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DROID Pro by Motorola Review – Verizon

The “DROID” brand name has already helped propel Android into an elite class, so with the Droid Pro it looks as if a new goal has been accepted.  Motorola and Verizon will now throw their weight around in the world of business smartphones with their first global Android device that hopes to steal a set of consumers they have until now been unable to, the Blackberry crowd.  As a candy bar-styled device with a keyboard and bigger screen than most BB devices offer, will this device do the trick?  Has Moto offered enough incentive for your company to make a change?  Let’s dive in and see what we can figure out.  

The Good:

  • Android:  The Droid Pro runs the newest version of Android (2.2) you can get which means it supports Flash 10.1.  +1 to Motorola for recognizing that their higher end phones need to launch with the newest OS possible in order to stand out and stay ahead of the competition.  Oh, and we’ll touch on Blur down below as we do our best to keep all skins separate from versions of Android.
  • Hardware:  The Pro has the specs to matchup to almost any device on the planet as long as you leave out the screen size.  Sporting a 1.0GHz OMAP processor, 5MP camera with dual flash, 2GB on-board storage, and a solid candy bar keyboard, this device can’t be ignored by the big dogs.
  • Keyboard:  The keyboard is seriously identical to the styling that you’ll see on a Blackberry.  With that same sort of sea shell curvature to the right and left, you would think that Blackberry is readying a lawsuit as I’m typing this.  It’s a better than average physical keyboard and to tell you the truth, this thing crushes the Droid 2’s “enhanced” version.

  • Global:  While I didn’t have time to take a vacation to Paris before doing this review, it’s hard to argue against the awesomeness that is the first global Droid.  The phone is advertised as having the ability to work in over 220 countries and that’s something to brag about.

  • Screen size:  It may only measure in at 3.1″, but if you are coming from a Blackberry Bold and that squatty little screen, this thing will look like a monster.  I’ve had Blackberry devices in the past and if they had a screen anywhere near this size with this good of a keyboard, it would have been hard to let go.  Sure, you can measure this up to the Droid X and laugh, but remember that the point of this device is not to steal away current Android users with enormous screens, but to bring in a bunch of fresh fish from the BB world.
  • Profiles:  Much like HTC’s Sense, this newest version of Blur offers “Profiles” which allow you to customize settings on your phone for specific occasions or situations.  You can have a setup for your life during the week and another for your time on the weekends without having to re-setup your screens each time.  A couple of button presses and you are ready to go.

  • Device feel:  The weight of the Pro might be one of my top “goods.”  So you know, while preparing to review devices, I almost always carry around my daily device (Droid X right now) and the device I’m reviewing which can be sort of a nuisance at times unless of course they weigh nothing.  There were times when I’d forget that the Droid Pro was even there.  It also feels light as a feather in your hand and was a pleasure to make calls on.
  • Look:  The metal band running around the outside, plus the “Shadow” color scheme makes this device look really sharp.  While I’m a little surprised its look met the Droid brand standards, I can admit that it has a unique enough look to be proud of.
  • Call signal/quality:  Signal was never an issue as the device runs on Verizon’s network.  Call quality was also above average.  The back speaker may not have been the clearest (touched on below), but the ear piece left me with zero complaints.
  • Software:  Verizon and Motorola packed in a bunch of software that for the most part, add to the quality of the device.  It comes with the now-standard 3G Mobile Hotspot app, DLNA support, a file manager, SIM card manager, Skype, Quick Office and a VPN client.  Those last 2 being the most important.

  • Shortcut Button:  There is this really nifty physical button on the right side of the device that you can set to perform almost any task.  It defaults to launch your calendar, but you can even have it pop up your camera just like any other Android device.

The Not-so-Good:

  • Camera:  It’s hard to tell at this point if Motorola just keeps putting bad camera’s in their devices or if they just think the software used to run them is not important.  The original Droid, Droid 2 and Droid X all have had issues in the camera department and the Pro is no different.  The software used to power it is the same you’ll see with the newest Blur on the D2 and DX which on the outside looks nice, but unfortunately takes shots you may not be proud enough of to put up on that PowerPoint presentation.

  • Blur:  This is my 3rd device running the newest version of Motorola’s Blur and it also happens to be the first time I’ve actually given it enough time to form an opinion on it.  With the D2 and DX, I immediately put LauncherPro on them as I just couldn’t deal with the performance hit you feel when leaving it active.  So with his device, I decided to leave it be and see if my first impressions were wrong.  They weren’t.  With a device running a 1.0GHz OMAP, (same as in the DX and D2), but with a smaller screen, you would figure that this thing would fly.  That is until you boot it up the first time and try to even switch between screens and notice a ridiculous stutter.  When it comes to Blur, I love the alarm app, Profiles and can handle the news widget, but that’s about it.
  • Battery life:  When I first got a hold of this device, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “Oh, small screen equals awesome battery life!”  Boy was I wrong.  I haven’t had to worry about charging a device so much since I was using the Incredible as my daily device.  For anyone that purchases this phone, I highly recommend that you upgrade the battery as soon as possible.

  • Speaker:  There were rumors as the phone neared launch that the speaker wasn’t of the highest quality.  The rumors are unfortunately pretty true.  I’ve used speakerphone, pumped music through it and each time sort of cringed a little.  As someone that uses speakerphone quite a bit while in the office, this was a little disappointing.
  • Screen:  I know I gave the screen size a positive mark above, but the screen itself fell a little short of expectations.  For a capacitative touch screen, this thing performed below-average when doing even something simple like unlocking the phone.  While this could be a Blur issue, I just find myself swiping things multiple times before receiving my desired action.
  • No Swype:  I understand that the candy bar keyboard is supposed to be the winner here, but I really started missing Swype.  There were times with this device that I really needed to be able to type something one-handed and was instead forced to stop what I was doing in order to two-hand this little guy.  Sort of frustrating, but not a killer.  Just would have been nice to see it included as we have on the DX and D2 models.

  • Task Manager app:  Seriously Verizon, this is not what I want to see when booting up a device.  By putting this app on a new phone, you are announcing to your customers that Android sucks and that this app will help their device perform better and save battery at the same time.  The problem with that logic is the fact that the phone runs Android 2.2 which leaves almost every task manager app useless.  Uggh.

Camera Shots:

Unboxing and Quick Walk-through:





The Verdict:

Is the Droid Pro the “Blackberry killer”?  That’s tough to say.  Is it one giant step in that direction?  Indeed it is.  Other than some frustrations over battery life and a so-so camera, the Pro was a pleasure to use and is another winner in pretty elite class of Droid branded phones.  While it may not fit everyone’s needs with its 3.1″ screen, it will definitely fill an addiction that many will always have for that candy bar-styled keyboard.  The phone has the specs to compete with the best, plus some additional security features made for the business crowd that were not quite satisfied with the offerings of the Droid X.  Of course, you also can’t help but mention the global capabilities it has which almost every other Android phone currently lacks.  While the number of enormous screen needy users are growing, there will always be those looking for a keyboard first, and this is a great option.

DROID Pro Specs | Other DROID Pro Coverage

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  • Anonymous
  • My fiance and I just switched to Droids. I opted for the X, while she went with the Pro, mostly for the keyboard. She immediately began asking about the battery life. You mentioned upgrading the battery. Any recommendations on that?

    Still getting my feet wet with the Droids. I’ll have to look into the other things you’ve mentioned here. Nice writeup.

  • I think this phone can be a great replacement for my Blackberry. I wanted something a little more fun and decided to go for it (mainly because of the keyboard). I've been quite happy with it so far.

  • Natasha

    I really don't see the issue with the droid screen size. To be honest the screen is what hooked me to the phone. When you look at other android phones with slide out keyboards (typical BB users are looking for hard keyboards) the screens seem/feel cheap and the feel smaller… they dont look like a smart phone. Before the Droid Pro, I had just switched to an android LG Alley (something or another) and hated the thing. The screen size sucked, the keyboard was ridiculous and overall I just wanted my blackberry back. I was really disappointed because I really wanted the android OS. I went back into the store saw the Droid Pro, switch and I could not be happier.
    The Droid Pro was supposed to bring in the BB users, as a former Crackberry addict I will never go back as long as I have my Pro.

  • rjsc

    How does the smaller screen work when using apps that are normally used with the normal size screen? Does the app just get shrunk to fit it on the smaller screen?

  • droidpro101

    i LOVE mine!

  • Well I wouldn't trade my Droid X for it, but it's a much better looking phone than I expected and I think it will do pretty good..Thanks for this great information!

  • Jawshua

    Well if I was in the market for a BB style phone I would definitely consider the Droid Pro. And that is even beyond my bias. Although the BBM is something Android really needs to incorporate into their phones, as a standard and not as a third party solution.

  • Eaturcrap

    I have the original black and gold beast, the Motorola Droid. But I REALLY like this one for it's lightweight candy bar style, keyboard on front, and shortcut key. But my contracts not up til April 2012. *sigh*

    • thats the same way i feel when i think about the contract lol.

  • I don't understand why everyone is hating on Blur, I used it for a while in VZW and I am getting the X for Christmas, and I have no expectations on EVER switching launchers…I love it.

    • i wonder the same thing. i still use blur on my D2. when i used fission rom, it was kind of boring since i experienced blur before. it has some pretty cool features you cant get with vanilla android. people like to complain. same thing with the g2 and its so called “hinges issue”. My uncles and friends G2s are fine. again.. people like to complain.

    • kellex

      I don't necessarily hate Blur. THere are definitely pieces of it I like, but that launcher is pretty horrendous. If you try out another launcher you'll see the difference instantly.

    • Towelie420

      No, Blur is just kind of boring in appearance. It also doesn't scroll between screens smoothly. The widgets are tacky.
      Launcher Pro just defines android. Once you set it and use it for a week, there's no going back to anything else.

  • Teabling

    I had a Blackberry Pearl on T-mo and switched to the big red when the Droid dropped, I miss my Pearl sometimes (I had a love/hate relationship with sure type) and this phone is really talking to me form-factor wise; the blur not so much tho. the camera isn't too bad since I'm used to my Droid's that's a million times better then my Pearl's. I find myself debating whether to use my annual upgrade on this or wait for the next gen phones using LTE. I just really miss that candy bar shape, two handed typing or not.

  • I currently have the droid-pro. I am considering a Droid 2 Global. My only concern is the difference in weight between the two, really.

    Kellex the review is great and everything you mentioned I really agree on — I've had the droid pro since day one and I have grown to love it more and more — but the size is really a hindrance for me.

    Would you recommend this over the Droid 2?

    • kellex

      It weighs a lot less than the D2, but if you want a bigger screen then you may want to think about switching. I really liked the weight of the Pro, but that screen size is not for me. I like 'em big!

      • thanks a lot for your input I actually did switch the the droid 2 and am very happy I did. Something I didn't notice in the review was the screens resolution which is very low compared to the other droids on the market and I really noticed the difference when I moved to the D2

  • Oh Twista… you just make me so Wet!

  • Mo

    Droid Pro keyboard is too small. Prefer keyboard by far on LG voyager and even Blackberry Bold.

  • dblj

    Hey Kellex, is that a G-Shock on your wrist?
    another addiction of mine…

    • kellex

      Diesel actually. 🙂

      • dblj

        Ah, nice taste. I have an addition to watches, just not the finances to curb it..lol

  • The more I look at the live demo of this phone, the more I like it. I wouldn't trade my Droid X for it, but it's a much better looking phone than I expected and I think it will do pretty well.

  • boardjnky4

    The Not So Good: Lack of on-device encryption for Exchange data…How is this “Enterprise”?

  • I love they used “Wetter” by Twista as the Benchmark music…made my day.

  • I went from tmobiles blackberry 9700 to this verizon droid pro and let me just say that it is like night and day. I cant believe ive waited this long to switch, but at the same time im glad i did. I still need my keyboard. I've tried swipe on my friends droids and it was okay, but now that I have a full keyboard, its exactly what ive been waiting for. Best thing ever. If you are on a blackberry and have been thinking of switching to droid, switch to THIS droid.

    • kellex

      This is the type of response I love to see. Thanks for your input!

  • Eric

    Wheres the Galaxy Tab review you promised us by the end of last week?

    • kellex

      It's coming! Tomorrow more than likely. 😛

      I've got like 3 devices right now needing review.

      • Eric

        alright alright only cuz i like you Kellex. just messin. but i am intrested on to hear your thoughts on it.

        • kellex

          I'm still struggling with my thoughts on it actually which is the real reason for the delay. Should be ready tomorrow though!

      • Mrpicolas

        Gee boss you can send them my way I'll review them…

  • kimir

    the screen is wayyyyyy too small. not even an option