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I’ve been using my Droid for about three months now, and I like it more and more. I’ve read up on some of the tech stuff, and I thought you’d be interested.
The Droid OS is Android 2.0, while the Motorola network is the Verizon CDMA 1X 800/1900 EVDO (I knew you’d want to know that). Motorola claims up to 270 hours of standby time on a single charge and up to 385 minutes of talk time, but that must be with email, messaging and everything turned off because I’ve never come close to that.
I’ve been using the built-in 5MP camera with its 4x digital zoom and dual LED flash a lot more than any other camera phone I’ve ever had. It’s so easy to use (despite my shooting my 1st video with the camera turned sideways!). The camera sports auto focus and cropping, rotation, and Geo tagging tools. The Droid will play music and video and can record DVD quality video at 720 x 480.
I now have three separate email accounts on my Droid and integration was straightforward. I’ve been a Google slut for some time now—Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, AdSense, AdWords, Google, Google Docs… You name it if it’s Google I probably use it.
It’s a treat to jot down a note in GDocs (the Droid Google docs app) and find it waiting in my Docs folder when I get home. Likewise for calendaring and adding new contacts. I admit to being a bit paranoid about “the cloud” – what if the cloud blows away? – But the convenience is just compelling. I do backup my contacts and email.
If you’re used to the lightweight iPhone, or even a Blackberry (my previous smartphone), the Droid is strange at first. It’s hefty – mine weighs 6.5 ounces – and the bottom edge of the phone overhangs the lower part of the screen about 3/8”. The phone’s mic is located on the bottom edge, so you don’t cover it with your cheek when you talk, and it’s a useful little handle to slide open the QWERTY keyboard.
The Droid is a lot quicker on the draw than the iPhone or other phones. Its accelerometers switch the screen from landscape to portrait almost instantly when you rotate the phone. The soft keyboard also has excellent visual and audio feedback. I make a lot of typing errors, but I can correct them quickly.
I started with the native Droid browser but switched to the Dolphin browser and like it a lot. I provide the gesture enlarge and reduce and allows you to program your gestures. That said, I am eagerly awaiting the first Firefox browser for the Droid.
The screen is bright with great color reproduction and is excellent for video. I am watching YouTube on it with great enjoyment.
The slide out keyboard has a D-pad that lets you scroll and select things when you are surfing the web, which is ideal for correcting my numerous typing errors. The screen resolution makes it easy to see an entire web page without needing to zoom in or out.
Most iPhone users are fiercely loyal, but even they complain about AT&T 3G coverage. 3G with Verizon is so much faster than the AT&T 3G connection, and call quality on the Droid is outstanding.
The Droid keyboard is hard for fat-fingered me to get used to. I am getting better, but it would be much improved with rounded instead of flat-top keys. I wind up using the soft keyboard often, despite the lack of a D-pad. I might feel differently if I had ever owned an iPhone, but I’ve used one often enough to be convinced that the Droid can only get better, and the tight integration with Google apps is just great.
The final grade for the Droid? A-.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple a few years ago, the company was heading for bankruptcy. Since then the iPhone series and the iPad have returned Apple to winning ways. Now Steve Jobs has been forced to take an indefinite leave of absence through illness. Will Apple survive?
A good illustration of just how tough it will be is in the tablet market. Apple under Steve Jobs created the tablet market. Before the iPad, tablets were a neglected, geeky, dead zone. The iPad has made it the fastest growing sector in the computing business. Now the completion is moving in with 80 new tablets announced at the recent CES. More will certainly follow in the coming months.
The most impressive of these new offerings is the Motorola Xoom. With Google’s new Android 3 operating system- as refined as Apple’s iOS- and a new chip from NVIDIA, it makes the iPad look puny.
In fact, anything the iPad can do, the Xoom can do twice as well. That chip from NVIDIA is twice as powerful as the iPad chip and packed with gaming potential as well as the power to display full HD video. It has a full GHZ of RAM making multitasking a cinch. There are front and rear facing cameras for video calls and taking HD video respectively. The iPad has no camera of any kind.
The real question though is: what will the iPad 2 have? If it cannot catch up, Apple could be on a slippery slope.
Here is a list of things the iPad 2 must have if it is to keep its place:
Of course, Apple have the advantage of being in the market early. Their App store outguns the Android Apps Store by 2 to 1. There is also a sizable industry of accessory makers for the iPad supplying sleeves, cases with keyboards, headphones and speakers. The Xoom accessory industry will be a way behind when it launches in March/April. But even as we speak Amazon are showing ads for new Xoom related products…
It is not just the tablet PC market where Apple is vulnerable to new Android 3, dual core NVIDIA chip powered competitors (there are several already announced). That new chip will power new smartphones too. Motorola believe their Atrix smartphone- also powered by the Tegra 2 NVIDIA chip- can replace laptops and even desktops with all that computing power. It will certainly put the iPhone under pressure and the new version will have to shape up to the new world or die.
If the future of computing is the mobile market- and all trends point that way- Apple will need to improve on every level in 2011 to keep its pre-eminent position. Google will not give up easily and its latest partners- Motorola and NVIDIA- are top class too.
I’ve been using Android phones pretty much since they first hit the market, and the only thing I can say I still craved when it comes to getting a lot of work done is a phone with a physical keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, I love touch screens, and having a large screen to use for browsing, reading, etc., but for me, there’s nothing like typing on a physical keyboard, especially when you need to type a lot, often and fast.
Now there have been several Android phones with physical keyboards, but nearly all of them have been in the form of a slide-out landscape keyboard. Apart from me preferring a portrait / Blackberry-style keyboard, a slide-out mechanism means more weight, more bulk and more chance of something breaking when you drop your phone.
So this is where the Motorola Pro comes in. An Android phone that combines a touchscreen and a Blackberry-style keyboard, without resorting to any sliding mechanism. It’s also got pretty decent specs regarding processing power, resolution, memory, etc. Sure you’ll find other Android phones that have better specs, with this phone has excellent specs AND a portrait keyboard. Is it everything I’ve been looking for?
Since this phone is not yet available in the UK, and I’m not patient enough to wait for the UK release, I purchased an unlocked Verizon Motorola Pro from eBay, and a few days later I was clicking away. First impressions… A quality device. It feels solid, yet lightweight. The screen looks good, it’s quite fast even with several apps installed, and everything seems to work pretty well.
For me, this is the one feature that was going to make or break the phone since it’s also responsible for taking away some valuable screen real estate. And from my usage, I can say it’s well worth it. It’s a great keyboard, and thanks to raised ends of keys, I find it quite easy to locate various keys and type at a fast rate without making mistakes. If I have one complaint, it’s that the keyboard is too narrow, due to the shape of the phone. So if like me you have large hands, you may find it a little cramped, but still very manageable.
So is it the ideal work and play android phone for me? No. And the reason is the battery life. It’s bad, and I mean bad. If you’re making full use of it (Bluetooth, wifi, browsing, emails, some calls), then it will not even last you half a day! So I got an additional charger for the office and bought an extra battery when on the road. Still, I was often anxious about the battery running low, wondering whether I remembered to charge the second battery after I last used it…. In short, it was a pain.
Now some people say that most smartphones suffer in this area, so you need to manage your power usage. Turn off Bluetooth, turn off wifi, turn off data sync, reduce the brightness, etc., etc. I’ll tell you what, why don’t I then just use standard feature phones that do nothing but make calls and send SMS, the battery will last for days. No thanks, I bought a smartphone because I want to use it as it should be utilized.
Just when I was contemplating changing phones again, I read about the new Blackberry Bold 9900, combining the traditional blackberry keyboard and a touchscreen without any sliding mechanism. A slim, powerful phone with a touchscreen, a large keyboard, and the legendary Blackberry battery life? Yes, please. Just picking it up and clicking the keys makes me realize how much better this keyboard is, more spacious, much easier to type. And although the screen is shorter, it’s wider than the Motorola.
So stay tuned for my upcoming review of the Blackberry Bold, as I’ll have to be convinced that adding a touchscreen has not compromised the normal Blackberry battery life. And although the battery life will almost certainly be less than a non-touchscreen blackberry, how will it compare to an Android phone in the same format?
As if someone in Motorola was listening to me (or more likely to an army of angry customers), they announce the Pro Plus. It resembles the Pro, just more rounded edges vs. its predecessor. Most of the specs are pretty much the same, apart from the battery, which is the only much-improved spec. Maybe improved is the wrong word. Let’s go with fixed.
So the Pro will no longer be launched in the UK, the Pro Plus taking its place with an expected launch in October/November 2011. This will give me more than enough time to get the Blackberry Bold and see if I can be tempted away from Android, or if it will be a temporary switch until the Pro Plus is launched.