Technologizer posts about Verizon Droid

Help Us Pick the Hottest Smartphones

By  |  Posted at 10:05 am on Thursday, October 28, 2010

17 Comments

Seriously, folks–these days, you can barely move your contact list to your new phone before coveting the next one.

I queried a few of our Last Gadget Standing judges and they’ve got no shortage of opinion on which phones should be in the running for the award we’ll hand out at CES next January.

Some voiced concern about the Nokia N8 being an oddity.  Yeah, well, it’s an oddity with a 12 MP camera (with Zeiss lens) and HD video recording.  Those video watchers amongst us will be intrigued by the form factor; those who are dubious about Symbian less so.

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The Android-handset trend is clearly moving away from physical keyboards, but I’m glad that the Droid 2–which Verizon and Motorola announced today–offers one. It’s impossible to tell from a photo how good a keyboard is, but this one looks like it might be better than the so-so one on this first Droid…

Posted by Harry at 10:18 am

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I was just wondering how long I’d have to wait for Android 2.2 to land on my original Verizon Droid. A few days, it looks like.

Posted by Harry at 3:50 pm

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Verizon: Droid X Will Be In Stock Thursday

By  |  Posted at 1:36 pm on Wednesday, July 14, 2010

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The nation’s largest wireless carrier has had one hell of a time keeping the Droid Incredible in stock. In fact, those ordering the device today may end up waiting until this time next month to actually receive it. For whatever reasons — be it poor planning or just unexpected demand — that’s just the way it is.

Verizon isn’t about to let the same thing happen to its highly anticipated Droid X. Checks by several blogs indicated average stocks of between 50 and 100 units. While not a lot, it certainly means in most cases if you’re there early, you’ll be taking home the phone that day. Boy Genius Report added that the company also has backup stock in its warehouse, so stores would be able to replenish the ones they sell.

With all the negative publicity surrounding the iPhone 4 right now, this is not the time to have supply issues, and Verizon knows this. If the reception issues of Apple’s device continue to spread through the mainstream media as they have, there’s no doubt that some may choose to purchase another phone.

I think it’s also fair to mention the two Android phones with the most serious supply issues — the EVO 4G and the Incredible — are both from HTC. The X is produced by Motorola, and with their last big hit being the Droid, they’ve obviously had more time to focus on manufacturing this latest device.

For those interested, the Droid X will become available Thursday at a price of $299.99 with a two-year agreement out the door, but a $100 mail-in rebate would put it on par with the iPhone 4.



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Are Cameraphones Killing the Point-and-Shoot? Not Yet, Not Hardly

By  |  Posted at 10:54 am on Tuesday, July 6, 2010

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Over the past few days I’ve had fun taking photos with a couple of neat new cameras…that happen to be phones. They’re the iPhone 4 and Verizon’s upcoming Droid X, and their cameras are the best in any phones I’ve ever used. So much so that they left me pondering the future of point-and-shoot cameras that aren’t phones.

Phones have already killed traditional PDAs dead. The best ones also render media players such as an iPod largely superfluous, and the days of standalone GPS handhelds are clearly numbered. Are we nearing the moment when a meaningful number of people will skip buying a separate camera in favor of snapping photos with a phone?

Some thoughts on that in a moment–but first, my impressions of the photographic capabilities of these two handsets. When I had plenty of natural light, I liked most of the photos from both phones quite a bit…although even the nicest portraits I took looked slightly out of focus and lacking in detail. In murkier environments, the iPhone performed better than the Droid X, although the LED flashes on both phones aren’t very useful. (They only made a noticeable difference when there was very little available light, and even then tended to produce unflattering, fuzzy portraits.)

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The San Jose Mercury News’s Troy Wolverton prefers sharp smartphone screens (like those on the iPhone 4 and Droid Incredible) to big smartphone screens (such as the ones on the EVO 4G and Droid X).

Posted by Harry at 10:08 am

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Thank you, Best Buy, for selling a $199.99 (w/contract) phone for $199.99–no rebate paperwork or gift card involved.

Posted by Harry at 11:30 am

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Verizon’s Droid X is Official

By  |  Posted at 11:29 am on Wednesday, June 23, 2010

7 Comments

At an event in New York City–which I watched via Webcast from here in San Francisco–Verizon Wireless just announced the Droid X, its latest Motorola Android smartphone. I’ve given up trying to determine if any particular Android phone is the most impressive one to day–the honor changes every few weeks–but the X is clearly among the top ones so far in terms of sheer specs. It’s got a 1-GHz TI CPI, a big 4.3″ LCD display with 854-by-480 resolution in a thin case, 512MB of RAM, both 8GB of fixed storage and a 16GB MicroSD card, HDMI out, an 8MP camera that does 720p video, Android 2.1 (2.2 will come along late in the summer), and the ability to act as a wireless hotspot for up to five devices.

[NOTE/UPDATE: Verizon made a big deal out of the X supporting Flash--Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen was in New York for the unveiling--but it's not shipping with Flash. Instead, it's "Flash ready," which is a total misnomer: Flash requires Android 2.2, which the X doesn't yet have. But this phone will run Flash. Eventually.]

The X will go for $199.99 after a $100 rebate with a two-year contract, and Verizon customers whose contracts are up in 2010 can get it for that price. Data plans cost $29.99 for “unlimited” access; the Wi-Fi hotspot feature is $20 extra a month for 2GB of data.

Oh, and it doesn’t go on sale until July 15th…although you don’t need an advanced degree in marketing to figure out why Verizon is announcing it today.

More thoughts–including hands-on impressions–soon.



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“Retina displays” are so early June 2010.

[UPDATE: The Droid X's resolution is the same as that of the Droid, and Verizon has rescinded its claim that it has a 720p HD screen.]

Posted by Harry at 9:46 am

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Engadget’s Joanna Stern got her hands on Verizon’s upcoming, unannounced Droid X. With a 4.4″ display, it looks like a handful indeed, and a neat one–Verizon and Motorola’s answer to Sprint and HTC’s EVO 4G. I don’t expect supersized phone displays to completely take over–too many people want a smaller device-but I’d love to own a phone with one someday. Wonder if there’s even the slightest chance of Apple unveiling an iPhone 4XL?

Posted by Harry at 2:25 pm

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Droid vs. iPhone 3GS: An Update

By  |  Posted at 5:23 pm on Friday, April 16, 2010

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As I wrote a few weeks ago, frustration with AT&T coverage in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood led me to put my iPhone 3GS aside and switch to a Verizon Wireless Droid. I found that I liked the reliability of Verizon’s  service, and loved certain things about Android–but that the overall experience was way less polished and predictable than the iPhone.

Here’s an update: Over the last week or so, I’ve been using the iPhone most of the time. It still has severe issues in SOMA (or at least a bunch of places in SOMA where I hang out–it claims perfect signal strength, but the most reliable thing it does is to drop my calls). Otherwise, though, I’ve spent far less time futzing than I do when I’m in Androidland. I’m coming to the uneasy realization that I may want to use both phones, depending on what sort of limitations I can deal with at any given time.

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Life With Droid: The Good, the Bad, and the Bizarre

I put my iPhone away and switched to a Droid for a month. Here's what I found.

By  |  Posted at 8:38 am on Monday, March 22, 2010

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From July 11th, 2008–the day the iPhone 3G went on sale–until February 15th, 2010, I was an iPhone user.  But for all the things that are wonderful about the iPhone, I was increasingly fed up with one, um, minor weakness: I had trouble making and receiving phone calls on it. That’s in part because I spend a lot of time in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco, much of which seems to be Bermuda Triangle of AT&T coverage.

So after thinking it over for a couple of weeks, I took dramatic action: I bought myself a Motrola Droid from Verizon Wireless. Why the Droid? Well, with the profusion of new apps for Android phones, I figured I needed an Android phone on hand to review them . And the Droid is on the famously dependable Verizon network, is available now (unlike the Verizon Nexus One), and has a keyboard (also unlike the Nexus one).

Oh, and Amazon had the Droid for $109 with a two-year contract, no rebate paperwork involved. Which sounded like a great deal until it knocked the price down to $49.99 shortly after I placed my order…

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Verizon Droid vs. Google Nexus One: The Provisional T-Grid

By  |  Posted at 4:24 pm on Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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For the past two months, Verizon Wireless’s Droid by Motorola has had the privilege of holding  the undisputed title of Coolest Android Phone on the Market. But its reign may be short, if everyone’s assumption that next week’s Google Android event turns out to be the unveiling of Google’s Nexus One (aka “the Googlephone”)  turns out to be accurate.

The Nexus One remains unannounced, but there’s information (or alleged information) about it all over the Web. So it doesn’t seem premature to put together a provisional T-Grid comparing it to the Droid. The Nexus One data here is culled from sources such as Engadget and Gizmodo, and for now, you should pretend that each and every field has an asterisk next to it indicating that it’s not confirmed.

What are the key differences between the two phones? The Nexus One (which lacks a physical keyboard) is apparently thinner and lighter. It’s supposedly got an OLED screen which is said to be gorgeous. It runs on T-Mobile’s network rather than Verizon’s (it’ll reportedly only work on AT&T in sluggish EDGE mode). And it’s allegedly got a very fast CPU (1-GHz?) and twice the RAM of the Droid. Plus a newer version of Android that’s been further tweaked by Google.

Okay, enough apparentlys, supposedlys, reportedlys, and allegedlys. Info after the jump–I’ll update it once Google has weighed in…

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This Droid Ad Can’t Be About the iPhone. Right?

By  |  Posted at 12:39 am on Friday, December 4, 2009

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Cnet’s Chris Matyszczyk thinks this new Verizon Droid ad is slagging the iPhone. Watch it, then tell me what you think:

I (mostly) like the Droid and like its positioning as a somewhat homely but useful phone. And yes, I agree that the phone under attack in the ad looks an awful lot like a white iPhone 3GS, although the spot cunningly never shows you it from the front:

But the iPhone is anything but a “digitally clueless tiara-wearing beauty pageant queen,” and–unless the ad is taking a very oblique swipe at the thinness of AT&T’s 3G network–it isn’t slow. (Actually, its browser seems to do quite well in comparison to the Droid’s, though neither makes me think of sawblades going through bananas.) I have no idea what it means to be digitally clueless, but I’m positive that the iPhone isn’t. And I can’t believe that Verizon would think that any prospective customer who hasn’t been hibernating in a cave somewhere would buy the notion that the iPhone is clueless in any meaningful respect. (Imperfect? Hell, yeah–but not clueless.)

If the ad’s about the iPhone, it might as well toss in a claim that the iPhone supports death panels for old people, or paroled a vicious murderer, or assassinated Archduke Ferdinand. So I choose to think it’s about pretty phones in general. You know–the digitally clueless ones.

Let’s end this with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”



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Is it Too Early to Start Designing the Verizon Droid II?

By  |  Posted at 2:05 am on Friday, November 6, 2009

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Droid IIVerizon Wireless starts selling its first Android phone, the Droid (“by Motorola”) today. I’ve been using a unit loaned to me by Verizon for a week, and remain mostly impressed: The Droid couples impressive hardware with the much-improved Android 2.0 OS, and the result is the first Android phone that’s fully worthy of being compared to the iPhone 3GS and Palm’s Pre. (It’s most definitely an example of the class of device that Walt Mossberg calls “super-smart phones.”)

I don’t expect every Verizon customer who’s currently lusting after the iPhone to buy a Droid instead, but I think a meaningful percentage will–and that overall, they’ll be pleased.

But the Droid is hardly above criticism. As I’ve been using one and mostly enjoying the experience, my mind has been racing ahead to…next year’s model. (I’m assuming there will be one: Already, Verizon is releasing another phone in the Droid lineup, the Droid Eris.)

So here’s my quick wishlist for the phone I’m calling the Droid II–the next major collaboration between Verizon, Motorola,and Google.

A better keyboard. I want to like the Droid’s wide QWERTY keyboard, but so far I can’t muster much enthusiasm for its feel–the overall thinness of the phone has resulted in keys without enough travel for truly satisfying typing. (I do like the fact that it frees up all of the handsome screen’s 854-by-480 pixels for content, not virtual keys.)

It’s gotta be possible to squeeze a better keyboard into the space the Droid has–for one thing, the little five-way controller to the right of the keys seems superfluous on a touchscreen device. Dump it, and you could widen the keys and make them more comfy. I’d also be tickled if the Droid II took a cue from the AT&T Tilt I used to carry and angled the screen up when you slid out the keyboard.

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Verizon’s Droid and the Importance of Pinching

By  |  Posted at 7:33 pm on Wednesday, November 4, 2009

6 Comments

Android CrabWhen I compared the Verizon Droid to the iPhone 3GS last week, I said that the Droid didn’t have multi-touch input–based on the fact that I’d used it a lot and encountered no instances when it did. A commenter said that the phone did indeed support multi-touch, and I tweaked my item. Essentially, the phone is capable of multi-touch; it just chooses not to use it.

Today, Rob Jackson of Phandroid pointed out that the Android image editor Picsay uses multi-touch, and serves as proof that the Droid can do it. He’s right, and Picsay shows the power of controlling your phone with more than one finger at a time. As with iPhone applications, it lets zoom in and out of images by pulling and pinching them. It’s wonderfully fluid–at least as good as the iPhone’s multi-touch.

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