Motorola Droid

Mikey 16 comments
Motorola Droid

After a long and frustrating battle with the absolute piece of garbage that is the Nokia N97, I finally decided to not wait until my contract expires (another 10 months) and instead bought a new phone outright.

This handset is one I can get excited about, one that is as fast, slick and powerful as you'd expect from any smart phone today, enter the Motorola Droid. This is the Droid I've been looking for.

Motorola Droid

After a lot of research and finally committing to the Droid, I was disappointed to learn that no Australian mobile phone carrier sells it. This left me with one option - purchasing an unlocked Droid from Mobicity (who I might add gave excellent customer service) and hoping that it would work on the Vodafone network. It turns out it does - phew. If you've come here looking for how to get the Droid to work on Vodafone's 3G network, you can see the settings you'll need further into this article because out of the box you won't have 3G access.

The Droid obviously runs Google's amazing phone operating system called Android, version 2.1 in this instance with a 2.2 update allegedly coming later this month. If you haven't used an Android powered phone, do check it out.

The system is so intuitive that the handset comes with absolutely no manual, but it does come with a software CD for syncing your media between handset and PC. That said I can see how complete novices might have an issue if they haven't used any sort of modern smart phone. But once you start interacting with things on the multi-touch screen it starts to become obvious. So much that that after only a few days playing with it on and off I feel I already know it inside and out.

The Motorola Droid comes with one particular thing I absolutely must have in a phone - a physical slide-out keyboard. And considering the thinkness of the Droid, a slim 13.7 mm including the keyboard, this makes it an impressive feat of engineering.

Droid's keyboard is very usable although I feel it could have been improved with a slightly larger gap between each key, which would make it much easier to type without having to look at it. No doubt a little practice will see an improvement and I suspect Motorola felt the same way. Bigger keys are better after all, and they do have a convex shape to them (no flat, even though the photo makes them look that way) so your fingers can easily identify when they are on a key and not in between keys.

The multi-touch screen is beautifully vibrant and large, running a stunning resolution 854 x 480 resolution (to put that into context, the iPhone is a miserable 480 x 320), which makes reading text and web browsing razor sharp.

The physical handset itself is very reassuring high build quality. There's no cheap plastic bits to be found. Video capture is a respectable 720 x 480 wide screen resolution and photos from the 5 megapixel camera are as nice as 5mp can be.

Getting around the Android OS as mentioned is very easy, and made more of a pleasure by the incredible response. Apps and menus don't hesitate no matter how many you are running at the same time. And yes, it is a multi-tasking OS so you can run stacks of applications at the same time and it doesn't even break a sweat, despite my efforts to try and get it to slow down.

It's only been a few days and already I'm in love with the Droid. My instincts are usually spot on when it comes to tech (a few days into using my Nokia N97 and I know it was a lemon - that turned out to be true), and I can't wait to see what the 2.2 upgrade brings to an already stunningly polished mobile operating system.

What I love about Android.

Google are on a winner with Android. Its' easily the most free and accessible mobile phone operating system ever. The droid store has thousands of quality applications to suit anything you need. Even if you don't like the keyboard layout - you can download a different ones and see what you like.

All your Google services can be automatically synced with the device is a seamless fashion - Gmail (mail and contacts), Google reader, Gtalk etc. The interface for all these applications is in my opinion much more user friendly than their web based counter parts. I've never liked the Gmail web interface, but I love the dedicated application for it on Droid.

The more you use Android the more obvious it is that Google really gave usability high priority.

Pros and Cons

I'd be lying if I said everything was perfect, so here is my initial list of pros and cons.


  • Great build quality
  • Large 3.7 inch vibrant multi-touch screen (bigger than the iPhone)
  • Android OS is blindingly fast, smooth and pretty
  • Physical keypad
  • 3G seems much faster than usual
  • Easy wifi management
  • D-pad on keyboard (makes moving a cursor around text easier than trying to be pixel perfect with your fingertip)
  • Dedicated hardware buttons for common tasks (settings, search, home and back)
  • Droid market software is very user friendly
  • Sync software is easy to use and does the job you expect
  • Native Google account integration and syncing
  • Totally customisable
  • Awesome price tag
  • It's not an iPhone (no Dictator imposing restrictions based on personal morals - ever)


  • Only comes with an 8gb MicroSD card (you'll probably want to buy a 32gb card)
  • Camera needs to be started by software button
  • No lens cover
  • Borderline battery life with heavy use (you will probably want to charge it every night)
  • Gold trim on the D-pad looks dated (personal preference I guess)
  • 3G didn't work out of the box on Vodafone network without having to manually add settings (not sure about other networks, but I suspect the same would apply)
  • Screen gets grubby quickly (keep a cloth handy)

Vodafone 3G settings

As promised here they are. If you running Android 2.1 go to Settings -> Wireless and networks -> Mobile networks -> Network operators and select Vodafone from the available options (after it does a scan)

Now go back one level (into Mobile networks) and select Access point names, go to Settings and select Add new APN and add these settings:

Name: vf live
Port: 8080
MMS proxy:
MCC: 505
MNC: 03
Authentication type: None
APN type: default

Note that some of these are supposed to be empty. In a few seconds you should see the 3G icon appear in the taskbar. Too easy.



Tuesday 22nd June 2010 | 12:43 PM
340 total kudos

Glad to see you came on board the Android bandwagon. I reckon in another month you'll be loving it even more. You will find the odd thing you don't like but you'll also wind up with about a million apps on the thing and loving all of them. :-)

I have been loving mine for about 6 months or more, although I am still only running v1.6 (although Vodafone promises an update to 2.0.1 is coming soon). I'm on the UK version Vodafone branded HTC Magic, so I do need to wait for this release, rather than try to do it manually (or so all the others out there who have tried warn).

Android is the best phone OS by far, in my opinion (and many others). It makes the boring old iPhone interface look primitive and too dumbed down and Symbian doesn't event get a look in. Windows Mobile 7, I hear good things about but my brief look at it doesn't put it anywhere near where Android is now.

The apps are brilliant and make the phone. There's an app for everything you could possibly need the phone to do. When I first stepped of Nokia's Symbian I thought the whole concept of Apps was just a gimmick - like set-levels and Zippo animations on the iPhone - something I wouldn't really use. However now I find there are some apps I use just as much as the ability to make calls.

The usability is superb and the device is very, very fun to use. Multi tasking is great but too many apps can really hurt the phone's performance. Additionally the battery life is not great, with these touch screen based phones. I basically charge my every single night or it's not really ready for another day of use.

My only complaint would be that the aerials on the HTC phones are not great. I can struggle to get a 3G connection at times and I do get the odd drop out mid conversation, however my wife finds the same thing on her Nokia N95, so this could be a Vodafone thing, in my area. Likewise, I'd rather a bigger screen on my HTC Magic - but not too much bigger.

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Tuesday 22nd June 2010 | 12:59 PM
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I can't wait... new contract time is just around the corner for me and unlike you I don't need a physical keyboard so there are a bunch more handsets to pick from.

I'm excited about Android apps because they can replace core functionality (e.g. the keyboard) so you are free to satisfy your tastes. iPhone apps can't affect the native "experience" for good or bad. I guess the con for Android there is some apps may be less polished and a bit more trial and error is needed to get what you need.

It's bizarre that US consumers are still stuck wth the AT&T exclusive iPhone contract - it would have to be the single biggest factor against it. Must be worth alot to Apple because I'm sure Android wouldn't have otherwise grabbed market share so quickly.

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Tuesday 22nd June 2010 | 02:15 PM
235 total kudos response to this comment by Mark. Well I do recommend it - only $AU569 at the time I wrote this comment:

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Tuesday 22nd June 2010 | 07:32 PM
119 total kudos | 1 for this comment

Well gents...I just happen to have the EVO 4G Android ( ), which is pretty much the American version of this phone as far as I can tell. It has a 4.3" screen which makes the landscape version of the QWERTY keyboard pretty user friendly. Sadly, it does not have the slide up feature. I sure do like it though. I never could get used to the Blackberry keyboard with the tiny keys.


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Trent Greguhn

Trent Greguhn

Wednesday 23rd June 2010 | 12:39 AM
105 total kudos

iPhone 4 resolution is actually 960x640.

My contract has been up for two months and I'm still trying to decide on a phone.

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Wednesday 23rd June 2010 | 07:42 AM

...and so do other phones that havn't been released yet.

Trent Greguhn

Trent Greguhn

Wednesday 23rd June 2010 | 10:09 AM
105 total kudos response to this comment by Trev. Ah, yes, I do believe this may be an international problem. In 36 hours you'll be able to get the iPhone 4 here in the US. If you live in Austrailia then I suppose the wait is a bit longer.

Still, if you're REALLY going to draw the line at a 36 hour release date then by all means. In 36 hours it won't change the fact, and it's a significant difference from 480 x 320. 100% difference in fact.

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Trent Greguhn

Trent Greguhn

Wednesday 23rd June 2010 | 10:18 AM
105 total kudos

Mark, Rodney, Mikey-- sounds like you all prefer droid phones over the iPhone. May I ask what makes the Droid phones better?

This isn't to do with the restrictions for programmers that I'm well aware of. How does it effect the consumer? I'm very interested to hear a fair argument.

Droid OS is better I hear, multi-tasking is now possible with the iPhone 4. Previous to the iPhone 4 I'd say it's a no brainer, but the iPhone 4 is catching up in other ways. What do you all think?

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Wednesday 23rd June 2010 | 12:51 PM
27 total kudos response to this comment by Trent Greguhn. I think there's been a clear momentum swing. When the iPhone was released it was better than anything else on the market by far. Recently all the focus around iPhone 4 and iOS4 is not so much about how Apple is blowing the competition away, it's about how they've been keeping up.

It's a really good looking product but loses value because so many people own it and it only comes in one flavour.

For me, the apps situation is the real winner for Android. I don't want innovative new features being blocked by the vendor. In all honesty I also sympathise with the developers and want to tinker with apps development myself. In the end I want to get really familiar with my phone's OS and pick the one that looks like it will be leading the pack into the foreseeable future.

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Thursday 24th June 2010 | 11:51 AM
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I think the iPhone is catching up too - which really says a lot. It's always catching up to features that have been available on phones for years. With each version of the iPhone Steve Jobs hold a conference announcing 'ground breaking' new features - the sorts of things that have been in even less desirable phones for years. You know - things like Bluetooth. Or a good quality camera - oh wait - they still don't have that.

The iPhone was pretty once too - it looked swanky. Now it looks as dated as itunes (brushed silver anyone? LOL). Mark hinted about it in his comment - Android is completely customisable - iPhone is not.

In a nutshell, I am free to do as I please on Android, create the app I want, install the app I want, change the native experience, change the look and feel, move things around etc... without a supreme leader governing and rejecting any of this based on his personal morals and tastes.

The iPhone to me is just a mediocre toy, with its embarrassing 3MP camera, dated interface, no multi-tasking and zero ability to make the device yours, not Apples. Despite it having an enormous user base and massive app store, it's still in my opinion way behind the curve.

This is the year I start to take mobile application development seriously, and the Android platform is the most appealing and the least risky. Restrictions? There are none. Approval process? There is none. Cost? Just my time.

I see pretty much all Apple products as the Fisher-Price of technology. Take that as you will :-)

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Thursday 24th June 2010 | 12:23 PM
235 total kudos

This didn't take long:

Too bad with the iPhone OS your stuck with only one choice of hardware :-)

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Trent Greguhn

Trent Greguhn

Thursday 24th June 2010 | 12:54 PM
105 total kudos | 1 for this comment response to this comment by Mikey. Just so you know, iPhone 4 has 5MP camera and has multi-task functionality. We should go by most current models.

Man... those problems with the iPhone 4 are hilarious. This is why I keep trying to find a phone to buy. Let's hope Apple is good about recalling these products, because that is just ridiculous to lose service by holding it.

Like it's always been with PCs vs Macs PCs have always been better because you're not locked out of upgrading your PC-- like with Macs, you get what you buy forever. This is why I've been holding out deciding what smartphone to buy. I'm liking the Droid phones, they're sexy and amazing. I just wish there were more apps that I know I'll be using-- and let's be honest, better games too.

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Thursday 24th June 2010 | 01:47 PM
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See, to me, releasing the exact same product... with a new camera... is not an upgrade. It's dot point feature release at best. Smooth, new case or not. When I saw Apple pushing the new iPhone in early marketing and the key advertising feature was a 5MP camera I just thought "boring".

My old n95 had a 5MP camera 3 years ago - but that's not why I find it boring. It's boring because it's a minor, non core component of the phone. It provides no new functionality, other than slight less crap images (because let's face it, *no* phone takes good pictures, regardless of the MP, unless the object is 1M away in perfect light and perfectly still).

You can't get significant, ground breaking, new apps for you 5MP camera. In fact, because it's Apple, you can't get new apps at all. Only the same Apple approved ones.

You see, when HTC or even Nokia release a new phone, it's a bit different to the old one. The HTC Magic is a nice phone but the new HD2 (etc), which supersede it, are verifiably and even a lay person can tell it's a different phone. They run a different OS, with greater functionality, more power and more physical hardware based functionality.

Apple, on the other hand, has just churned out 4 virtually indistinguishable iPhone versions with the only difference in many occasions is the size of the flash card soldered to the motherboard or the colour of the case. Yet people go crazy salivating for the "new model" and even go so far as to throw out their older, perfectly functional model, to "upgrade" to what is effectively the same phone.

As an engineer, I find it just offensive to watch. I reminds me of the Simpsons, when a new "Malibu Stacey" is released, to crush Lisa Simpson's doll. All it was was the same old one with a new hat - and yet people go crazy to buy it. The iPhone is just the same.

If I buy a new PC, I don't look for the exact same thing I've got now with a blue keyboard. I look for a reason to change. Serious new functionality. Same thing with a smart phone.

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Thursday 24th June 2010 | 01:59 PM
235 total kudos | 1 for this comment response to this comment by Rodney. That's probably the best comment I've read anywhere on this topic, especially the last sentence.

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Thursday 24th June 2010 | 02:04 PM
340 total kudos response to this comment by Mikey. Cheers.

I've got to give some credit to Apple for the iPhone; release 1. As you said above, it was quite ground breaking in many ways at the time. But that was a long time ago now - January 9 2007. No other technology show piece has stood quite so still in that time period.

You have to hand it to their marketing people - it's (sadly) a real triumph of marketing of technology... and humanity's need to "belong" over common sense.

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Thursday 24th June 2010 | 02:20 PM
235 total kudos | 1 for this comment response to this comment by Trent Greguhn. Yup well aware of the 'new' iPhone 4 specs :-) Sounds funny calling it new. New to iPhone, old on every other platform.

As Rodney mentioned a 5 megapixel camera that has been on other phones for years doesn't constitute 'new'. And multi-tasking has been on Android since day one, so again Apple fails with this 'new' feature. They are way way way behind the curve. I'm sorry if that breaks any Apple fanbois hearts, but it's the truth.

Android is striving forward with actual innovations. I'm of the opinion it's better to go with the platform that shows and offers true innovation and endless possibility, not simply the one that has the largest user base.

Sure iPhone 4 with have multi tasking (I'll be willing to be that is limited in some way too), but you'll still be using the same apps - just more at once :-) That's not change, that's simply the very definition of 'more of the same'.

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