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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 sxr7171 on 11/12/2009 5:27:20 PM , Rating: 2
I appreciate your honesty and despite currently using an iPhone GS, I wanted this phone to blow away the iPhone.

Some things you list need to be put into perspective.

1. 14hours is fine for a modern smartphone. Every smartphone I've bought needs about one week for the battery to develop it's full usable life. Also any new toy will be used a lot since it is new. 14 hours under moderate to heavy use on a new battery actually bodes well for battery life. As a 3GS user I can tell you that if I forget to charge it even one night it will die by mid-morning the second day. I'm actually a very light user. I use it for e-mail and about 1 hour of music a day. A friend of mine tells me that the Palm Pre has slightly worse battery life than the 3GS.

2. GPS battery life sounds terrible. In most phones leaving it on will kill it. But I think Apple and even Nokia have found ways to conserve power with intelligent auto-on/off functionality even when a GPS app is running. I hope there is a software fix for this.

3. Yes, a real problem. Sounds like the software isn't as thought out as it should be. Reminds me of Nokia.

4. This is a real problem. iPhone OS post 2.1 has been the most stable phone OS I have used in my life bar none. I'm not a fan of its UI or its lack of openness and lack of multitasking but its stability keeps me a customer.

5. Yeah this is very "Apple-like" where form is pushed above function. I can see why Apple would do it, but I would expect better from Google. This lack of home screen thing better not become a trend.

6. I guess it's got to start somewhere.

7. Bad news. I hope it's software fixable.

Would really like for the GSM version to come out, but I must admit this the first time I have ever been jealous of a Verizon customer's phone selection.


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