In part two of my Motorola Droid review, I am going to take a look at the hardware of this highly anticipated phone. The Motorola Droid, is a new touch screen phone from Verizon Wireless. It is the first phone to come out with Google’s Android 2.0 OS. People have been excited for the Droid because it seems to be the phone that answers everyones requests. The phone features a 3.7″ 16:9 widescreen touch display, a 3.5mm headset jack, a 5 MP camera, a battery that claims 7 hour of continuous use, a micro SD card slot, and a full slide out QWERTY keyboard. The device weighs in at 6oz and measures 2.4 x 4.6 x .5 (H x W x D) in size. When comparing it to an iPhone 3G, it is just about the same size but is slightly thick.
One thing that did strike me as weird, is the Droid doesn’t include any headphones in the box. While this wont bug most people, including me, I did find it strange. Most phones now days come with some sort of headset in the box wether it is a high quality hands free kit, or just a crappy set of $.99 head phones. The Droid also features a very large speaker on the back of the device, which is very loud and sounds great when making calls and listing to audio.
The Motorola Droid feels like it is very well built. It is very solid, and the back features a very nice slightly rubbery coating. The phone fits into my hand very comfortable and all buttons are easily accessible with my thumb when I am holding the phone. The Droid features 4 buttons (a back button, an options button, a home button, and a search button) along the bottom of the screen, which provide haptic feedback, in the form of a slight vibration, when pushed. The Droid also features a removable battery, which hides behind a slide off panel. This slide off panel is where my first problem with this device lies. I have had the phone for a week now, and I have had the battery door slide off mistakenly on 3 different occasions. What I discovered is because the back of the Droid has a rubber coating, it grips stuff very easily so if I have the phone sitting on something and I pick it up, if I slide it along what it was sitting on, I can very easily slide the battery door off. If I owned this device, I would probably put a piece of tape over the battery door so I don’t lose the little door. Another minor issues I had with the hardware of the device, was the charging port, I founds its location on the side of the phone to be very inconvenient. I would have much rather seen it on the bottom of the device.
The power/sleep/wake button which is located at the top of the device, was another cause for concern. I found this button to be very small and hard to find. One of the habits i have gotten into with the iPhone is waking the phone up as I pull it out of my pocket. With the iPhone this involves pushing a nice large button found on the front of the device. The button on the Droid is about the size of a grain of rice and it sits flush with a lip on the case causing it to not be easily found by feeling with your finger.
The screen on the Motorola Droid is incredibly beautiful. It is slightly large .2″ then the iPhone screen, it features a much higher resolution then the iPhone. The iPhone 3G features a 480 x 320 resolution scree, and the Droid features a 480 x 854 resolution screen. Those numbers might not mean much to you, but that difference in resolutions results in a 300,000 pixel difference between the iPhone and the Droid. Where I really noticed the difference was when reading text. With the iPhone, when you look at ATLChris.com full version on the iPhone, you can’t read the text until you zoom in, this is because there are not enough pixels to clearly display the detail of small text. With the Motorola Droid, you can clearly read the text and see in detail the individual letters. When viewing video, the phones are pretty equal I found that both devices show video beautifully, but did not notice an increase in video clearity when viewing on the Droid vs the iPhone. I will say though that the video I test was not optimized for the Droid, so my test might not be the best to determine video quality differences.
One of the features that many people were excited about with the Motorola Droid, was the inclusion of a full physical QWERTY keyboard. Before the iPhone, I was a Blackberry Curve user and loved my physical keyboard. I was excited to use the Droid to see if I still favored the physical keyboard over a touch screen keyboard. My findings surprised me. I types almost 10 times faster on a touch keyboard then a physical keyboard. The physical keyboard on the Droid slides out from under the device. I am going to just come straight out and say it, the physical keyboard on the Droid sucks. It is horribly designed which is surprising consider how well the phone is designed over all. The keys are super flat and very small, I would it very difficult to see determine what key I was pushing. I also found that my thumbs were to big, and sometimes pushed multiple keys at one time. After trying to use the physical keyboard for a day, I gave up and just started using the touch screen keyboard again.
The Motorola Droid features a 5MP camera with a LED flash. The camera is capable of taking both still and video images. Motorola claims that the video is near DVD quality and the stills are equal to a standalone 5MP digital camera. I can confirm first hand that these 2 claims are incredibly over stated. I have attached a couple of examples of the photo quality below and a YouTube of the video quality. When taking stills, the slightest bit of movement results in a blurred image and the LED flash is to over powering. The video is good considering it is a camera on a phone, but when you look at other small cameras on the market, they could have easily achieved better quality in the smaller form factor.
The Motorola Droid is a very well built phone. You can tell the Motorola design team really put a lot of thought into the overall design of the phone. The screen is what really makes this device stand out. It is super high resolution for a mobile device, and you can really tell a difference when comparing it to the iPhone 3G. The keyboard is probably the biggest issue I had with the phone. It is nice having a slide out keyboard, but because of the super flat design, I found it incredibly unusable, and I returned to the on screen touch keyboard after just one day.
Overall, the device feels great in your hand and the rubber coating on the back really allows you to grip the phone securely but still be able to touch the screen and the haptic feedback buttons on the front of the device. I am a big fan of the micro SD removable memory and the removable battery even know the battery door is a bit of a issue. From a hardware stand point, I would say the device is pretty equal with the iPhone 3G. If this device was available as a GSM AT&T phone, it would be a toss up between it and the iPhone 3G.
This article is Part 2 of my full series of reviews of the Motorola Droid. Below are links to the other parts of the Motorola Droid Review: