The iPhone 4 is racking up the superlatives and sales numbers, but the Motorola Droid X is coming, packing one killer feature the iPhone lacks.
Let me begin with a caveat: The Droid X is still untested in the field, so we won't know until after July 15 whether it harbors any serious user issues. That said, it already has me drooling over.
Though the 4.3-inch display (in the case of already-small smartphone displays, bigger is better), the Flash 10.1 support, DLNA streaming, and the Texas Instruments 1GHz ARM processor are nice, the icing on the cake is the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot--or what Verizon calls the 3G Mobile Hotspot.
I've always been surprised at how many technologically savvy laptop toters still tether themselves to Starbucks or scurry around, seeking out the local Wi-Fi hotspot when on the road. Or worse, rely on the invariably abysmal Wi-Fi provided at conferences--and often at airports.
I began using laptop 3G on a regular basis a few years back with an HP 2510p ultraportable business notebook, which integrated the Verizon EVDO-A silicon inside the laptop. To me, putting 3G in a laptop was a godsend. It allowed me to work almost anywhere, anytime.
Eventually I moved to Verizon's MiFi mobile hotspot because I purchased an Apple MacBook Air (Apple doesn't offer any laptops with built-in 3G, which I have lamented in the past). But beyond the Apple issue, MiFi also has a serious upside: It frees you from being tied to one laptop--as current 3G contracts do when 3G is built into the laptop--because MiFi supports up to five devices.
Now the Droid X proposes to do MiFi one better. Instead of carrying around both a MiFi and a 3G smartphone, you have it all in one nice, attractive package. And, like MiFI, it supports up to five devices. Presuming that Motorola and Verizon have implemented this feature relatively well, it makes an already attractive Droid X almost irresistible, even with the extra $20 monthly fee tacked on for a 2GB data plan, as Verizon has stated. (Note that this is cheaper than most 3G data plans.)
After all, this is what true integration is all about. Taking something that was previously a discrete, external device (like a camera) and bringing it inside. And in spite of the media's round-the-clock laserlike focus on the iPhone 4 (which, admittedly, I participate in), I will be taking a good, long look at the Droid X.
See CNET Reviews First Look at the Motorola Droid X.