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Motorola Droid (2 GB) Smartphone
Price Range:$99.71 to $489.99
Motorola A853 Milestone is high-end smartphone notable for its large, high-resolution touch display and thin body with ... Read More
Motorola A853 Milestone is high-end smartphone notable for its large, high-resolution touch display and thin body with slide-out keyboard . Other key features include GPS navigation with full turn-by-turn directions, 5.0-megapixel auto-focus camera with video capture , EVDO Rev. A data, WiFi , 3.5mm headphone jack, memory card slot , and voice search . Minimize
57 Reviews from Epinions.com
Nov 24, 2009
Exceptional Phone - equal to iPhone, better UI than Storm2
Pros: Excellent interface, fast functional browser, exceptional support. Easy PIM migration to Google.
Cons: Learning curve for keypad and trackball users. Not worldwide capable. No desk computer manager.
The Bottom Line:
If you can live without international service, this phone melds the best US network with a device as good as iPhone.
A Verizon customer since 1998, I've updated phones only when a significant change took place. On opening day for Droid, I tested the Droid, Storm2 and Blackberry 9830. I rejected the 9830 as a non-upgrade of the 8830. I traded my 8830 for the Storm2, and my spouse traded her PalmOS phone for a Droid, providing me a side-by-side comparison opportunity. I have an Apple iTouch for MP3 and video pleasure when at the gym or when travelling, so I am quite familiar with that interface. I will not repeat others' reviews of Droid features; rather here are key comparisons:
(1) The Droid is not GSM-compatible; therefore not world-wide capable. In my case, this was a low-priority issue, because overseas calls via Vodaphone was prohibitively expense vice renting a phone in country. (Verizon has a rental plan; NOT cheaper than in-country rental, and far less flexible.)
(2) Migrating from a RIM track-ball to touchscreen created some anxiety. Until I became accustomed to the touchscreen, I felt that it did not have the positive feedback of the trackball or Storm2's clickscreen. Two weeks after my purchase, I am completely at ease with the Droid interface.
(3) The Storm2 OS is identical to the 8830/9830. Trackball-based software uses a cludgey screen-swipe alternative which I found very "loose." In my opinion, RIM missed an opportunity to rewrite/improve their OS.
(4) OS settings for the Droid were intuitive for my wife, but I found settings misplaced compared to RIM. For example, all general network settings (WiFi, BlueTooth and Cell) are in one menu while specific settings (MAC ID, etc.) were in a system menu. Not a show-stopper, but a learning curve.
(5) Droid does not have a desktop manager interface; it uses Google service exclusively. If you use Outlook or Exchange as your PIM, you will need to sign up for a free Google account. Migration of your data is no more difficult than exporting your PST file for each worktab (contact, tasks, calendar, etc.) and importing them into Google. Any e-mail service can be linked to Google, including Exchange -- even if it is VPN/secured -- to provide realtime access to unlimited email accounts. Your data is then kept in Google and the Droid uses Google with an offline backup file. I initially had an ethical problem with allowing Google to have all of my PIM data, but a careful review of their Privacy rules shows that I can restrict its access from Google, other users, etc. GoogleTalk provides interfaces to all the major IM services (Live, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc.) if you prefer that modality for communication.
(6) Messaging: The 8830/9830 have a small thumbable keyboard on the case (ergo, "Thumberries"), allowing 1-finger management. The Storm2's click-screen has a small virtual keyboard with intelligent word completion - very nice, but because of the click feature, typing is not intuitive and difficult with one hand. (No texting while hurtling 90mph down the Interstate during rush hour!) The Droid provides a virtual keyboard with intelligent word completion as well as a slide-out keyboard. Similar to iPhone, each character is highlighted just above your fingertouch before you accept, making this the easiest phone I tested for "one-handing" SMS messages. Storm2 problem: when the virtual keyboard is visible, only 2 lines of IM text are displayed, making SMS chats quite frustrating.
(8) Camera: The 8830 does not have a camera. The Storm2 camera was similar in use to the Droid. The Droid impressed my with its 'tremor' limiting image acquisition and longer effective flash. The BB can handle 4GB SIM cards; the has a 16gb card soldered in place. To replace the RIM 8830/9830 SIM card
requires removing the battery (NOT convenient).
I also greatly appreciate the way Droid uses photos for contacts. When importing a photo to a contact, the phone automatically crops the face/head, but a very intuitive interface allows moving and adjusting the cropped image, to include a variety of special options (B/W, Senna, etc.)
(9) Files/Data: All RIM phones have a file explorer of some type to access files on the SIM card. Files may be loaded by simply attaching a micro-USB (Storm2) or mini-USB (8830) and opening your Windows Explorer. RIM provides a free "Blackberry Desktop Manager" for loading music, images, or software, and most RIM software can be loaded via the phone itself. The Droid has a comprehensive Android software store, similar to iPhone, and the card may be accessed via Windows Explorer provided you manually allow this from the phone each time you connect. Again, there is no "desktop manager" for Droid, nor do I believe one is necessary.
(10) Sound: Much more "natural" with higher fidelity than RIM; about the same as my iTouch. It takes a standard ear-bud headphone plug, but has a less-robust media interface for playback than iTouch. (However, I have not fully used this feature to date.)
(11) Support: This is why I've been a customer for 11 years. Verizon provides concierge Tier 1 and Tier 2 support (Tier 1 is simple user help and phone exchange at the store, Tier 2 is a phone-in helpdesk which covers the majority of common issues.) Tier 3 is provided by going to the Motorola website and filling out a simple support request. Don't use Tier 3 unless you have exhausted Tiers 1 and 2.
Motorola support for Droid was exceptional: I returned my Storm2 in exchange for a Droid. (Another Verizon perk - free exchange for 30 days, just pay the difference. In my case, I got a $20 refund!)
I imported my Outlook data to Google and all was running smoothly until I tried to SMS my spouse. The phone would not send SMS to her! In fact, the messaging service software generated an OS error.(Did my Droid know something I didn't? hehe) Tier 1 and Tier 2 worked for 90 minutes to resolve the problem, to no avail. I submitted a trouble request to Motorola and recieved a response the next day that my problem was to be elevated to the engineers. Sure enough, the following day I recieved an email asking me to reset the contact information and Factory Reset the device. They warned me that all data would be lost... but the data is actually kept on Google so this is not a problem. I deleted and reentered my wife's contact info in Google; that did NOT fix the problem. Then I did the Factory Data Reset. I reactived service and reattached/synced my Google data. This resolved the problem. Reasoning that it must be something in the contact information (odd... they appeared identical) I compared the old and new entries. Note that the first entry was an import from Outlook (I opened my CSV file to study the data); the second was hand-typed in to Google. I discovered that Outlook had added a "@" to her phone number (i.e., "888-555-1234@"). This made the SMS phone number into an improperly formatted email address! I mentioned this finding in my response to Motorola; they responded that Yes, this could have caused the phone to freeze. (Wouldn't surprise me if they write something into their next OS software patch.)
(12) Sturdiness: I'm really hard on phones, so I bought the "BodyGlove" product for the Droid. So far I haven't broken it, but a word to the reader: Do NOT expect to easily attach and remove this casing! Once in place, it is not easily removed without marring the phone casing. Be sure to add the static-cling mylar cover, as the phone's crystal screen scratches quite easily (as do all phones).
In summary, the Droid has a more intuitive interface which is as easy to use as iTouch, is far faster at browsing, and allows for easier SMS texting than the new Storm2 or 9830. It's array of software add-ons can compete with iPhone. (In fact, the SDK to write your own is free!) Support from Verizon and Motorola exceeded my expectations.
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