Overall, the Motoblur experience is much improved; it's a more refined, sophisticated Motoblur, if you will. However, users coming from the Droid, which ran the stock Android UI, might need some time to acclimate, and even then it still might be too much for some. Just remember that, like all Android phones, it's completely customizable, so just keep tweaking the UI until you find a system that works for you.
As we mentioned earlier, the Motorola Droid X will ship with Android 2.1, but Verizon and Motorola are planning to release an over-the-air update to Android 2.2 Froyo later this summer. (The Droid is also expected to receive Froyo at that time.) This will bring speed improvements as well as new features like camera software improvements and, of course, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, so you'll get a more PC-like experience from the phone's mobile browser.
The Droid X still has plenty of other features to keep you distracted while you wait for that update. Given the large screen, it's no surprise that multimedia plays a huge part. Much like the HTC HD2, the smartphone offers a dedicated Blockbuster On Demand app where you can preview and download movies--to rent or to own--on the go. Once purchased, you can watch the video on another connected device, such as a TV, a Blu-ray player, or a PC, using Blockbuster software.
You can make your own movies, too, since the Droid X has an 8-megapixel camera that's capable of capturing 720p HD video. In addition, the smartphone has a three-mic system for capturing the best audio for the situation. This option is available in camcorder mode under Scenes, and you have four choices: Everyday for capturing audio from all directions; Outdoors to reduce wind noise; Narrative for when you're, well, narrating a scene; and Subject to capture audio from the person you are filming--can't say we've seen this on any other camera phone. The camcorder, as well as the camera, also offers effects, face detection, dual-LED flash, autofocus, and digital zoom. The one thing you don't get is a front-facing camera like on the Evo 4G, but Motorola has said it will add this feature in future devices.
The Droid X has 8GB of onboard memory and ships with a 16GB microSD card, but the expansion slot supports up to 32GB cards, so you can essentially have 40GB of storage. You can share photos and videos through the usual avenues--e-mail, multimedia message, Bluetooth, Facebook, and so forth--but you can also display content on your HDTV via HDMI output or through a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)-compatible device. If you're not familiar with it, DLNA is a standard that makes it easier to move content, like movies, photos, and music, from device to device. Since the Droid X supports this technology, you can stream media from your phone to other DLNA-compliant tech, like the Xbox 360, without having to go through a whole setup process. You can find a list of DLNA-certified products here.
Moving away from the multimedia and back to some of the core functions of the smartphone, the Droid X supports Gmail, and POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, and it offers native Microsoft Exchange synchronization out of the box for e-mail, calendar, and contacts with access to global lookup. Corporate users will also be glad to know that the Droid X has security protocols for remote password control and wipe. Gmail aside, you can view your various e-mail accounts in a unified in-box or choose to keep them separate.
Voice features include a speakerphone, speed dial, voice commands, conference calling, Skype Mobile, and text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view. Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, and integrated Wi-Fi are also onboard, and the Droid X can be used a mobile hot spot for up to five devices. To use this feature, you will need to sign up for the Mobile Broadband plan, which costs an additional $20 per month and has a 2GB data cap. If you go over, you will be charged 5 cents per MB in overage fees. By comparison, Sprint's mobile hot spot plan for the Evo 4G costs $29.99 per month, but there is no data cap. Still, it's a much-wanted feature, and we're sure road warriors and mobile professional will make good use of it.
We used the Droid X as a hot spot for a number of devices, including a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 and a MacBook Pro, and measured download and upload speeds using Speedtest.net. We conducted tests throughout Manhattan and averaged download speeds of 1.75Mbps and upload speeds of 0.46Mbps. It was adequate for getting our work done, but we got kicked off the connection several times, which was frustrating.
We'll be putting the Motorola Droid through a battery of tests over the next few days, but we wanted to give you some initial impressions of the phone's performance. We tested the dual-band (800/1900; EVDO Rev. A) Motorola Droid X in New York using Verizon service, and call quality was great. Conversations on our end sounded mostly clear with just some slight background noise, but nothing too distracting. Our friends didn't complain about any background disruption or voice distortion and were quite happy. They didn't even notice when we switched over to speakerphone, but we noticed a hollowness to speakerphone calls. The good news is that there's plenty of volume to hold conversations in louder environments.
Verizon's 3G network provided mostly reliable coverage through Manhattan, though there were a couple of times it dropped to 1xRTT. With 3G, CNET's full site loaded in 30 seconds; CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 5 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively. We also streamed some clips from YouTube and V Cast Video. Videos loaded in just a couple of seconds and played back continuously with synchronized audio and picture. The video quality was a little murky, as expected, but our own MP4 videos looked fantastic on the Droid X's display.
As for the Droid X's 8-megapixel camera, picture quality was a bit mixed. Despite having autofocus, we weren't always able to get a clear shot, and it doesn't help that there's a bit of shutter lag. With a little patience, you can get some nice pictures, and the flash did a great job of capturing images in darker rooms. Outdoor shots also looked good. Given the limited time with the device, we weren't able to fully explore the HD-video-recording capabilities, but we'll be roaming around the city to capture video and test out the three-mic system. For a camera phone, the recorded HD video looked great. The picture was clear, even action sequences, which often tend to get murky or pixelated. We also tried a couple of the mic settings--Outdoors and Narrative--and noticed a subtle difference in the audio, but nothing dramatic. Still, we appreciate that Motorola even thought to make this a feature.
The Droid X has a 1GHz TI OMAP processor, and the phone has been quite responsive. It's not quite as lightning-fast as the Droid Incredible, but we were able to open multiple apps with little delay. There were a couple of instances, however, when we returned to the home screen and the background went completely black before returning to normal, so we'll keep an eye out for that as we continue testing.
The Droid X comes with a 1,540mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 8 hours and up to 9 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the Droid X impressed us with 7.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. Standby time was also great, and the smartphone lasted at least a full day with moderate use. According to FCC radiation tests, the Droid X has a digital SAR rating of 1.43 watts per kilogram and a Hearing Aid Compatibility rating of M4/T3.