsung beat the stock Android king?

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is here, offering modern specs, a beautifully high-resolution display, and an edge-to-edge design with a small cutout in the display for the front-facing camera. But can the phone take out the Google Pixel 3?
Deals

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…
Mobile

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.