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.

Mobile

Why premium is the most overused, and least understood, word in tech

Everyone has heard the word premium, and many of us will have purchased a premium product, but what does premium actually mean, and why is it used so much in tech? Here's why it's so popular.
Mobile

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Mobile

Here's where you can pre-order the Moto G7 Power and its massive battery

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.
Mobile

Moto G7, G7 Power, or G7 Play: Key settings you need to change

It takes a while to unlock all the secrets of a new phone, so we have advice on the key settings you should change to hit the ground running on your Moto G7, Moto G7 Power, Moto G7 Play, or Moto G7 Plus.
Photography

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.
Mobile

How to disable Bixby Home on Samsung Galaxy smartphones

Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant can be helpful, but Bixby Home, which sits on the left of the home screen, hardly offers any kind of value. If you're annoyed by its existence, here's how to disable Bixby Home.
Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.
Mobile

The best Moto G7 Power cases you can buy for your power-full phone

The Moto G7 Power's 5,000mAh battery certainly has the stamina to go for all twelve rounds. But the glass back could be a glass jaw of sorts. Protect your power-full phone with the best Moto G7 Power cases.
Mobile

Saving for a vacation? Here are the best apps to help you manage your wealth

Looking to start managing your money, but don't care for intricate software or spreadsheets? Lucky for you, we made a list of the best budgeting apps designed to help you rein in your expenditures.
Mobile

Most Android antivirus apps fail to provide malware protection, study shows

A study by AV-Comparatives analyzed the effectiveness of Android antivirus apps in protecting against the 2,000 most common malware threats. Alarmingly, only 23 of the apps were able to detect 100 percent of the malware samples.
Mobile

Walmart to launch it’s own low-priced tablet, powered by Android 9.0 Pie

Walmart will soon launch its own low-cost, kid-friendly tablet, which will be powered by Android 9.0 Pie. The price and release date for the device are still unknown, but it will reportedly feature a MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM.
Mobile

Safeguard your Sony Xperia 10 smartphone with one of these cases

If you're looking for some protection to keep your Sony smartphone safe, or you want a different style, we've got you covered here with a list of the best Sony Xperia 10 cases. There are clear cases, rugged cases, wallet cases, and more.
Mobile

Sony's Xperia 10 smartphone boasts a 6-inch screen and is now available

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Mobile

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.