While Apple commanded the attention of the media this week by offering a bumper crop of cases free to iPhone customers as a goodwill gesture, the Android camp was not resting at all. Verizon Wireless continued its Droid assault by releasing the Droid X, the big-screened rival to Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G. Motorola has matched many of the specs of HTC’s largest Android device, but the Droid X lacks the EVO’s front-facing camera, kickstand, and of course WiMAX radio compatibility. And for all those looking to get more than their starting basketball lineup using their phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, the EVO 4G can accommodate eight devices to the Droid X’s five.
At today’s Apple’s press conference, Steve Jobs weighed in on his thoughts regarding devices with 4’” or larger screens. I acknowledged their disadvantages while being somewhat more positive about their long-term prospects in my most recent (and last for this rotation) RCR Wireless Analyst Angle column. The larger screen makes it one of the more comfortable Android devices for typing in portrait orientation.
I’ve been using the Droid X since its announcement on a daily basis and like the device. I’ve found that the battery life — a concern on the EVO 4G — has been good enough to last into the evening with moderate usage. This was about what I was seeing with the iPhone 3GS, but the iPhone 4 has trounced that by a significant margin. Of course, the Droid X — like most other handsets — has a removable battery. Among my favorite software features have been the Mobile Hotspot app and the DLNA capabilities, both unsupported features in iOS (although there are several third-party DLNA apps). I also liked Motorola’s suite of widgets (the new, more understated MOTOBLUR).
But the Droid X has its weaknesses. The bottom row of buttons are quite narrow and a bit stiff and the camera button is a bit inconsistent and mushy. The device’s display led me to dread traversing the display’s length for the ever-necessary Back button, which I preferred to the far left as on the original Droid (and not just because of the convenience when using the slide-out keyboard). The Droid X pays an unwelcome homage to the RAZR by including a camera-hosting hump behind the top of the phone that resembles the infamous “chin” of Motorola’s once best-selling feature phone.
As I noted in my RCR Wireless column, the 4” display of the imminent Verizon Fascinate — based on the Galaxy S platform — will be a more agreeable compromise between screen size (and its screen is indeed extremely impressive) and portability. But the Fascinate will lack a few key specs that the Droid X can claim, including HDMI out and — more curiously — an LED flash. Speaking of which, despite having a higher megapixel count than the iPhone 4, Apple’s handset produces brighter photos with more saturated colors.
The Droid X is certainly a handful, but it’s fairly manageable, at least when you get used to it, at least for those with larger hands.