Clearly the most compelling reason to get a Droid Bionic is that it combines two speedy technologies in one handset: a dual-core processor plus Verizon's 4G LTE. As we mentioned earlier, navigation certainly felt much snappier than single-core handsets. The phone's 1GB of RAM helped boost performance too.
But it was the Web browser where the 4G LTE speed boost was evident. Motorola packed the browser with HTML 5 support and full Adobe Flash support. With most handsets, this can result in slow page loading on Flash-heavy Web sites, but not so with the Droid Bionic. We loaded up our full CNET.com page in just 7 seconds, with all the Flash and Java ads as well. We were actually able to play Flash videos directly in the browser, with absolutely zero buffering time. We also managed to scroll through Web pages and switch between different tabs without any lag or hesitation. In short, the marriage between the dual-core processor and 4G LTE is a very good one indeed.
Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. You can also use the Droid Bionic as a mobile hot spot for up to five devices with the activation of a Mobile Broadband plan. Other features include a speakerphone, speed dial, voice commands, conference calling, Skype Mobile, and text and multimedia messaging.
The Droid Bionic has an 8-megapixel camera with a single LED flash. We have to admit we're a little disappointed that it's not a dual LED flash, or the dual Xenon flash that we saw at CES. We're also not pleased with a slight shutter lag--if we moved even a little bit, the image would appear a touch blurry. Still, the results impressed us. Photo quality was pretty good. Images looked tack-sharp, and colors were accurate.
The Droid Bionic is also the first 4G LTE handset to have 1080p video recording capabilities, which results in crystal-clear videos that can play back on big high-definition TV screens. This is made even easier because the Droid Bionic has an HDMI mirroring mode, so you can view your phone's contents on the TV. The phone also has DLNA support so you can stream your content to DLNA-compatible devices. We're still testing the video quality at the moment, and we will update this review with that information once we have it. The smartphone has 16GB of internal memory and ships with a 16GB microSD card, though it's capable of accepting 32GB cards.
As we mentioned, the Droid Bionic ships with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, which means it gets benefits like a great multitouch virtual keyboard. If you would rather have Swype, it comes with that too. Of course, you still get access to all of Google's mobile services like Gmail, Google Maps Navigation, YouTube, Google Talk, Books, Places, Latitude, and Google Search with voice. The Droid Bionic is also compatible with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync so you can sync corporate e-mail, tasks, and calendars.
Other software and apps preloaded on the Droid Bionic include the Quickoffice Suite, the Amazon Kindle app for Android, Slacker, Blockbuster, and VideoSurf. Motorola also added its own ZumoCast app, which lets you remotely access your documents and media files as long as you have the companion app installed on either your Mac or PC. Motorola also preinstalled Motoprint for printing via Wi-Fi-enabled printers. As the Droid Bionic is a Verizon phone, it has a variety of different Verizon service apps like V Cast Music, Videos, Tones, Media Manager, and VZ Navigator. You can remove some but not all of the preloaded apps.
One of the more powerful features of the phone is the Webtop application, which is similar to the one on the Atrix 4G. Simply dock the Droid Bionic in one of the three accessories mentioned earlier (laptop dock, HD Station, or Webtop adapter), and you can access the Webtop platform. The interface is similar to that of a Netbook, and it has several Webtop-only applications like Firefox. For more on the Webtop platform, please read our review of the Atrix 4G. You can also use the Webtop platform for creating and editing office documents, which is a great feature for business users.
Indeed, Motorola claims the Droid Bionic is "business-ready," with features like resizable and scrollable e-mail, calendar syncing, and advanced security policies that enable you to encrypt both the device and the SD card. It has remote wipe capabilities for the device and the SD card as well.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; LTE B13 700) Motorola Droid Bionic in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was decent, but it had a few flaws. On our end, we experienced solid call quality, with good volume and natural-sounding voices. We heard very little background noise.
Motorola Droid Bionic call quality sample
Quality was slightly more mixed on the other end. While callers could certainly hear us loud and clear, there was a tiny bit of distortion that prevented the call from sounding perfect. Callers also heard the occasional crackle, and voice quality was a little robotic. Speakerphone calls were all right, though callers said the echo effect was more pronounced.
As we mentioned earlier, the 4G LTE speeds were very impressive. We'll have to get back with more thorough tests, but initial testing showed very fast page loading and speedy downloads.
The Motorola Droid Bionic ships with a 1730mAH lithium ion battery that promises battery life of 10.8 hours of talk time and 10.4 days of standby time.
We have to admit that we didn't want to like the Motorola Droid Bionic. After so many months of waiting, we were prepared to be disappointed. After all, when the Droid Bionic was first announced, dual-core phones were rare and 4G LTE phones were nonexistent, and the market has changed considerably since then. Yet, we found a lot to love about the Droid Bionic. Its new sleek hardware is really quite attractive, and is miles better than the original edition we saw at CES in January. Its feature set is admirable too, with great multimedia capabilities and enterprise-friendly features. Performance is where this phone shines, with speedy navigation and zippy browsing. We also like its Webtop application, though we don't like the fact that you have to spend a lot for the required accessories. The Droid Bionic itself costs around $299.99 after a two-year service agreement with Verizon Wireless, which is already quite expensive.