Shawn Wildermuth

Author, Teacher, and Filmmaker
.NET Foundation Board Member

Motorola Droid - First Impressions

Motorola Droid - First Impressions

Url: http://www.motorola.com/consumers/US-EN/Motorol...

I've given up on my old Windows Mobile phone and been looking around for a replacement. Now let me be clear, I can't have an iPhone because AT&T is clearly evil. So I decided to take the plunge on an Android phone. I've looked at a couple of the phones, but since I am on Verizon I grabbed the Motorola Droid. Its not bad for $199.

I don't intend to simply put some magic number rating of the phone, but I have some overall observations:

The Good

  • The overall initial experience is excellent. I was wow'd from the minute I got the phone.
  • I didn't read the manual (though I am not sure it would have helped), but the act of discovery worked really well.  I had to get used to how the context menu and the back button worked (and no 'ok' buttons).
  • The browser (though not tabbed) is excellent.
  • Making phone calls is just great. No more worry about touching my ear to the phone and dialing just works the way I expected it to.
  • Taking photos and videos are great.  The phone has a better resolution than my point-n-shoot (though I am not sure it takes better pictures).
  • I have been impressed by many of the Marketplace's apps. Though I am told not as slick as iPhone apps, I am very happy with most of the apps.
  • The Marketplace's reviews and screenshots help a lot to find apps worth getting and their 24 hour return policy is nice. (Ahem...you listening Steam?)
  • The GPS and Tower Location work great. It even worked inside my house.
  • Google maps and turn by turn directions work well.
  • Lots of apps I liked like TripIt, Seismic for Android, Evernote, Fish2Go, gStrings, Guitar Hero, Qik, Pandora, Shazam, YouTube and Steamy Window.

The Bad

  • No integration with ActiveSync/Outlook at all.  I found a great Sync2 app that would sync my contacts, but I still haven't had any luck syncing my calendar.  And there is no sync of tasks whatsoever.  I am told that the sync with Exchange is a lot better (I use Outlook but not Exchange).  You kinda have to buy into the Google-verse to use the phone IMHO.
  • The marketplace has issues.  I initially could not download anything for about 1/2 day. I spent most of that time assuming it was my fault. Buying apps was even more painful as my google accounts are Google for Domains accounts.  Through trial and error I found out that buying apps didn't work because I didn't have a gmail account.  Once that was added, it just worked.
  • The phone is very google-fied. You have to have a google account (e.g. gmail) for many of the features. 
  • No Flash, no Silverlight.

Mixed Bag

  • Apps must be installed into internal memory (I think 256MB free), but has a 16GB SD card (upgradable) for other storage like pics. 
  • Like Windows Mobile, there are apps that run well on some phones and badly on others.  You have to read the fine-print to see if the Droid is ok with an app (though Droid is one of the good ones most of the time).

Conclusion?

Since I just got the phone its hard to settle on a real conclusion. After a month with the phone I will have a better idea. Many of the location-aware functionality will either do well or badly in the coming weeks. I am hoping to really put the phone through its paces at the MVP Summit and at MIX.  I'll let you know what I think after that.