Gadgets & Apps

Review: Functional And Powerful, Does Motorola's Droid Deserve The Hype?

The Motorola Droid.

hide captionThe Droid features a five mega pixel camera; comes with a 16 gig SD card, and 3.7-inch 480-by-854 touch screen. With a two-year service contract from Verizon, the phone is $199.99.

(Courtesy Motorola)

Is the Droid really going to dig a nice deep grave for the iPhone?

I'll say this: If I had a Droid instead of an iPhone I wouldn't be jealous of iPhone users, because with all its warts, Motorola's highly anticipated, newest mobile offering is one of the rare, true alternatives to the iPhone.

It impresses, as soon as it comes out of the box. The screen is huge and the Android 2.0 interface, which the Droid is first to sport, is intuitive. One of the nicest perks is that as soon as you click on the preloaded Facebook app, the device asks you if you would like to synchronize your Facebook contacts with your phone. A click and few minutes later, all your friends and their pictures are effortlessly in your phone book. So there's no trying to dig out contacts out of an old SIM card and if your friends are responsible and keep up their Facebook profile, no need to update your records every time someone moves or changes their number.

This is one thing the Droid does better than pretty much anything out there: Information is completely integrated. That is to say that, for example, the Google Maps app seamlessly shows a restaurant's location, user reviews and the menu. It means within that same interface, you can switch to street view for a picture of the front door; you can check where your friends are using Google Latitude and when you're ready, head there using Google Navigator, the search behemoth's entry into GPS-enabled, turn-by-turn, voice guidance routing.

The camera app lets you send geo-tagged photos to Picasa and the open nature of the Android operating system lets you add apps that allow one click publishing to all manner of sites.

The Droid is most certainly not the prettiest thing. It's a squared, featureless black box with a matte finish and Motorola has inexplicably peppered it with dark gold accents.

The bottom part of the phone stretches just a tad beyond the screen, a stylistic choice that's been extended even to the packaging. But it's weird and makes for strange ergonomics, because it forces the keyboard and screen off-center.

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