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Droid X reviews praise battery life, multimedia

Jul 8, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

eWEEK has run two favorable reviews of the Motorola Droid X, praising the phone's multimedia performance, call quality, battery life, and camera, but criticizing its Wi-Fi performance and MotoBlur interface. A Wired review, meanwhile, calls the Droid X “one of the finest Android devices available” — if one can handle the size.

Announced on June 23, the Motorola Droid X (pictured) will ship on July 15 with Android 2.1 running on a 1GHz TI OMAP processor. The Droid X has a 4.3-inch display with 854 x 480 resolution, an eight-megapixel camera, 8GB of flash, a 16GB microSD card, and 3G mobile hotspot functionality.

According to a story this week in our sister publication, eWEEK, Verizon Wireless will provide Android 2.2 upgrades over the air in August. The original Motorola Droid, which by most counts has been dubbed the best-selling phone in Android's short history, should receive the upgrade by July 13, says the story.

eWEEK has also posted two reviews of the Droid X by Andrew Garcia and Clint Boulton, respectively. Both reviews give the phone high marks for overall performance, multimedia, battery life, the camera, and other features.

However, Garcia complains about a "flaky 802.11n radio," and Boulton dislikes the MotoBlur interface, despite the fact that it has been "toned down" compared to the graphics-heavy social-networking focused version used on phones like the new Motorola Charm.

The multimedia praise is echoed in an even more positive review by Terrence Russell in Wired. However, the author questions whether huge phones like the Droid X are pushing the dimensions beyond the optimal smartphone experience.

Here are some of the key comments on major Droid X functions:

  • Performance — None of the reviews published formal benchmarks on the Droid X to test its Texas Instruments Cortex-A8-based OMAP3630, a die-shrunk, 45nm fabricated version of the 65nm, 550MHz OMAP3430 SoC, which powers the original Motorola Droid.

    Wired's Russell is most impressed with the performance, calling it "uncannily fast." He adds "When switching apps, you feel like the device is actively responding to commands rather than merely processing them."

    Russell goes on to say, "Watching movies from the Blockbuster app, playing games from the Android Market, and even streaming music from Pandora is fast, effortless and best of all, free of lag."

    While the eWEEK reviews generally praise the performance, at least in terms of its multimedia playback, Garcia has this to say: "Despite the powerful underpinnings, I occasionally found the device sluggish when opening new applications or accessing settings screens, with the device sometimes lagging several seconds before completing an action."

  • Call Quality — All three reviews have the highest praise for the phone's call quality, which is improved by offering three microphones, two of which are used for noise-canceling purposes. Boulton calls the quality "excellent," and Russell notes "a surprising degree of call clarity while navigating San Francisco's urban jungle of perpetual construction sites, gusts of wind and horn-happy motorists."

    eWEEK's Garcia chips in with, "The sound quality on the Droid X was surprisingly good through the earpiece, not as muffled as has been the case with many competing devices over the last few years."

    The microphones, which also serve the needs of video capture, offer several audio capture modes, notes Garcia. These include an Everyday mode that utilizes all microphones; an Outdoor mode relying on the noise cancelling features of the top microphone to reduce wind noise; a Narrative mode to focus on the device holder; and a Subject mode to focus on the subject, he explains. Garcia writes that the Narrative mode is superfluous, but notes that the Subject mode does a good job of blocking out peripheral noise.

  • Wi-Fi — Neither Boulton or Russell comment on the 802.11n Wi-Fi capability, but Garcia ran into trouble right away. The Droid X "showed a propensity to fall off some WiFi networks altogether," he notes, adding that the problems occurred when using Ruckus Wireless access points. He allows, however, that this may also be due to the pre-release software loaded on his device.

    As for the new Wi-Fi tethering feature for sharing 3G bandwidth with other devices, he reports that it "mostly works." However, there were compatibility issues with several models of the iPhone, he adds. Russell, meanwhile, reports that tethering set-up and performance were both up to snuff.

  • CameraeWEEKs Boulton loves the eight-megapixel camera, which is said to be capable of 1/1,000-second shutter speed. "Honestly, picture quality put my Canon PowerShot to shame, and using the panoramic view and slideshow mode for videos and pictures together in a seamless fashion demonstrated just how much of a delight this device can be for amateur photographers."

    As for video quality, Boulton finds it to be "often great, but sometimes grainy." Nevertheless, he notes, "I have an older model Flip [videocamera] sans HD and the Droid X blows it out of the water with video recording and playback."

    Russell, on the other hand, finds the still-image camera "underwhelming," complaining that the "hard press of a physical button screwed with image clarity." He goes on to add, however, that "the X's pairing of solid video chops (720p video at 24 fps!) with high-def output (mini-HDMI!) makes for quite the saving grace."

  • Size and weight — One of the chief complaints of Russell, and a secondary concern of Boulton, concern the huge 5.0 x 2.6 x 0.4-inch dimensions and 5.47-ounce weight. "Its size disqualifies it from any smartphone quick-draw contests," Russell notes. The flip-side, of course, is that he praises the spacious, 4.3-inch display, which no doubt positively reinforces the common perception that the Droid X is a multimedia powerhouse.

    The Droid X tapers from 0.4 inches on one side to 0.6 inches on the other

    Garcia, meanwhile, complains not about the size, but about the design, which "thickens to nearly 0.6 inches near the top, making the device seem a little top-heavy and awkward to hold in portrait mode."

    Combined with the "awkward" placement of the micro-USB port, this makes it difficult to accurately type on the virtual keyboard when in portrait mode, he claims. Yet, as with the other reviewers, he praises the "outstanding" Swype predictive text feature for helping to compensate.

  • Battery lifeeWEEK's Boulton shows surprise that such a large, feature-rich phone could offer such excellent battery life. Billed as supplying eight hours of life, the Droid X's 1540mAh battery lasts up to 10 hours with "sometimes light, sometimes heavy use," including heavy GPS and video duty, reports Boulton. The battery life blows away that of the HTC Evo 4G, he adds.

    Solid battery life was confirmed by Russell, who writes, "Standard battery endures a full day of regular web/video/phone use."


Garcia was the most guarded in his praise, stating that the Droid X "delivers good multimedia playback and capture experience, network tethering capabilities, and solid connectivity and policy support for Exchange e-mail infrastructures."

Boulton meanwhile, calls the Droid X "a fine, fine phone," but due to the large size, and his preference of the HTC Sense UI over MotoBlur, he writes that he prefers the HTC Droid Incredible, which competes with the Droid X for the attentions of high-end Verizon customers.

As for Russell, he concludes, "Even this phone's most plain vanilla features (e.g., phone calls) are simple, lightning quick, and well implemented. If you can handle the phone's immense size, you'll be treated to one of the finest Android devices available anywhere."


The eWEEK report on Android 2.2 availability on the Droid phones may be found here.

The Andrew Garcia review in eWEEK of the Droid X may be found here, and Clint Boulton's review should be here.

Terrence Russell's review in Wired should be here.

An eWEEK slide show about the Droid X may be found here, and eWEEK's Don Reisinger offers Motorola and Verizon some tips on how they can up the ante on their marketing war against Apple's iPhone, here.

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