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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: My mini-review
By mcnabney on 11/9/2009 3:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
1. Turn off WiFi if you aren't using it. In fact, there is a nice little, free, app just to manage power with a minimum of fuss.
2. The extreme stress tests have this thing going through the battery in 7 hours when the processor is running something complicated, brightness set to max, GPS on, and all radios going (BT, WiFi, EVDO, CDMA). Not too bad. I put the thing in the dock every night and I have never seen more than one bar missing. I don't really use it for games though.
3. Odd that you are having GPS issues. Mine is very accurate. Might be something wrong with the calibration. If you go back to the store, have the store device and your device pull-up their locations and see if it is just your phone.
4. The app store will grow, especially with so many devices coming down the pipe. It took a long time for Apple to hit 100k, but I don't see a reason Android won't.
5. I totally agree with you about video and voice quality. I don't think that the press is really explaining how sharp an image this damn thing can produce. And the voice quality is flawless - something else seldom mentioned - but I also noticed that my music also sounds better now. I'm not really sure what is in the Droid that causes this.


RE: My mini-review
By Spuke on 11/9/2009 7:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
Does it have stereo bluetooth? Thanks.


RE: My mini-review
By mcnabney on 11/10/2009 1:24:03 AM , Rating: 2
yes


RE: My mini-review
By Cr0nJ0b on 11/10/2009 10:18:51 AM , Rating: 2
I always find it interesting when I read responses like this. The issue as I read it is that the phone isn't ready. Nothing pisses me off more than buying a $300+ product and finding that some idiot forgot to add the basic details that a user would need. Your response though, can be summed up as... "there's a fix for that!"

You don't like the battery life..."there's a fix for that"

You don't like the wifi leaving itself on..."there's a fix for that"

GPS isn't working..."there's a patch for that"

I think the point is that if the product doesn't work as advertised out of the box, sans tweaks, you have failed in the development department. I'm just not sure if it's google's developers or Mototola's developers who should be help to account.


RE: My mini-review
By Spuke on 11/12/2009 3:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
point is that if the product doesn't work as advertised out of the box
What doesn't work on it? I read it that there's some configurations he would like to see not that things didn't work.


RE: My mini-review
By sxr7171 on 11/12/2009 5:31:15 PM , Rating: 2
I know the feeling. As a former Nokia customer, trust me I know the feeling.

I don't know how they would rush it out before even figuring out power management for GPS and Wi-Fi. That's the kind of thing that makes you wonder if these guys are serious. It's the same exact same feeling I had with Nokia.

It's fine to miss some functionality, but it's not okay to release a device in such a condition that you wonder if one actual human being tested it out for one day before shipping the whole lot out.


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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