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What Are the Downsides to Droid?

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Droid_by_Motorola_Front_Open_VZW_EyeUPDATED Verizon Wireless is ramping up for Friday’s launch of the Motorola Droid, and the device has created substantial buzz, thanks to generally positive reviews and the carrier’s big-budget marketing campaign. But some users — including Om — say the handset has been overhyped and is no threat to the iPhone. The Droid does have a few noticeable shortcomings, including:

  • Accessing the Droid’s built-in support for Microsoft (s msft) Exchange ActiveSync will cost users an additional $15 a month. (UPDATE: Gearlog is reporting that this isn’t true; according to the post, the additional $15 fee is for business account holders, not Exchange access.) While the charge isn’t new — Verizon has long charged BlackBerry users a tacked-on fee, and AT&T (s t) and T-Mobile USA have similar plans — it could hinder the gadget’s uptake among business users.
  • Like other Android gadgets, the Droid’s app storage is limited to a meager 256MB. Yes, it comes with a 16GB SD card that can be replaced with a 32GB card, but there’s likely to be some backlash from consumers who’ve never used removable memory before.
  • The Droid’s browser is inferior to the iPhone 3.1 Safari browser, according to MobileCrunch, with slower page loads and slightly less compliance to web standards.
  • While the European version of the Droid — which is dubbed the Milestone — features a multitouch screen, the U.S. version does not, eliminating the ability for users to pinch and zoom as they can on the iPhone.

None of these shortcomings are particularly damning, of course, and I expect the Droid to sell well this holiday season. But there’s certainly some fodder here for Apple to fire back with a “Droid doesn’t” commercial or two.

24 Responses to “What Are the Downsides to Droid?”

  1. Great piece. At least the Droid is better than the Palm Pre in that the number of installable apps is only limited by the available memory. With the Palm Pre, there’s a hard limit to the _number_ of installable apps even if you have memory left (so lots and lots of small apps will still throw up a warning). That’s supposed to change with some update in the future.

  2. Had it for two days now. Performs very very fast. Browser loads quickly and memory – ram. Dosnt seem to be an issue. Loaded most of my music, books and video collection. Loaded RDP and 10 other apps. Loaded a few games and a few more.

    So far it has been flawless.

    However, I think people are missing the boat with this argument.
    The phone is really an extension of google and the internet.
    If you have a nice stable fast network connection, and Verizon + wi/fi is super easy/reliable compared to at&t or my experience with sprint, you don’t need storage.

    Using Pandora and/or Listen you have the whole interenet qued up.

    The google voice/ google docs / gmail / picasa integration makes it so easy to have
    a MUCH better experience that you would have in any device.

    So the droid has a big hi-res screen. A replaceable battery. Verizon service.
    The phone is VERY fast. And android is an open platform, with much of the 10,000 apps not crap, and a high percentage of them still free.

    If you read what is avail in the 3.0 sdk, you will be seeing some cloud based games that will blow your socks off, possible using the sd card as cache.

    • I am in total agreement with Dave. I have had the Droid for about 5 days – alongside my Iphone. Whoever thinks that the Iphone has faster web browsing is out of his/her mind. I just traveled from the East Coast to California, comparing the two devices, just to see the difference, and will tell you that, barring any not yet encountered drawbacks, I would give up the Iphone for the Droid in a minute. Fortunately, I have continued service on both networks, and have had for a few years, and can afford to use the Iphone as a toy, while using my Verizon option (formerly a Blackberry Curve) for everything else which needs to be quick and easy.
      For those who think there is a comparison, try the voice searches and link it to Navigation, just to see what real world integration is supposed to be. It will blow your mind. I can’t wait for Motorola and Google to come up with their upgrades so I can see what else is in store.

  3. The 512/256MB memory limitation is a major drawback. As another reviewer pointed out, memory cards are not the same thing as on-board memory. Forget the issue of whether users are used to using memory cards (irrelevant). The real issue is that applications do not install on the memory card; they will chew up the 256MB of un-expandable memory. (Storm 2, e.g., has 2.3GB of on-board memory.) This may not be an issue for some. But it is for me. And considering that the Android platform is supposed to be a major selling point because of its openness and extensibility, the memory limitation is a real limiting factor and really inexcusable.

    • I have been using an Ipaq Pocket PC for years and I have only 256 MB total the apps and op share this memory. I have never really noticed the memory limitations I just find the ones I like and use them. I also use a GZ1. I think that I can handle double the memory . And one device to do it all. Maybe you can use multiple backups.

  4. I own a Tmobile G1 and can say the 192 mb of application ram sounds like a lot untill you realize that with nothing installed, free memory is 40 mb or so. When it slows down I wipe the phone and its fast again until the next time. The ability to run software from sd would help but also kick up ram to 512mb, not just 256mb in the droid.
    And yes I will get the droid because of the network it is on

  5. ProfessionalGun

    You really think Apple would even acknowledge the existence of an iPhone competitor by going on the defensive with a “Droid Doesn’t” commercial? Not a chance. The brand has too much influence. They would never share their stage with a company that has such a comparably small share of the market.

  6. Downsides will be determined after buyers of the Droid have a chance to use it and make their comments.

    None of these shortcomings IS particularly a shortcoming .. yet.


    Post title is in error.

    “What Are the Downsides to Droid?”

    Should read:

    “What Are The Downsides to Consumers Having a Choice?”

    ( the answer, of course, is: “none” )

    • Hey, there are downsides to the droid, just as there are downsides to the iPhone, the Palm pre, Nokia’s latest and greatest, pretty much all phones. Don’t be scared, nobody is trying to hurt you.

  8. OK.. The iPhone-love-hypism is getting too overboard. I know all you editors love Apple.. but, I’m not seeing your ability to think beyond what Apple presents to you.

    Let’s take the first two points. Enterprise users are way too involved with Blackberries to move to Droid or even iPhone. These two pieces are totally 100% consumer oriented.. not directed towards enterprise users at all. Secondly, your “consumers who’ve never used removable memory before” is totally ignorant. Name one phone besides iPhone that doesn’t have removable memory. Even Samsung Galaxy that has 8GB internal memory has remobable memory. Every dumb phone that has been released for the past 3-4 years had removable memory.

    Yes, the browser experience is definitely not superior, or not even on par with iPhone. Android has long way to go in that regard.

    And well, while the European version scored the multi-touch, the US Version scored the Google Maps Navigation. Kind of Even-Stevens ;)

    • PowerMac

      @ raghu – enterprise users are NOT too committed to blackberries to switch, we’re committed to real keyboards, proper exchange support, snappy performance and good battery life. If we can get those AND a touch screen and decent web-browsing in the same unit, then that’s perfect. Isn’t that what Droid offers, and a large part of why it’s so eagerly anticipated? I’m an enterprise user, CTO and blackberry user, and I can tell you, I’m pretty excited about getting my hands on a Droid.

    • And you ignorance will be your downfall….or something.

      Lots of enterprise users want to move away from BB, I meet so many people who are unhappy with the BB experience. Sure it has gotten better, but it is still not as lusted after as the iphone is (rightly or wrongly).

      Also, I know a lot of techies who are use to memory cards, but plenty of people as well who aren’t, and don’t understand why they can’t put their sony memory stick from their camera in the SD slot on their laptop.

      Thanks for playing though.

    • Raghu,
      While it is true that the enterprise market is dominated by BB, like others have pointed out, they’re not joined at the hip with BB. Our company has used WInMo and after several complaints and manifestly bad experiences, have switched to iPhone 3G. The $99 price with AT&T makes it a no brainer. Employees are happier and they actually get updates/emails/timely synchronization as opposed to a frozen WinMo (I’ve used one for 2 years + and have never bought Apple products)

    • Also at Raghu,
      Have you tried taking your 8GB music collection and 2GB picture collection on a microSD card and have you phone load it everytime you remove/insert the card. That’s a fun experiment, try it with all the OSs.

      (hint: It isn’t a pleasurable experience, I’ve tried it)

  9. If the pricing for data is on par with all other devices and carriers in the US I don’t see how it will hinder adoption. I also there’s confusion between what Verizon deems business use. Business data plans are if you are getting service through a company account or negotiated rate. If you’re buying the service under your own name with no affiliation to a company, then you can use the $30/month plan.

    • Unfortunately the article confuses the issue of the 256MB app limitation and SD cards by making it sound as if one can expand the application storage area by adding SD cards. Like Blackberries, Android can only install applications to onboard memory, which in the case of the Droid is 256MB (Its actually 512MB but 256 of that is reserved for the OS). Even if you add a 64GB SD card Android will NOT be able to use it to store applications. The SD card is only used to store media like music, photos, videos, etc. While 256MB may seem like a lot, certain applications such as games routinely measure in the hundreds of megabytes. Perhaps Android was designed only for ‘serious’ business users in mind?

      • Although current Android apps are rather small in file size and *can* store extraneous data to the SD card, like graphics and sound files they need to operate.

        It is just that the app itself cannot be installed to the SD card… yet. Rooted users can now but there is also a group of developers working on allowing non-rooted users to be able to also do so. Hopefully we will be able to install apps directly to the SD card in the not so distant future.

        I currently have over 50 apps installed on my T-Mobile MyTouch including game apps, music related apps, and various non-serious business oriented apps with room for more.