Motorola Droid Review

The Motorola Droid has a ton of features and can easily be considered a best buy.
The Motorola Droid has a ton of features and can easily be considered a best buy.
The Motorola Droid has a ton of features and can easily be considered a best buy.

Highs

  • Gorgeous WVGA 3.7-inch LCD; 5MP camera; good voice quality; long battery life

Lows

  • Slow camera; heavy; music doesn't stay paused in background

Summary

Each new Android smartphone seems to improve on its predecessors. But Motorola’s latest, the Droid from Verizon Wireless, is a veritable quantum leap well beyond recent peers such as the Samsung Moment and the HTC Hero, both from Sprint – and even the Motorola Cliq (available on T-Mobile). Thank three advantages that the Droid possesses over all other previous Android phones: Its gorgeous 400,000-pixel 16×9 3.7-inch LCD touchscreen, the largest available on a cell phone; the handset’s status as the first to run the Android 2.0 operating system; and its pedigree as the first Android phone for Verizon, which arguably operates the nation’s best 3G network. However, the Droid’s superiority over recent rivals surpasses mere technical comparisons alone. This is one of the most solidly-built smartphones available, featuring a stolidity that lends it a gravitas lacking in all but the most boring BlackBerrys, yet belies the mobile handset’s more playful side, which also makes a great impression. To put it simply, the Droid isn’t the perfect choice for cell phone owners, but as iPhone alternatives go, it’s pretty darn close.

Features and Design

Interestingly, it’s hard to separate the Droid as a piece of hardware from its Android 2.0 heart. As a result, this is as much a review of the upgraded OS as the phone itself.

Unlike its more aesthetically rounded Android predecessors, the Droid is a stern rectangle with a slide-out horizontal QWERTY keyboard. But instead of a springy QWERTY slide option a la the Sidekick, the Droid’s keyboard firmly glides out like a solid oak drawer and clicks into a locked position. This QWERTY plate is actually a quarter-inch longer than the screen top, with a lower lip containing the microphone jutting out underneath.

Tile keys with white backlighting on the QWERTY keypad are nearly smooth to the touch, but we had no trouble tapping text quickly and nearly mistake-free. Unfortunately, the Droid’s QWERTY, like the Cliq’s, lacks a dedicated row of number keys, which restricts quickly substituting numbers in place of text (i.e. “2” for “to,” etc.)
At .54 inches thick, the Droid is one of the thinnest slider phones around, thinner even than the .61 thick Cliq.

Moreover, the Droid is the first Android phone with no physical navigation or control keys on the front. Just below the screen you’ll find four touch keys instead: Back, Menu, Ho

me and Search.

To read more about the Droid’s Android 2.0 feature set and screen, check out our Motorola Droid hands-on impressions.

Motorola Droid Keyboard

Ports & Connectors

On the left side of the phone you’ll find the microUSB jack, while up top is the 3.5mm headphone port, uncomfortably close to the power on/off button. If you have a right-angled headphone jack, you’ll have to annoyingly twist it around to wake the phone up or put it to sleep.

Note that you will have to remove the battery cover to slide in/out the microSD card. Since the Droid comes with a 16 GB card, however, you’re not likely to be swapping memory cards too often.

Even though the Droid captures 720×480 H.264 DVD-quality video, there is no video out jack of any kind.

Audio, Video and Multimedia Performance

The Motorola Droid doesn’t take full advantage of its fabulous screen, at least as far as YouTube is concerned. Videos don’t run in full-screen mode, just in the middle third of the display, and there are no full-screen zoom touch options as there are on some other Android phones. On our test unit, choosing the HQ versions of clips resulted in a never-ending “loading” process as well. We’re hoping that this is just a glitch on the evaluation sample provided.

Motorola Droid Bookmarks

Oddly as well, the handset doesn’t bookmark your spot in the music queue. When we switched to video capture, songs being played paused, but didn’t pick up from where we stopped when we left the camcorder app. We had to restart shuffle play, and the Droid just initiated a whole new song sequence. This is a puzzling glitch as Android is supposed to multitask comfortably, meaning the music queue should have frozen in the background until we returned to it.

Sound Quality

Do you know who the crooner Mel Tormé was? Well, he was nicknamed “The Velvet Fog” for his smooth, enveloping tenor. Even though Motorola’s promotional materials don’t say so, we’re assuming the Droid is equipped with Motorola’s Crystal Talk because it delivers the cell phone equivalent of Mel Tormé tone. Voices are revelatory, realistically smooth and soothing, unlike the harsh digitized tones through which they’re conveyed on other cell phones. We did detect some background feedback echo, however – it wasn’t disconcerting, just lurking.

In our unscientific side-by-side comparison, music from the Droid did sound crisper and brighter than it did on an iPhone, though… an altogether pleasant surprise.

Product Review

Nokia’s 3.1 Plus is an affordable phone that’s crippled by its camera

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is HMD Global’s first smartphone to be sold by a U.S. carrier in-store. It’s only available on Cricket Wireless right now, which underlines its focus on affordability. Should you buy a phone this affordable?
Wearables

To be blunt, the Vuzix Blade smartglasses just don’t cut it

We tried out the Vuzix Blade to find out if it’s worth shelling out $1,000 for smartglasses. Are these augmented reality, Android-powered glasses really ready for primetime or just an expensive gimmick that no one really needs?
Mobile

The Moto G4 Plus is finally getting the update to Android Oreo

We've reached out to every major Android hardware manufacturer and asked them when they will update their devices to the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, Android 8.0 Oreo.
Mobile

Moto G7 Play vs. Nokia 3.1 Plus: Two budget veterans slug it out

The Moto G7 Play is the new super-budget superstar on the block, with a new processor, compact design, and fresh features. But can it take down the Cricket-exclusive Nokia 3.1 Plus? We compared the two to find out.
Mobile

Google insists it’s doing what it can to purge Play Store of malicious apps

Google's efforts to provide a secure and safe Play Store for Android users resulted in the company rejecting 55 percent more app submissions in 2018 compared to a year earlier. But the challenge is ongoing.
Mobile

Need a date for Valentine's Day? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.
Mobile

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Mobile

Love music? For audiophiles, the LG G8 ThinQ may be the best phone ever made

LG is expected to release a successor to the LG G7 ThinQ, possibly called the LG G8 ThinQ, this year and rumors about it are already spreading. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Mobile

Love Playmoji pack adds animated Valentine’s stickers to your Pixel photos

Valentine's Day is here, and to celebrate, Google has added the "Love Playmoji" pack to the Playground feature on its Google Pixel camera. The new feature will add cute AR-driven extras to your Pixel photos.
Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…