Hot new phone alert: Motorola Droid from Verizon Wireless goes on sale next week on Nov. 6. But wait no further to get a closer look. Verizon and Motorola folks stopped by my office this morning to show it off. And they’ve left one for me to play with for one week.
So, to appease the 71 readers who want me to bring back gadget coverage (you, too, can sign up HERE), I’ve got photos, a video and a short review below.
I am personally excited about this phone because I have come to heavily rely on Google Android, which powers my T-Mobile G1 as well as the new Droid. Only, the Droid is the first phone to get Android 2.0, so the software is already better than existing Google phones. Still, any Android phone has the benefit of automatic syncing with your Google account — no need to tether and wait for-ever for contacts, e-mail or calendar items to sync.
Here’s the 2-minute first look at the new phone and some features, with help from videographer Rob Whitfield:
Ken Muche, from Verizon Wireless, and Paul Nicholson, Motorola’s global marketing director, boiled down their favorite features — I’ve included some of my own observations (Click all images to enlarge):
2. Fast browser. I’m still testing this one. It’s faster than my G1 from T-Mobile, possibly thanks to Verizon’s 3G network. Bookmarks display as thumbnails or as a list. The big bummer: Google doesn’t automatically transfer over bookmarks from your Google Chrome account or, if you’re like me, another Android phone. There are apps that will import bookmarks, but none are built in.
3. Speaking of Apps… There are thousands. I’m unsure how many. Like the iPhone apps, there are free ones and paid. New to the Android Marketplace on the phone: A special tab for Verizon apps. Currently, Verizon offers just one — Visual Voicemail, which is free but the service costs $2.99 a month.
4. Voice search. Press the widget and tell the phone what to find. Say “Orange County Register” and it pulls up my newspaper in a Google search. Say “Map of Orange County Register,” and it pulls up a Google Map of the paper’s Santa Ana headquarters. Say “Call Orange County Register,” however, and it pulls up Google search again and doesn’t start dialing the phone number. Ah well. Two out of three.
5. Google Navigation. This is currently in beta and I can’t wait to test this out. Obviously, you can use some phones as your car’s GPS. Now you can with an Android phone. Google Navigation enables the street-by-street directions. A separate car mount is available to dock the phone when you get into the car.
6. The alarm clock. It’s fun the first time you see it — a docking station turns the phone into an alarm clock or photo slide show viewer. But once docked, it goes into multimedia station setting, leaving other features of the phone inaccessible. How do you turn that off? (No, haven’t Googled it yet.)
7. The hardware: Motorola and Verizon say this is the thinnest QWERTY slide-out phone ever. I kind of believe them. But anything is slimmer than my bulky G1. Also nice: The A8 Cortex processor, a 550 MHz chip.
I’ll be playing with this for a week and will post interesting observations before the phone goes on sale Nov. 6 for $199 (with a 2-year contract). Verizon won’t say how much an unsubsidized phone is. Guess well find out when people start checking their sales receipt and realize they’re getting taxed on the unsubsidized price!
More pics, observations coming in the next week.
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