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Motorola Droid X: The Next Generation of Does
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Date: Aug 02, 2010
Section:Gadgets
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction & Specifications

The original Motorola Droid was a huge hit, both for Motorola as well as for Verizon Wireless. In the time since the DROID was launched in November, Verizon Wireless has also added the HTC Droid Incredible to its lineup of popular Android handsets. Now, Motorola and Verizon Wireless have teamed up again to offer "The Next Generation of Does" in the form of the Motorola Droid X.

The Droid X uses the ever-popular candy bar form factor and ditches the original Droid's sliding keyboard. Big screens tend to be the norm these days, and the Droid X is no exception. On this smartphone, you'll find an expansive 4.3-inch touchscreen that supports a resolution of 854 x 480.

The Motorola Droid X delivers Android goodness with state-of-the-art hardware and a vast 3G network courtesy of Verizon Wireless. It will also be one of the first phones to get Adobe Flash when a software upgrade is released later this summer. Although there are now a handful of strong Android-powered choices on Verizon's network, one can certainly make the argument that the Droid X is one of the more powerful options available.

At the time of this writing, the Droid X is priced at $199.99 after discounts and with a two-year contract. As with other smartphones, you'll need one of Verizon Wireless' Nationwide Talk plans (starting at $39.99 per month) and an Email and Web for Smartphone plan which starts at $29.99. When all is said and done, you'll likely spend more than $70 per month for the service, taxes, and fees, but anyone who is shopping for a smartphone knows this is pretty common.

According to Motorola, the X stands for extreme. Indeed, the Droid X offers many of the high-end or extreme features found on today's phones including plenty of storage space, a large touchscreen, an ever-expanding app store, a high-megapixel camera with video capabilities, and more. Do all of these features make the phone worthy of being called "extreme?"  Our in-depth review takes a closer look at all of the Droid X's features and software to help you decide whether the phone is a hit or a miss.

Motorola Droid X
Specifications & Features

CPU
TI OMAP 1GHz processor with Dedicated GPU
Platform
Android 2.1 (Eclair) OS with Motorola Application Platform
Memory
8GB internal memory
16 GB microSD card preinstalled; up to 32GB microSD supported
Dimensions
5.02 x 2.57 x 0.39 inches
Weight
5.47 ounces
Display
4.3-inch touchscreen WVGA, 854 x 480, 16M colors
Network
CDMA 1X 800/1900, EVDO rev. A
GPS
aGPS (assisted), sGPS (simultaneous)
Connectivity
Wi-Fi 802.11n
BLUETOOTH v2.1+ EDR
HDMI Output
DLNA Wireless sharing
Micro USB
Camera
8.0 MP camera with fast mechanical shutter (1/1000 sec) auto focus, touch–to–focus, and face recognition, panoramic modes, and more
720p HD video capture with easy upload to YouTube, slow–motion capture, fast motion capture and more
Directional audio capture via "Audio Scenes" help reduce background noise on captured videos
Music
3.5mm headset jack
Android Music Player
Amazon Music Store
FM Radio
Supports AAC, H.263, H.264, MP3, MPEG-4, WAV, eAAC+, WMA v10, MIDI, AAC+ formats
Video
HD 720p quality (1280x720p resolution) up to 24 fps capture; up to 30 fps playback
Battery
1540 mAH Li Ion
Usage Time: Up 480 minutes
Standby Time: Up to 220 hours
Email
Integrated Google , Exchange, Facebook , MySpace, and Twitter Contacts
Push Email Support: Gmail & Exchange & Yahoo
IMAP and POP, MSN Hotmail, and AOL Mail also supported
Unified Google Calendar & Corporate Calendar (supports Exchange 2003 and 2007protocol)
Additional Features
3G Mobile Hotspot with support for up to 5 Devices
Visual Voice Mail capable
VZ Navigator capable via the Android Market
Skype Mobile capable
V CAST Media Manager capable
VZW Backup Assistant capable
Android Webkit HTML5 based browser
Photo Sharing: Facebook, Picasa , Photobucket and Print to Retail
In-Box Content
DROID X by Motorola
Standard Lithium Ion Battery
16 GB microSD memory card preinstalled
Wall/USB Charger
Getting Started Brochure
Product Safety & Warranty Brochure

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Design

The Droid X is relatively large with its footprint of 5.02 x 2.57 inches and a depth of 0.39 inches. The vast majority of the front of the phone is consumed by the gorgeous, 4.3-inch touchscreen that supports a resolution of 854 x 480.

The Motorola Droid X isn't the lightest phone on the market today, but it's not the heaviest, either. To help you compare, here's how things stack up among some of today's popular models:

HTC Droid Incredible 4.6 ounces
Apple iPhone 4 4.8 ounces
Motorola Droid X 5.47 ounces
HTC EVO 4G 6.0 ounces

 

With the exception of a rounded hump on the back, the Motorola Droid X is a pretty straight and boxy device with edges that are ever-so-slightly rounded and a case that has a soft rubbery feel. In terms of hardware, the Droid X offers many of the features you'd expect from a high-end smartphone including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (802.11n), GPS, an accelerometer, an 8 megapixel camera with HD (720p) video capabilities, and plenty of onboard storage with room for additional files via the microSD expansion slot.

    

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Just below the Droid X's screen, you'll find four hardware buttons (Menu, Home, Back, and Search). Unlike other phones which have touch-sensitive flat buttons, the Droid X's hardware buttons are slightly raised. The buttons are backlit and there's a small break between each button. The phone's microphone is centered at the base of the phone below the menu buttons.

The top edge of the Droid X has a 3.5mm headset jack and the Power/Lock key. A volume rocker and dedicated camera key are located on the right side of the Droid X. Near the base of the phone on the left side, you'll find a microUSB port and HDMI port.

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On the back of the Droid X, you'll find the phone's 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash. The phone's microSD slot is located underneath the battery cover. To swap cards, you'll need to remove the battery. The battery cover is pretty sturdy on its own, which adds some rigidity to the phone.

Not long ago, we reviewed Droid Incredible by HTC, another Android 2.1-powered smartphone from Verizon Wireless. We liked the Incredible and gave it a very positive review. Now, the Droid X is here and it combines many of the high-end features of the Incredible with a few of its own. For example, the Incredible features Qualcomm’s superfast 1GHz Snapdragon processor. The Droid X also has a 1GHz processor, but it comes in the form of the TI OMAP 1GHz processor with a Dedicated GPU. The Incredible also boasted of 8GB of built-in storage. With the Droid X, you'll not only get 8GB of internal memory, but you'll also get a 16GB microSD card preloaded in the device. The Droid X also has a larger display than the Incredible—4.3-inches versus the Incredible's 3.7-inch display. Because of this larger display, the Droid X feels a lot larger than the Incredible. Both phones offer an 8 megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, and more.

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User Interface

When we reviewed the Incredible, it also ran on Android 2.1 but with a few tweaks courtesy of the HTC Sense experience. Of course, Motorola doesn't use HTC's custom user interface, so the phones look a bit different on the software side. For example, the Droid X doesn't have the Leap home screen for easy access to your various home screens. Instead, the Droid X offers seven customizable home screens that are accessible by sliding your finger across the screen. To jump directly to a specific home screen, simply slide your finger and select the desired home screen from the bottom display bar that appears. For easy navigation, you can also view icons for six of the applications you've most recently used on the Droid X by pressing and holding the Home button.

         

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In addition to the standard widgets that accompany all Android devices, the Droid X comes with 15 Motorola Widgets. These widgets include Airplane mode toggle, Contact quick tasks, Photo Slideshow, Social Networking, Social Status, Sticky Note, and more. You can resize some of these widgets, just as you would resize a window on your desktop computer. For example, if you want a larger calendar widget or a bigger Facebook stream widget, you can resize them to your liking.

         

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One of the things Motorola touts about the Droid X is the ability to keep up with your life by streaming all posts, pics, tweets, and status updates from various social networking tools to a consolidated view on your phone. With this consolidation, the Droid X will also pull contact information from sources such as Facebook and put this information in the phone's address book. When you're in the address book, you'll see the combined view or you can choose to show only a subset of your contacts, such as those from Facebook or from a specific email account. In a similar manner, there's a messages widget which pulls all of your texts, emails, and messages and puts them on your home screen.

Touch keyboard users will tell you the keyboard can't be too small or you'll quickly become frustrated while trying to type. The Droid X's touch keyboard is adequate in size and is enhanced by the Swype text-entry method which lets you type words by dragging your finger from one letter to the next without lifting it from the screen. Swype is particularly useful for texting and composing messages. It's not as well suited for typing URLs, passwords, or proper names. Like other Android 2.1 devices, the Droid X offers a voice-enabled keyboard for dictating text input as well.

         

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The Droid X comes with many standard preinstalled Android applications including Gmail, Maps, Android Market, Talk, and YouTube. It also has many Motorola and Verizon specific apps such as NFL Mobile, Skype mobile, V CAST Video, NFS Shift, and more.

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Performance

The Droid X isn't the first smartphone on the market to offer a 1GHz processor, and it won't be the last. Because of this, a minimum of a 1GHz processor is a becoming a must for any high-end device. Thanks to the Droid X's TI OMAP 1GHz processor with Dedicated GPU, the phone feels speedy and responsive.

The Droid X's 4.3-inch touchscreen is gorgeous and roomy and supports multitouch. The screen is pretty reflective, so it isn't always easy to view under direct sunlight. In addition, the screen tends to show a lot of fingerprints, but they didn't appear to affect the responsiveness of the phone at all. The phone's accelerometer is pretty quick to respond when rotating the handset as well.

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We're beginning to see more and more smartphones that have high-resolution cameras built in. Although we're not quite to the point where cameras built into phones can compete with standalone cameras in terms of image quality, we are seeing more and more high resolution camera phones that can take pictures at 8 megapixels. For a smartphone, the still images and video captured with the Droid X's 8 megapixel camera were pretty impressive. The images weren't perfect (a standalone camera will still do a better job), and there was noise and grain in many of the images and video, but overall, we were impressed with the quality in comparison to many of the other on-board cameras we've used to date.

In terms of call quality, the Droid X offered clear conversations and did not suffer from any dropped calls. We found the earpiece and the speakerphone to be adequately loud and everyone we spoke with said calls came through loud and clear.

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We've heard a fair amount of chatter concerning a feature known as eFuse on the Droid X. As we've discussed in previous reviews of HTC handsets such as the HTC Touch Pro2, although HTC doesn't encourage custom ROMs, it doesn't go out of its way to block them, either. Motorola is taking a very different approach to custom ROMs than HTC. With the Droid X, Motorola has made it difficult to run custom ROMs thanks to the eFuse feature. According to a statement from Motorola sent to Engadget, the eFuse technology is designed to ensure that a device only runs on updated and tested versions of the software. "If a device attempts to boot with unapproved software, it will go into recovery mode, and can re-boot once approved software is re-installed." In other words, eFuse won't brick your phone if you try to use an unapproved bootloader, but it will shut down the phone.

The Droid X also offers 3G Mobile Hotspot capabilities with the option to share with up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices. Although the Hotspot feature is definitely cool and useful, keep in mind it will cost you an additional $20 per month. In our tests, the hotspot feature was very easy to set up and we had no problems connecting our laptop to the hotspot. Here's a look at the average speeds we enjoyed while surfing the Web from the Droid X and from our laptop using the Droid X as a mobile hotspot:

Overall, we were pleased with the download speeds we enjoyed while surfing the Web on the Droid X. While surfing from our laptop using the Droid X as the hotspot, we enjoyed average upload speeds of 204.8 Kbps.

Motorola says you should expect up to 8 hours of usage time and up to 220 hours (just over 9 days) of standby time from the Droid X's user replaceable battery. During our tests, we were generally able to get a day’s worth of use from the phone while making calls, surfing the Web, and performing other tasks. As with any phone, your experience is likely to vary depending on how aggressively you use the phone’s capabilities.

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Conclusion

There have been a lot of really great Android phones that have entered the market over the last year. Some of these phones are average, and others set the bar for greatness. Previously, HTC and Verizon Wireless upped the ante with the Droid Incredible. Now, Motorola is taking over the top spot by raising the bar even higher by adding a larger touchscreen, plenty of storage, and 3G Hotspot capabilities to its top-end smartphone. Because of these features, the Droid X once again raises the bar for what a high-end smartphone should offer.


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For some users, the lack of a physical keyboard on the Droid X will be a detriment. For other users, this is a major benefit since it oftentimes results in a thinner device. At the end of the day, it's very much a personal preference.

Although the Droid X offers all of the top-end features we'd expect from a phone, it does lack one thing that the HTC EVO 4G offers, and that's 4G connectivity. Verizon Wireless doesn't currently offer 4G service, so we wouldn't expect the carrier to offer a 4G phone, though both are coming soon. In fact, Verizon Wireless is already testing 4G services in select US markets and plans to launch its 4G LTE network in 25 to 30 markets this year.

 

At the beginning of this article, we told you the X in "Droid X" stands for extreme. This word stirs up a lot of high expectations. Although no phone can be perfect, we think it's safe to say that Motorola and Verizon Wireless have another hit on their hands in the form of the Droid X.

We're not going to give the Droid X our coveted Editor's Choice award because of the lack of 4G connectivity, its somewhat large form factor, and non-backlit buttons. That said, we will strongly recommend the Droid X and will even go so far as to call it the best Android-powered smartphone on Verizon Wireless' network today. And it's only going to get better once an update to Froyo is released in a few weeks.

 

 

     
  • Speedy TI OMAP 1GHz processor with Dedicated GPU
  • Roomy 4.3-inch touchscreen
  • Adobe Flash Player 10.1 ready
  • Verizon Wireless network with vast 3G coverage
  • Large footprint
  • Heavier than some of today's popular smartphones
  • No 4G connectivity

 



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