Motorola and Verizon aren't afraid to go after the competition, whether it be blatantly calling out a certain phone in TV ads or introducing a pretty killer device right before the launch of another. However, when you're introducing devices like the Motorola Droid X, we can see why they would be so bold.
The Droid X is the latest member to join Verizon's army, and just like the original Droid before it, it's a beast, but in a good way. The smartphone rocks a brilliant 4.3-inch touch screen and offers some great multimedia features, including an 8-megapixel camera with HD video capture, HDMI output, and DLNA support. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that it does lack some features that the similar-looking HTC Evo 4G has, such as a front-facing camera and, of course, 4G support.
Still, we think Verizon has a formidable competitor in the Droid X. It's it's a great option for Verizon customers who want a little more multimedia oomph than what the HTC Droid Incredible has to offer, and is a worthy upgrade from the Droid if you can do without a physical keyboard. The Motorola Droid X will be available starting July 15 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. Best Buy is taking in-store preorders for the phone, and we should also note that current Verizon customers who have contracts ending by December 31, 2010, will be able to upgrade to the Droid X without penalty.
Motorola and Verizon definitely like to go big with their Android devices, first with the Motorola Droid and now with the Droid X. Measuring 5 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick and 5.47 ounces, it's a hair taller than the HTC Evo 4G, but also slightly thinner and lighter. We were actually surprised at how light the phone felt in the hand, but at that size, one-handed operation is a bit tough if you have smaller hands. It also makes for a tight squeeze in a pants pocket, but without a slide-out keyboard like the Droid's, it's doesn't feel quite as bulky. There is a slight bump on back where the camera and flash are housed, though we didn't find it to be too much of a nuisance. The backside also has a nice soft-touch finish, and the Droid X feels like a solid handset overall.
Now, we admit it feels awkward to hold such a big device up to the ear for phone calls, but the upside is that the extra space makes room for a bigger screen. The Droid X's display actually looks deceptively bigger than the Evo 4G's because of a thin border around the edge that blends into the screen, but it's the same size at 4.3 inches. It has a WVGA (854x480 pixels) resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio and looks absolutely brilliant and crisp. Text is easy to read, and colors look vibrant, making the multimedia experience quite great. It is a multitouch display, so not only do you get pinch-to-zoom support, but you can also press two buttons on a keyboard at once (e.g., shift + letter key). There's also a proximity sensor and a built-in accelerometer that was pretty responsive in changing the screen orientation.
The Droid X offers two keyboards: a standard virtual keyboard and Swype. If the idea of dragging your finger from key to key to enter text sounds crazy, you're not alone. We were initially skeptical, too, but after first trying it on the Samsung Behold II, it's become our keyboard of choice. It's surprisingly accurate and quick. If you still don't like it, not to worry; the Droid X's standard keyboard is pretty awesome and feels more responsive than the Evo 4G's keyboard.
Below the display, you get the four standard Android shortcut keys--menu, home, back, and search--but unlike on the Evo, they're hard buttons and not touch-sensitive. Some might have a preference for one or the other, but we definitely liked having the physical buttons, and Motorola did a nice job of streamlining them into the phone's design. You also get some controls on the right side, including a volume rocker and camera activation/capture button. The latter is a little too close to the edge for our taste, which made it difficult to press, but it's certainly not a deal breaker.
On top of the device, you'll find a power/lock button as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the left, the Micro-USB port and the HDMI port. Like the Evo, the HDMI port is the Type D standard so you'll need to get a Micro-HDMI cable in order to connect it to your HDTV. You can easily find said cable on the Internet for as low as $8. And sorry, folks, but no kickstand on the Droid X.
Verizon packages the Motorola Droid X with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a 16GB microSD card, and reference material. As with the Droid, other accessories, such as a car mount ($39.99) and a multimedia dock ($49.99), will be made available. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The Motorola Droid X will ship running Android 2.1 with a revised version of Motoblur software. The latter looks nothing like what we've seen on the Motorola Cliq and Backflip. You still get widgets for your social networking updates, weather, photo gallery, and favorite contacts, but they no longer take up huge chunks of space on your home screen, and you can even resize the widgets. It makes for a much cleaner experience, and you don't feel overwhelmed by all the information.
Aside from the Motorola widgets, you can also add Android widgets as well as shortcuts and folders to any one of the seven home screens. As you swipe through them, a small toolbar appears on the bottom to show you which panel you're on, and you can quickly jump to a page by pressing on the corresponding button. (The toolbar later changes to a quick-launch bar for the phone, full menu, and contacts after a couple of seconds.) It certainly makes it easier than swiping through all the panels, but we definitely preferred the HTC Sense Leap screen feature, which gives you a quick thumbnail view of each screen.
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.