Motorola Droid Review

The most highly anticipated Android Phone to date has caused quite a stir over the past several months. At first the commotion was caused by the community alone. Enter Verizon. With its DroidDoes campaign it quickly became the hype of the tech world. When the bar is set so high, usually you set yourself up for nothing but disappointment. Be warned – the ensuing Motorola Droid review is filled with its fair share of negativity – I owe you guys that honesty. But if you want to know by how much I think the positives overcome the negatives I can only tell you one thing… I’m buying it.

I’ve provided a summary of my thoughts on each area of the Motorola Droid, allowing you to click-through to read, watch and hear my more detailed review/analysis:

Motorola Droid Hardware

Simply put, this is the best Android Phone on the market in terms of hardware. The 3.7-inch screen is large and vibrant, making everything across the entire user experience enjoyable, entertaining and efficient. The hardware keyboard has its fair share of flaws but being no thicker than the iPhone 3GS and with an absolutely amazing landscape software keyboard, you won’t miss it if you don’t like it. The touch buttons aren’t exactly the jam diggity but they work fine in most cases. What you really need to know is that the huge and beautiful screen (combined with Android) is what really makes this phone shine brighter than the rest of the market, including other ‘droids.
[Read The Full Hardware Review]

Motorola Droid Software Review (Android 2.0)

Android 2.0 brings some sweeping changes to the scene including Google Navigator, Camera improvements and more. But the focus of this review is on the consolidation of contacts and communication, something previously reserved for custom builds of Android like HTC Sense and Motorola BLUR. It’s awesome that Google is taking a pro-active approach at improving the platform and the Facebook integration, along with opportunity to sync multiple Exchange and/or Google Accounts is fantastically. But what REALLY makes the software a complete win is something completely invisible – APIs. Google has added account/contact/sync APIs that will greatly improve the platform, and inherently the phone’s, capabilities over the coming months and years.
[Read The Full Software Review]

Motorola Droid: Google Navigation Review

This is the new “killer feature” when talking about both the Motorola Droid and Android 2.0 – and yes, it IS killer. Overall Google Navigation worked wonders, proving to provide turn-by-turn directions with the same accuracy and consistency as the big boys. While there was some melding between Google Maps 2D view and Google Navigation 3D view that I could have done without, Google Navigation did accomplished the task at hand and then some. Voice search, Layers and map panning made for a pretty cool experience. Google has some loose ends to tie up and a few questions remain unanswered, but its pretty clear that this is the real deal and will make a huge impact on the industry.
[Read The Full Google Navigation Review]

Motorola Droid Camera Review

To be honest, I was more disappointed in the camera than anything else on the phone. In some cases it performed incredibly well for both pictures and video. In other cases pictures were blurry, grainy or washed out. It was unpredictable – and sometimes that is more frustrating than having a crappy camera because you’re always expecting/hoping for a great pic. The flash served its purpose but wasn’t astounding and overall, the results were mixed at best. Pictures usually came out, just not with the quality we hoped. Although the new software features and UI were pretty sweet.
[Read The Full Camera Review]

Motorola Droid Browser and Media Review

The web browsing experience on the Motorola Droid is pretty close to pure win. Make no mistake about it – that can be attributed mostly to beautiful the 3.7-inch touchscreen. A few key downfalls prevent it from achieving elite “best in market” browsing performance, mostly: poor zooming and current lack of flash. But with Wi-Fi capabilities, Verizon’s fast data network and an awesome Voice Search feature, the Motorola Droid web browsing experience surpasses that of the vast majority of mobile phones available.
[Read The Full Web Browser Review]

Motorola Droid Battery Life Review

The goal here was to try and drain the battery rather quickly and see how it performed. So… I set the screen brightness as high as it would go, set the screen to never timeout, and played music on rotate from the MicroSD card while also spending an hour to use Google Navigator to drive somewhere. The results prove that the Motorola Droid is one of the better equipped Android Phones in terms of battery, despite having only a 1400 mAh capacity.
[Read The Full Battery Life Review]

The Wild Card

Don’t you get the sense that there is a certain “extra oomph” in the visibility, excitement and attention for the Motorola Droid? Yes, and rightfully so. Verizon Wireless is the largest mobile carrier in what is one of – if not the – most important/powerful economic markets in the entire world. Most said they would never jump on the Android bandwagon. Then they announced they would. Then most said they would “gimp” or “suffocate” it. Then they launched their first ever Android Phone with absolutely everything possible included. Not to mention they are widely considered the most reliable network in the United States. The Motorola Droid was at the top and then Verizon Wireless came and pushed this phone over the top of whatever’s-on-the-top.

The Conclusion

I already told you I’m personally purchasing the Motorola Droid and I can’t give much more approval than that. My last Verizon phone was the LG Voyager and I’ve been waiting forever for SOMETHING worth picking up as my Voyager collected dust on a shelf since Android’s debut. Now, not only is Verizon getting a great phone – they’re getting what I think will launch as the best phone on the market.

The Motorola Droid screen is the ticket to an amazing experience on virtually every facet of this phone’s features. Whether you prefer a hardware keyboard or software keyboard, the Droid offers both in a compact frame that’s no bigger than the best full touchscreen phones out there. The addition of Google Navigation is mind blowing and large feature upgrades like improved camera options and consolidated contacts/communication take the Droid a step beyond other Androids out there. It isn’t a perfect phone, but it gets the important things right and has zero areas of total failure.

There is always something better around the corner, but here and now the Motorola Droid is the best… and at $199 on a 2-year contract its a heck of an option. The holiday season won’t see another phone that competes in its department

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  • Heidi

    Thank you…Thank you…THANK YOU!!! This was EXACTLY the kind of review I was looking for. I will be ordering the Droid online Fri, and doing overnight shipping (you get the rebate instantly if you order through Verizon.com) I am so excited I can hardly contain myself :D

  • dnyce

    “The holiday season won’t see another phone that competes in its department”

    Ruling out the Sony Ericsson X10a (since it’s slated for a Q1 2010 release), what about the HTC Passion/Dragon rumored for Black Friday. I highly doubt HTC will lie down for the rest of this year without dropping the bombiest of all bomb shells on the world at large.

  • HotDawg

    So, d’you guys think most of the issues can be overcome with future “updates”?

  • http://gathering.tweakers.net/forum/list_messages/1373756 CLB

    Hell yeah this is THE review where I’ve been waiting for!
    I’m gonna buy it immediately when I have the opportunity!
    I live in the Netherlands (Europe) so I have to wait…

    Thanks Rob! THANKS THANKS THANKS!!!

  • Kappy79

    Looks like an amazing phone. Thanks for the hard work Rob, great review. I will certainly be getting up early on Friday to get one.
    @HotDawg: I see no real reason an OTA update can’t or would not fix the software issues. Esp since rumors of 2.1 are already floating around.

  • Max

    You mentioned rooting to get Apps-to-SD functionality. Are you sure you can root this phone? Perhaps as it becomes more common someone will develop a method to do it, but I’m certain that the existing methods won’t work. Am I wrong?

  • Jason

    ugh…this or wait to see what the Passion has in store? I like how the Droid looks, but if the keyboard isn’t that great- why have it? if the Passion is a large screened Android 2.0, snapdragon phone (with Sense maybe), then it seems worth waiting for to me.

    but i could have the Droid NOW (or almost now)

  • Integgroll

    Way to go Rob, now even more people are going to line up to buy one of these. Nice in-depth review though.

  • jm

    Rob, will the Droid play Quicktime videos in the browser like it doe with Youtube videos? And, can the LED status light be disabled?

  • thelee

    fantastic review! best on the web – patience was definitely rewarded.

    i was feeling a bit iffy about going from G1->droid, but after reading all the high points and low points, I’m going to be marching in confidently into a verizon store to get mine this friday.

  • Jeremy

    Great review! Thank you for taking the time.

    I’m one of those people looking to replace my LG Voyager and iPod Touch with one device. I thought it would be the droid but I’m going to hold off in hopes that the HTC Passion hits Verizon in the next couple months. It appears the Sense UI would be a better fit for my needs. The BIG ASS screen is pretty awesome as well.

    I hope Google/Verizon read the reviews and quickly add the features that their customers want.

  • Jeremy

    One more thing…The LG Voyager keyboard is the BEST. No other phone even comes close.

  • http://phandroid.com Breon

    I was able to get my hands on a Droid for almost a week. I was rather impressed with Android 2.0. The hardware was pretty decent too. I was CONVINCED that I was returning my Hero for a Droid…

    …until I priced out the plans.

    First you pick a voice plan. The basic plan is $40 for 450 minutes (no text messaging). Who wants that? The “Select” plan is $60, 450 min, unlimited text. THEN you have to get the $30 data plan. We’re up to $90. No thanks.

    Don’t let the “Connect” plan fool you. One of its features is “Unlimited Data for Mobile Web and Get it Now/Media Center”. BUT this is only for featurephones. The Droid is a smartphone.

    In the day and age of all-you-can-eat plans, this is not a competitive pricing structure.

    I’ll stick with my Hero and Sprint. $70 unlimited everything, except calling land-lines.

  • john

    When do we find out about the official specs for the HTC Droid Eris????

  • R

    @ Breon

    What are you talking about? If everyone you mostly call uses verizon, it’s a good deal.

    – $40 for 450 min (everyone i know is verzion, I barely use 100 minutes per month)
    – $5 for 250 txt/pix (that’s plenty for me)
    – $30 for data

    75$ w/ verizon network. Throw in 15% discount through my employer. Going to add my sister and bro-in-law to my family plan. Comes out even cheaper..

  • ZZstu

    Great review. The best out by far. Great job Rob!

  • http://jonmayer.squarespace.com Jon Mayer

    Most thorough and unbiased review I’ve read so far! Thank you so much for this highly anticipated write up!

  • bob

    thankyou rob for this amazing review of the droid im going down to my local vzwstore this fri. im going to throw away my new-every-two and im going to do the 1yr early upgrade for this phone byebye LGDare

  • Bob

    Breon,
    Thanks for the tip. I didn’t realize the data plan. It’s not $30….it’s $45. $30 is blackberry’s only.

    They are crazy. I guess I am waiting for sprint.

  • JohnDoe

    If this came to at&t, I would buy it instantly. But aside from that, I’m really happy for Verizon for getting one of the best Android phones. I’m quite envious actually.

  • whiskeysix

    killer review rob, GREAT work – very comprehensive. good video editing and great commentary – 5-stars

  • phwaap

    Best review out there. Cheers Rob!

  • http://www.cconover.com Christiaan

    Best, most in-depth review I’ve read yet, been looking forward to this one for days. Excellent job! I have my Droid on preorder at Best Buy, I’ll be picking it up the moment I can.

  • http://www.cconover.com Christiaan

    Bob, the official information I’ve read from VZW regarding the data plan is $30, not $45.

  • http://www.ruffingtonpost.com Hank

    Isn’t the $30 data plan the one w/o the Exchange support? While the $45 plan includes Exchange support?

  • steve

    How well does google voice work with it? in particular the SMS portion?

  • http://jonmayer.squarespace.com Jon Mayer

    @Bob
    You couldn’t be more wrong. Verizon blackberry plan is $50 and smartphone plan is $30.

  • Morton

    fantastic Review, thanks for all of the hard work you put in to it. And all of the love. Looks like the navigation and data performed very well on the Verizon Network. Glad to see you could actively be on a phone call and navigate at the same time. Recently The iPhone Blog seemed to indicate that would not be possible. I’ll definitely be ordering my Late Thursday night (anticipating 11:30 central time availability. Looking forward to finally getting my opportunity to experience Android.

  • doh

    I’m wondering if a 3rd party will make a car holder that also doubles as a charger and fm transmitter so you can listen to music on your car stereo.

    I saw something similar for the sprint phones on ebay or something.

  • Wes

    Great review, thanks a ton for being so comprehensive!

  • snipercon

    Can the phone be used with only a data plan $50/month, and use VOIP for phone calls and Googlevoice for text???
    OR
    Do you have to get a Voice plan and a data plan with the phone? cheapest I have found is $70/month???

    What options are available cost wise through Verizon?

    Thanks

  • Eddie

    Thank you so much for such a thorough review. It’s a beautiful phone and you did a great job pointing out it’s strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know if I’ll buy this Friday or not. Still hoping the HTC Passion/Dragon will be announced Thursday at the Verizon press conference. I’m so stoked that Verizon is changing the way they deliver phones to their customers. NO MORE VERIZON MENUS!

  • big

    yup I agree…played with the phone today I’m sold..

  • Nicolas Frenay

    Thanks for the review. Would you mind running any kind on benchmarks to compare it to other phones?

    Examples:
    Sunspider (JS benchmark): http://www2.webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9/sunspider.html
    Google V8 Benchmark (JS Benchmark): http://v8.googlecode.com/svn/data/benchmarks/v3/run.html

    It would be very interesting if you could run these on the Droid and also other devices (Android preferrably). I can run it on an iPhone 3GS for comparison.

    Thanks!

  • Nicolas Frenay

    Oops, made a small mistake. The latest V8 Benchmark link is: http://v8.googlecode.com/svn/data/benchmarks/v5/run.html

  • http://www.earlstv.net Astronomer

    This is the definitive Droid review. Nice job, Rob. It was worth the wait.

  • curt

    Nice review.

    Id like to see a drill down on exactly how the social integration is done inside the apps; like contacts, dialer, albums, etc… You mention it combines FB, Google contacts to one contact, but I didnt see how the integration is leveraged with the contact apps. dialer, history, messaging… Also email. Can Gmail, corp email be merged to one inbox and both be push?

  • Herman

    Holy cow this is going to take some time, which I don’t have now.

    But all these reviews look insanely promising. So, thanks!

  • Raymanism

    You kept us informed when the Droid was announced, and you delivered one hell of a review! phandroid.com is definitely one of my favorite Android blogs!

    Looking forward to the rest of your Droid videos!

  • Dan

    For those waiting on the Hero Passion… Does Verizon honor the usual 30 day money-back guarantee? If so, why not buy & try the Droid now and, if the Passion looks better come Black Friday, make the switch?

  • phwaap

    @Dan I think there will be a decent number of people taking that approach. A month with Droid, hoping that another device is available in 30 days.

  • Andrew

    Rob, you do a great job with this site. Keep up the good work!

    FYI. I found out when I called, that verizonwireless.com business customers can basically pre-order the Droid if they call in to the sales office. The deal is like the Best Buy $199 with Instant rebate. Paper work gets processed on Friday and Phone ships out that day. Upgrade for overnight shipping is $20.

  • lokiju

    I haven’t seen this answered, but do the docks (GPS and Media Dock) also charge the device, while it’s docked?

    From the few pictures and videos I’ve seen, I did not see a power cord trailing out of the dock, but is it even an option?

  • Anthony

    Nice review, I want to go out to the stores and get this on Friday but I’m going to wait till Black Friday as I want to give the HTC Passion a chance. If I got to have the phone for the next 2 years I want the best of the two.

  • Phonebricker

    Will this be available in GSM version? Or is it just CDMA?

  • Maj

    @Phonebricker
    yes there will be a GSM version but i dont know if it’s going to be released in the u.s, however it has been announced in german but its lacking the turn-by-turn navigation

  • Doug

    Best Verizon phone before the holiday season??….I’m not convinced this is true based on the reviews I’ve read. I expect the Samsung Omnia 2 will be the best phone that Verizon offers before the holiday season. Plus, I’m interested to see the final specs for the Droid Eris. ….Why have the bulk of the Moto. droid with a physical keyboard that is less friendly to use than a virtual keyboard.

  • Powderhound

    Well, I know what I’m doing Thursday night.

    Waiting until 12:30 to order my shiny new Droid online.

    DROOOOIIIID

  • Phonebricker

    @ Maj

    Thanks for the reply.
    I think I’ll wait to see what Sony comes up with.

  • Azralag

    Good review

  • http://droiddog.com Kevin

    hands down the best review of the droid that i have seen. i love this site and i cant wait to get a droid in my hands on friday. Thanks Rob. Great Job!!!!!

  • Argenys

    Hello there, I am new to the whole Android scene. Been a Windows Mobile user and can’t wait for WM7 forever. So im getting the Moto Droid. My question is does the Android Market have 3D games and if so. Any like famous games like a madden or something like that. Some popular games made from big companies? If so can I get a link to a video or a screen shot of the action? Are they coming down the line? How good do they look like on the Moto Droid?

  • skee

    Sony already made this thing obsolete!

    And FU verizon!! And FU to your increased Early termination Fee from $17 to $350. Way to screw any potentially new customers…what a joke!

  • sue

    @Argenys Droid can’t run the better 3D games because there is only about 256MB of memory onboard and Google doesn’t allow Apps to be loaded to the SD Card out of fear of piracy.

    Madden, Tiger Woods Golf, Gangstar, etc. are all over 1gig in size.

    Yeah, I’m pissed too. Motorola and Google screwed up from any big game houses developing for Android. I’m sure they’ll fix it but Apple will release the next iPhone by then.

  • Argenys

    @Sue That is extremely disappointing. What do you think are the chances of them taking off the restrictions?

  • http://droiddo.es sull

    solid review. thanks for the 110% you gave this.

    i was hoping for a much better camera as that is an important factor for me. does anyone have more info on the camera hardware and lense? would be good to confirm whether software can be enhanced to improve photo/video quality and responsiveness. i’d still love to own the droid but i might hesitate a few weeks and see which other android devices come out with superior camera func.

    regarding the hardware keyboard issue… since this device is so thin, i think even a moderately good qwerty is an advantage especially for gaming where you want to preserve the screen real estate and not have to use the virtual qwerty. that plus the touchpad thingie is very cool to have without any added bulk to the device. though i do agree that the spacebar could have been increased and replace the 2 non-buttons but i assume their was a reason for this.

    love the look of the droid. i actually prefer more rugged utilitarian hardware. i dont like slick devices that sacrifice being practical and comfortable just to look sexy. though i think my ipod touch is pretty nice, it is annoying to handle the slippery thing and even kind of hurts my hand when holding for long period because it’s too thin.

    most likely, i’ll be ordering this thursday night. i need a verizon android device and though their are several new ones coming, the motorola is like the voltron head. can only hope for software camera improvements.

    thanks again, rob.

  • B.Rose

    One thing you didn’t cover, and that I haven’t seen any other reviews cover either, is the Gmail application. Is it new/updated in 2.0? Would you considering just doing a short piece as an add-on for that, since it’s such a crucial element? Not just the gmail app, but google contact and google calendar syncing, too. It’d be great to see the covered and to see any issues.

    Thanks much,

    BR

  • Docteur cinoque

    Thank you Rob for the whole great review and your impressive work.
    Your videos and your comments are very easy to understand, even for a non-english french dude like me.
    That’s really important. Your accent is somewhat funny and different from other english video I use to watch on Youtube. It’s like a football showcase, I can “smell” the hapiness and the excitement.
    Au plaisir de te lire,
    Regards.

  • Milind

    @Argenys

    I’m a huge fan of the Android and I think it’s better than the iPhone except for three things. iPhone UI is significantly slicker and polished. As a media player, it runs circles around any android phone including the Hero. It’s got much better games (I’m told. I don’t play games). Of the three, the media player is the only thing I wish for.

    If playing games is important for you, chances are that you will be disappointed. I doubt that the reason that there aren’t better games in the Android Market is because of the size of the on-board memory. Most game files can stay on the (expandable) SD card with just the core game residing in the main memory. I think that most likely the reason is that there aren’t as many Android users as iPhone users. That should improve in the next few months. And the hardware so far had not been that good. The Droid’s got a GPU, and a faster CPU. So I think the games will come. If you are willing to wait for the games, you will find that the Android is truly excellent. The G1 is easily the best phone I have ever used – and that includes the iPhone.

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  • a

    if we buy a droid before nov 15th, what is the policy on etf? $350 or $175?

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  • John

    There’s reviews all over of this phone – it’s really generating a lot of attention.
    http://cellphoneforums.net/cell-phone-reviews/t304605-motorola-droid-review.html

  • peetee

    So its judgment day today for Droid, was it? According to Cnet it was a little bit slow nonetheless a good start of droid, other “critiques” says otherwise. But I say, “Hell yeah! droid conquered US for a couple of hours today”. We just hope that their ROI is profitable compare to the hunderds of thousand worth of ads they spend during the promotion period and err.. did I say, their impending “lawsuit” with AT&T too?

    Collation of info about droid release today: http://bit.ly/did-droid-conquered-USA-today

    Hope Droid will serve as a hand of midas to Verizon Corp. Soweet

  • http://www.guysfromqueens.com Andrew Zarian

    I love my Droid. Im coming from a windows Mobile phone and wow what a big step .. I have seen many people say this phone sucks because it doesnt have multi touch but thats not true . the phone is fully capable of multi touch .. I made a video to show how you can do it and also save some battery life hope it helps out

    http://www.guysfromqueens.com/?p=765

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  • AudunXetrov

    The Droid looks amazing, and as I live in Europe, I would be getting the Milestone, which also includes pinch and zoom, which makes it even better.

    However, I’m not quite sure yet whether to get this or the HTC Hero. This will obviously be more expensive than the Hero, and I’m not too happy about the “wobblyness” and give due to the HW keyboard on the Droid, plus I like the wheel-thingy on the Hero. However, the Droid, like I mentioned, and as you know, rocks. Anyone care to help me, by giving a few pros/cons for either phone as opposed to the other?

    Also, how many homescreens are on the Droid? Is it just the one, or are there several, like on the Hero?

    Awesome review, by the way! Great job!

  • AudunXetrov

    Also, does the Droid have widgets similar to the contact, Facebook, Twitter and weather widgets that are on the Hero?

  • Sue is a TROLL

    @Sue: Do you work for Apple or something?? You posted the same comment on another Droid forum under the name “Jack” about how the phone cannot play 3D games due to lack of memory.

    This is a lie. Ever since Android 1.6, the bulk of apps can be loaded to the memory card which means you could easily have a 5 gig game on your Droid.

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  • Ted

    I’ve been using this Droid for 2 weeks now. One word…AMAZING!!

  • Stan Leverett

    I have a problem with the video capabilities. I have some videos that I have shot that say: Sorry, this video cannot be played. Why is that?

  • Stan Leverett

    The droid is a great phone. I’m glad it has a camera, since our digital camera died! I’m grateful that it has a 5 MP camera. I’m grateful that you can video up to 30 minutes at one shot. Thanks to you Rob, I didn’t know that until I found your site. This is a great site. I’m sure that I will be referring to it from time to time! Thanks for sharing all this great info about the Droid! I look forward to the day when all video and audio will be accessible to the Droid on the Web.
    Thanks Rob,
    A Droid Fan,
    Stan Leverett

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  • http://www.cdmacellulars.com/ Suzane

    I love my Droid. Im coming from a windows Mobile phone and wow what a big step .. I have seen many people say this phone sucks because it doesnt have multi touch but thats not true . the phone is fully capable of multi touch .. I made a video to show how you can do it and also save some battery life hope it helps out.

  • jatanya woolfolk

    i love all android phones. :) i read all the recent updates on each an every android phone. i would love to purchase an android phone but times are hard so i could only buy a 3g multimedia phone. :( but when i get back on my feet hopefully i will be able to purchase one. but i will continue looking and searching the website for updates and reviews on each phone.btw im a technology freak!!!!! :)

  • EBP

    Hate this phone! Requires too much user input, Not intuitive plus it feels like a brick! Doe not sync with Outlook and can’t adjust font size in emails. I called customer support and for each thing I asked, they said “there’s an app you can get to do that”. They seem to think this is a good feature, but I don’t think purchasing a bunch of new apps to do routine things is cost effective or efficient.