NOTE: the Droid X Forums are open and bumpin!
The Motorola Droid X for Verizon Wireless continues a partnership that helped set the Android Platform on fire. The hot streak continues with the Droid X as Motorola not only proves they can continually churn out industry leading hardware, but improve their custom software experience to provide a bunch of added Android value.
Just how good is the Motorola Droid X? How does it compare to the original Droid, Droid Incredible, or EVO 4G? It’s time to find out – here comes Phandroid’s in-depth review of the Motorola Droid X.
Droid X Hardware
With a 4.3-inch screen, 8MP camera, HD Video Recording, HDMI video out, 1GHz processor, 8GB of internal memory, and a pre-installed 16GB MicroSD card, it’s hard not to admire the Droid X off the bat.
The Motorola Droid X is at the top of the heap along with a select few Android big boys (at the time of this review). The 4.3-inch screen is fantastic (although not the best), the 1GHz processor keeps things running really snappily, the 8MP camera was more than adequate (but still won’t replace that point and shoot), and the device is all around solid.
One interesting aspect of the Droid X is it’s top heavy design. If the G1 had a chin, than the X has a forehead. There are a lot of internal components and manufacturers often have to shift things around and in this case I REALLY like how they shifted them.
Whether it was intended or not I don’t know, but the chunk at the top allows the phone to be extremely thin at the main body, allowing you to wrap your hand around it much more easily than other phones of this size. The Droid X is larger than the EVO 4G but feels smaller and more comfortable, due largely in part to the illusion of removed bulk. It also doesn’t hurt that the Droid X is slightly lighter.
The screen and phone itself might be TOO big if you have small hands, you might not like software keyboards, or maybe you’re stuck on demanding a front-facing camera. Beyond those three, it’s hard to find a reason you shouldn’t love the Droid X.
The Droid X ships with Android 2.1 and should receive an upgrade to Android 2.2 by the end of summer 2010. It runs a refined version of Motorola BLUR that is drastically improved; Motorola hasn’t actually committed to calling it Motorola BLUR, probably because many consumers have come to find BLUR annoying rather than helpful.
It’s clear that Motorola heard consumers, worked closely with Verizon Wireless, and delivered a piece of custom software that in many areas greatly improves the user experience.
My excitement for this new whatever-ya-call-it version of Motorola Blur is NOT because it is the best thing since spliced bot – I’d rate the overall software implementation as pretty decent. But listen to this EXACT QUOTE from my Motorola CLIQ Review:
The power of BLUR is in the intelligent assumptions it makes about your communication style, preferences and priorities… but sometimes it assumes too much. For example I want INFORMATION and CONTENT on my home screen but how am I supposed to learn anything of substance when the widgets/boxes are confined to such a small area?Unfortunately you can’t resize the Messages or Happenings widgets along with some of the other BLUR-specific widgets. What if I want an entire panel (BLUR has 5) to be filled with Messages? Or maybe my top half messages and bottom half happenings? In my mind BLUR should offer the option to resize in addition to the ability of relocating/removing.
Another assumption it makes is that content within a given section (Happenings/Messages) are equally important. What if I want to add a MySpace and Twitter profile because I love the contact sync feature but don’t want MySpace updates to appear in my Happenings?
You’re able to drill down to a particular source and view the updates from that source only, but there is no way to select which sources do or don’t make it into your happenings/messages feeds – they’re all included by default.
This might not be a huge issue right now but I think it will be a growing issue and Motorola would be smart to find an early solution. I am assuming that over time, Motorola will add more social networks and websites to the available options and at some point it becomes information overload. BLUR should allow you to customize and prioritize within these settings.
All of the above problems have been solved with the Motorola Droid X. It ain’t the prettiest picture ever painted, but its functionality has been drastically improved. Are you MOTOMEN/MOTOWOMEN reading Phandroid? Me thinks so.
Additional features and settings have been included that attempt to further the user experience and provide additional value. They do provide an incremental increase in usability, but I’m most excited to see Motorola’s original concept taking shape. Whether or not custom UI’s like Blur, Sense and others will prove valuable enough to justify continued development remains to be seen, but if you’re going to give it to us then give us something good. And that’s what Motorola seems committed to doing.
Now on to something that IS really, really good.
Droid X Camera & Camcorder
By far my favorite feature of the Droid X Camera is Panorama Assist. I love it unabashedly. I’ve found myself LOOKING for places to try the feature and you’ll see why when you check out the video below along with samples. It’s not perfect… but it’s useful, awesome, and entertaining.
Here are some of those panoramic pics I promised:
(click to enlarge)
The Droid X Cam is 8MP but interestingly enough 6MP is the default setting which they list as optimal for viewing on an HDTV. I guess they’re banking on the fact that you’re more likely to use the HDMI or DLNA than having a poster printed from your photo gallery.
In terms of features, I believe the Droid X Camera tops any Android Phone out there. With the pre-selected picture settings (scenes), different picture modes, effective auto-focus and more – I found the Droid X Camera to not only get great results, but it was a joy to use. The layout of how those features are offered and selected needs a bit of reworking, but I’m not afraid to say I love this camera.
The results were pretty darn good but not overwhelming. The experience is what won me over along with some key features. Take for example this picture of two flowers:
I wanted the focus to be on the closest flower because it had a little ant on it. I dragged the white focus box to the front flower, snapped the picture, and voila:
Here are a couple other photos I really liked:
One thing I wasn’t too happy with was the flash. Below find a picture of movie posters on the wall, first in light and then in dark. Sure it allows me to capture a picture when I otherwise couldn’t have… but the flash is definitely not one of its best qualities.
I found the camcorder to be fantastic. The HD videos taken in 720p were really crisp and the 3 microphones with different audio settings during video recording is a cool twist. The below video is a LITTLE choppy because it was taken while driving (I jiggled the camera, hit bumps, etc…), and of course the scenery was moving rapidly. But still the quality was great.
At the end of the video you can see I get out of my car and pan around a bit – looks good, right? Videos where you’re standing still, taking footage of scenery or people naturally seem more crisp.
I wish I had more time to play with the Slow Motion and Fast Forward recording features. These seem like features that, under the right circumstances, could be equally as fun and useful as panoramic photo mode.
Droid X Multimedia & More
I feel like a grandpa saying “smartphones these days” (kids these days), but it’s true – they do so much that it’s impossible to cover everything. The hardware, main software components, and camera are where I focused but I’m leaving a LOT on the table. So here are some scraps that don’t tell the WHOLE story but should give you a good idea of just how deep the Droid X can go:
On the 4.3-inch screen how could you NOT like web browsing. Both Wi-Fi and Verizon’s 3G network loaded sites quickly and crisply. Pinch and zoom is always nice and although the device lacks Flash at launch, we should be getting that along with Android 2.2 in the late summer OTA.
Videos & Movies
Although not quite as crisp as the EVO 4G or Galaxy S (in my opinion), the Droid X still has a pretty stunning screen. Saving HD video to your SD card or even playing back the HD video you record with the Droid X itself is rather impressive. Again, at 4.3-inches it’s hard to go wrong, and Motorola definitely does it right. YouTube loaded fast and content saved on the device looked gorgeous.
3G Mobile Hotspot
Ever wish your laptop could get a Wi-Fi signal while on the road? Maybe friends or family with you were thinking the same thing? The 3G Mobile Hotspot app allows you to turn your Droid X into a Wi-Fi router by using Verizon’s 3G signal and you can connect up to FIVE devices using Wi-Fi at one time!
The service costs $20/month and the data transfer is capped at 2GB/month, but if you’re mainly using it for browsing the web, checking e-mails, and other basic stuff you won’t likely approach that amount. More and more phones will be utilizing this feature as mobile convergence continues, most recently thanks to the help of Android and your Droid X!
I tested this vs. Verizon Mi-Fi and the Droid X definitely underperformed compared to Mi-Fi by quiet a bit, but keep in mind that is the Mi-Fi’s only purpose. For only $20/month this isn’t a bad deal… although I wish they would get rid of that 2GB cap for the comfort and ease of mind of consumers.
The Blockbuster App was definitely a disappointment. It worked great when we demoed it in NYC at the Droid X launch party, but for some reason getting it on consumer handsets wasn’t so easy. Initially the app loaded blank, then demanded you download an update, but the update couldn’t be found in Android Market and you were just stuck.
A typical pre-launch snag that I’m sure will be worked out. From what I saw, the Blockbuster app could be pretty darn intriguing for both existing and future members, right? From what I saw of the app it had a great browsing system, great information, and decent prices. The limitations of what you can DO with the data you buy is a semi-downer, but this isn’t the time for that debate. If you’re already a Blockbuster customer/fan you’ll definitely enjoy this.
HDMI & DLNA
You’ve taken all these awesome pictures and all these sweet HD videos in 720p and you’re only playing them back on that puny little 4.3-inch screen? To go Google TV-ish on you, why not use the largest screen in your house to view the media you’ve captured?
HDMI out allows you to connect a wire from your phone to your HD capable TV and, if your television/console supports the standard, DLNA will allow you to do this wirelessly. You’re currently limited to playing your own user generated content on other devices because of the obvious copyright issues, but I would expect this to change in coming years.
Don’t forget Google TV is right around the corner, and it’s based on Android, so I would expect a lot of advancement in the mobile device to television communication over the next 6 to 9 months.
MyVerizon, Backup Assistant, CityID, etc…
There are a lot of small apps that can make a big difference. The above 3 are pre-installed on the Droid X and help you deal with your Verizon Wireless account, backup your data and contacts, and see where incoming/outgoing calls are located geographically. In a way this is just a glimpse of the good stuff you’ll find on Android Market.
FM Radio and Music
Plug your headphones into the 3.5mm headset jack and jam away to local FM radio. Or you can dump a whole bunch of MP3s onto your SD card and use the built in media player. Heck, you can also download streaming music apps from Android Market. Your Motorola Droid X can truly be your sole music player… so long as battery life holds up (and I wouldn’t recommend going running with it).
Battery Life – A Quick Note
Initially and accidentally I omitted battery life from my review. I didn’t do any extensive battery life test and my results/experience varied greatly. I had the phone sit on standby for several days, picked it back up, and the battery hadn’t drained. When I had a full battery and used the Droid X extensively, the battery seemed to hold up pretty well. However, the last 25% of battery life seemed to drain MUCH quicker than the first 25% so be careful.
I can confidently say the worst case scenario is the Droid X battery life is decent. Thankfully Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha announced at the launch event that they’ll be offering a 1900mAh extended battery that will only add 1mm of thickness in the coming months. That’s HUGE… and if Jha follows through on his promise you won’t have to worry much about battery life if you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks.
The Motorola Droid X is awesome. Is it better than the EVO 4G? Better than the iPhone 4? Will it be better than the XYZ Superphone that comes out next month? I think we need to stop asking those types of questions in the first place because they don’t usually have answers.
Once you’ve reached that top of the class, cream of the crop status – only personal preference can fairly determine what defines “best”. Is the 4.3-inch screen your multimedia dream or is that too big for your hands? Does the thin frame make you feel delightful or would you prefer heft and a hardware keyboard? See what I’m getting at?
The fact of the matter is that the Droid X sits comfortably amongst the smartphone elite. The combination of pure hardware power, Android awesomeness, and software goodness mean that today it is one of – if not THE – best phone(s) available. We now live in a smartphone age where many “something better” devices eagerly wait in the wings, but here and now the Droid X can successfully claim there isn’t a better phone available. And even when there is… the Droid X will continue to please its owners with its capabilities, especially if the powers at be bless it with continued OTA updates.
In short: the Motorola Droid X for Verizon Wireless comes highly recommended.