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The Droid Has Landed…Unboxed! Plus a Few Facts

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Droid_by_Motorola_Front_Open_VZW_EyeSo the Droid from Verizon just landed and we have an unboxing video. Despite all the hype, I have this to say to the makers of the iPhone: You’ve got nothing to worry about. Go out, have fun and get into the hands of a few more millions. As for the BlackBerry, its makers better be worried. Watch the unboxing video below the fold.

I’m not sure how you guys will feel about the Droid in a few days, but I can safely say that like so many so-called iPhone killers in the past, this isn’t one. That’s not a judgment as to the robustness or usability of the device — I need more time for that — it’s just that Verizon seriously overhyped it.

The New York Times’ Saul Hansell has the whole story on Motorola, Sanjay Jha and how the Droid came to be. It’s an interesting read, and one which reveals that the design choices (or lack there off) are courtesy of Verizon. As Hansell writes:

They found a way to fit a slide-out keyboard into a phone that was only 1.5 millimeters thicker than the iPhone. And they used a 3.7-inch touchscreen, noticeably bigger than the 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone. To take advantage of the higher resolution of that screen, Motorola, working with Google, developed new software that would support high-definition video and 3-D graphics.

Here are some facts about Droid collected by our team.

  • Doesn’t appear to be full Microsoft Exchange support — includes Calendar, Mail and Contacts, but not Tasks or Notes, on which some corporate users rely.
  • Placing the Droid in the optional car dock immediately opens up the “Car Dock” interface, and turn-by-turn GPS directions are available.
  • Placing the Droid in the optional media dock places the Droid into an alarm clock and media player mode.
  • The interface is a stock Google Android 2.0 design, so no extra home screens like some other recent devices.
  • Unlike some HTC Android devices, Droid offers a standard 3.5 mm headset jack.
  • Like webOS Synergy, Droid unifies contacts from Gmail, Facebook and Exchange.
  • Dedicated hardware keys offer haptic feedback.
  • Verizon includes a 16GB SD card with the Droid, it supports 32GB.
  • Droid’s 5MP camera with flash trumps most other current phones with 720×480 (DVD Quality) recording at 24 fps
  • The camera also supports Image Stabilization, real-time color effects, scene modes and location tagging.
  • Droid does have an accelerometer and landscape keyboard, so it’s not necessary to slide out the QWERTY keyboard for landscape entry.
  • There’s no MotoBLUR, but there is a Facebook widget.
  • Back of the device is soft touch.
  • The 854×480 display offers a higher resolution than the first ASUS Eee PC netbook, which was 800×480.
  • Droid runs the same SnapdragonTI OMAP chip as the iPhone.

43 Responses to “The Droid Has Landed…Unboxed! Plus a Few Facts”

  1. I’ve had an Android phone for a while now, and I’ll be selling it for an iPhone pretty soon. Android was rushed to market and it shows. Slow, buggy apps, inconsistencies across the UI, and major features missing. The Android Market and its “anything gets in” approach is no better because there are a LOT of really lousy applications. Sure, it looks great to say “we have 10,000 apps” but when thousands of them are duplicates (forked projects) or “sexy girls wallpapers” applications, who cares?
    At least other phones can deal with self-signed SSL certificates. Android cannot. And if you look at the Google Code site, it seems that more people are concerned with getting FLAC support (used by mostly audiophile wannabes than average users) on Android than fixing all of the broken connectivity issues first. :|

    • You can’t even move IMAP emails from one folder to another with the Android email client. It’s really pathetic! I expect to be able to do email with my smartphone, and the Android phones have all failed. But if you’re a Google boi and all you use is gmail then yeah it’s ok. anything else? you’re pretty screwed. The Exchange support is half assed at best.

  2. > Droid runs the same TI OMAP chip as the iPhone.

    ahem … AFAIK the iPhone is actually running a Samsung application processor (ARM architecture, 600-ish MHz)

    see iSuppli’s teardown:

    it’s the Pre that does run TI’s gear …

    The “designed in California” Jesus phone is running a “designed in Korea” processor … (and uses a “designed in Germany/France” baseband chip from Infineon)

  3. Interesting that the URL for this post reads: “droid-will-not-kill-iphone”. But the actual title is a less dramatic and unwieldy, “The Droid Has Landed…Unboxed! Plus a Few Facts”.

    Om does a little flip-flop with the post title decisions! What’s that they say about Librans and decisions? :-)

  4. I start wondering if the proliferation of similar devices, which are good enough, but do not exceed the market leader is working for or against these devices.
    Market leader in terms of the device to beat or be compared too. I mean in the good old times good enough SW for example had at least 3-4 years to proof it was good enough and there where no brothers and sisters (in tech circles) it was compared too at the same time. Right now there is no single marketing message (to end users) which compares Android phones with the iPhone, they all seem to have there own message.
    Is it just me or is it all pretty diluted ?

  5. Sorry but the Times article does not shed much information on Motorola’s “design choices or lack thereof”. The Droid design has seemed gawky to me from the moment I saw it. It does not seem to have the elegance of the iPhone. Now that you guys have it in your hand, what is your view about the design? And if it’s negative, I suggest you lay off the schadenfreude tone this time.

    • Californian

      Imho, the exterior design is totally a matter of personal preference; I happen to like the square design much more than the rounded corners. However, I can also see the aesthetic appeal in a phone with only one button and no chin.

  6. The Verizon issued mobile phone, “Droid”, speifcally is not, wasn’t meant to, will never be an iPhone “killer”.

    Droid is merely one iPhone *alternative*, as in choice, similar, “you may also like”, etc.

    Ah, but here’s where it gets good…

    By this time next year I estimate there will be nearly 100 Android powered phones, from myriad carriers. More choice, more alternatives, 99 more “you may also like…”.

    Death by a thousands cuts is “killer”.

    • Just to play devil’s advocate (or at least that is how I feel about Apple today) I think this is the same argument made when iPod was faced with competition from Microsoft/Samsung/Sandisk/Ri/ Tom Dick and Hari…. those 99 models can drive consumers straight into the arms of iPhone… just saying…

      • Californian

        Haha I was actually surprised that you were the only one I read saying specifically that it isn’t an iPhone killer considering your earlier post about Apple.
        Good point about all the alternatives, but in this case they all share a general UI and ecosystem, so it is a bit different. Either way, those with their iPhones will be happy with them, and I’ll be happy with my Droid. As long as Google keeps increasing their profits in advertising (and enterprise), I’ll be happy enough that they are still developing the platform that I can deal with a little fanboy loss, if that ends up being the case.

      • “iPod was faced with competition from Microsoft/Samsung/Sandisk/Ri/ Tom Dick and Hari”

        Which all sucked. Inferior to the iPod’s user experience.

        ( Androids UI, user experience is actually superior to the iPhone OS )

  7. Californian

    Well, from what I’ve read, this will, in fact, have great battery life “This might come as a shock to many, but the Motorola Droid has the best battery life out of any Android device we’ve ever tested. It completely smokes the Motorola CLIQ — obviously it’s not constantly pushing as much data, but it’s not even a fair comparison. With push Exchange configured, Facebook, and a linked push Google account (Gmail, contacts, etc.) we had no problem lasting through a whole day of usage. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi were disabled, but it’s still a pretty amazing performer as far as the battery is concerned.”
    I don’t know about the extra fees etc., but as you mentioned, it seems like they will, at the very least, be less prevalent. And I’d take a couple annoying fees over the crappy service of ATT.

    As for the hype, I think it will definitely live up to it. Just think: when people who are used to having an iphone screen staring them in the face, and then they see this thing’s ~2-3 times higher resolution one, they’ll be impressed by that alone. It also has a physical keyboard, a huge plus in my book. And the camera is better. Do you care to elaborate on why you don’t think it will kill the iPhone? I do, however, agree that most attempts to say “we’re better than Apple” make sales worse, but that’s simply because expectations are not met; with this device, I really feel that won’t be the case. I’ll find out firsthand when I get mine next Friday though!

    • It has a 1400 mw batter which is pretty awesome. I shall report in a day or two. I really think the key on this device: VZ network. It is pretty darn good and the device is solid enough to make people think VZ over Ma Bell.

      • “You’ve got nothing to worry about”

        That’s very cute and naive of you guys. Android is light years ahead of the iPhone platform. And the DROID is just the start of an onslaught of much better phones that will be coming. What’s the iPhone done since V1? Apps? Slightly better hardware specs? The Android platform is growing at a ridiculous rate and has taken away every advantage the iPhone had with the release of V2.

        “it’s just that Verizon seriously overhyped it”

        Hmm… mean like everything Apple does? Odd that Apple is praised for doing little to nothing with it’s product and yet Verizon is simply overhyping a crappy product.

        I can honestly say I have yet to encounter a single person that has switched from the iPhone to an Android phone and had remorse (not a ton, but at least 15-20 people that I’ve talked to).

        No, the DROID won’t kill the iPhone, but Android will.

      • Oh, and I forgot to mention that AT&T’s plans suck. Another reason that Android has a leg up. I can get unlimited text + web with 500 minutes for $60. Can you do that with the iPhone and AT&T? No, but you can with Android and TMobile.

        Remember, you _can’t_ compare the mobile battle to the MP3 player battle. There are too many different factors. Mainly the carriers and Google.

      • The G1 was already an iPhone killer for me. The drawbacks were the sorry battery life and the lags. From all reports the battery life on the Droid is very good and all videos I have seen don’t show any lags. Actually having it in hand will show if this is true or not. If it is, then it’s certainly an iPhone killer for many.

        The thing is that the G1 was better than the iPhone for many. The Hero is better than the iPhone for people who don’t want a keyboard and love the better UI. The Cliq is better than the iPhone for those that are into Social networking. Every Android phone that appeals to any section of the market is an iPhone killer for that segment. And since one size doesn’t fit all, together, Android is the iPhone killer.

        The argument that background processes kill battery life or introduces lag, or that Java is slow, or that fragmentation will be Android’s problem is clearly proving to be wrong. With even better hardware coming and apps working across devices with different UI and hardware features (keyboards, screen sizes etc.), we should be able to lay that FUD to rest.

    • Okay I will give you that point but my view is that I think iPhone comparisons almost always work against marketing a smart phone. Sandisk is good example of company that didn’t try and be “iPod” and they carved out a decent market share.

      That said, Droid is going to sell and will have an impact on the market. A good solid impact infact.

  8. Seriously, I would consider this over an iPhone in a heartbeat, but for two questions:

    1) Is Verizon finally going to give up trying to nickel-and-dime you to death on fees and charges? Hopefully the navigation services in Google Maps – the sort of thing phone companies love to stick an extra $10 on the bill for – are a sign that those days are largely past. Nevertheless, I want to see a service plan first.

    2) Battery life, battery life, battery life. Running that big bright display, on a CDMA network, with all those widgets and multitasking – something tells me there’s a reason they’re pushing the removable battery as a feature, and I’m going to be very disappointed if it’s “because you need to switch batteries at lunchtime.”

    In all other respects though – if I’m Apple, I’m reloading, and if I’m RIM or Palm or Microsoft, I’m *terrified*.