“Verizon Wireless customers tend to love the company’s fast 3G network. But many tech-oriented Verizon loyalists gripe about the carrier’s high-end smart phones, which haven’t matched the cachet and versatility of the Apple iPhone sold by AT&T. In fact, some Verizon customers have switched to AT&T simply to get an iPhone,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.
“But this week, Verizon is rolling out a device that finally gives it a more credible alternative. This new $200 phone is the Motorola Droid and it’s the first Verizon model to run Google’s Android smart-phone operating system. I’ve been testing the Droid, and while it has some significant drawbacks, I regard it as a success overall,” Mossberg reports. “It’s the best super-smart phone Verizon offers, the best Motorola phone I’ve tested and the best hardware so far to run Android. I can recommend the Droid to Verizon loyalists who have lusted for a better smart phone, but don’t want to switch networks.”
“Currently, Android offers over 12,000 apps. That is just a fraction of the 100,000 apps available for the iPhone, but it’s well above what the newer BlackBerry or Palm phones offer,” Mossberg reports. “The Droid is also the first phone that runs the 2.0 version of Android, which sands off some of the rough edges of Google’s platform and adds some features—notably, a free voice-prompted turn-by-turn navigation program. Android still isn’t as slick or fluid as the iPhone’s OS, in my view, but it has some functionality Apple omits, including the ability to run multiple third-party apps simultaneously.”
Here are some snippets from Mossberg’s review:
• Droid only a tad longer and thicker than the Apple product, but it’s 25% heavier, which makes it less comfortable to carry around in a pocket
• 3.7-inch screen looks great, but lacks multitouch features, such as two-finger zooming, and it seemed less responsive than some other touch screens I’ve tested
• $200 price comes only after a $100 mail-in rebate, requires a minimum $70 monthly service plan for two years, and text messaging costs extra
• Unfortunately for lovers of physical keyboards, I found the one on the Droid to be pretty awful [with] flat, cramped keys that induce too many typing errors, yet lacks auto-correction
• Another downside: The Droid’s screen has only three panels for displaying apps, versus 11 on the iPhone
• Droid comes with 16 gigabytes of memory, in the form of a removable card, and can handle up to a 32-gigabyte card
MacDailyNews Note: The Droid ships with only 256 MB available for app storage. Google Android does not support installation of apps to SD cards, so developers face a very real and rather stifling limit. Many of the most popular iPhone apps (games) easily exceed 100 MB, so not very many quality apps would fit on Droid. That’s probably why Droid can only use three panels for displaying apps. It’s a very real issue which, unfortunately, the usually comprehensive, but lately quite sloppy, Mossberg neglects to mention in his review. To ask him why he glaringly omitted this rather important information in his “review,” contact:
The full review is here.
MacDailyNews Take: Talk about “Broken Promises.” Verizon gives Microsoft a serious run for their money in the “trust me, this time it’s going to be different” department:
LG Voyager, HTC Touch, BlackBerry Bold, Samsung Omnia, BlackBerry Storm, Motorola Droid…
With Verizon’s newly doubled early termination fees (From US$175 to $350) for Droid and other smartphones, buyers will need to choose whether they should double their risk on Verizon’s latest iPhone-lookalike-not-workalike or if they should just make the smart choice and go get an Apple iPhone.