Motorola’s Droid X arrived at my home office yesterday, on loan for a month from Verizon Wireless. I’ll have a full review shortly, but thought to share a early taste of the newest Android 2.1 handset. To that end, I asked folks what they wanted to know about Droid X and they replied. So here are my answers to your questions, along with a few additional impressions.
“Does the Droid X have a physical keyboard?” — Unlike the original Motorola Droid, this new model only offers an on-screen, or soft keyboard. While that may turn off those who prefer a hardware keyboard, I’ve already found that I can type faster on the Droid X than I can with my Nexus One — and I’ve had 6 months to practice on the Nexus One. I think the large 4.3-inch display has much to do with the better typing experience because even my small hands don’t feel as cramped when tapping on the software keys. The Droid X comes with Swype pre-installed as well — with this input method, you trace your words on keyboard and lift a finger between each word. The Swype software is extremely accurate and, with minimal practice, speeds up text entry.
“How’s the performance compared to your Nexus One?” — Good question since my personal handset uses a speedy 1GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm. The CPU in the Droid X clocks in at the same 1 GHz, but the chip is a Texas Instruments OMAP 3630. It’s early yet, but I find overall performance of the Droid X to be very comparable to my Nexus One. And the Droid X will gain speed when it receives Android 2.2, aka Froyo, in a over-the-air update expected later this summer. I don’t find any lag in the interface, which is a lightly customized version of the stock Android UI: you tap and Droid X does.
“What’s the most innovative feature of Droid X?” — Everyone will have a different answer to this question, but I think the most innovative feature has to be the camera’s Panoramic mode. It walks you through taking a series of six photos, either horizontally or vertically, and stitches them together into one picture using software. iPhone owners have enjoyed this type of software solution for some time, and I’ve been searching for the same on Android. Although it’s not quite a perfect super-wide angle photo, it works very well and is simple to use. Here’s a sample shot of my home office; click to see it in full size.
“How is the large display and does it make the device too big?” – I’ll admit that I initially thought a 4.3-inch display wouldn’t offer enough benefit to compensate for carrying a larger phone, but after using the Droid X for a short time, I see I was wrong. The larger screen — with 854×480 resolution, currently the highest supported by Android — is a joy to use and even though the device is larger than I’m accustomed to, it’s still quite pocketable, and easy to carry at 5.4 ounces. Colors appear less vibrant than on my Nexus One but that’s because Droid X uses a standard LCD instead of OLED (that also makes the phone more usable outdoors). The Droid X screen looks clearer as well — text appears crisper, and of course, there’s more of it to read due to the larger screen size. I haven’t seen an iPhone 4 display, so I’m not able to make a comparison at this time.
“Did Verizon load the Droid X up with crapware?” — Aside from the Verizon logo on the front of the Droid X, there’s little that tells you this is a Verizon handset. Instead of pre-installing the phone with a bunch of Verizon applications and services, the Droid X is fairly clean. But if you want access to Verizon’s VCAST or the MyVerizon application, for example, you can find them under a Verizon tab in the Android Market. I like this approach because it doesn’t require folks to uninstall software they didn’t want, but makes it easy to find carrier apps they do want. And the Droid X does come with Skype Mobile pre-installed, currently a Verizon exclusive on Android, as well as the 3G Mobile Hotspot software that shares a 3G connection with up to five devices over Wi-Fi. The hotspot service will cost $20 extra per month.
I did receive a few other questions, so I’ll incorporate those in my full review. If you name a recent smartphone I can bet someone asked me if the Droid X beats it. Unfortunately, choosing a phone is a highly personal experience — and I don’t have every brand and model of hot new device out there. Suffice it to say for now, that Droid X will make many Verizon customers happy overall when it becomes available next week. It’s not perfect, but based on the short amount of time I’ve had with hit, there’s little that will disappoint.
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Additional facts about the Droid X:
- Memory: 8 GB internal, 16 GB memory card included, 512 MB of RAM
- Size: 2.6-inches x 5-inches x 0.4-inches
- Camera: 8 megapixel sensor with support for 720p video recording and HDMI-out for video playback
- Battery: 1540 mAh, user replaceable
- Launch date and price: July 15 for $199 after $100 mail-in rebate, with new 2-year contract
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