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Waiting for the Droid Bionic

We've been waiting for the Motorola Droid Bionic since January, and signs show that it might finally be out later this summer. But will that be too late?

Motorola came out guns a-blazing at this year's CES, with three blockbuster devices: the Motorola Atrix 4G, the Motorola Xoom, and the Motorola Droid Bionic. The Atrix 4G wowed us with its laptop dock and powerful features, and the Xoom handily won CNET's Best of CES award as the first Android Honeycomb tablet. The Droid Bionic was also a huge attention-grabber, and was part of Verizon's big push of new LTE devices along with the HTC Thunderbolt, the Samsung Droid Charge, and the LG Revolution. It would seem that Motorola swept the show, and was once again at the forefront of consumer electronics.

Motorola Droid Bionic as seen at CES.
Is it too little too late for the Droid Bionic? Josh Miller/CNET

We reviewed the Atrix 4G soon after CES, and though CNET's Bonnie Cha praised it for the most part, it suffered from poor data speeds in the hands of AT&T and we're not huge fans of having to sign up for a Motoblur account in order to use the phone. The Xoom wasn't quite the iPad-killer that many thought it would be, either, with unrefined software and sky-high prices plaguing it from the start. So it's left up to the Droid Bionic to carry Motorola out of the woods. With what looks like a stunning display with killer specs--4.3-inch qHD display, dual-core 1GHz processors, 8-megapixel rear camera, HDMI mirroring, Verizon LTE support, enterprise-level features, and more--it's no wonder that the Droid Bionic is one of the most highly anticipated phones of 2011.

Which is why it is such a disappointment that nearly seven months later the Droid Bionic has yet to surface. CTIA 2011 would have been the perfect venue to unveil the phone, but we didn't even get a release date out of Motorola. We have received a deluge of e-mail from readers asking us about this phone, and all we could say was, well, we don't know. The most news we received was the possibility that Verizon might reveal it in May, but that turned out to be false. Eventually, we heard from Motorola officials that the Droid Bionic would be delayed until this summer, still without any launch date or pricing.

Keeping up with the Androids
In the fast-moving world of Android, a clever consumer can't always afford to wait. What was hot stuff back in January might be stale in July. Indeed, we raved about the Droid Bionic's design and features in January largely because dual-core 4G smartphones were still so new.

Months later and there are already quite a number of them on the market. They include the T-Mobile G2X, the HTC Sensation 4G, and Motorola's own Atrix 4G. Curiously, Motorola did announce the Droid X2, a dual-core smartphone for Verizon Wireless, back in May. However, it lacks 4G/LTE support and there's no front-facing camera. We think the Droid X2 is a great phone without those features, but it was rather surprising that it beat the Bionic to the punch.

The HTC Thunderbolt beat the Droid Bionic to the punch as Verizon's first 4G smartphone.
The HTC Thunderbolt beat the Droid Bionic to the punch as Verizon's first 4G smartphone. Josh Miller/CNET

It's about timing
As for Verizon's LTE phones, the HTC Thunderbolt very quickly stole the Droid Bionic's, well, thunder. The Thunderbolt soon became the 4G phone to get on Verizon, with its stylish good looks, handy kickstand, excellent camera, and because it was Verizon's first 4G phone to come to market. The Samsung Droid Charge and the LG Revolution arrived soon after, and while both are decent handsets, they never quite received the love the Thunderbolt got.

Finally, as recently as last week, we received word that the Droid Bionic might finally show up in early August. We even saw that the FCC saw fit to give it the coveted stamp of approval. At long last, we might soon see the Motorola Droid Bionic on store shelves.

Too little, too late?
If the Droid Bionic had been available soon after it was announced, it would have surely dominated the scene as one of the first dual-core 4G phones. Now, it has to contend with so many other fish in the ocean, with not much to differentiate itself from the school. Additionally, the Droid Bionic was announced with Android 2.2 FroYo, which was fine back in January. But now, Android 2.3 Gingerbread should at least be on the menu for the wait to be worthwhile.

However, not all is lost. The Droid Bionic will still be the first dual-core LTE phone for Verizon, and if the hardware is as good as it was when we looked at it back in January, it's definitely still a contender. Motorola also has shown signs of recovery elsewhere, with the Motorola Photon 4G for Sprint and the Triumph for Virgin Mobile.

Yet, we can't help but wish Motorola would surprise us somehow. Maybe the Motorola Droid Bionic will be even better than we imagined, with an even better design, faster hardware, great battery life, and more. If we can't get that, I would at least hope for an affordable price point. Readers, what would you expect from the Droid Bionic? What do you want changed? Are you still waiting for one, or have you moved on? Let us know in the comments below.