Motorola Droid X Smartphone Review

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the original Motorola Droid, and attempting to one-up its competition, the iPhone 4, Droid Incredible, and HTC Evo, the new Motorola Droid X has quite a standard to live up to. The question at hand is, of course, does it live up to this standard?

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Product At-a-Glance

Pros
  • Large 4.3” TFT display.
  • Quality 8 MP camera with auto-focus and dual flash.
  • Mobile hotspot capability.
  • Mini-HDMI out for connecting to a TV.
Cons
  • Large form factor due to large screen.
  • Screen not quite up to snuff compared to AMOLED / IPS screens.
  • Relatively poor camera performance in low light.
Summary

In the current smartphone market, the Droid X is an excellent option to upgrade to from a previous Droid, and similarly, it’s a great option to get started in the Android world itself. While it is a relatively large phone, it features a good camera and processor and has interesting features such as Mini-HDMI out and a mobile hotspot capability.

Full Review

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the original Motorola Droid, and attempting to one-up its competition, the iPhone 4, Droid Incredible, and HTC Evo, the new Motorola Droid X has quite a standard to live up to. The question at hand is, of course, does it live up to this standard?

It depends. The new Droid X features a lot of the same technical specifications as other phones on the market currently. But all in all, Motorola took the biggest and best of each of those specifications, and used most of them in their latest creation.

Hardware

The Evo 4G surprised many with a massive 4.3” screen. The Droid X now similarly sports a 4.3” TFT at 480×854. All of the top smartphones on the market currently have 1 GHz processors, and the Droid X is no exception featuring a 1GHz TI OMAP 3630 processor. The processor is supported by 512 MB of RAM, keeping things, for the most part, quite snappy.

The end product is a unique blend of hardware, weighing in at 155 grams (5.47 ounces) which in comparison to the iPhone 4′s 137 gram weight seems a bit hefty. However, the phone’s overall size makes it feel relatively light in your hand.

The Droid X doesn’t feel as solid as the iPhone 4, but that’s most likely due to the large form factor of the Droid. And when I say large form factor, I mean large. While nearly as thin as the newest iPhone, its massive screen pushes the dimensions of the phone to a whopping 2.6” x 5.0” x .4”. With pocket real estate at a prime these days, the Droid X certainly doesn’t hold back in taking up as much as possible.

The screen on the Droid X responds accurately to touch, as expected, but isn’t quite as clear as other displays we’ve seen. While the Droid Incredible uses an AMOLED screen to produce incredibly vivid images, the Droid X relies on a TFT screen which pales in comparison. Obviously the pixel density of the Droid X is no where near the iPhone 4′s 326 ppi. The Droid comes in at a respectable 240 ppi, however.

Some other hardware features worth mentioning include a mini-HDMI port for streaming HD video to a TV, a dedicated camera button, wireless b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and a 8 MP camera with auto-focus and dual-flash (which is covered further below).

Software

Now I won’t spend too much time talking about Android, but I’ll just make mention of a few things. First, the Droid X comes pre-installed with Motoblur 2. While attempting to make Android look a little better and add usability, the battery life seems to take a bit of a hit from it.

Second, it obviously ships with Android 2.1. This means no Adobe Flash support until later this year when 2.2 (named “Froyo”) launches. Not a complaint, but a mere note for those of you who want to get your mobile Flash gaming on.

The Droid X also comes with the ability to create a WiFi hotspot that allows you to share your Droid’s mobile internet with WiFi equipped devices around it, similar to MiFi devices which sell independently for around $50. In our testing, this drained the battery incredibly quickly, but worked well. If you’re travelling and have a car charger, this would be an excellent way to share internet with other devices. If you need to hop on WiFi on your laptop for a few minutes, this is a very viable option as well. Definitely a useful addition to the Droid’s feature set.

Performance

With a 1 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM, the Droid X performs just as well as any other Android phone on the market. However, it doesn’t necessarily improve anything. Scrolling through long menus is still slightly laggy. Open a few too many apps / widgets, and your performance will come to a grinding halt (I learned this the hard way). Other than these potential slowdowns, the Droid X is snappy as expected under normal use.

As far as battery life is concerned, we weren’t impressed. With moderate usage and plenty of apps and widgets running, we got about six hours of battery life (including stand by time). After trimming down our running processes, we managed to get through a full day with about twenty percent battery remaining.

The below-par battery life can be traced back to the massive screen on the Droid X, which consistently uses the most battery of any part of the device. It’s a simple TFT display, so battery life is not necessarily its strong point.

As a side note, the Droid X has a tendency to get very warm during extended use. Not a real problem, but simply an observation.

Overall, the performance of the phone is as expected. It most certainly rivals the current offerings with its TI OMAP processor which is currently unique to the Droid X. While it has its downfalls, they’re nothing that can’t be overcome with a bit of tweaking.

Camera

Unlike some of its competitors, the Droid X only has a back-mounted camera. Sadly, no video chatting in the world of the Droid X. However, it makes up for this in the form of a rear mounted 8 MP camera with auto-focus and dual flash.

The colors on the Droid X seem to be a bit more muted than other phones we’ve tested. In addition, its low light performance without a flash isn’t quite up to par.

However, in optimal lighting conditions, the sheer clarity of the 8 MP camera on the Droid X shines through brilliantly. Images are almost never over-exposed, even in bright environments. In comparison to the iPhone 4′s 5 MP camera, pictures are more crisp and more accurately exposed.

The Droid X also captures 720p video at 24 frames per second, slightly below the iPhone 4′s 30 fps. The quality does slightly suffer from this, making the Droid X’s video camera slightly lacking. With such a powerful processor and camera, it’s a surprise the Droid X doesn’t shoot at 30 fps.

Conclusion

The Droid X is an excellent addition to the current smartphone market. Priced at the typical $199 after $100 rebate, the Droid X is a viable competitor to existing options. If you’re on Verizon, the Droid X or the Droid Incredible are two very good options. Personally, we’d stick with the Droid Incredible, but if you like the larger screen and don’t mind having a larger phone in your pocket, by all means, the Droid X is a great option.

If you’re on AT&T and don’t mind fighting the poor service, the Droid X is nothing to jump ship about. Unless you’re tired of holding your new iPhone 4 in funny ways to keep your calls connected, in which case a switch to the HTC Droid Incredible or Motorola Droid X is more than likely in order.

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