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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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RE: Got one
By Motoman on 11/9/2009 11:45:47 AM , Rating: 2
Hey FIT - do you use Exchange with it? We have Exchange 2003 here at work and it would be important that I could have good email integration with it...have been hearing some bits on the intarweb that maybe the Exchange integration isn't good?

Mostly I see issues with Outlook Tasks - which I wouldn't care about since I don't use them. But email and calendar would have to work well...


RE: Got one
By Jedi2155 on 11/9/2009 11:47:58 AM , Rating: 2
I've used exchange on my T-Mobile G1 via the use of ROMs. I hear Android 2.0, has integrated exchange support.


RE: Got one
By mcnabney on 11/10/2009 1:18:01 AM , Rating: 2
yup. It will push Exchange and Gmail effortlessly. You still have to select an interval if you want to POP. But it is 2009, who POPs anymore?


RE: Got one
By FITCamaro on 11/9/2009 12:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not using it but there's a built in app to synch it with your corporate calendar and email. Beyond that I can't tell you. I won't be synching it with my company. Party because I don't want to. Partly because I doubt I'd be allowed to.


RE: Got one
By Motoman on 11/9/2009 12:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
My company would let me use it...but I'd need to know that it worked well. Then I could toss the Blackberry.

Anybody else using a Droid with Exchange?


RE: Got one
By ShiverSlick on 11/9/2009 1:00:38 PM , Rating: 3
I have the new Droid, and am using it with an Exchange 2003 server, and it works great. The set up was a breeze. THe only thing I didn't like about the default client was that I couldn't move email to folders and it didn't sync tasks. However, I installed a program called TouchDown for exchange on the Droid, and now I can move messages between folders, sync up tasks and such. I freakin' love this phone.


RE: Got one
By psychobriggsy on 11/9/2009 2:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
I read that Droid Exchange integration was a $15/m fee to Verizon to enable.

$30/m for tethering, $30/m for "unlimited" data, $15/m for exchange ... that's a high price to pay.


RE: Got one
By Spuke on 11/9/2009 5:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
Exchange integration is built-in as far as I know.


RE: Got one
By Eagle17 on 11/10/2009 1:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
there are two data plans for this phone.

if you are a single or family customer you would buy the normal data plan at $30/mth

if you are a corporate customer you need to use the "unlimited" data plan at $45/mth

Note that both plans allow for only 5GB data transfer per month.

If you purchase the verizon tethering plan/app you get an additional 5GB per month giving you a total of 10GB of transfers.


RE: Got one
By Sazar on 11/10/2009 6:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
5GB data is not bad. I typically go through about 1-2 GB of data and I abuse the hell out of my phone's data capabilities.

I can see how you can top 5 GB, but you would have to be 100% off the wifi networks.


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