back to article Motorola Droid - the not quite iPhone killer

Motorola's Google-happy Droid handset can be summed up in three words - and a bit of punctuation: "Nice phone, but..." The Droid has been out for some time now in the US, but we got our hands on one only last month. And although our sister site RegHardware has already had their way with its UK counterpart, the Motorola …


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  1. DuncanL

    "slip a Droid into our pants pocket"

    You've got pockets in your pants? I'm jealous, I've only got a Superman logo on mine...

    1. John Gamble

      Pants and Trousers

      It's nice to see the American English vs. British English confusion go in the other direction for a change.

    2. Usko Kyykka

      Is that a Droid ...

      "... in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me ?" (Mae West in "She Done Him Wrong", 1933)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget the Droid

    The Nexus (or even HTC Desire) with 2.1 is the bollocks!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Having played with both side-by-side (and owning a Nexus myself) there's no competition, both in terms of the OS experience, form-factor, screen, or styling. Droid feels prehistoric compared to the N1 or the iPhone.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    "iPhone killer"?

    "Product X" Killer is so fucking hackneyed, it's not funny! Even when it's done 'ironically'. Can we just put this meme to bed? Get yourself a (free!) copy of Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" and apply it to your posts! Be original too! It's not as hard as you think...

  4. The Grump

    I miss my Mototola Q

    I just bought a Moto Droid. So far I hate...

    1) the battery cover that constantly falls off when I remove the phone from its vertical holster.

    2) the battery itself - it doesn't last long, and it gets really warm when using the phone over 5 minutes.

    3) It doesn't play a lot of the WMV files I have, no MOVs, no AVI,s.

    4) it lumps pictures into one massive file (with thumbnails), which massively slows orn the Droid.

    5) Win CE apps? Droid doesn't.

    6) Southwest Airlines DING app? Droid doesn't.

    7) Most of the apps for the Droid are crappy, and you need a credit card to purchase - You would think they would be charged to your phone bill, but no, Verizon doesn't.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Why on earth would an Android device run Win CE apps? What next - you going to complain that your Mac doesn't run windows apps, or vice versa? (and don't give me any bollocks about dual-booting the Mac, you know what I mean).

      And a quick Google shows that DING is a Windows app - not even Windows mobile.

      It doesn't lump pictures into one massive file. What are you on about?

      Knowing-what-you're-talking-about FAIL.

      1. The Grump

        RE: Anonymous troll, er... coward

        Let's take it point by point.

        1) Why would I want to run CE apps? Because the pickings for the Droid are crap right now.

        2) Yes, Ding is a win app, but it is also available for I-phone. Droid doesn't.

        3) Try loading a lot (hundreds) of pics on your Droid and see what happens. Can you say SLOW?

        4) Sorry, but you fail. I own a Droid (unfortunately). You own a lot of hot air that smells like troll.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          RE: The Grump

          So what you're saying is:

          1, There are no apps so I want to run incompatible apps?

          2, Droid doesn't what? Have the app? Have you contacted the manufacturers to request a port?

          3, Why would anyone want to have a hundred pics on their phone? Tip: transfer most of them to your (PC which is harder to lose)

          4, You fail. You own a Droid!

        2. Anonymous Coward

          You're deluded

          1. What apps do you want that are available on WinCE and not on Android? Your complaint isn't that you want to run CE apps, but that you want different/better apps.

          2. So speak to the authors/creators of Ding. This is their problem, not Droid's. If there was an app that was available on Android but not iPhone would you be complaining to Apple?

          3. I have 40GB of photos in my picasa album, totalling around 19,500 photos. The CoolIris gallery loads just fine for me.

          4. I own a Nexus One, actually, and before that I owned an HTC Magic. Both great devices. You're clearly just in it to complain, or you're an iPhone troll!

      2. JEDIDIAH

        The 21st century is calling.

        > Why on earth would an Android device run Win CE apps?

        > What next - you going to complain that your Mac doesn't

        > run windows apps, or vice versa?

        This is 2010. The only thing preventing Windows from running Mac apps is the relative hostility that Apple has for virtualization. I already run my copy of iTunes this way on my Linux box. If Apple weren't such control freaks, I would do the same thing with MacOS.

        ...and yes I do have 3 legitimate copies of MacOS. I would rather just run them on my Quad Core monster Linux desktop rather than an underpowered Mac.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          I'll bet a shiny new pence you've got a BIOS on that Quad Core.

          In which case "The 21st century is calling"...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            missed the point

            > I'll bet a shiny new pence you've got a BIOS on that Quad Core. In which case "The 21st century is calling"...

            the poster was referring to running a virtualised instance, so that fact that their machine has/hasn't a BIOS is irrelevant.

    2. mlo0352


      I am extremely glad that the apps are not charged to my phone bill. If they were, I WOULD NOT buy them. It is much easier for apps to count as a seperate purchase (as in a real purchase, like you would at a store).

      WIN CE apps? Are you serious? Different operating system = different apps. The iPhone doesn't do WIN CE either. Oh, and Win CE sucks. I've had a phone with it, and if you think the droid lags with those thumbnails, just look at the clock when you turn your phone's screen on. It literally takes 2 seconds to update the time!

      Apps being crappy? I disagree first of all. Secondly, the apps will lag behind for a little bit until developers realize that Android is going to last. And now that they have determined that it will, they HAVE started developing.

      Oh, and don't blame the apps on the Droid, it's Android.

      Doesn't play WMV? Neither does the iphone (to my knowledge, there might be "an app for that")

      I will admit that it should play AVIs. The battery life is annoying (but no more so than any smartphone). The battery does get a bit hot, but it doesnt matter because the heat isn't by your fingers. The battery case falling off is annoying, but I have a case so it doesn't affect me.

    3. Rolf Howarth


      So... battery life sucks and the cover keeps falling off? At least it's removable though, that's the important thing :-)

  5. EvilTweety
    Jobs Horns

    iFan sense is tingling

    Personally, I think the droid is a rock soild smartphone. Being built on an open platform is its major strength. iPhone killer? Doubtful as those in the cult of apple will never admit something else may be better...

    ps. How objective can a review be that has this line "...our familiarity with our day-to-day iPhone use."

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ps. How objective can a review be that has this line "...our familiarity with our day-to-day iPhone use."

      Perhaps they should have compared it to something they knew nothing about and written "...our unfamiliarity with day-to-day Blackberry use."

      1. EvilTweety

        just sayin'

        All I'm saying is that when you are publishing a review that is asking if the droid is an "iPhone Killer" perhaps you should choose someone to do the comparison that has an equal familiarity with both. I know it's very difficult to have an objective review when iFans are concerned. Cheers!

  6. Peter Townsend


    "if you want quick access to that app you'll have to use some of your limited home-screen real estate"

    You can get a maximum of 48 shortcuts onto the three Android home screens, how many do you want? Even if you fill the main page with widgets you can still fit 32 regularly used shortcuts to the left and right. It only becomes a "confusing morass" if you are a twit.

  7. Dibbles
    Thumb Up

    Good review

    If only your colleagues at RegHardware were as thorough in their approach! Too many times I've seen smartphone reviews with no mention of keyboard ease of use or otherwise, UI appraisal and so on.

  8. fnkyfnstr

    But wait there's more,

    Really good to see motorola working hard and getting some good phones onto the market. Its just for some theu are taking too long in getting the right phones into the right market. I give you article A, "Motorola XT720 MOTOROI" Really nice phone, cant see any problems with the phone being beaten on any front by any iphone thingy

    But when is it coming to the UK. Why only in Korea.

    Answers on a SAE please.

  9. Timo

    Enough already

    OK we get it - with your biased evaluations, anything android is not an iPhone. ZOMG news alert.

    Is it completely necessary to compare everything against the iPhone? Only the religious are so obsessed with the comparison.

  10. Colin_L
    Thumb Down

    keyboard is unforgiveable

    I have a G1. I am very firmly in the camp of real keyboards, although I periodically try touchscreen ones and shake my head with dismay. (I do use my G1's touchscreen keyboard for very simple tasks.)

    I've carried several generations of Blackberry handhelds for work. They are terrible phones and even worse web browsers, but the full-sized ones have great keyboards. (The half-keyboard / predictive text ones are garbage.)

    But back to the Droid. The droid's keyboard is nearly useless. You need small pointy fingers and a healthy dollup of luck to touch-type with any speed or accuracy. Besides not being raised, it also has minimal detent when pressed. Bollocks.

    I drool over the browsing speed Droid offers compared to my oh-so-quickly aging G1, but that keyboard is simply unworkable. I'm under contract and won't be switching for another 8 months, but even if I were free to choose I certainly wouldn't be carrying a Droid.

    1. Goat Jam
      Paris Hilton

      Touch type?

      on a phone?

      The mind boggles.

  11. John Gamble

    Page 3 and Latitude

    Your coastal bias is showing a bit. Some of us in the Northern states do visit Canada every once and a while, so it's not necessarily a "what percentage of the US has Latiitude [sic] support ", but what percentage of North America (I presume people visiting Mexico have similar issues.

    I presume the answer is the same though: "If you do not have network access ..."

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Love the droid but...

    Of all the nit picking in this article, they missed the only real issue with the droid... the camera absolutely SUCKS ASS. I think I've taken one good in-focus picture in about 200 tries. Otherwise, the droid is an excellent overall experience. The criticism of they physical keyboard is way overdone, its just fine, and everybody is switching to swype keyboards anyway.

  13. non-techie lurker

    Thankyou for an excellent review

    The review covered the bases for your largely techie audience, while still describing how the phone would be to ordinary mortals. ElReg reviews should aspire to do both. Beautiful, thanks.

    You'd almost think that this phone was designed by people with no appreciation of user-centered design whatsoever: "Simple actions such as making a phone call take more taps than you might expect..." (Almost as if a bunch of techies were just let loose on the project.)

  14. Chris Thomas Alpha

    hero camera, maybe works for droid too

    I found out today from playing with the settings, which a lot of people don't do, is that if you set the ISO setting manually from ISO: Auto to ISO: 800, at night, or low level lighting, where the camera is the worst, you can get better pictures, maybe not professional, but I think most people will appreciate that the camera doesnt take 3-5 seconds to take a picture, doing this, makes it takes a picture in about 1 second.

    the quality is more than enough for most people, I urge you to try out these settings and let me know on @chrisalexthomas twitter what you think.

    ISO: 800

    Contrast: -1

    Saturation: +1

    Sharpness: +2

    Widescreen: off

    try taking a picture before, take a few pictures, then enable those settings and try taking some more pictures, you'll notice it's FAR faster to take a picture, perhaps you suffer a little on quality, but I know that I don't normally care about photographic quality if the alternative is a smudged black picture with no definition, better to take a bad quality PICTURE, than a good quality smudge.

    let me know if that works on droid too, I think the hero and perhaps the droid just have a hard time to swtich the ISO on auto, perhaps it does several switches and therefore slows down a lot, setting it manually means it doesnt do any switching, could be the reason?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    iPhone - the not quite Motorola Droid killer

    What the... stop being bias... why would you compare iphone? I bet this post was done by an iPhone user. All you want to say is iphone is the best....

    Android apps are improving, one day iphone will be out-dated.

    Iphone sucks!

    I tried iPhone and motorola android phone, I felt apple app store are full of junks while android apps are full of education, games and lots of good apps.

    Motorola is back!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: iPhone - the not quite Motorola Droid killer

      He can only compare it to what he knows.

      Example: he couldn't write "compared to the non-existent jjjktkt-phone".

    2. Rod MacLean

      RE: iPhone - the not quite Motorola Droid killer

      I won't be buying one. My last Motorola had metallic paint inside the battery compartment. The paint turned into dust over time. Metallic dust. The dust then fell inside the phone and coated the components, resulting in crashes, random photos, random ringing etc etc

      The camera was much poorer than on my previous motorola (3 years older). They lost a customer there.

  16. Chris 40


    "I felt apple app store are full of junks while android apps are full of education"

    Well, who could argue with that?

  17. Morrie Wyatt


    The other item to note is that they have opted to go the Tivo route and only allow signed linux kernels to boot. This means that like the Tivo, you can download and compile the kernel source, which meets the word, if not the spirit of the GPL version 2, but the phone will never let it run.

    Unfortunately, the linux kernel is still released under GPL v2, as GPL v3 specifically prohibits such actions.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    (you need a Google account to use the Droid)

    Really? You certainly don't to use the Milestone in the UK. A Google account is only needed to access Gmail and Contacts - obviously - but everything else inc. calls, SMS, e-mail, web browsing and so forth only needs a SIM card and data access. You get more from an Android handset with a Google account, but you don't have to have one.

    And what do you mean about having to be "careful" when dragging down the notification page? It's quite the opposite, even the most ham-fisted thumb drag from the top of the screen pulls the page down on the Droid, just as it does on the G1 and Hero.

    This article would have been better entitled "Motorola Droid. Or why I think Android is a load of cock compared to my beloved iPhone's OS". The word "bias" hardly begins to describe it!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Don't use the default web browser -- install Dolphin or Steel.

    Don't use the default maps app -- install HereIm.

    Don't use the default calculator -- install RealCalc.

    Hold the camera button to switch to camera mode.

    Hold the home button to task switch.

    Install radiant light, robo defense, abduction, tricorder, droidlight, jewellust, labyrinth, chess for android, light racer 3d, lineup, taskkiller, uninstaller, astro, aldiko, two player reactor, newton, barcode scanner, google sky maps, pandora, listen.

    Get some earphones with a built in play/pause button.

    You can 'tether' your laptop to your droid for internet access.

    You can change the droid's startup animation.

    You can emulate just about all NES, SNES, genesis and gameboy games using apps.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Protip part 2

    Oh, and get a Seidio case!

  21. Robert Grant Silver badge


    "When navigating this list, as soon as you begin scrolling a large tab appears on the right of the display that you can touch and drag to the appropriate spot in your list, guided by a large boxed letter that appear in the middle of the display that tells you where in the alphabet you are."

    Pretty sure my 2 year old HTC Winmo phone does that.

  22. AndyMM
    Thumb Up

    My Browser supports multi touch

    Sorry I guess my Milestone is different from your Droid. Got mine on Friday and it certainly supports Multi Touch on the Browser. I have not installed anything from the Market (yet) so I must be using the native browser.

    But I would highly recommend the Droid/Milestone just for "snappiness" compared to HTC HD/HD2/Pro2 all of which I have used in the last month. Flipping through hundreds of jpgs is fast and easy compared to Windows Mobile. The web pages open much faster, screens flick around, and programs open faster (No not very scientific but I have never been into benchmarking) avi videos open quickly, and the call volume and ringer volume are great.

    And zooming in and out of web pages (with 2 fingers opening or closing) is brilliant. The HTCs are all so slow (Opera or IE) you would simply not both trying to zoom.

    Not tried an iphone as they are 800 UK Pounds (without a contract) versus 400 UK Pounds for the Droid/Milestone. From what I have seen the iPhone is not twice as good.

    Guess it is not an iPhone killer but for 50% of the cost I am happy.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Not tried an iphone as they are 800 UK Pounds (without a contract)"

    Mine was considerably cheaper (ie, less than £400) I suggest you shop around!

    Here's a starter for 10:

    (hint refurbished ones are cheap as chips and also have a guaruntee)

    1. AndyMM

      Indeed you are right

      I found the iphone 3GS 16gb for 429 without contract. I then found the Milestone for 199 without contract.

      I am sure the iphone is better, but that is like saying an S class Mercedes is better than an E Class. Yes, but they can both do the job very well, and one is cheaper (a lot) than the other.

      I have not owned an iPhone but am very happy with my Milestone and glad to be rid of my Windows Mobile phones :-)

  24. Adrian Esdaile
    Thumb Down

    First rule of Linux Club is...

    The First Rule of Linux Club is.... has to be so fugly not even it's mother would love it. Doesn't matter if its better at everything is, it has to look like it was designed in 1977 for conservative accountants.

    Thus security-by-ugliness; no self respecting cracker is going to touch it because they will be too busy being sick; or they will just think it is small version of the Coleco Intellivision.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Where To Begin?

    I am running a rooted Droid on a custom 2.01 ROM with Live Wallpapers installed running at 1.2 Ghz max cpu speed. I usually run it at 800 Mhz on average if it's going to be a long day of using it. (Which is still faster than the Iphone) But the point is that I can overclock it to 1.2 Ghz without buring the system up, and it's very stable for me. The Iphone wishes it can do that, but it's a failed device. I can out run and out perform an Iphone in my sleep. I can multitask like crazy without lag with a cpu speed like that.

    As for the Android OS... I prefer it over anything! People are just too stupid and close minded to understand a few simple concepts, so they call the Android OS a fail. People are just not smart enough to step up from the pre-k level of learning and actually go somewhere. The Android OS is really easy to use, I don't see whats so confusing about it, there is nothing difficult or scary about it. You can fully customize every aspect of your home screen, and the overall system itself. You can even change your default home app, which makes you able to add features and more options. I love the Live interactive wallpapers for the home screens. The on screen keyboard can be fully customize as well, ah heck... you can customize anything and everything your heart desires!

    The Android OS is open source. I can do ANYTHING I want to! That's the beauty of it, ANNNNYTHING! There are no limitations to what apps you can run, what commands you can run, and no limitations to anything about everything. Apple runs a dictatorship, Google does not. I love being able to make decisions for myself, not being forced into a decision. Don't you like to decide who runs your life? You or a company?

    What makes me laugh is that the Iphone lacks the simplest features that even a basic $20 phone has. For example it lacks a flash feature for the camera... a FLASH feature... geeez. It took the Iphone what... 3 releases to add some simple basic features most low end phones have... copy and paste, and video. For those who think the Droid camera is bad... NO it is NOT! I don't know what Droid you've been using but my camera does not lag, or take long to take pictures. It snaps the photo immediately after the quick auto focus and displays it back to you in less than a second. How is that slow? The two led camera lights also allowed for me to light up a pitch black room at night and take a perfect 5mp picture in the dark! The room looked like all the lights were on.

    That's just a short version. I still have a ton to say but... I won't. The Droid is faaaaaar superior to the Iphone in every way possible. The Droid is running 1+ Ghz cpu speed very easily, open source, bigger higher quality touchscreen, physical keyboard, and so much more than the Iphone. I don't know what people see in the Iphone besides a shiny brick that runs on a phone company that is not so shiny.

    Android OS takes the victory by a landslide. The Droid beats the Iphone hands down. Verizon beats AT&T.

    Android is taking over. Accept it.

  26. Snert Lee

    me2 4droid

    Got one. Like it a bunch. Only have two beefs with it so far.

    One is somewhere about two months after they came out in the US, the default behavior was changed so that bringing up the soft keyboard in landscape orientation became more difficult. But a pleasant little thing called Home++ took care of that and brought some other nice feature, too.

    The other is the waiting for Android 2.1 to drop. I think it'll raise the over all level of polish on the Droid, and am looking forward to it.

    Favorite app? Nethack. A bit awkward, sure, but none too difficult if you're familiar with terminal or PC versions.

    Best battery drainer? Parallel Kingdom. An interesting idea, but anything that works the GPS a bunch also quickly drains the battery, Full charge is good for about 90 minutes of play. (A full charge would probably keep Nethack going for several days at least.)

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