Motorola Droid X Review

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Verizon continues to expand their Droid line of Android smartphones. The latest and greatest addition to the line is the unapologetically-large Droid X, which has the same huge 4.3″ display found on the EVO 4G on Sprint and the HD2 on T-Mobile. The Motorola Droid X phone has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. It can record and output HD video, it uses a CPU platform that is faster than what is found on other smartphones (in our testing), and it has a ton of capacity for storing multimedia, apps, and more. In our latest Motorola Droid X review, we’ll help you decide if this should be your next phone!

BOX CONTENTS



Here’s the unboxing for the new Droid X. It’s amazing they fit the device into such a small box! Inside the box we have a charging cable, a 16GB microSD card, but no case or headphones.

HARDWARE



Let’s talk specs. The Motorola Droid X is running with a Texas Instruments 1GHz OMAP 3630 CPU running on top of Google Android 2.1, though you can expect an update to Android 2.2 around Q4 of 2010. It has 8GB of built-in storage, plus it comes with a nice 16GB microSD card. If you buy a 32GB microSD card, you’re up to 40GB of space. The capacitive display is a traditional backlit LCD and is 4.3″ and WVGA+ resolution (that’s 854×480), which is the highest that Android can support currently. The Droid X smartphone has a ton of wireless radios and components: WiFi, CDMA with EVDO Rev A, Bluetooth, FM Radio, and GPS (assisted). For imaging, the rear camera (which has a dual LED flash) takes stills at 8MP and video at 720p. For video out, there is a microHDMI type D connector, and for syncing and charging, we have microUSB. The battery is 1500mAh, which is the same size of the EVO 4G. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

Alternatively, you can also see a spec-to-spec comparison of the Droid X with the EVO 4G.

frontal


The Motorola Droid X is a commanding device thanks to its big form factor. Because it’s thin at just a bit under 10mm, it slides into the pocket nicely, plus it doesn’t feel so large because it’s lightweight at 155 grams compared to 170 grams for the EVO 4G. The screen is as large as the EVO 4G and HTC HD2.

Whether you think the new Droid X phone is an attractive device is a matter of personal opinion, but we think it looks a bit retro (outdated). The soft-touch body and simple rectangular buttons below the screen lack of any visual flair as you’ll find on other newer devices like the EVO 4G, Droid Incredible, iPhone 4, and so on. Let us know in the comments if you like the look of the Droid X.

butons


Albeit a bit boring visually, the real hardware buttons on the Droid X are nice to have because you can easily feel for them (and feel them “click”). Down here we have the standard Android buttons.

side2


Flipping over to the right side of the device we have the volume up and down rocker (which usually is on the left side of most smartphones, not the right), plus a dual-action red camera button placed in an ideal spot. It’s really nice to have a real camera button. Most smartphone rely on an on-screen shutter button which can be cumbersome when you’re trying to position the camera just right.

side1


And on the left side of the device we have the microUSB port next to the microHDMI output. You don’t have to buy an expensive cable or dock to use the HDMI out (which works in full 720p). You just need to buy a microHDMI Type-D connector from for about $10 from Amazon (affiliate link). We’ll be updating this Motorola Droid X review in the near future with a demonstration of the HDMI out.

rear


Flipping over to the back we see the “hump” that contains the 8MP camera which has a dual LED flash and auto focus. More on photo quality below.

The design on the back is quite slick with the curved battery cover. Towards the bottom is the speakerphone, which has a good amount of volume and doesn’t distort easily while on speakerphone.

money2


Having a larger screen while browsing the web really does matter. The 854×480 crisp display and solid browsing performance makes for a really good internet experience.

money3


Screen visibility was fantastic indoors, and also quite great outdoors. Because the Droid X uses an LCD display, it doesn’t suffer from the outdoor visibility problems characteristic of AMOLED displays, like found on the Droid Incredible.

SOFTWARE



In this video we take a tour of the homscreens of the Droid X. You can have up to seven homescreens which are easy to navigate because of the navigation bar that appears on the bottom when you swipe screens.

Motorola has done a good job adding a variety of useful widgets that are not only powerful, but also resizeable, which is a first in our testing of an Android phone. The Motorola widgets are inspired by the Blur interface (which we never liked), but are a bit more grown up. Widgets from Motorola include: toggle switches (airplane mode, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc), calendar, contact quick task (very useful), date and time, news, messages (pulls from multiple accounts), photo slideshow, social networking and status update, and weather. We should note that most of these widgets open up pop up screens within the new Droid phone’s homescreen, so that you don’t have to jump into a separate application.



In this video we take a closer look at the software offering on the Droid X. Verizon has added the WiFi hotspot program, which is going to cost you $20 per month to use with a 2GB bandwidth cap. Also, there is a neat program to let you check your account usage. We also cover the DLNA support, which allows you to playback multimedia across multiple supported devices.

The big story with the video above is the web browser test which takes place halfway through. Compared to the iPhone 4 and the Nexus One running Froyo, the Droid X renders web pages slightly faster, which is great. The large screen makes a big difference in experiencing the web compared to the other two smaller-screened devices. Also, though it may be tough to notice, you get to see more on the screen at once on the Motorola Droid X because it has 54 more pixels in the vertical dimension than does the Nexus One (or Droid Incredible, for that matter).

CAMERA

The HD video camera (which records in 720p 1280×720) on the Droid X is unique because it can draw audio from three microphones by switching the Scene in the camcorder application. This allows you to focus the audio on the person behind the camera or the subject in front of the camera. There is also a setting to cut down on noise in case you are filming in a loud or windy environment. Be sure you check out our HD video samples from the new Droid X phone.

In terms of photo quality, the 8MP camera on the rear takes just mediocre pictures. That said, we liked the simple photo application which makes it easy to switch between various scenes, plus it’s finger friendly. For an outdoor photo sample taken at full resolution click here, and for a macro shot, click here.

PERFORMANCE

The Motorola Droid X smartphone goes a bit against the grain by using a Texas Instruments 1GHz OMAP CPU instead of the typical Snapdragon from Qualcomm. Based on our unscientific testing, the OMAP CPU on the Droid X feels faster than the Snapdragon, and our web browser test above confirms that.

Launching programs, browsing the web, and multitasking are all handled with ease by the Droid X. The 512MB of RAM means that you can switch between data-intensive programs without the device slowing down.

CALL QUALITY

Call quality and cellular reception was excellent, and I experienced no dropped calls with Verizon in my testing period. Like the iPhone 4 and Nexus One, the Droid X utilizes multiple microphones to help with noise cancellation. You see hear for yourself how well this works on the Droid X through this noise cancellation test.

BATTERY LIFE

Out of the box, the Motorola Droid X isn’t great on battery life. I experienced a bit less than a day with heavy use, about a day with moderate use, and a day and a half to two days with light use.

After some tweaks (turning off screen animations, reducing screen brightness, using WiFi whenever possible, using static wallpaper, avoiding the camera application), I was able to extend the battery life to allow for nearly a full day of juice with heavy use.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

Starting on July 15, 2010, you can buy the latest Droid X smartphone from Verizon for $199 with a new two year contract. In addition to the required data plan, you can opt to pay an extra $20 per month to use the wireless tethering feature of the device, which acts as a WiFi hotspot.

PROS

+ Up to 40GB in storage space

+ Thin, light

+ Solid performance browsing the web

+ Multiple microphones for noise cancellation and audio selection

+ Fantastic on-screen keyboard options (including Swype)

+ Has maximum Android resolution (854×480)

+ Camera button is perfectly placed

+ HDMI output (with proper cable)

+ DLNA support

CONS

– Battery life isn’t great

– Device is large

– Feels/looks cheap

– HD video recording quality isn’t great

– Can’t change microphones while filming a video

– No front-facing camera

REVIEW CONCLUSION

The new Motorola Droid X is like the EVO 4G in a lot of ways. It’s large, a bit unwieldy, and the battery life could use a lot of improvement. But it’s also an eye-catching device that has a terrific internet experience, solid performance, and a ton of added features like HDMI out and up to 40GB of storage that makes it a winner. If you want the flashiest Droid that is available on Verizon, the Droid X is a great choice, but if you want something more practical and well-rounded, consider the Droid Incredible, which is also on Verizon.

I give the Droid X a 4/5.

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.