As some may remember, yesterday Sahas Katta and I attended the San Francisco satellite stream of Verizon Wireless’ Droid X press conference. After the event, everyone attending was given a loaner unit with service for the month. It would be an understatement to say that I was excited to get my hands on the new Droid X, especially since these won’t be officially released until July 15th. I have now had a full day to play around with my first smart phone ever, and I have a few early thoughts on it.
Let me just say right off the bat that this is a very pretty phone. The Droid X is remarkably sleek and streamlined for such a large phone, with the only obstruction being the odd bulging camera portion on the upper back portion of the phone. It’s actually not as obtrusive as I thought it would be when I first saw the phone, but it could have done better without. The physical buttons are laid out in a way that compliments this streamline aesthetic that designers seem to be going for, with none of them jutting out too far out from the body while simultaneously not being wedged so far into the phone that they are hard to push. I personally found the Droid X appealing and in line with my own tastes, more so than other smart phones I’ve seen in the past. Even that little bulge in the back grew on me, and that had been my only initial complaint about the X’s design.
One of the highlight features of the Droid X is of course its 4.3 inch touch screen. I personally didn’t see what the big deal was (no pun intended) about the larger screen sizes with the Droid X or even the EVO 4G. However, now that I’ve used it first hand, I finally understand what all the hype was about. Bigger really is better. Watching YouTube videos via the pre-installed App is fantastic now that I can actually see the videos, in high quality mode too. The days of hunching over your smart phone are finally over, and you won’t even have to squint! I was even able to watch a game trailer with my younger brother on the Droid X without either of us leaning in too far and blocking the other’s view because of how big the screen was. This is a definite perk for the Droid X, as well as Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G which first introduced the larger screen size, and I can’t help thinking that from here on out most new smart phones will come out with these jumbo-sized screens.
Unfortunately, the 4.3 inch screen does put me in a bit of a dilemma. While I love what it does for video and the overall display of the phone, it’s also the source of my one and only problem with the Droid X: its size. The Droid X really is a massive phone, and a bit too massive for my personal tastes. I, like many people, prefer putting my phone in my pocket instead of in my purse or backpack, since it means I can always know exactly when I’m getting a call, text, or notification. This is sadly not an option with the Droid X. It is a simple fact of life that the vast majority of girl pants have smaller pockets than guy pants. So while we said in our EVO 4G review, which is the same size as the Droid X, that it’s “still small enough to slide into most pockets,” it’s unfortunately my pockets that are the exception. So until fashion designers start making girl pants with bigger pockets, it seems I’m destined to always be conflicted about these screens. Compact devices, such as the Apple iPhone 4, may actually suite me better in the long run.
My favorite feature to play around with this past day has by far been the 8 megapixel camera. I absolutely love Motorola’s decision to put a dedicated camera button on the lower right side of the Droid X. Having this physical button on the exterior of the phone has made it so much easier to get into Camera mode to snap a quick picture whenever I see something fun or interesting (or weird). And the pictures, as you can see, are fantastic. Picture quality stays high in both indoor and outdoor lighting, and colors are vibrant and true to life. There is no question whatsoever that the pictures taken on the Droid X are a thousand times better than those taken using the measly 2 megapixel camera on my Samsung Alias 2. The camera can also capture HD video, and while I haven’t had a chance to record anything interesting enough to publish here, my few test runs were impressive and the quality was on par with those taken by the EVO 4G.
I should note that I have had some initial set-up issues and difficulties with the Droid X similar to ones other reporters are complaining about. For starters, I couldn’t download apps on the Android Market: every time I tried to download anything I got a message saying “Download unsuccessful,” a problem that Sahas Katta had with his device as well. After some tinkering and a little angst on my part, we were able to figure out that the device had been set up to stop the installation of apps from unknown sources. I had to go into the Applications section of the settings menu and, after enabling unknown source installation, was able to finally go crazy in the Market. This was rather odd, since it shouldn’t have to be enabled for Marketplace apps. However, I should point out that the folks at Motorola and Verizon Wireless warned us that our Droid X units were still slightly in “prototype stages.” While it’s close to production quality, there might be a few minor changes. Models that ship to customers will run a newer version of Motorola’s custom MotoBlur Android OS. Our review units should get updates around that time as well. Also, Froyo v2.2 is set for launch later this summer.
I also had some trouble connecting the Droid X to my two-year-old Macbook. When I connected it with the included USB cable and selected “USB Mass Storage” for transferring songs onto the phone, my Macbook wouldn’t recognize the device. After restarting my Macbook once and plugging and unplugging the USB cable about five times, I realized that for some reason Pandora, which had been playing the entire time, was locking access to the microSD card, hense preventing the Macbook from recognizing the Droid X. As soon as I closed that App, the Macbook immediately recognized the phone and I was able to copy my songs over.
While Sahas Katta’s full Droid X review is in the works, please feel free to checkout the Droid X Photo Gallery and see Ian Thackston’s infographic comparing this to the iPhone 4 and EVO 4G.
Links: Motorola.com | VerizonWireless.com
Related: HTC Droid Incredible (Review)
I enjoyed your review of the Droid X. It was very informative and touched on a number of areas that directly apply to most info seeking individuals as myself.
I’m looking forward to more word from your 30 days of pure X. Enjoy and do keep us posted.
Nice article! Most of the preview\reviews I’ve read so far have been disappointingly similar and boilerplate, basically just reciting tech stats and a few bland comments. You instead give a sense of what it’s like to actually spend some time with and use this phone. Thanks!
Very helpful. I can’t wait to read your comparison of the X with the iPhone4. (NY Times today reports some users of i-4 having some interference problems because metal band on exterior, which serves as extra antenna, sometimes goes screwy when hands are all over it! Hey, it’s a “handheld,” Apple: people are going to use their hands.) The photos you took with the X look great. Amazing: only a few years ago we were spending hundreds of $$ to buy cameras with half the pixels as now in these new phones. I’ll be watching for more of your insightful reviews.
Half the pixels? If only! I remember buying a 1.2 megapixel Nikon digital camera for like $900 or something. It hurts. It hurts so bad.
That’s the best and worst part about technology, it’s always moving forward. It’ll hurt more in the next few years, though, when we start getting cheaper 3D cameras. They’re right around the corner; the Nintendo 3DS already has one!
Nice review so far. Even before the full review comes out, can you give us your impressions of the call quality and how effective (or not) the voice-canceling microphone is? (Specifically – when making calls from a noisy place like a bar or restaurant, are people on the other end of the line able to hear you quite well?) Thanks!
Both Alex and I have a temporary unit. I can say that with 3 built-in microphones, one more than the iPhone 4, it does an excellent job of isolating noise. The Motorola Droid was great for voice calls, but in all honesty, the Droid X is drastically better.
I agree with Sahas, I’ve had no trouble with noise isolation on my end, and none of the people I’ve called have had any complaints either. I have had a few problems here and there with reception (I had one call that cut in and out so badly that I had to hang up and call back), but I think that was more a problem with service in my area than with the Droid X since I’ve had that same experience with my other phone on Verizon’s network. I am still testing the phone, though, and if I turn out to be wrong and it is in fact a problem with the Droid X I will definitely report on it.
That’s great to hear. Thank you both for the quick replies! I’ve noticed that while the EVO generally sounds excellent, when I talked to someone who was using one from a restaurant, I was hearing a lot of background chatter behind them. I’ll be eager to see how the Droid X performs under similar conditions.
I have the Motorola droid by Verizon and the major complaint is that no one can ever hear me on it. They alll say I sound muffled, which if you know me is unheard of. I was wondering if with the droid X if the talk quality was any better. With the phone being all touch screen and with a wider screen then the letter should not be so close together, hopefully more like the iphone.
Hi Sarah. I have not personally used the Motorola Droid, though, so I can’t actually compare the two to one another. I can say, however, that I haven’t had any complaints from my friends or family about them not being able to hear me or sounding muffled when I use the Droid X. Call quality in general on the Droid X has been great over the past two weeks, and I really have no complaints about it.
I have a droid x and i haven’t been able to figure out how to connect it to my macbook. i plug it in and receive an error message notifying me that my macbook can’t read the device…not sure what i should do..