First Look: Verizon releases the Droid by Motorola

This morning, during an invite only press call, Verizon officially launched their first Android phone. As rumor suggested, it is the Droid by Motorola. The phone itself, sitting here in our hands as we type this, looks and feels great. Since we have one of the devices, below are our initial thoughts, pictures, and overview of what you can expect.

The invite only press conference this morning was used to explain some key features and act as a general overview of the Droid itself. The first item of note is that the Motorola Droid is using Android 2.0 as the operating system. Video recording and playback is 32fps (frames per second), making it DVD quality. There will be support for GMail, naturally, but it will also handle Microsoft Exchange or any POP3 or IMAP service. Other features include voice activated search, and a 5 megapixel camera that has autofocus, image stabilization, and flash.

There are just over 12,000 applications available from the Google Marketplace (Android Market) at the initial device launch. Based on what we have seen, most of them are free. Preloaded on the Droid is GMail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Talk, Android Market, Amazon MP3 Store, and Visual Voicemail. While the option will not be available when the phone officially goes on sale, Verizon said that tethering (using the phone as a modem) will be an over-the-air upgrade for customers.

The Droid is a touch screen. As expected, the touch controls are a little sensitive, but after some use are easy to master. However, if touch isn’t what you like, then the slide out QWERTY keyboard will take care of you. Using the keyboard is simple, and there is room to actually type. For now, we’re using the keyboard for emails and texting, while using the touch to navigate on the Web and use various apps.

When you hold the Droid, it feels solid, and weighs a little more than the BlackBerry 8830. Compared to the iPhone, Verizon said on the call that the Droid will weigh about an ounce more.

One of the first things we noticed during the initial poking around on the Droid is that the screen presses in some when “long touching” the home screen for menu access. The menus and application loaders are fast, but will require that you follow instructions. For example, Twidget, a Twitter application, downloaded quickly, but the process to get it functioning took a few steps. Not a big deal really, but worth a mention.

The personalization of the Droid is impressive as well. There are three screens where you can load widgets and shortcuts. Accessing menus and other areas of the phone using touch alone reminds us of the iPhone, as it will take the exact light swipe of the finger to move around. Speaking of screens, the resolution on the Droid is very vivid. The high resolution screen (WVGA 854x480 w/ 400,000 pixels) offers a crystal clear view, making reading things on the Web or applications like Twidget easy on the eyes.

When it comes to browsing, the browser on the Droid smokes some of the other browsers we’ve tested in the past. The Droid uses HTML 5 WebKit, and with the high resolution display and zooming, makes access to the Internet painless.

For a general overview, what we’ve covered so far will give you a decent idea of what to expect. However, since we have the phone now, we will be running a daily usage log and document our full experience with the Droid.

The Droid will be available on November 6, 2009 with an initial price of $199.99 USD after a two year agreement and $100.00 USD rebate. You will also need to subscribe to a voice plan and an Email and Web for Smartphone plan. Nationwide voice plans begin at $39.99 USD for monthly access for 450 minutes and an Email and Web for Smartphone plan is $29.99 USD for monthly access.

The pictures start on the next page. If you want to read our daily usage journal, which is a sort of rolling review, head here.














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