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.
- 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.
- 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.
Unboxing and Quick Walk-through:
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.