Verizon Wireless Motorola Devour First Impressions

We just returned from a press briefing with Motorola in the beautiful city of San Francisco, California. Motorola joined us at the meeting to give us some information on the Devour, which is the company’s mid-range handset for Verizon Wireless, which also uses the same sliding form factor as the Motorola Droid, also available on Verizon Wireless. The device, unlike the Droid, will run Android 1.6 with MOTO BLUR, Motorola’s custom UI which adds social networking integration and widgets, not unlike HTC Sense.

Speaking of HTC, the device shares a similar bit of build quality to the HTC Legend, also an Android smartphone. Like the Legend, the Devour sports a unibody aluminum shell, making it sturdy, and unlike the Droid, there’s no loose battery door to worry about.

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Devour’s keyboard compared to keys on the unibody MacBook Pro

Instead, the Devour has a long strip of rubber on the side where you slide and snap it off to remove the battery–nice touch!

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Unibody aluminum construction makes for a sturdy and substantive phone

And although the Devour shares a screen, hardware keyboard, and MOTO BLUR with the MOTO CLIQ on T-Mobile and the Backflip for AT&T, the Devour feels a lot more solid than the former and the latter hasn’t been released yet, or at least hasn’t been fondled by our editors. There’s no doubt that the Devour is a solid phone. It’s heavy, it feels beastly, and the keyboard, which has raised buttons, feels better to type than the Droid’s squished and flat keys.

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However, in all its glory, the Devour isn’t without compromises. Though the keyboard is raised, the sliding edges wrap upwards, making it harder to type along the letters at the edges of the keyboard. Additionally, the buttons for the symbol key and the alternate button key are on the right side of the keyboard–BlackBerry and Treo users migrating to the Devour will have to adjust as those alternate key buttons are usually located on the left hand side. Although there are four rows on the keyboard, the top row is dedicated only for numbers, and the spacebar is squished in with the bottom row of the keyboard beginning with the letter Z.

Additionally, most Android phones have four buttons: back, menu, home, and search–the Devour only has three and eschews the Search button. You can perform universal searches through the Google Search widget, placed on one of the five Android home screens (up from 3 of the default Android OS). Also, the trio of Android buttons on the bottom edge of the Devour also sports space for a blinking LED indicator, presumably where the Search button would have been. The device also has a trackpad, which is conveniently placed, if in landscape mode, on the right hand side right above the keyboard on the sliding screen portion, though navigating was a bit slow.

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Devour eschews the Android search button in the touch sensitive area

Other nice features include loud speakers, clear calls, and the ability to surf at great speeds on Verizon Wireless’ EVDO Rev. A network. The device also includes a 3.5 mm headphone jack (centered at the top), Bluetooth, WiFi, proximity sensor, magnetic digital compass, and an 8 GB micro SD card, though it could be upgraded to 32 GB.

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Compared to the Droid, the Devour has a smaller 3.1-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen (Droid has 3.7-inch FWVGA display).

The device will be available soon for $150 after a $100 mail-in-rebate.

There’s more to come on the Devour and we’ll be posting a video and a review shortly. Stay tuned to pocketnow.com for additional coverage.

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FTC Disclosure: The Motorola Devour is provided on loan by Verizon Wireless and Motorola for review and evaluation purposes, after which time, pocketnow.com will return the device to Verizon Wireless.

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Chuong Nguyen
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