7.26.2010

Droid X Real World Impressions Part I

Since making my Decision, I've had just over a week with the new Droid X. Through my Twitter (@Chanatown), I've been jotting down some field notes concerning the new Android superstar phone, and here's part one of my "review".  I use the air quotes because there are many typical reviews already out there.  Try this one, or that one, this one, or that one.  I know because I read them all prior to my purchase.  If you're looking for specs, screenshots, or a detailed analysis of the 8MP camera, check out one of those reviews.  This post is more about some of the real world observations that I made that may not make it into other reviews.

I'm always a bad news first person, so here are some of the concerns that I experienced during week one:

Battery Life
Now, I've had smartphones for a long time now, so I know not to expect a week of standby time like my wife can get with her little LG flip phone. However, I was expecting a full day's charge based on the highly touted battery that the Droid X shipped with. Initially, I was disappointed when I went to school last week, and three hours into my time there, I dropped 50%. After making all of the recommended tweaks (yes, I know not to have Wifi, GPS, etc. on), I was still having what I considered to be abnormally low battery performance. I relayed my concerns to Verizon, and they kindly agreed to ship me another battery to test. Thus, I'll follow up with this concern in a future post.  To the battery's defense, I will say that I have been able to get the full day in when I'm not at work, so my current theory rests with the low quality reception that I might be getting while at work. Still, my iPhone had even worse reception and did not guzzle through battery life quite as quickly. More to come...

Exchange through Corporate Sync
Strike two came when I was unable to officially set up my school's Exchange account using Corporate Sync.  I spent an hour tinkering with settings, adjusting for every possible combination of domain, server, and SSL, only to find out that others were experiencing the same problems. What gets me is that when I installed Touchdown (Android app for Exchange), I was up and running in a heartbeat.  I'd rather not pay money for a service that should be native to the phone, though that's no offense to Touchdown, as it is a great app which I may end up purchasing regardless.  Based on the forum, there may be a solution on the way from Motorola.  Again, this will be updated in a future post.

Keyboard
Perhaps, this will dissipate over time, but I am simply making more errors with this keyboard.  I've tried using Swype (kind of cool) and the native multitouch keyboard, but I often find myself missing the space bar as well as keys on the right side ("p" is particularly in avoidance).  I most often use the keyboard in portrait mode, so many of these problems don't appear as much in landscape.  However, it has been noticeable enough that I began looking for alternative keyboards in the Market.  I'm hoping I just need to become more acclimated to the new keyboard after 2 years on the iPhone.

So, those are the three main issues that I experienced.  On to the good stuff...

Can you hear me now?
Yes.  One of the biggest reasons for my defection from the iPhone was the lack of reception in a lot of the areas where I commonly go.  In the past week, I can thankfully report that I have been able to get a signal in my school (though it's still weak), in my house (also weak), on the bus (fewer dead zones in Evanston so far), and almost everywhere else.  This is a huge plus for the Verizon/Droid X team.

Is it seriously that fast?
Coming from an iPhone 3G, the Droid X is blazing fast.  Apps open in an instant, multitasking becomes a reality, and I have quickly grown accustomed to using the back button, home button, or the long press to shift to and from my email, the browser, or another application.  I feel like I can do so much more in a much shorter time.  I love the zippiness, and I have confidence that I can retrieve a contact, look up a movie time, or "google" something without having to say, "wait, my phone is still loading."

Bye, Bye, Scary Red Eye
One of the first changes I made was to the wallpaper.  I've gone back and forth between a static and the live grass wallpaper, but I sure as heck am staying away from the scary red eye.  Aside from wallpapers, I'm currently in the widget geek-out phase, as I have placed several widgets on my seven home screens.  Some are just for fun (Facebook, Twitter), while others I consider more essential (Calendar, ESPN - the Cubs are still in it!)  I'm using the customizable Launcher Pro (reviewed here) to tie everything together, and it's the coolest looking phone I've had since the i730 days.  Being one touch away from important (and not so important) information is a big plus in terms of functionality.  

The Little Things
I missed having a notification light on the iPhone, and the flashing LED light is such a sight for these eyes.  Something so simple as letting me know if there's a message without me having to unlock the screen is a significant advantage for this and many other phones over the iPhone.  Another simple yet often overlooked feature is the FM radio.  I'll be honest in that one of the features of the newest iPod nano that I was excited about was the built-in radio.  Having this included on the Droid X is another bonus option for those commutes to and from work.  I would like to add that the interface is well designed as well.  

Overall
With the powerful processor, brilliant display, and multitasking capabilities, the Droid X is as close to a portable computer as I've ever experienced. With the pending 2.2 Update (Froyo) which is supposed to make things even faster, I've been extremely pleased with my purchase and have no regrets.  In part two of my review, I'll dive deeper into call quality as I just ported my number from AT&T. I'll give an update on the battery life, and offer some real life observations from my experience using Launcher Pro, Beautiful Widgets, and a fully decked out home screen experience.  Can the Droid X stay this fast?  Stay tuned...
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