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Motorola DROID for Verizon review - All hail our new Android 2.0 overlords!

Review by Michael Oryl on Monday November 02, 2009.

motorola droid · verizon · android reviews · smartphone reviews · motorola news · android news · smartphone news · michael oryl

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The Motorola DROID for Verizon Wireless is the very first Android 2.0 "Eclair" device to be launched, and is only Motorola's second Android phone ever (its well-received CLIQ for T-Mobile goes on sale today). The DROID features a huge, high-resolution touchscreen display, a 5 megapixel camera, and a full QWERTY keyboard. Good specs all around, and an impressive first Android effort for Verizon. I spend some time with the DROID to see if it is everything its amusing advertising campaign claims it is.

Physical Aspects

The Motorola DROID is a large and heavy device, make no mistake. It weighs 170.6g (6.0oz) and measures up at 116mm x 60mm x 15mm (4.6in x 2.4in x .6in) in size. Even for a larger person, that is a pretty big and hefty device to use easily with one hand. On the flip side, however, we have the fact that the phone is very ruggedly put together. It feels solid and durable. The 3.7-inch display dominates the front, and its capacitive touchscreen(INFO) surface extends to the controls that sit beneath it, which are entirely touch sensitive. The touch sensitive keys work well, but I unintentionally activated the back key innumerable times while opening the device up to get at the keyboard.

When the keyboard's unsprung slider mechanism is utilized, the 854 x 480 pixel display adjusts to a landscape orientation. The keyboard offers 4 rows of fairly stiff keys with a good layout, but not the best feel. I have gotten used to it, more so than I had initially expected, but I still love neither the keyboard nor the narrow d-pad controller that sits to its right. Considering that the DROID's purposeless chin is on the right side when in landscape mode, it seems to me that it would have made far more ergonomic sense if Motorola had put the d-pad to the left of the keyboard, to keep the user's right thumb from having to reach so far.

Another ergonomic issue for me is the location of the power/standby key on the top edge of the phone, and the fact that activating the device requires a finger swipe on the touchscreen. Yes, it looks cool, but no, it doesn't allow you to get to the homescreen quickly. Most Android devices have hardware controls and allow the phone to be activated by pressing the menu key twice. With touch sensitive keys, that's simply not an option, thus the hoops the user must jump through to use the DROID.

Next to the power switch is a nice uncovered 3.5mm headphone jack. The uncovered micro-USB port is on the left edge, while the volume rocker and gold colored camera shutter are on the right. The chin sits at the bottom of the phone, where the microphone is found. The rear of the DROID is covered in a soft-touch paint that offers a nice grip, and the gold grille at the bottom offers a nice contrast. The 5 megapixel camera and its dual-LED flash sit at the other end. A panel on the back of the DROID slides off with minimal effort to expose the battery and the microSDHC(INFO) memory card slot.

Overall I like the style of the design, as well as the build, but some of the controls prove to be inadequate due in part, at least, to the phone's sheer size. They might not have looked as nice, but hardware controls beneath the display would have done wonders for one-handed usability of the DROID, and putting the d-pad to the left of the keyboard would have made it better suited for smaller hands. But it's a good looking phone, and the touchscreen display that features to prominently on the phone is beautiful.

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Jessica @ 11:18:35PM EST on Wednesday November 4, 2009

I work for verizon wireless tech support and this device is amazing. hands down the best phone we have. better then our blackberry storm 2 that just came.

Tony @ 12:20:43AM EST on Monday November 9, 2009

I can't wait until I get my Motorola Droid later today. I just hope a firmware update will fix the camera. Also, why does Verizon have to be so freaking greedy with tethering, it should be free. The consumers are already paying a lot for cellphone service, give the consumers a break for a change.

Ashleigh @ 11:42:51AM EST on Wednesday November 11, 2009

Just a quick comment about the ear speaker. When you buy the plastic protector be careful not to cover the speaker...yeah, I know sounds like common sense but I seriously thought the phone was defective until I realized I had covered ear speaker ;/

dedi2034 @ 2:10:56PM EST on Tuesday November 17, 2009

I have the htc touch pro...and want to upgrade to the motorola droid..unfortunatly for me..i have those acrylic nails that alot of women have..with this phone you can only operate the touch screen with the heat of your finger. unless someone comes up with a cooked rom that would allow me to use my nails...i will stick with the touch pro. or go to the touch pro 2.

KC @ 2:58:07PM EST on Sunday November 29, 2009


Check into PdaNet. It's free from the market and will allow for tethering.

jess @ 3:17:24PM EDT on Wednesday April 28, 2010

i am looking to buy the droid incredible and i have very long nails. is there a way to turn off the heat sensor on the phone so i can use my nails to type? i have the envy touch now and i love the touch screen. i use it 99% of the time. i love the new droid but am scared i won't be able to use it since my nails are very long.

Michael Oryl @ 3:19:07PM EDT on Wednesday April 28, 2010

There is no heat sensor. It is finger sensitive. You can not use a nail to activate it, you must use the pad of your finger (or some other skin-covered appendage....)

Amanda @ 2:06:44PM EDT on Thursday July 22, 2010

what do you think is better? a DROID or the HTC imagio

About the author

Michael Oryl
Michael is the Philadelphia based owner and former editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com. You can follow him on Twitter as @MichaelOryl

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