Following up: A month with Verizon's Droid
Since I reviewed Verizon Wireless's Droid -- its first phone to run Google's Android software -- in early November, I've been getting a steady stream of questions about it. Fortunately, the folks in Verizon PR haven't made me give the loaner phone back yet, so I've been able to keep testing it.
Here are some of the things I've learned about it in that time:
* Motorola didn't build the sturdiest phone ever. As you can see in the photo, the paint on the top edge of the Droid has already begun to wear off from sharing the occasional pocket with change or car keys -- a treatment that has yet to inflict any scratches on the iPhones Apple has loaned for my reviews. I've also noticed that the Droid's battery cover slides off too easily.
* The Droid's slide-out keyboard feels a little too spread out and too flat for fast thumb-typing, compared with the models on such competing Android phones as Sprint's Samsung Moment or T-Mobile's Motorola Blur. This has been the No. 1 complaint I've received from readers about this phone.
* The Droid's voice-search feature is borderline amazing -- it correctly heard me say "directions to Washington National Airport" in a crowded bar -- but beware of invoking this option accidentally by holding down its search button.
* The lack of traditional green and red "send" and "end" buttons can confuse people the first time they use this thing.
* The lack of multi-touch gestures to zoom in or out of Web pages, however, doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. Double-tapping the screen to zoom in or out seems to function just as well in daily experience.
* Although I've found some ways to work around the lack of an iPhone-like sync between an iTunes music library and the Droid's music player, I'm still looking for something simple and reliable. Any suggestions?
* My wife and I used the Droid's wonderful Google Maps navigation software for our drive to and from New Jersey over Thanksgiving weekend. It was almost scary how accurately it predicted traffic jams on I-95 on the drive up -- but the drain inflicted on its battery by full-time GPS use left it almost out of power by the time we crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge. From then on, we had to resort to a more traditional form of traffic avoidance: My wife looked up Google Maps on her phone, called out traffic jams and, when they looked bad enough, I exited the turnpike and let our car's GPS point us north on an alternate route (U.S. 130 was, once again, a good option).
* Between Android versions of such iPhone favorites as the Shazam song identifier and the Slacker Web-radio program and Android-first or Android-only applications such as the ShopSavvy price finder and Google's Google Voice and Google Sky Map, I don't find I miss the iPhone's App Store. (I would, however, like to see the Layar "augmented reality" viewer updated to fix whatever bug stops it from working on the Droid.)
For still more about this phone, have a look at Ars Technica's typically detailed evaluation, posted late yesterday. Or write your own in the comments here: If you've bought a Droid, talk about how it's been working out. What do you like about your purchase? What do you regret about it?
December 3, 2009; 2:06 PM ET
Categories: Feedback , Gadgets
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