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Motorola Droid, powered by Google's Android 2.0 OS

A Droid phone in the wild  (Source: AP)

The iPhone has more apps than the Droid phone and is a bit thinner, but it lacks a physical keyboard, arguably an inferior screen, a worse camera, no support for Flash, and a lack of true multitasking, forcing app backgrounding. Apple is reportedly planning a price cut on a reduced memory iPhone 3GS (8 GB) to try to stay competitive.
Apple once again is challenged in the smartphone arena

While the Blackberry is currently the bestselling smartphone, thanks largely to a strong core of business users, sales numbers indicate the iPhone dominates the multimedia entertainment phone market.  Verizon's Droid phone, which launched on Friday, may change that as it looks to be solid competitor to the iPhone in many ways.

Droid ships with a 16 GB microSD card, but is expandable up to 32 GB, allowing it to match the highest-capacity iPhone 3GS (which does not have expandable memory).  The phone is ever-so-slightly thicker than the iPhone, at 13.7 mm (vs. 12 mm for the iPhone 3GS).  It also packs a slide-out physical keyboard, which some customers prefer.

Droid also has a better camera (5.0 megapixels vs. 3.0 megapixels on the iPhone), a dual LED flash (the iPhone has no camera flash), and a nicer screen.  The Droid's screen bests the iPhone's both in pixel density and size (3.7" and 265 ppi for Droid, 3.5" and 185 ppi for the iPhone).  It also bests the iPhone in battery capacity (1400 mAh v. 1219 mAh), though the actually operating battery life has not been extensively benchmarked versus the iPhone.  Like the iPhone, Droid features multi-touch technology, something Apple claims to hold a copyright on and reportedly strong-armed Google out of with the original Android operating system.  And like the Palm Pre, true multitasking is supported.

Other advantages include its support of Adobe Flash (allowing full-fledged internet browsing), a technology that Apple has rejected.  It also compares favorably with the iPhone on price, coming in at $200 after $100 mail-in rebate with a new contract, versus $199 (with plan) for a 16 GB iPhone 3GS, or $299 for a 32 GB iPhone 3GS.

Along with the launch of the new phone on Friday came official details on its tethering plan.  Like the Blackberry Storm 2 and several other Verizon handsets, Droid phones indeed have an option to serve as a mobile internet connection for your PC and laptop at home or on the go.

One of the long standing complaints about the iPhone is that AT&T still doesn't offer tethering services with it in the U.S.  While tethering may soon be in sight, as it is supported by the current version of OS X software on the iPhone, many wonder how much longer they will have to wait.  Some of these users are now eying Droid, as tethering is now officially available for it.

The phone's tethering costs are similar to Verizon's other 3G phone tethering offers, reportedly.  For any user with a qualifying handset, they pay a maximum of $50 per month for 5GB of data transfer.  Most users have access to a $30 per month rate, if they have the Unlimited Wireless Email, Email and Web for Smartphone Feature or Plan, Nationwide Premium Plan and others -- which nearly all Verizon's smart phone customers opt for. 

Customers with Verizon's $79.99 per month PDA/Smartphone Nationwide Email plan get a nice perk -- the ability to pick up tethering for only $15 per month.  Customers jumping on tethering should be careful, though, overages (after the first 5120 MB) run at 5 cents per MB, or $51.20 per GB.

The tethering option at $30 per month, while not overly cheap (it doubles Droid's $30 data fee), does stack up nicely compared to Verizon's wireless broadband cards, which also use the telecom's 3G network.  These cards, available in USB and PC Card forms (typically free or at minimal cost after rebate) are offered with plans of 250MB of data for $40 a month (10 cents per MB overages) or 5 GB for $60 per month (5 cents per MB overages).  The only other apparent downside of choosing tethering on Droid or Verizon's other phones is that it may prove a significant drain your phone battery when in use.

While there are many upsides to Verizon customers when it comes to the Droid phone, one downside is its app marketplace.  There reportedly are a bit over 10,000 apps in the Droid marketplace, while Apple's marketplace just surpassed 100,000.  As mentioned, the iPhone also manages a close win in thickness and additionally the iPhone 3GS processor, an 800 MHz Arm processor underclocked to 600 MHz, slightly bests Droid's processor, which is a 550 MHz Arm processor.  However, with Droid trumping the iPhone 3GS in many other areas, Apple is reportedly a bit spooked.  According to Boy Genius Report, the Cupertino giant is considering a $99 8 GB iPhone 3GS in time for the holiday season.

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I just bought the droid.
By jesman0 on 11/9/2009 9:57:03 AM , Rating: 3
My 3 year old Razr died finally on Saturday and after a lot of research and messing around with my friends iPhone I decided to get a Droid while i was at the verizon store with a demo model. The things that sold me on the Droid is the free and very fast voice activated GPS navigation, the great Google services integration, and of course, Verizon's Network. I actually have a signal in my office now. I never had a good signal with t-mobile. The Networking features are great. I got the cheap data plan and was able to quickly setup all my emails in a few minutes, including the Exchange Server from work. Everything pushes as expected.

Overall, this phone is very impressive. The multi-tasking works great and there are many comparable apps in the Droid Market to the iPhone store. I really like that my phone isn't locked into itunes as well.

I think the only drawback that I have experienced is that it is very hard to control my Dragon Punches running a SNES emu. While the software runs fine, the lack of true gaming controls makes it a very frustrating experience to Hadoken at will.

RE: I just bought the droid.
By kellehair on 11/9/2009 11:25:40 AM , Rating: 2
I got mine on Saturday morning. I've badly wanted a smartphone for awhile and the iPhone was never an option for me for a litany of reasons. That being said the Droid is amazing. The screen resolution is so great you can read even the tiniest text with ease -- zooming in is rarely necessary. The GPS is very snappy -- it finds my location faster than my car unit. The app selection is great, and even better, the free apps are awesome! The amount of customization you can do is nigh endless. I could go on all day...

RE: I just bought the droid.
By Bateluer on 11/9/2009 1:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
Got mine friday evening, love it. Absolutely amazing phone. My only real gripe is the battery life, which is pretty sad. But this is a sore point with all smart phones. I ordered two additional USB cables and a car charger too. One on my desk at home, one in the laptop bag, and one in the car. I'll look into extended batteries when they are released.

RE: I just bought the droid.
By kellehair on 11/9/2009 2:22:11 PM , Rating: 2
Check the battery usage monitor. My battery wore down in 6 hours on Sunday. The monitor showed that GPS was responsible for like 65% of my battery usage. I stopped the GPS from running in the background and my battery now lasts much longer.

RE: I just bought the droid.
By Bateluer on 11/9/2009 4:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
I turned off the GPS and WiFi. I think its more my constant tweaking and searching the Android Market.

RE: I just bought the droid.
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2009 8:49:22 AM , Rating: 2
Just put the little power control widget on your home screen and you can turn things on and off with a tap.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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