Pros: Open source OS, dual-core processor, intuitive design
Cons: No front camera, mediocre rear camera, battery hog.
After finally dumping my Apple IPhone4 (reluctant purchase, but bought it because it had a superior battery life), I got tired of being tethered to I-tunes, not being able to connect my phone to a PC and drag and drop files, faltering I-Cloud that never could synchronize calendars, and basically a nice-looking piece of garbage, I started searching for Android phones.
Looking at VerizonWireless’ website, I found a plethora of choices and had to decide what features were important to me and then check the ratings of these phones. I have quite a few medical problems, so I live in doctors’ offices, labs, hospitals, and MRI centers. Therefore, having a calendar that could sync to every device in the house from my phone was my primary and most important feature. As I stated before, when my IPhone updated itself to IOS5, I was now having to deal with a less-than-acceptable I-Cloud system. I would enter a doctor’s appointment, and it wouldn’t show up on my wife’s Toshiba tablet, or any of the PCs in my home. It was a very frustrating exercise in futility.
I have a personal dislike for proprietary ANYTHING, and the Android system offers a lot in the way of open access apps and features. My second priority was to have a phone that may eventually be G4 compatible with Verizon’s system. G3 was OK for me because I don’t really browse the internet that often on my phone and if Motorola/Verizon doesn’t eventually come up with an upgrade to G4 for this phone, I really don’t care.
Battery life was next on my list of priorities. This Droid phone had complaint after complaint that it was a battery hog. However, I found an extended battery on Ebay and I usually either have it plugged into the smart charger or the car adapter, so the drain wasn’t such a big deal. Plus, this phone has plenty of tweaks so that it wouldn’t drain the battery as quickly.
Lowest on the totem pole was the camera. I use a camera to take photos. I find the camera phone to be handy only when there are candid shots that I want to get on the spur of the moment, and I don’t expect the quality of a camera phone to rival my Canon phone.
When the phone arrived, setup was a breeze EXCEPT for the dreaded WIFI setup. I have a Cisco E1000 router in the home and for some reason (whether it be the security settings or it just doesn’t like Android devices), I had the same setup problem with the phone as I did with my wife’s Toshiba Thrive. I eventually solved it by using static IP addressing and manual settings. For some reason, the Android devices didn’t like the configurations that my router’s DHCP was sending.
Though not really critical, the phone has a really blasé set of wallpapers. Motorola could have given a few more eye-pleasing wallpapers. However, I managed to get some options on the web as well as photos from my camera or phone.
The Interface is relatively intuitive and required very little reason for me to look up something in the owner’s manual. What really blew me away, was that as soon as I signed into my Gmail account, the calendar popped up with all of my appointments. Even more amazing, I thought that I would have to export my contacts from Outlook 2007 and figure out how to import them into the phone. Much to my surprise, my contacts were also migrated automatically from Google including any photos of contacts that I had.
Call quality is very good. I have asked people who have either called me or I’ve called them how well they were able to hear me – their responses were crystal clear with no echoes, static, dropouts, etc. One downside to voice-activated dialing is that the phone misreads my commands which is a little frustrating. I don’t know if it takes some time for it to “learn” my voice quirks and I haven’t had the time to really fiddle with it (only have had the phone for 2 weeks). I was, however, glad to discover that I could command the phone to SHOW me a contact. The IPhone4 simply wouldn’t do it – it would automatically dial the contact which was really annoying.
The touch screen is very responsive and the suggestive vocabulary is very accurate when texting. I did find, however, that in fast-moving games such as Angry birds, that the screen colors tend to skew when there are fast graphics involved. I haven’t put it to the test with movies from Netflix, but will add an update when I have had time to do that. Text isn’t as crisp as other phones that I’ve had, but when pages are enlarged, text becomes very easy to read.
The phone comes with a ton of “bloatware”, but any program can be uninstalled if you don’t want it eating up valuable internal storage. I added a 32GB micro SD card, so there is plenty of storage for my music and any photos or movies that I would like to store on the phone.
The dual core processor hasn’t really shown me much of a difference from my older phones, but I don’t use that many apps that require intensive number crunching. The phone DOES handle multiple apps open at the same time with ease, so I assume that having the Tegra processor is a plus.
When I connect the phone to my laptop (running Windows 7), it is immediately recognized and the storage card is visible in Windows explorer. I love being able to drag and drop files back and forth once again without having to use a 3rdparty software that always seemed to save music and other files in inaccessible areas of my hard drive. Since I am once again using Google calendar and Gmail, I don’t even need to use the Windows Mobile Device Center for syncing.
The camera takes average pictures, in my opinion, so if you really rely on your phone for outstanding photos, you may want to choose another model. It does have two LED lights which make for a broader spread of light for flash pictures (plus makes a killer flashlight). I give Motorola one notch down, because there is no front facing camera which makes Skype kind of useless. I DID like the face-to-face phone calls on the IPhone, and Motorola could have at least put a camera on the front of the device so that two-way video calls could be made in Skype – really stupid design flaw.
The Android market has literally tons of free, open-source apps and the web is also full of free stuff as well. I would highly recommend getting an antivirus program for this phone, especially if you are going to download apps outside of the market. There are several choices for free and paid antivirus programs. I downloaded and installed the free version of AVG antivirus.
Another plus is that there are plenty of apps available which enable you to print at home (or any WIFI-enabled space) to a variety of printers. I have a Brother MFC 8460N and an HP Color Laserjet 2600N, all tied to the router. I can print easily to either printer which was something my IPhone refused to do. Apple advertises that you can print wirelessly. What they DON'T tell you, is that only a handful of HP printers are capable of using this technology (Shame on you, Apple). Also, for $29.95, you can purchase Quickoffice which includes apps compatible with MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Adobe PDF.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a basic Android phone for a decent price ($88.00 on Verizon if your account is ready for an upgrade – and the package includes a car 12V adapter and belt-clip case) that easily interfaces with Google and Gmail apps, this may be the phone for you. I highly recommend getting the upgraded battery to extend the up-time of the phone. The one that I got on Ebay was about $29.00 which included a wall charger that had not only the USB connector, but also a slot for charging a second battery as well. And this particular charger is “smart”, so there is no danger of over-charging the battery.
It’s not the sleekest-looking device, nor does it have the bells and whistles that other phones may have (I sure wish that it had a pull out QWERTY keyboard), but I feel that it’s a good basic smartphone with all the tools that you may need for browsing the web, pushing email automatically, texting, and an average camera. But for a phone in its price range, it can’t be beat. My IPhone4 was a HUGE mistake. Though I would prefer a decent Windows Mobile phone (which Verizon hasn’t been able to market), I feel that the Motorola Droid x2 is a good compromise.