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10 Droid X features the iPhone 4 ought to have

Jun 25, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Apple's iPhone 4 went on sale yesterday amidst a tidal wave of hype. Meanwhile, Motorola's Droid X will hit store shelves on July 15, proudly flying the Android banner. In this opinion piece, eWEEK columnist Don Reisinger lists ten Droid X features the iPhone 4 ought to have had.

The Motorola Droid X is ready to hit store shelves on July 15. And when it does, the device will be carrying the Android OS banner as Google's operating system tries to compete against Apple's iOS 4. It won't be easy.

Apple's new mobile operating system is arguably the best version of the software the company has ever released. But that doesn't mean that it's perfect. Like the iPhone 4, Apple's latest and most capable smartphone, there are some design quirks and omissions that consumers and enterprise customers might have a problem with.

Motorola's Droid X (right) has some missing features of its own, but it also delivers a slew of options that could make some iPhone 4 owners think twice about their decision to go with Apple's smartphone.

While it's true that the Droid X will probably never match the iPhone 4 in sales, from a feature-set perspective, it's actually matching up quite well. In fact, in some areas, it's trumping Apple's smartphone. Here are some Droid X features that the iPhone 4 is lacking.

1. A bigger display

Although the iPhone 4's 3.5-inch display might satisfy most mobile customers, the Droid X's 4.3-inch display is even more appealing.

By description alone, the differences between the two displays might not seem like much. But actually having a 4.3-inch display in-hand will help users see just how much nicer a bigger screen really is. Admittedly, the Droid X doesn't feature the Retina display feature that Apple's iPhone 4 offers, but for most, a bigger screen is usually more desired than a more detailed display.

2. Swype software

The iPhone's virtual keyboard works quite well compared to most other virtual keyboards in the mobile market. But Motorola's decision to add Swype technology (below) to the Droid X could be its trump card.

Swype never requires users to lift their finger as they type. Instead, they need only to drag their finger from one letter to another to write an e-mail or input text into a browser. Motorola said during its press conference that Swype should make users more efficient when they type out messages. Most that have used the software agree. Thanks to Swype, the Droid X might have a better text-input system than the iPhone 4.

Here, Swype is being used to type the word "quick"

3. Flash (eventually)

Although the Droid X won't ship with Flash 10.1 support, it will be making its way to the phone later this year. The debate over Flash is one that has been going on for quite a while. Apple says that it doesn't need Flash in iOS, while Adobe and its partners say not having Flash is a liability.

In the end, personal preference will determine what consumers really want, but considering the vast majority of Web sites use Flash in one way or another, having it on the Droid X should make for a better browsing experience than what's available on the iPhone 4. Flash is important. The Droid X will show everyone why.

4. Verizon

One of the most common complaints with the iPhone is that it runs on AT&T's network. In far too many cases, the network doesn't operate as effectively as the competition. The Droid X, on the other hand, will run on Verizon's network, which is widely regarded as the best service in the United States.

Until the iPhone comes to Verizon's network, the smartphone will be held back. The Droid X doesn't need to worry about that. And it could help Motorola sell a slew of units.

5. Three microphones

The Droid X is designed to be an entertainment device. Aside from its video capabilities, that focus shines through in Motorola's decision to offer three microphones in the smartphone. According to the company, one microphone is to capture sound while recording video, another microphone faces the inside of the device for narration, and the third microphone is put into use while making calls for noise-cancellation purposes.

The iPhone 4, on the other hand, has two microphones that are primarily used for noise-cancellation. A third microphone would be nice.

6. A healthy supply of physical buttons

Apple makes it clear with every new version of the iPhone that it wants it to be a software-centric product. Because of that, it only offers one physical button on the face of the device. But for productivity's sake, it doesn't make much sense. The Motorola Droid X, on the other hand, offers a home button, a search button, a menu key, and a back button. Rather than force users to find those keys on the touch screen, they're placed just below the display for easy access. That should make for a more productive use of the phone.

Going forward, Apple should consider adding more physical buttons. Yes, it would change the design of the iPhone, but if it makes for a better device, who cares?

7. Camera quality impresses

Apple goes out of its way to market the iPhone as a device that people will want to use for multimedia purposes. And yet, the iPhone 4 only boasts a five megapixel camera. The Droid X, on the other hand, offers an eight megapixel camera, complete with image stabilization and a 1/1000 shutter speed.

As appealing as the iPhone 4 is, the company's decision to offer a relatively underpowered and obsolete camera in the device is questionable. More and more consumers are using their phones as their main cameras. Wouldn't it make sense to offer the best camera possible?

8. Removable media support

A key issue with the iPhone has always been that it doesn't support removable storage solutions, like microSD. The Droid X, on the other hand, allows users to save up to 24GB of data on the device byway of 8GB of on-board storage and 16GB of microSD storage. That's an important consideration. Users don't want always want to be tied to a hard drive or a USB connection just to get data off a phone.

The Droid X makes taking important information from the user's phone and placing it their computer quite simple thanks to the microSD card. Going forward, it would be nice to see Apple add support for microSD.

9. Widget support

Widgets are still missing from iOS. That's a shame. A viable part of the Droid X's operating system is the inclusion of widgets to make it easier for users to quickly get information without being forced to open an application to do so.

In the Droid X, users can open their home screen and have up-to-date information, like current weather in the area, without being forced to open any applications. It's a small gripe for sure, but it's something that Apple has inexcusably ignored with each new iteration of its mobile OS. Hopefully iOS 5 will offer widgets.

10. Digital Living Network Alliance Support

When Motorola announced this week that DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support was coming to the Droid X, it was a major milestone for the entertainment business. DLNA allows users to take multimedia content from a device and stream it to another product in the user's network.

Although the feature is used mostly in home-theater settings, it could appeal to those that have DLNA-equipped devices and like the idea of taking content from a mobile phone and playing it on other devices in the home. The iPhone doesn't offer that kind of functionality.

Admittedly, it's a feature that is attractive to niche audiences for now. But as more and more people start streaming content and become more sophisticated in their tech choices, DLNA could be a major component in that. And so far, only Motorola stands to gain from that trend.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist and frequent contributor to eWEEK. You can follow his tweets here.

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