Review: Droid X and Gingerbread - A Delicious System Update

androidImage by Saad Irfan via Flickr
Article first published as Review: Droid X and Gingerbread - A Delicious System Update on Blogcritics.

After checking for system updates for the past few days, and drooling with jealousy from those included in the "soak" test group, I was finally treated to a system update (Version 2.3 aka "Gingerbread") from the folks at Motorola. A list of new features can be found here. For a review and reflection from hands-on experience, continue past the jump.


Cool and refreshing
Easily the most noticeable changes come with the appearance of the operating system after the update. From little changes like a refreshed clock font to (finally) the removal of the white notification bar to the teal accents on the 3G, Wifi, and antenna strength icons, the look and feel of Android indeed received a minor facelift.  Moto Blur (Motorola's add-on to Android) added some refinements with their custom widgets now rotating with cube style animations. Speaking of animations, though, I do miss the "some window animations" setting that has since disappeared.  It is all or nothing now, and the animations seem a bit less fluid, so much so that I have elected to turn them off entirely.

Speed is what we really want
Aside from the animation issue mentioned above, I have found the Gingerbread update to be snappier and the best place to experience this is in the web browser.  Little touches in the interface design (i.e. updated spinning wheel and cleaner progress bar) have improved the look, but "under the hood" changes have provided a fast and robust browser experience. Launching the app drawer (through the new and customizable dock) is super fast, and the ability to sort apps into groups and quickly open the Market through a dedicated button have all been supportive of a faster experience when using the Droid X.

But is the battery is better?
Always a big issue with any mobile device, especially as the smartphone gets "smarter" or equipped with more powerful hardware and faster connections, is the battery life. Android 2.3 promises to improve the power management capabilities, and so far, after purposefully leaving my phone uncharged at work, I am casually observing better battery life compared to how my phone behaved at this point in the day prior to the update. Data and chart loving users will be pleased to see significant amounts of information on how one's battery is getting used, and the addition of profiles allows you to quickly set various selections of wallpapers and widgets that can also assist in making your phone more power efficient.

Although these Android OS updates won't receive as much fanfare or recognition as a major Apple iOS release, there is much to be said with the improvements that come included with Android 2.3 - Gingerbread. Droid X owners should be pleased, and to those anxiously awaiting their device's turn - I hope that you won't have to wait as long as we did.

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