Skip to main content

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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Stewart Wolpin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Google Assistant 2.0 isn’t just a minor evolution. It’s a game-changing upgrade
google assistant 2 change the way we use phones feat

Folding devices like the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X represent the next major alteration in phone design, but what about the next, next? What will change the way we interact with our phones, once we're done folding them in half?

Google gave us a teaser during the Google I/O 2019 keynote presentation, as it demonstrated the prowess of Google Assistant when the masses of data it requires to operate is shifted from the cloud to the device. Voice control has been part of our smartphone experience for a while, but the speed, versatility, and accuracy of this advanced system could be a game-changer.
Meet Google Assistant 2.0
What did Google announce? A next generation version of the Google Assistant we currently know and love from our Android phones, Google Nest products, or even Android Auto. Google Assistant uses three complex algorithms to understand, predict, and act upon what we’re saying, which requires 100GB of data storage and a network connection to operate. Google announced it has used deep learning to combine and shrink those algorithmic models down to 500MB — and that means it’ll fit happily on our phones, and stops network latency slowing responses and actions down.

Read more
I compared two of the year’s best phones in an extreme camera test
The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's rear panels.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple versus Samsung is perhaps the ultimate battle in smartphones, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Galaxy S23 Ultra are the two brand’s top devices. If you want one, you may have also looked at the other, and even if not, who doesn’t want to see a tough camera battle between these two heavyweights?

Read more
reMarkable 2 digital notebook just got a rare discount
A person using the reMarkable 2 to take notes.

The reMarkable 2, a tablet that mimics the feel of writing and reading on paper, is available from Best Buy right now with a rare $50 discount on a bundle that includes the Marker Plus writing instrument and the Book Folio case. Instead of $550, you'll only have to pay $500, which is still fairly expensive but it's very much worth it. We're not sure how much time is remaining on the offer though, so if you think this will be a better purchase than other tablet deals, you should push through with the transaction as soon as possible.

Why you should buy the reMarkable 2 paper tablet
The reMarkable 2, the successor to 2017's reMarkable, improves upon the premise of the original version of the tablet -- it's like a pen and paper with smart capabilities. There's no backlight or glare on the display of this device for an eye-friendly reading experience, much like reading from real paper, and there are no distractions so you can focus on your work. In comparison, using a stylus on a tablet feels unnatural because of the friction-less glass, while the bright screen will strain your eyes and the notifications from your apps will keep distracting you.

Read more