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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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Error in Article
By Ard on 11/9/2009 10:26:14 AM , Rating: 2
"Like the iPhone, Droid features multi-touch technology, something Apple claims to hold a copyright on..."

I'm going to assume that this is more likely an error on the author's part rather than Apple's (I would hope Apple's legal/PR department know what they're talking about). You can't hold a copyright in a technology. Copyrights are reserved for artistic/literary works. What Apple would be claiming to hold is a patent.

As for the phone itself, it sounds pretty impressive. I currently have a iPhone 3G so I won't be able to jump ship until next July, something I've been seriously considering. I love the iPhone as a media device/handheld PC, but it absolutely blows as a phone. How much of that is AT&T's fault or Apple's fault is anyone's guess, but, needless to say, things could be a lot better.

RE: Error in Article
By mcnabney on 11/9/2009 3:52:30 PM , Rating: 2
The Droid has multitouch, but I have an idea why it uses a doubletap instead of a pinch to zoom. The Droid display is much higher a resolution than the iPhone, so the need to zoom is much lower. I have only used the zoom a few times and both of those were for pictures. Not having to use a second digit seems more intuitive to me. Or maybe they designed this to be more usable for people without thumbs. I don't know, but I have not missed the pinch function one bit.

RE: Error in Article
By Aloonatic on 11/10/2009 5:38:43 AM , Rating: 2
I love the iPhone as a media device/handheld PC, but it absolutely blows as a phone.
It's strange how that seems to be an aside, when talking about mobile phones these days. Maybe it's not the main use for the device any more, but for me it is really annoying how bad some phones are.

My brother has a little Nokia phone and an iPhone (3G) that he uses from time to time. You can always tell when he's calling you using the iPhone though, the quality is awful. It's on the same network too. It's just not that good as a phone. Is the 3GS better?

My mobile's just come out of contract and I seem to be caught in analysis paralysis at the moment. Sadly, however, it seems that my decision is being made a little easier as the Droid does not seem to be all that well favoured amongst UK operators.

The fact that my wife's car has a connector for an iPod/iPhone so that i can be used through the car stereo and controlled like normal through the steering wheel control may make me go the iPhone route. They have a well entrenched position in both apps and hardware support like car jacks and speaker sets.

How compatable are other phones/media players with these devices?

Yes, I've managed to largely steer clear of iPhones/iPods and media players in general until now, somehow, so don;t really know much about it.

RE: Error in Article
By SnakeBlitzken on 11/10/2009 1:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
Agree. My iphone does everything great but answer calls. I'm thinking of going to a different phone at the end of the contract and using it as an ipod touch.

RE: Error in Article
By Sazar on 11/10/2009 6:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
Dropped calls and the iffy 3.0 update have been the primary pain-points with the iPhone for me.

Heck, with the 3.0 update, if I didn't reboot my phone, it would randomly stop receiving/alerting me about calls and texts. I felt so unloved :(

I walked into the Verizon store and will keep an eye on this phone. The navigation feature is awesome and I really hope it gets ported to the iPhone.

I am waiting to see where the next iPhone goes :)

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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