The phone book app also offers other useful features such as syncing your contacts directly with your Exchange account and with Facebook and Flickr. What's more, you can compose a list of favorite friends and see a list of upcoming Facebook events. And like the Hero, the Droid Eris' contact management system will automatically pull and import contact information from e-mail accounts and social networks into your address book. Check out our HTC Hero review for a full description.
The Droid Eris also offers a handful of other apps like stocks and weather feeds, a Teeter game that uses the phone's accelerometer, and a Twitter app called Peep. If you need more options, you can access a wide range of utilities, apps, and games through the Android Market.
Unfortunately, you still can't save apps to a microSD card; you must store them on the phone's shared internal memory. The Droid Eris offers 512MB ROM and 288MB RAM, but you can store photos and music files on the microSD card.
Like the Hero, the Droid Eris's browser has Flash Lite support. Though most videos remained jerky and the audio wasn't always in sync, we still give HTC props for including the feature at all. Also, we figure it will get better when Adobe releases a full version of Flash for mobile devices. On the other hand, the browser itself is quite decent. You can open multiple windows and it supports visual bookmarks, copy/paste, and the capability to share sites via e-mail, text message, Facebook, or Twitter. As mentioned, the multitouch improves the Web browsing experience greatly, but there are still hiccups. For example, we didn't like that we had to bring up the browser menu to do basic browser navigation such as Back and Forward.
The Droid Eris has a 5-megapixel lens and offers video-recording capabilities and geotagging through the HTC Footprints app. Compared with other Android devices, editing options are plentiful. You get four image resolution sizes, four white-balance settings, a brightness meter, spot metering, a digital zoom, a self-timer, autofocus, a flicker adjustment, four ISO settings, three color effects, and more.
The camcorder shoots clips with sound and offers a similar set of editing options. You can select a variety of clip lengths--from as little as 30 seconds to as long as the available memory will permit. The controls for both the camcorder and camera are relatively easy to use, but we'd prefer to have a dedicated camera button on the side of the device. Since you must use the trackball, make sure you steady the phone securely.
You can view your images through the attractive Albums app and then share them with the world via Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa e-mail, or a multimedia message. Videos can also be shared through e-mail and multimedia message, and there's an option to upload them to YouTube right from the device.
Unfortunately, photo quality was as disappointing as it was on the Hero. Colors were dull and there was visible image noise. You'll also need plenty of light, since the Droid Eris doesn't have a flash. Video quality was average, as well.
The music player is similar to that on other Android phones, though it shows a few cosmetic differences. It supports MP3, AAC, AMR-NB, WAV, MIDI, and Windows Media Audio 9 format and includes shuffle, repeat, and playlists. But here again, we'd prefer real syncing software to help us manage and transfer our tunes. Instead, we had to drag and drop files while connecting the phone to a PC with the USB cable. It'd also be great to have a file manager so we could more easily find files from our SD card.
Of course, you can also download songs via the Amazon MP3 store. The store allows you to browse by album, song, artist, or genre, and single tracks cost about 99 cents, while albums can range anywhere from $2.49 to $10.99. On the other hand, we'd love access to an online store with a broader array of video content, like movies and television shows.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) HTC Droid Eris in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was excellent, with clear audio and a strong signal that penetrated far into buildings. We could understand our friends clearly and never had a dropped call. Our only complaint was that the volume could be louder; we had trouble hearing in very noisy places. The Droid Eris is compatible with M3 and T3 hearing aids.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they had few complaints about the calling experience. The only gripe we heard was that the Droid Eris has a sensitive sweet spot for the microphone. If we moved our head just a little bit, they had trouble hearing. They also had problems if there was a lot of wind or background noise.
Automated calling systems could understand us most of the time, but it was best when we were in a quiet place. Bluetooth headset calls were decent, but it will depend on the headset. Speakerphone calls were satisfactory. The external speaker has decent output and the audio was clear. Also, we like that the calling menu offers direct access to the speakerphone, the mute control, your contacts list, and the dialpad.
The EV-DO (Rev. A) signal was strong; most Web pages downloaded in a matter of seconds, even the busiest sites. Apps, YouTube videos, and files downloaded quickly and the signal remained strong throughout test areas. If 3G isn't available, the Droid Eris will drop back to 1xRTT. The GPS signal was also pretty accurate--most of the time it pinpointed our location within a city block.
Multimedia quality was rather mixed. Music over the external speaker gets rather loud, but the quality isn't very rich. You should use a wired headset for a better quality experience. YouTube videos were a bit fuzzy and jerky, but the audio was in sync and our clips never froze.
The Droid Eris has the same 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7600 processor as the Hero. That means the device performed well most of the time, though it was occasionally sluggish when launching the browser and the music player. The accelerometer also took a bit longer than necessary to kick in.
The Droid Eris has a rated battery life of 3.5 hours talk time, which is a half hour less than the Hero. Thankfully, the tested talk time is quite a bit more at 5 hours and 27 minutes. The promised standby time is 15.5 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Droid Eris has a digital SAR of 1.19 watts per kilogram.