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Verizon fills Android gap with entry-level Devour

There are a few things about the Devour that distinguish it from other Google Android handsets.

Motorola Devour Verizon Wireless

Though we always want to be amazed with new phone releases, occasionally a cell phone manufacturer will unveil a device that feels lackluster. At first glance, the new Motorola Devour appears to be that type of phone, but upon closer inspection, it promises to hold its own in Verizon Wireless' lineup. Rather than releasing a successor to the popular Droid, the Devour aims lower as an entry-level device.

A few things about the Devour distinguish it from other Google Android handsets. Though it's Verizon's third Android device, it's the carrier's first handset to feature MotoBlur, which currently is available on T-Mobile's Moto Cliq. The Droid runs the stock Android 2.0 interface, while the Droid Eris has HTC's Sense.

The Droid and Devour have similar design elements--both are rectangular with slide up QWERTY keyboards--but there are subtle differences between the two. For example, the Droid's camera is 5-megapixel and has autofocus and a flash. The Devours camera, by comparison, is 3-megapixel; however, it does not have a flash and it has a fixed focus lens. Both phones offer video capture; however, the Droid records at the considerably better 720x480-pixel resolution.

For memory, the Devour comes with an 8GB microSD card while the Droid offers a 16GB card. For navigation, the Devour has a touch-sensitive navigation pad below the display, but the directional key on the Droid is tucked away with the keyboard.

For reasons unknown, this Devour is not being marketed under the Droid series for Verizon. Yet, CNET's Buzz Out Loud podcast suggested Wednesday that dropping the Droid moniker might be due to licensing fees associated with the trademark. It also could be to avoid potential confusion between the two handsets. According to Business Insider, Verizon is "fine tuning" their long-term strategy for the Droid line.

Though the Devour is less powerful than the Droid, I believe it will still find an audience. For people graduating from basic handsets to smartphones, it will make a great transition device. MotoBlur's universal in-box, the Happenings widget, and social network integration will give users more connection than they are used to having. With more than 20,000 applications available for download, the phone is fun, practical, and unique.

Currently, the Devour is loaded with Android 1.6. Yet, I expect to see it pick up the same update headed to T-Mobile's Cliq before long. Although Verizon has not announced a price, a rumored $99 to $149 price point coupled with Verizon's customer base, could do well to keep Android's market share moving in the right direction.