UPDATE: I had a couple additional thoughts and received some thoughts from others that I will add to the bottom of this post. Thanks to all that have responded to this post.
I’ll set a few of the basics here in the beginning: I have an iPhone 3G (not 3Gs) with over 120 apps of which I probably use 15-20 or so often. I love the thing and use it probably 90% of the time and use my laptop the other 10%.
Right now I have 2 different phones in front of me; the iPhone 3G for personal use, and the Droid that I am testing for work. You definitely don’t have to love Apple or even like them a little, but without the iPhone I doubt we would have seen anything like the Droid for a long time. The Blackberry Curve would still be one of the sexiest phones out there, and that’s not saying much.
Google has really done a nice job with the Android 2.0 operating system. I never used any of the earlier versions, but the Droid comes with 2.0 and I am really impressed. If there is anything that I am not too impressed with when it comes to the Droid it is the hardware itself. Maybe I am just spoiled by (or really used to) the way the iPhone feels when you hold it, but the Droid it a little to square for my taste. I would like to see rounder edges, like the iPhone, but that it just me. I am also not a fan of the slide out keyboard, which is probably what most of you will end up liking the Droid for. I get spoiled by the on screen keyboard on the iPhone and the on screen Droid keyboard works just as well in my opinion. If anything, I found that I made more typos on the on screen Droid keyboard, but the Droid does a better job of suggesting words as you type. I am sure that I would get better with it as I spent more time with it. So Google operating system = excellent, Motorola hardware, stuck in the past.
As an iPhone user you never think that there is anything wrong with the screen – it is beautiful – until you put it next to the Droid. The screen on the Droid is higher resolution and the text is really smooth. Once you see the Droid you realize that Apple really needs to move to a better screen in their next gen phone. The Droid also had better sound to me than the iPhone. I have always felt that the built in speakers on the iPhone were weak and the Droid just basically solidified that for me. Neither are fantastic but the Droid sounds much better to me.
The Droid’s camera is 5MP and the iPhone 3G is something like 2MP I think. Since my 3G doesn’t have the autofocus capabilities of the newer 3Gs it is probably not a fair fight, but the camera on the Droid took decent pictures for me when I tried it out. They still don’t seem as nice as the ones from my cheap Canon camera, but they were not too bad. Oh, and the Droid’s camera has a flash as well, so you can take a picture in your pitch black walk in closet and have it turn out like it was taken during the middle of the day with the sun sining. Really impressive.
The Droid comes with a free navigation app that I used over the weekend. It worked fine. I even took a few wrong turns to see how it would react and the Droid recalculated the route quickly and talked me through the route with turn by turn spoken directions. Not as nice of an app as my Garmin but if I didn’t already have the Garmin I would not have a need for one after getting the Droid.
Unfortunately I will not be able to recommend the Droid for work as it does not fully support the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol to connect securely to our Exchange environment, but that was pretty much one of the only negatives that I could find. Remember, the Droid runs version 2.0 so I would expect that we will see some updates addressing the bugs pretty soon. I have heard 12/11 could be one such software update. Oh, and this thing has more ringtones than any other phone that I have used. It was also extremely easy to make any of my music a ringtone as well. Play the song and hit the button to make it your ringtone. Done.
But the strength of the iPhone is its ecosystem – the app store being a huge part of it. “There is an app for that.” Well, the iTunes App Store has over 100,000 apps now, but let’s be honest, how many are actually any good, or useful? For the consumer that is in to the social media thing, they care about a good phone with email, calendar, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Well, a quick look through the Android Market place, which is just a button on the Droid interface, and I found free apps for everything that I just listed and way more. Even found a really nice barcode reader (Shopsavvy) that scanned barcodes and told me where to find the item the cheapest online or near where I was. Location based services is the future baby.
Google has really done a great job with the operating system and Verizon has always been a pretty strong network. I found that the Droid was really quick on the internet using the Verizon EVDO (3G) network and the Droid was able to take advantage of the WiFi in my house for testing as well. I found that the battery life was a little lower than I would like, but some of that may because I can’t put the stupid thing down and I just keep playing with it. Since I have no need for the slide out keyboard I would really like to see an Android 2.0 based device with just an on screen keyboard. That would allow the device to be a little thinner as well. Again, most of you will probably like the slide out keyboard, but the keys were too flat for me – the on screen worked just fine.
So would I recommend the Droid to my friends? Well, let’s look at it like this – the Droid is not an iPhone – I am not going to switch. But, if you have wanted something like an iPhone that has tons of applications, decent sound, WiFi, a beautiful screen, free turn by turn navigation, a real keyboard, is fast, and it runs on the Verizon network – do it. If not the Droid then whatever comes next running Android 2.x. So, yes, I would recommend it to my friends that want to stay with Verizon.
Google is really going to shake up the mobile market. Setting up this phone, since I use gmail, could not have been easier. This should have most of the mobile OS providers more than a little worried. How can a Microsoft or a Nokia sustain their internal development when Google provides something this strong as an open source OS? Does anyone other than Android, Apple, and Blackberry survive?
- One thing I was not able to resolve with the Droid that seemed so simple was that I could not sort my Contacts by last name, first name. They were always first last. I prefer them sorted by last name. -1 for Droid.
- The Droid has a removable battery. +1 Droid.
- You can expand the storage on the Droid. It comes with a 16GB SD memory card but I believe you can use a 32GB card. +1 Droid.
- Did I even mention the Droid multitasks? I think this one should get a plus rating but I am sure the tradeoff has to be battery life, so this one will depend on how you choose to use your Droid, but since you at least have the choice I am going to give the Droid +1 here.
- I didn’t even mention the Droid’s default notification sound that goes “Drooooooiiiiiiid.” I bet it could get old after a while, but I never grew tired of it. No points for the cool sound though, sorry.
- This one is pure personal preference, but the Blackberry has always had one thing that I wished the iPhone had and now I see that the Droid has it – I wish the iPhone had a LED display somewhere that told you that there was a notification. The Droid and the Blackberries have a little light in the upper right hand corner that flashes when you have a notification. Pretty nice when you don’t have your phone with you every second. The blinking light tells you that you missed something. I always wanted Apple to “borrow” that one from the Blackberry. Nice to see that the Droid has taken care of that.