24 November 2009


Let me start with this: I have never owned an iPhone. I have never held an iPhone. I have no idea what an iPhone works like or how amazing it (hypothetically) is.

If you're thinking about getting a Motorola Droid and have been put off by all of the Droid v iPhone reviews where the Droid comes out lacking let me tell you this: yesterday, I bought myself a Droid and I am in love like you wouldn't believe. I am flashing back to my early days with Johnny 505. I can say unequivocally it is the most amazing thing I ever held in my hand.

The screen is so clear it was hard to get a good picture of it. Yes, that is my camera's eye you can see. Sorry.
And that is not a flower, it's a sunspot in infrared.

What? You want an actual review of something for once instead of me rhapsodizing about my love? If you insist...

The Droid weighs in 6oz and is slightly narrower than the palm of my hand. It includes a slide-out keyboard upon which the backspace key and the enter key are dangerously close together. Ask Twitter users if you think I'm exaggerating. The screen is crystal clear, and I would dare to say it's crisper than my laptop screen (sorry, Lovelace, I still love you best!). The power cable doubles as a USB cable through the magic of modern technology and file transfers from Lovelace to the Droid were as simple as drag and drop. The whole phone is pretty intuitive, I spent about twenty minutes messing with it and by the end of it, I only had to look up a few things.

(Are people really complaining about the weight? [Answer: Yes] It weighs 2oz more than the iPhone. 2oz! I brush my hair and lose more than that!)

Sidenote: When did it become okay for phones to get bigger? I remember there was a real push for a while for phones to be as tiny as possible, the size of a ballpoint pen. The Droid is easily twice the size of my Razor. Wait, I take it back, it was when we decided that phones should be personal computers as well. I'm okay with that.

The home screen is made up of three panels which all share the same background. You can swish your finger across the screen to navigate between them. I love this as it means I can keep my useful programs I use to the right, and the silly games and things off to the left, leaving my center screen gloriously empty and beautiful. Then main menu is accessed through a tab at the bottom of the screen and I really like the look of it. Figuring out how to move icons around was a little odd. I could drop things on the desktop, but couldn't manage to grab them. Easy solution, touch the icon until the phone vibrates. Then you can either move it or trash the icon (not the program); if you hold the icon to either side of the screen, it will move into the next panel. No, that last bit did not take me 15 minutes to figure out. No it didn't, shut up. Also on the phone are four "buttons" which let you go back, go to a menu, go back to the home screen, or search.

The OS looks exactly like my Ubuntu desktop, down to the thinking circles and top taskbar. I'm super happy about that. If you are not a Linux user, don't worry, it's nothing all that different - it just made me happy that it looks so alike. The top taskbar will let you know if you have email or updates or tweets or whatnot and you can access any of the above by swishing the thing down. Nice - also, handy.

When locked, which it does automatically after what feels like ten seconds but is in fact set to two minutes, you have a clock and the date as well as an actual percentage indicator for the battery if charging. I like that. It's good to know I have 80% of my battery left, or how much is left until charged, or whatever. To unlock, you have to swipe the unlock icon over, or you can silent or ... unsilent (?) your ringer while it is still locked. I like that too. What I do not like is that I have to press the power/unlock button to get to that screen. I would much rather be able to just tap my way into the phone. I don't know, this is a convenience vs accidental phoning thing. You can't stick your hand in you pocket/purse and turn this thing on by accident.

Let's get to what people really wonder about, which is apps. The very first thing I got was Twidroid, because I am a twittering fiend these days. Apps in the Android market were super easy to find and the download went smoothly. I immediately got the important apps such as Facebook, OI Safe (for passwords), pandora, lightsaber, sudoku and amazon. On the sudoku note, this is easily the best sudoku I have seen outside of paper and pencil. Oh, I also got the bubble level and spent part of today calibrating it. 'Cause I'm obsessive like that. At the moment I'm running my email, twidroid, pandora and sudoku with no problems.

Update: I took my droid back to Verizon and got a new one. Since then, I have not had a single issue with it. If you are having the problems I'm about to describe, TAKE IT BACK. Nothing will fix it. On the not awesome note, it does have a tendency to shut itself down when it gets confused. It's done it twice in the time it has taken me to type this. Fail. In all fairness, it does not do it out of the blue, but rather when I have asked too much of it. It looks and acts so much like my laptop I expect it to be able to handle as many separate processes. And while it is awesome, it is not magical. Sad face :(

The scary thing is, it's smarter than me. Like a lot smarter. It does things without my asking, like grab people's facebook profile picture and put it next to their name in my contacts list. What's up with that? Scared the hell out of me. Really, 90% of my uses for it are sudoku and music. My phone is probably sitting here sullen and brooding at the unfulfillment of its potential. Like a wife that gave up her career and the kids turned out to be shit.

All in all, I'm quite impressed. It is my first smartphone and the sound and picture quality are amazing. The camera function is alright, but I haven't quite figured out the night functions.

Some of the bitching I have seen has been about the keyboard, which some people claim is extraneous as the onscreen keyboard is exceptional. I do not use the onscreen keyboard, it is such a pain in the ass and I inevitably mess it up. It does offer suggestions before the word is finished which is kind of nice. I suppose if you've gotten used to the onscreen keyboard on an iPhone you will default to that, but personally I'd rather use the keypad.

In the end, I am so freaking excited by my phone you have no idea. I have named it R4-P17 in honor of one of the greatest droids of all time and find that I'm using it in place of my laptop, even when my laptop is within arms reach. I'll get back to you in a month or so when the novelty has worn off and R4 is leaving dirty dished in the sink and socks on the floor.

Technical Sidenote for Users:
Droid and some freemail accounts don't get along. If you have a Droid and have been having problems synching your Yahoo! mail with it here's the fix (Note, you need to be on the 3g network to do this - it won't work on a wifi network for reasons beyond my understanding):
1. Go into email and then pull up the menu to add account.
2. Enter your email address and password, then choose Manual Setup
3. Choose IMAP
4. The IMAP server should be imap.mail.yahoo.com; and the port is 143. Security: none. IMAP path prefix: leave blank.
5. On the next screen (which should be outgoing settings)... SMTP server: smtp.mobile.mail.yahoo.com; the port is 587. Security:none. Make sure require sign-in is checked.
6. Name you account and move on.

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