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Motorola Droid Pro Review

If the Motorola DROID PRO could speak it would say, “Hello, BlackBerry Users… buy me!” And I’m sure many current BlackBerry users will become former BlackBerry users because of the Droid Pro. Motorola and Verizon have teamed up to create the first mainstream Android phone with a front-facing portrait QWERTY familiar to faithful BlackBerry fans.

Is the Droid Pro worth your hard-earned dollar? Watch and read on to find out:

Keyboard Review

The first thing to note about the Droid Pro is the keyboard: it was seemingly designed to convert BlackBerry users. Three rows of alphabetical characters sit on top of an Alt, @, Space, ? and Voice Activation Key. Each key has a secondary number or special character identified which is activated by pressing the Alt key.

droid-pro-keyboard

One HUGE benefit of the keyboard are the customizable shortcuts: within the software you can set every single alphabet button to become a keyboard shortcut that instantly opens a pre-defined application.

  • To set your shortcuts: long-press on any blank area of the home screen and select Shortcuts > Settings > Quick Launch
  • To launch, you’ll want to press (and hold) the software search screen and then the letter for the shortcut you set.

This feature is awesome and really unlocks a high level of convenience and quickness for power, business, and everyday users alike. Make sure you hold down the search button for a second or two- at first it seems awkward because its a soft key and hard key combo, but after a few times you’ll really like it.

The keyboard layout certainly LOOKS nice.

droid-pro-contourBlackBerry users will feel right at home and, even as a person who has never owned a BlackBerry and who prefers touchscreens, I was able to type fairly fast. That being said, the keyboard definitely isn’t perfect.

The keys are pretty small, directly next to eachother, and not offset which gives them a bit of a cramped feel. Motorola tried to alleviate this feeling by adding outward-facing contour to each key, providing a small boost. Keyboards are an element where opinions sway hugely with personal preference and the Droid Pro keyboard will definitely have lovers and haters.

In short, and as intended, BlackBerry users will find the keyboard experience good with the customizeable keyboard shortcuts making it great. If this form factor was a prerequisite before opening the door to Android, by all means, come on in.

Hardware Review

droid-pro-simTwo quick stand-out features of the Motorola Droid Pro are the removeable SIM Card and Dedicated Calendar Button. Clearly these features are aimed at the traveling business market, and again, targeting the Berry-centric crowd. You’ll be able to take your Droid Pro overseas and easily access voice and data through Vodafone or other partners – call Verizon Wireless to make sure you’re set up well before you travel. And while the Calendar button is a small feature, it’s a bit of polish that goes a long way in the grand scheme of things.

By the way, that dedicated Calendar button is the default, but (just like the keyboard shortcuts above) you can reprogram that hardware key to launch any app of your choice. Again: long-press on any blank area of the home screen and select Shortcuts > Settings > Quick Launch

Above the Droid Pro keyboard you’ll find a 3.1-inch screen, which compared to the 3.7, 4, and 4.3-inch screens of it’s high-end Android counterparts, seems puny. But, had you not known the screen was 3.1-inches you may not have guessed it- the experience is still good and while the 320×480 resolution doesn’t jump out at you, the screen holds its own.

Between the screen and the keyboard you’ll find the typical Menu, Home, Back, and Search buttons that Android users have come to love.

droid-pro-buttons

The flow of the screen, nav buttons, and keyboard looks fantastic and it’s functional. It also feels great in the hand and fits great in the pocket. The phone screams BlackBerry but it’s Android to the core- and that’s what I love about both this phone and Android in general.

You’ll find a solid list of other specs including a 5MP camera with dual LED flash, 3.5mm headset jack, GPS/A-GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Micro USB port, and MicroSD slot. The Droid’s 1GHz processor is zippy, partly thanks to the lower screen requirements, and it comes with 512MB RAM and 2GB ROM. The 1420mAh battery provides ample uptime.

Overall the hardware is solid and its features are nicely and appropriately arranged for their target market. The intended crowd will be pleased with the total package. And yes, BlackBerry users, I’m talking to you.

Software Review

The Motorola Droid Pro (on launch) runs Android 2.2 out of the box. Combined with the 1GHz processor and less resource intensive screen, the OS is smooth and enjoyable. While Android 2.3 is right around the corner for SOME devices, Droid Pro users should be happy with this software and it should hold up well for quite awhile- even without firmware updates.

droid-pro-blur

The Droid Pro runs the new version of Motorola’s custom UI called MOTO BLUR. For the Droid Pro that means a couple different things:

  • You’ve got 7 home screens on wish to place widgets, shortcuts and all the customizable goodies Android has to offer
  • You can switch between 3 different “sets” of these widgets called Profiles. They’re prenamed Home, Work, and Weekend and you can easily access them by pressing Menu > Profiles from the home screen.
  • Some interesting widgets MOTO provides are: Calendar, Sticky Notes, Social Status, World Clock, Contacts and Quick Tastes, Picture Slideshow, and many more.

blurMotorola has greatly improved the BLUR experience. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but many of the widgets are helpful and when they’re not, you can easily long-press and toss them in the trash. You can also resize widgets by long-pressing, letting go, and then touching a corner/edge and strectching with the swipe of your finger.

Notable apps that come pre-installed on the Droid Pro include Quick Office, Backup Assistant, Task Manager, Media Share, My Verizon Mobile, and Google’s Lineup of Apps like GMail/Maps/Lattitude.

Overall the Droid Pro runs beautifully on Android 2.2, BLUR has greatly improved, and attention to detail and polish like the customizable  keyboard shortcuts make the Droid Pro pretty awesome. One potential downside: if you’re in it for the Corporate E-Mail, beware that some users are experiencing problems. Don’t let it stop you from picking up the device, just make sure you’ve got the return policy straightened out should you run into any glitches.

Multimedia

So you’ve got a 3.1-inch screen with average resolution. Will web-browsing, video, gaming and other screen-intensive activities still be enjoyable? Absolutely.

While the Droid Pro can’t compete with the likes of the Droid X, EVO, and other monstrous screens in terms of multimedia enjoyability – it’s not meant to. Don’t let that worry you: I played games, browsed the web, watched videos and found the experience to be enjoyable. It certainly suffices, and actually, performs better than I expected from a 3.1-inch screen. The screen somehow seems larger than the number suggests, but again, it can’t compete with the huge slates… and that’s not the purpose.

droid-pro-gaming

And for those wondering about music, the experience was pretty good and the 3.5mm headset jack played loud and clear. With clear options to browse by artist, albums, songs, playlists, and genres, you can swiftly navigate through your music. Additional options include Audio Effects, Party Shuffle and Shuffle.

If you’re primarily looking for a phone with awesome multimedia, look elsewhere. If you’re priorities are all-around functionality, but you also want to make sure your phone has an enjoyable multimedia experience, you’ll be satisfied with the Droid Pro. The car racing game NFS Shift comes pre-installed on the device and the screen was clear, gaming and controls smooth, and the overall fun factor did NOT suffer. And oh yeah, it runs Angry Birds flawlessly too (I knew you’d ask).

Camera & Camcorder

The Droid X packs a 5MP camera with Dual-LED flash, auto-focus and digital zoom. While it isn’t a camera that will replace a dedicated digital camera, it’s a capable little shooter that’s able to capture some pretty good shots. Check out a few for yourself:

droid-pic1

droid-pic2

droid-pic4

droid-pic3

Interestingly enough, while the Droid Pro is a portrait phone, even with auto-rotate on it forces you to use the camera in landscape mode. At least that’s how all the options and on-screen text appear, which include but are not limited to:

  • Picture modes like Panorama, Self portrait, Multi-shot and regular old single shot
  • Geo-tagging pictures
  • Changing picture quality/resolution
  • Face Detection
  • Picture Condition Settings such as landscape, portrait, night
  • Photo effects like black and white, negative, etc…

In all honesty, saying the camera pretty much has the typical settings you’d expect in an average smartphone would suffice. However, I felt like with so many options, Motorola could have done a better job allocating the menus to fit them on the 3.1-inch screen. The current layout seems a bit cramped, unorganized, and scattered but it’s nothing you can’t get used to.

The camcorder records at 30 frames per second and with 720 by 480 resolution. That’s not HD Quality, but performance was decent. Check out a sample video below:

The Droid Pro did a great job of capturing daytime video and the accompanying audio wasn’t terribly bad- it was SO windy. While it’s imperfect and probably not one of the BEST camera phones out there, overall the Droid Pro adds another green check in it’s corner with decent results in the camera and camcorder departments.

[UPDATE: After a bit more use, I found a decent percentage of the pictures I took to be "washed out" when viewed in larger sizes. Condensing the image seemed to round the edges a bit but the camera could definitely use some improvement, and the Auto-Flash feature is hit or miss.]

Call Quality, Battery Life & Extras

droid-pro-plugOften overlooked in this day and age, cell phones are still cell phones and call quality is important. Unless you’re roaming globally, you’ll want to immediately go into Menu > Settings > Wireless & Network Settings > Mobile Networks > Network Mode – and opt to select CDMA instead of the default “Global” option. It will improve your call quality and with this change, call quality and battery life are both above average.

In addition to a standard Wall Charger come 3 International adapters that will allow travelers to take full advantage of the global device by charging their Droid Pro no matter where they go.

The Bottom Line

droidproThe Motorola Droid Pro is a solid all-around phone and a device current BlackBerry users MUST at least consider. It’s the best portrait QWERTY that Android has to offer and it’s customizable keyboard shortcuts are awesome. While it’s multimedia features won’t overwhelm, they get the job done. If you’re coming from a full-touchscreen or full-QWERTY you’ll want to test the keyboard in person, but again, the typical portrait QWERTY BlackBerry user will be satisfied with the hardware and the software will make them realize what all this Android buzz is about.

Continue reading on the Motorola DROID PRO forums, see the specs, or find news and reviews.




  • Lawrence

    I have had so many problems with my droid pro. It started out fast then suddenly began to slow down. Now I get that android system is using 100% of my CPU. This KILLS your battery. The phone goes back and forth between very fast and very slow. I have factory and hard reset the phone several times. Even with NO apps installed on it the phone starts to slow. I cant figure out if its the SD card that came with it or why its doing this. Its terrible. DO NOT buy this phone.

  • zorxd

    what is funny is that this device is 10.2 Mbps HSDPA, which is better than the average HSDPA smartphone while it will be used on a CDMA2000 network 99% of the time.

  • Randal

    A keyboard on a phone does not a BlackBerry make. It’s the integration of mail, calendar, and contacts with corporate systems that makes a BlackBerry so valuable to “pro” users.

  • Cooldude

    I love my Droid Pro. its an amazing phone. I would definitely recommend this phone. I had no problems until now

  • Howard

    Droid X has an 8 megapixel camera, not 5.

  • Naz

    You got to be kitting if you think this phone is as good as as Torch or even Bold 3, Its looks cheap imitation of Blackberry. One thing for sure Blackberry looks more classy, I do not even want to compare this phone with Blackberry. Motorola can not even Design their own operating system, running with borrowed technology.If any reason Google pull the plug they are toasted. I would rather go with a company who are Innovative not the follower. One more thing Motorola will suffer more when Iphone Hits Verizon

  • Lawrence

    has anyone had the issue im having? I have nothing on the phone but the processor spikes at 100% for hours at a time..then it goes back to being fast. sometimes it takes 1 second for the market to load, other times it just runs and runs, even on wifi…help!

  • Desi

    @Naz

    The phone looks much more like a Q9 series phone than a Blackberry. The Motorola Charm looks even more like one, but I don’t think it’s a departure from something Motorola has done before. The keyboard and styling are not unique to Blackberry. Nokia had a QWERTY keypad before Blackberry, why suddenly do people feel anything with a dedicated QWERTY keypad on the bottom of the screen is copying them.

    Your rambling isn’t helpful or insightful. It’s arguable that Motorola has done as much for bringing Android to the forefront as Android has. The Droid family of devices are extremely popular and now many people even refer to any Android device as “Droids”.

    I also don’t understand your “Google pulling the plug” comment. I don’t think Google and Android are going anywhere. Same goes for Motorola.

    If anyone is in trouble, it’s Blackberry. As more companies (mine included) move their corporate e-mail to be compatible with iPhones and Android devices, Blackberry will wither and die if they are unable to keep up. So far, they are not going a good job.

  • Justin

    If the iPhone goes to Verizon, jackass.

  • http://www.pooporchocolate.com/ teckel

    Another crappy slow Motorola phone. When are they going to catch up to almost a year ago’s technology!

  • http://www.humidorsandmore.com J Kane

    I’m still in withdrawal from my BB keyboard…there still isn’t a proper piece of hardware out there that can pair a BB style keyboard with proper hardware.

  • Chahk

    Unfortunately the fact that Verizon had Motorola lock the Droid Pro down so that you can’t use it on any US-based GSM networks makes its “global” claim nothing but a marketing lie. What, is USA no longer part of the globe?

    I wish Motorola would grow a pair and officially bring their line of Android handsets’ GSM counterparts to the US. THEN see how well Verizon does in sales.

  • Rob

    @Chack – that makes no sense. You can access the entire USA by using Verizon. So yes, you can use it globally. So yes, it is a global phone. As nice as it would be, Verizon doesn’t launch phones for their health. There is a business aspect to this whole crazy thing called technology.

  • Daniel Greer

    I’m impressed. I have been underwhelmed by Motorola’s phones recently, but this one and the Droid 2 Global are both pretty freakin’ nice. I moved to Android from 2 different Palm phones, so I can appreciate the keyboard setup as well. I love the fact that it is a Global phone. I wish that was simply a standard that manufacturers stuck to. Unfortuanate that it is loaded with MotoBlur but I suppose it can always be rooted.

  • scott

    I have tried the droid pro and the keyboard is way too small. It is not even close to a BB keyboard. Very hard to txt or email with on hand.

  • globetrotter

    This phone is extremely fast and responsive in UI and browser. I’m so glad I have an Android device to transition to from Blackberry. Bye bye blackberry.

  • Jerry

    I have this phone and boy o boy the battery drains real fast. I purchased an extended battery and the DP sucks the hell out of the extended battery.I have until the 19th to return this so this baby will be going back.

  • George

    FYI, in order to justify text on web pages after sizing, you tap the screen twice.

  • http://BuyDroidPhones.com Droid Fan

    RIM needs to put the petal to the metal if they’re ever going to regain market share. At this point, Motorola has the formula down, and other Droid manufacturers will certainly follow.

  • mthguy

    Why don’t you guys have more reviews, or an easy way to access your reviews? i don’t get it.

  • http://www.schnurassociates.com bronx boy

    I am thinking of switching from my treo to a droid pro. my office does not have an Exchange Server but I am able to maintain wireless sync thru my Treo. what do i do if I go to the droid? does it also have that individual capacity? the other people have Verizon BBs

  • 3fingerbrewing

    Ok so I was a long time BB user. I switched to a droid1 about 3-4 months ago. I went thru 3 of them…they were constantly locking up with apps crashing etc….so my mobile team at work switched me to a Droid Pro….what a piece of junk…I can deal with the short battery life and poor call quality…but corp sync with Exchange not pushing emails in a timely or reliable fashion?? COME ON MAN! I love the keyboard and overall layout of the phone…but if this is going to be a “Pro” phone it has to at the very least be reliable and push email! I mean that is is a really basic function. Im done with Android OS. Im going back to a BB or getting an iPhone. I would not recommend the Droid Pro at all. If you are forced into an Android phone get the Droid1…at least when the phone wasn’t rebooting and the apps crashing…email got pushed to the phone.

  • David

    At our corporation we have been testing the Droid Pro as an alternate option to Blackberry. Not going to happen. Nothing compares with Blackberry for ease of management from the corporate side. The Droid Pro is a great phone and I enjoyed playing with it and might get one for personal use, but what a nightmare to manage in our corporate environment.

  • Nomusa Magic

    I have both a year old Droid 1 (personal) and a Droid Pro for work. Fortunately, in a new job, I was free to select ANY phone from ANY manufacturer on ANY network and be paid for it. Coming off the BB Curve going back to my first, old B&W BB (loved those fat, white keys!!), I went with the PRO. Yes, the keys could be bigger, better defined, but it just takes getting used to. Thought that when I upgraded from the old fat BB to the Curve. And yeah, all that bloatware is ridiculous (c’mon Verizon, wouldya stop it!! — funnny I could delete the driving game off the PRO but my son couldn’t off the Droid2 Global and my daughter couldn’t off the Fascinate)

    For corp email on smartphones (regardless of type), my company used GOOD and they really are good. I’m sitting at my desk and my PRO mail and calendar actually kicks in a few seconds before they do on my NEW laptop while connected directly to the network.

    I like the PRO’s light heft,thin-ness and oh my the speed and screen resolution is AWESOME compared to my clunky Droid 1 (non-rooted). I love it too (my 1st Android) but the lag between screens and apps is really getting annoying.

    Just another girl’s opinion!!!

  • Philip

    Corp sync a big issue. Droid app, Touchdown, solves all those problems. Screen going into sleep mode a problem as well, disconnect “in pocket” setting. Batter drain, got the extended battery. Changed from bberry and loving it….

  • New Droid Pro User

    I had the blackberry curve 8530, but it started to get really slow. I started to research phones and found an interest in the droid pro. What I like most about it is the keyboard and touch screen aspect. I love my phone! I actually bought it AFTER the Verizon iPhone came out – I rather have a droid, sorry Apple!

  • Mike

    Its so crazy with the technology in the world right now that you would have any problems with these phones. I think the problem the new phones(Droid, iphone, etc) is the designers are putting to much crazy apps & shortcuts & whatever else is on these things that are worthless. I just don’t understand why Blackberry will not come out with a phone that looks like the curve with a beefy OS & maybe a better camera. Don’t change or add all the kiddy crap the droid phones have. That’s why it gets slow & the battery drains so fast. Extra junk a business man doesn’t need. If it was geared toward business, the should have made it with push email & left all the games & shit off. What business man negotiating multi million dollar deals, or that sells a product on the road want to play a video game on his day off or lunch break. That’s what they make playstations for. A phone needs a great OS, Messaging program, camera, calendar, alarm, calculator, flash, That’s and GPS. Empathize Being a global phone is a waste. Really, how many business people are going out of the country to make deals. I looked it up…2% of people have to travel overseas for their joB. So, please BB come out with a new phone without all the junk installed on it, because the last thing I want to do is play tetris & watch movies from my phone. Buy a playstation & a TV for that or better yet, spend time with ur family

  • Matt

    DO NOT BUY THIS “PHONE” IF YOU NEED TO USE IT AS A PHONE! I am a converted Blackberry user who purchased the Droid Pro a month ago. I have used the phone in Costa Rica (a plus having international capabilities) and like the seamless use of the internet. However, the primary reason I bought this product was for phone conversations, a critical area where this phone lags behind others. For example, today the phone dropped 7 calls in mid conversation with business clients and family. Whether using it on speaker, bluetooth, or handheld the phone just ends calls without warning. DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE!

  • RANDY D

    I liked my Droid Pro at first, but the call quality started out good and then it started dropping calls. I use my phone for business and that is unacceppable for me. I switched phones finally to another one, which worked well for two weeks and now it is doing the same thing. Just ordered another new one to replace it. I never had a service issue with my Blackberry and Verizon until I got the Droid Pro..