Motorola DroidMikey 16 comments
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.
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
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.