Droid X First Impressions

With the exception of having to tap twice to make a comma, I’m liking my Droid X so far. Bear in mind that I’m coming from a BlackBerry Storm, on which nearly app and function was like a wart-bearing, arthritic version of the same app or function on the iPhone or Android phones, so in terms of phone experiences there wasn’t much place else to go but up. And indeed that’s where we are: Everything is much prettier and shinier and runs better and what have you. Color me happy. Reviews have noted some clunkiness here and there, but once I decluttered the home screens and started personalizing the thing, everything was groovy. I’m liking it.

I will say that one thing I don’t get is that every review of the Droid X had a comment somthing along the lines of “ZOMG IT IS SO HUGE YOU COULD STUN A BEAR WITH IT,” and noting how people will small hands will struggle with the thing. Well, you know. I don’t exactly have massive lumberjack hands, and I’m not having the slightest bit of trouble using the thing, one-handedly speaking. It does make me wonder if technology reviewers, as a class, have the hands of leprechauns.Yes, I know what you’ll say to that: those poor handless leprechauns. Hey. That’s not funny.

Anyway. I’ll probably have more to say about the Droid X as I work with it but for now: So far, so good.

41 Comments on “Droid X First Impressions”

  1. I compliment you on your use of the phone while suffering the apparently inconsequential loss of an index finger.
    Favorite app so far?

  2. one of the home pages defaults to a bunch of power-saving switches. like turning GPS on and off. One of the complaints about the Incredible was short short battery life. I think motorola wanted to nip that in the bud, by making it easier for people tomanage teh power on the device more directly. Also, tehre’s a bigger battery thats supposed to come out end of summer.

    As for size, I do in fact have lumberjack hands. People have compared shaking my hand to getting grabbed by a bunch of bananas. And every phone I’ve had that had a touch screen… sucked for us big-mitted folk. This is actually a screen size that is starting to approximate something I’d call comfortable. It could have been a bit bigger, but then there’s the problem of whetehr it would fit in your pocket.

    By comparison, my last phone was an HTC 6800 with an extended battery. The thing was like carrying around a stack of five or six hershey bars in my pocket. Big, thick, clunky frame, with a tiny screen. Compared to that the X is like a wafer thin mint.

    Period/comma, yeah, wtf is up widdat? It’s not like they ran out of screen space.

    And I still need directional arrows because when I write a long line of text and realize I made a typo in the middle, I keep touching teh screen as lightly as possible until the cursor drops down right after the letter that must die.

    I tried downloading the latest Verizon Wireless app, and it failed to load. Bad signature or something. Still don’t know how much data I’ve used, or even how much the unlimited plan actually allows.

    Overall, still a big, banana-sized thumbs up. Just tryign to figure out some kinks.

  3. On the default (Droid, not Droid X) software keyboard, the comma used to be where the microphone key is now (to activate voice stuff). There’s a setting… somewhere… that lets you revert to that if you don’t want the microphone.

    I was all set to revert, when I realized that, as much as the comma thing is genuinely annoying (you may be able to get a sense for how much I use commas in this response), I kind of love the voice recognition thing and am willing to deal with the loss of the comma in order to have it.

  4. How to revert the microphone key to the comma key (on my Droid, may be different on the Droid X):

    Go to Settings.
    Select Language & Keyboard
    Select Android Keyboard
    Uncheck “Voice input”

  5. A friend of mine has one and he loves it. On the other hand, my husband and I just switched to AT&T due to surprisingly crappy coverage by Sprint in our new neighborhood. Oh yeah we got iPhones. No, they’re not 4g. 3’s were much cheaper and we didn’t see the point of Jetson phone handsets since we’d be the only ones we know with a 4g. I hadn’t bought into the iPhone hype, but I have to admit, it’s pretty awesome. I use it waaaaaay more often than I ever used my Instinct. I even took the time to burn all my cd’s to my PC so I could import them to my phone.

  6. Heh, I got a Storm not long after you did, and I’m looking forward to moving onto the Droid. I want to actually go to the store and play with it, but my folks have a couple models earlier, and I love their phones, so…

    Glad to hear you’re liking it. It makes me feel better about getting one myself. (No, dammit, I’m *not* copying Scalzi…)


  7. Greg@4: Yeah, I have lumberjack hands, and I love the feel of my EVO.

    I’ve found that the key to battery happiness is to have “Wireless on”, “Bluetooth on” and “GPS on” buttons on the desktop and be rigorous about only having those features on when necessary.

  8. There’s actually a homescreen widget called “Power Control” that has switches for wifi, bluetooth, GPS, background data and screen brightness, it’s pretty handy to eke a little more time out of the underspec’d battery on my Dream/G1. I’m sure it’ll run on the Droid X as well… sweet lookin’ phone, I hope you enjoy it!

  9. Are all the geeks comparing it too an iPhone? It does look bigger. Everyone I know that has a Droid loves it. There’s this love/hate thing with the iPhone, new and old. I happen to love my iPod Touch, but I sometimes hate what Apple does. I’d really love to get me a Droid though. I’m in a black hole here in So Cal for AT&T. Verizon is the only thing that will work where I live. I just might have to take a serious look at one when my contract runs out soon. Keep us posted about battery life though.

  10. I’m leaning towards the Samsung Vibrant Android smartphone, if I ever end up being able to afford a smartphone at all.

  11. Droid is so versatile, but doesn’t allow Microsoft Exchange to push security packages, so I can’t use one in my job (healthcare); I iPhone. Anyone heard that the droids are hackable and susceptible to malware?

  12. Folks who complain about phones being huuuuuuge also complain when small, slim phones have tiny tiny screens. No pleasing ’em. I would think that on a major touchscreen phone, bigger would be better, you know?

  13. Bought a Droid Eris (from HTC) when they came out. Love the HTC Sense UI, but I’m just happy to have an Android phone.

    Check out an interesting little program called “Easytether”. I was stuck in a motel with no internet, and I tethered up my laptop to my phone, and y’know, it just worked. And I didn’t pay Verizon a tethering fee. Only needed it the once, but it sure came in handy.

    I also use Aldiko as an e-reader, but I’ll try the Kindle and Nook apps.


  14. I had gotten myself on a waiting list for the X, and the same morning I was to be called by VZW to place my order, I heard about a piece of hardware Motorola has incorporated into that phone: the eFuse.

    Here’s the thing about the eFuse: it will brick your phone if you attempt to revise your operating system. Now, I know it isn’t everybody’s thing to want to tinker with their phones guts, but my mind rankles at a world where the stuff defies being tinkerable.

    I mean, once I pay for the thing, I view it as MINE. Curiously, a law was just passed agreeing with that point of view, which de-criminalizes hacking your stuff as an individual.

    So, alas, no Droid X for me, but the upside of that is that I’m retaining my free-agent status.


  15. As president of SFWA I hope you are being responsible. You need to get all the security features that Obama got on his blackberry. We don’t want sfwa secrets to leak out to the communists.

  16. I hate my Storm, but I’m still holding out for an iPhone. And I refuse to switch carriers to get one. Here’s hoping the January rumours for Verizon are true!

  17. John Lenahan:

    Droid X comes with Swype included. I’m not a huge fan. It’s definitely cool, but I can type faster than I can Swype.

  18. Love the bigger size (among other things). If I were in the market, it would be top of the list. My wife has a Samsung Solstice and I can’t deal with its tiny touch-screen keyboard. I’m prone to typos anyway and it just compounds the problem.

    BTW, it’s been over a month since you’ve given us anything to fuel our “office envy.” How ’bout using that nifty new phone to snap a pic or two and show us how it’s coming in there? You know we live vicariously through you, right? :)

  19. I’ve had a Nexus One (the AT&T version) for awhile now; I can recommend FBReader as a more platform-neutral ebook reader.

    Also, IMO, the ‘Apps Organizer’ app should be part of the OS; definitely worth getting.

  20. hm, I’ve poked around a bit in my droidX. Can’t find anything that would switch the period/comma key to two separate keys.

    The worst part?

    There’s a couple of oversized keys right next to it,
    so it isn’t like they didn’t have room.

    Also, what’s the dealio on gmail and google and privacy and droid and, oh, say, contact information in my address book? I would like to just be able to sync my phone to my PC to outlook, but google wanted me to create a gmail account, so now I’ve got that, and it sounds like my info is backed up via gmail. Which is one fo those weird sentences where punctuation makes all the difference. It could be:

    My info is backed up on gmail.


    My info is backed up on gmail! ZOMG! The humanity!

    Not sure which version of that sentence I should be using.

    More importantly, not sure if there is an alternative resource for address books, contact info, syncing, and so on.

    lastly, I was looking for a good app that would let me keep track of my bank balances, let me keep track of money I’m spending, and so on. Found one that sounded like it sets you up so it will check your bank balances on line, and it will let you track your expenses. Then I was wondering whether I wanted my phone to always be logged into my bank accounts or not.

    Right now, if I lose my phone, basically my address book enters the wild. Which isn’t great, but isnt’ the first step to financial ruin. having my bank account balances on my phone and my bank info… might be the first step to ruin. Not sure.

    Anyone have a bank-balance-checking app on the droid? How do you deal with security?

  21. John, I agree about Swype. It is cool but I prefer typing. The touch keyboard replacement I really like is SwiftKey. You get your comma key back and the text prediction is awesome. Other good apps: Mint for banking and Bonsai Blast is good arcade fun.

  22. Mrs. Tully has both an ATT iPhone 3g (workphone) and a Verizon Droid Eris (personal phone). She prefers the Droid.

  23. I’ll see your shitty BlackBerry Storm and raise you a shitty Motorolla Q. But in fairness, in a race to the bottom, between these two contestants, it would be close to see which one is worse.

  24. “It will revalutionis your text imputing.”

    When the text inputting revolution comes, John Lenahan, you’ll be the first against the wall.

  25. I wanted to buy this, but ALL the reviews from android sites say this thing’s software sucks.

    2.2 may help. Looks like a loser. the the original driod, only $75. It rocks.

    pass on this it’s a brick.

  26. The software is fine, actually. I cleared a lot of cruft off the home pages (5 minutes work) and that was that.

    Beyond that I suspect the review sites are being overly critical. Even the apparently horrible camera on this thing works fine for me.

  27. The stock Android 2.2 keyboard has a nifty feature for common punctuation: as you press the space bar to signal the end of a word, the text-prediction line above the keyboard gives you the option of comma, period, question & hyphen. Pressing any of these will append the punctuation to the end of the word but will maintain the space you just typed. No more switching to the number view just to get a comma.

    There should be a way to get the 2.2 keyboard onto the Droid X.

  28. Hmm… I have an Incredible and a period and comma are single taps on it. There are other non-letter characters such as numerals, dollar signs and ampersands that are press and hold, but there is also an alternate keyboard, accessible with one tap, where all those are one-tap keys.

    I don’t see a lot of diff between the Incredible and the X except the X’s vid is advertised as HD. Frankly, I think the camera and vid of the Incredible are pretty sorry and I hope your X’s are better. But in form factor the two seem almost the same.

    After owning a 32MB iPod Touch for several months I was dying to get an iPhone but no more. The Touch is positively clunky compared to the Incredible. I will say, though, that for music the iPod is still tops.

  29. I just bought a Droid. Thanks for the tip about the comma.

    Played Pandora on it. Pretty much do about 75% of what I do on the Internet elsewhere. Kindle looks fantastic on it. (So I can only imagine how it looks on the iPad.)

  30. First, efuse won’t brick your phone. Motorola said it and the devs have verified it. There are still plenty of ways to brick it, at least temporarily, but that generally requires modifying the application framework and getting yourself stuck in a bootloop.

    My X is rooted, which gives me most of what I’d like. Froyo is coming soon, but I honestly can’t figure out how the phone will take advantage of a big boost in speed. It almost never hesitates.

    I don’t think the apps suck. It’s an Android. Do you think all Androids suck? If so, you’ll be pleased to note that there’s a little corner of hell called AT&T that is reserved for you and your iPhone.

    Battery life is great. I’m putting it on the cradle with over 50% left most nights. The screen is gorgeous… makes the iPhones and most others seem small. What little Blur there is on the OS can easily be ignored.

    I’m learning to use Swype, but I have tell you it isn’t the best way to type Unix commands into a terminal emulator. I was okay with the stock keyboard but I like to try new things. If Swype doesn’t work out, I may take a look at some of the downloadable ones. You can make your Android phone emulate lots of other phones if you want.

    The camera takes 8 megapixel photos and 720p video. Neither is a big deal to me. I think the camera is more useful as a barcode reader and for Google Goggles.

    The phone has the feel of a well-crafted and expensive piece of gear. It’s a pleasure to use. My Samsung Rogue had a pretty screen too, but it felt cheap and flimsy. I like the X’s heft and its wall-to-wall glass.

  31. “Anyone heard that the droids are hackable and susceptible to malware?”

    No more so than any of the other general purpose computers that also function as a phone (iPhone and Blackberry). I do not know of any exploits out in the wild but there will be, who gets one first? Who knows? Sadly even most flip phones today are more general purpose computers put into a phone form factor and are as vulnerable to it as any other computer.

    If you mean self hackable (what you probably meant was phreaking, hacking is the same thing people do when they install a larger engine in their own cars, phreaking is installing a bomb on someone else’s car) then certainly, you can root (or in iPhone terms jailbreak) many of them and then do whatever you want with it. You can install custom versions of Android, different networking modules so things like you wi-fi work differently, and do all sorts of neat-o stuff on it (and, like jail breaking, void your warranty). Though as you see below not all phones can do that too.

    “Here’s the thing about the eFuse: it will brick your phone if you attempt to revise your operating system.”

    No, it will not. It will refuse to bootstrap any custom rom you load on it. Yes, I agree that sucks too but you just have to reinstall your backup (you did make one before erasing the whole phone didn’t you – it’s not like this is anything other than a hacker only thing to do no matter the phone – even Maemo based phones are not meant to be changed like that by “normal” users).

    It pretty much makes it little different than an iPhone – root it and stop (unless someone figures out a way around it). Though frankly not sure why one would want to simply root most Android based phones as (unlike the iPhone in the US) it doesn’t add any real functionality, only ability to tinker with internals. Custom ROM’s, sure – I rarely run the OS from any computer manufacturer either, but only a small portion will worry over that (and Moto has been fairly open – get a plain droid for all your hacking goodness).

  32. I extend my battery live with JuiceDefender. With it, you can configure your radio usage so that, for instance, it only turns on your 3G networking for 1 minute of every 10 for mail syncing, etc, instead of leaving it on all the time.

    Another thing to look at is Screebl. It’s an app that keeps the screen from turning off if the phone is being held at an angle within the (configurable) range of your normal usage. I use this, in conjunction with a short screen timeout (15 seconds) to turn my screen off quickly when I’m not using the phone, but keep it on when I am.

    (I’m using a nexus one, not a droid).

  33. In a world that seems more and more overly tailored to the teeny-handed, a little growth in the size of devices like these is only a good thing to people like myself.
    Adult-size-handed people unite!

  34. Also, is something that size really tolerable as an e-reader?
    I can’t imagine being comfortable with reading anything longer than the briefest snipped on anything smaller than one of those Sonys (the smallest device I can imagine being able to bear reading on), or preferably a Kindle (but ideally an IPad).

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