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Samsung DROID Charge Review – Verizon

Ahhh yes, the first ever 4G LTE “DROID” has landed.  After a couple of weeks of delays to make sure Verizon’s new network was stable enough for it, the DROID Charge by Samsung is available for purchase at the arguably high price of $300 on a 2-year contract.  It’s a device we saw go nameless for months, but one that eventually found its way into our favorite brand of smartphones.  Can it live up to that exclusive name though?  Normally when a new phone comes out with the “DROID” brand on it, we expect it to dominate, so let’s see if the Charge can.  

The Good:

  • Screen:  There is no denying that the 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus screen on the DROID Charge is a thing of beauty.  As the first device in the U.S. to sport one, you at least have that to brag to your friends about.  The colors are incredibly vibrant and do wonders even in outside light.
  • 4G LTE:  Who doesn’t love ridiculously fast download and upload speeds on their handheld device?  While in San Francisco last week for Google I/O, this and the Thunderbolt allowed me to continue to pump out stories while the spotty WiFi connections tried to bring me down.  As long as you are in a 4G LTE area, you are going to love having this in your pocket.  Oh, and they extended the free hotspot offer through June 15!

  • Battery:  Well, it’s not the greatest battery on the planet, but when we compare it to the Thunderbolt, it’s a winner.  My device suffered from signal issues for the first couple of weeks while Verizon tweaked their new network and the Charge cruised through it all.
  • Camera:  The Charge has an above average 8MP camera.  Someone tell Motorola to kang whatever Sammie is doing with their cameras, because it’s nothing but right.  Check out the two shots below which have been untouched aside from resizing.

  • HDMI mirroring:  The Charge has full HDMI mirroring and it definitely works well.  Plug in your device, switch your TV over and BAM!  In seconds you are up and running your device on your big ol’ screen TV.
  • Feel:  The weight of this device is pretty exceptional.  It’s definitely made out of 100% plastic which we’ll talk more about later, but in your hand anyways, it feels pretty good.  The size isn’t too intense coming from a Thunderbolt or DROIDX, and with it being lighter than both, it’s definitely manageable.
  • Notification pulldown:  This may sound like a simple little “Good”, but I love the fact that TouchWiz puts your toggles into the notification bar.  HTC is doing this with Sense 2.1+, but Samsung has been doing it for a while.  I still hate TouchWiz, but they at least got this one thing right.

  • Video chatting:  The front-facing camera on the Charge is 1.3MP and allows for pretty decent video chatting with friends.  We would have loved to see Android 2.3.4 and Google Talk on there, but only 1 device currently has that.  There are plenty of options out there to choose from though, so we have to give them props for at least going beyond VGA.

The Not-so-Good:

  • TouchWiz:  I know that many of you despise Motorola’s Blur, but I’m hear to tell you that nothing is as bad as Samsung’s TouchWiz.  It’s an iOS ripoff that makes even decent hardware chug along at a pace not seen since 2007.  It’s buggy, appears to be designed by a children’s book company, and can’t be masked by LauncherPro fast enough.  If there was a ever a reason to start the “We want stock only!” petition, this would be it.

  • Old hardware:  If this was worthy of the “DROID” tag, it should have had something other than the same guts as the Samsung Fascinate which came out in 2010.  Sure, they added a front facing camera and an 8MP shooter on the back, but the rest of it is all the same including that god awful RFS file system.  Where is the dual-core?  The massive amounts of RAM?
  • Plastic casing:  The device is made of plastic and isn’t going to last you 2 years.  I’ve had it for about a month now and already managed to scuff the edges from simply pulling it in and out of my pocket.  I haven’t seen this happen on any other device in the life of this blog.  At least when HTC makes a phone out of plastic, it almost feels like metal and not like something your 2-year old will crush in less than a minute.

  • Android 2.2:  As I’ve said with every Verizon device over the last couple of months, it’s almost sickening to see them launching with Android 2.2.  Gingerbread has been out for almost 6 months now, yet we’re releasing phones with one that came out a year ago?  Just wait and see how happy new Charge owners are going to be when the entire DROID lineup from Motorola has GB by the end of June and it’s still sitting at 2.2.
  • Verizon Bloatware:  The amount of bloatware that Verizon tossed onto this thing is intense.  I’m not sure I can even count that high to tell you the truth.  While we’re no longer surprised that they will continue to fill up Android devices with this crap, we’ll still point it out so that Big Red doesn’t forget how much we hate it.
  • Look:  This is a personal thing, but I’m not a fan of the Alienware-esque exterior of this phone.  The hump on the back doesn’t allow the phone to lay flat on a desk, the pointy shield speaker/camera housing/chin all remind me of something from Star Trek, and those massive physical buttons just seem well, silly.
  • “DROID” tag:  You get the feeling that since the original Bionic was delayed, that Verizon panicked because they no longer had a 4G LTE “DROID” and decided to slap the tag on this phone.  Sure, the marketing campaign is super slick, but this device should never have donned this elite tag.
  • Slow wake time:  It may sound like I’m nitpicking here, but when you press the unlock button on your phone, it shouldn’t take 3 seconds for it to come on.  Such is the case with the Charge and I still can’t figure out why.

Unboxing:

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Benchmarks:

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Gallery:

The Verdict:

I’m going to be perfectly honest and blunt here – this phone has no business having the “DROID” tag next to it.  Is it an above average device with a few stand out specs?  You betcha it is.  Is it capable of dominating the smartphone landscape for the next 1 or 2 years?  Not a chance.  While we came away incredibly impressed by the Super AMOLED Plus screen, camera, and battery, we struggled to come up with much else to love about it.  The alien-inspired look is not our thing (but may be for some) nor are the oversized physical home keys.  We’re also becoming increasingly sick of seeing phones launching with Android 2.2 which is now a year old and custom skins that make phones feel like they were manufactured by monkies.

So should you buy the DROID Charge?  At $300 on a 2-year contract it would be tough for me to tell you to do that.  If this phone launched somewhere around $199, I’d tell you to seriously consider it, but unfortunately that’s not the case.  The plastic exterior has me questioning just how long this device will stand up to daily wear and tear and of course there are still questions about Samsung’s OS update support.

Is it time for carriers and phone manufacturers to stop releasing last year’s tech with this year’s marketing slogan?  I’d say so.

DROID Charge Specs | Other DROID Charge Coverage

  • lilly

    ive had mine a month and the battery life stinks bad and my back button no longer works worst phone ive ever had

  • Davem110

    The GPS connects incredibly slow…..and the telephone part of it is the worst I’ve ever had in my life….making me long for my old flip phone.  But, all other apps work very well.  All in all, when my two year deal I’m trapped in is over, goodbyre Charge. 

  • Bill Brown

    Video HDMI output is not that cut and dried.  Apparently output is in 1080 only.  My daughter’s TV receives no video, and broken audio. Am pretty sure her’s does not have 1080 mode, only 720.  Do you have any information to corroborate that?  We have tried my HDMI micro cable that works with my Bionic to my TV with same results from Charge to her TV.
    If the output is 1080 only and will not work on a 720 only TV, any information on a converter box to RCA video/audio cables?

  • Anthony Vella

    Anyone want a hand warmer? The overheating battery on my Droid Charge is really nice for the winter.

  • GUITARMAN608

    WELL… SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT THIS PHONE…. I REALLY LIKED IT TO BEGIN WITH… PICKED ONE OF THESE UP AT BEST BUY FOR $99 ON SALE… CHEAPER THAN MY OG DROID WAS AND JUST PLAIN WORKS BETTER…. LIGHTER… BETTER DISPLAY.  REALLY EASY TO FLASH A ROM WITH ODIN… JUST FLASHED A 2.3.6 GINGERBREAD LEAK AND WOW… LOVE MY PHONE… JUST SAYIN…

  • http://twitter.com/k_atl Kyle Stedman

    I rooted it, flashed the Gingerbread leak…I now have a brand new phone.  This is worthy of the Droid branding.  Not with Froyo…

    Quadrant scores – 1400+, no overclocking.  Was 980 before Gingerbread…

    Hopefully, ICS will follow…

    Lastly, do you ever think the reason why they put plastic around it was so that all of the LTE goodness can make it to the radios with little obstruction.  Note…I havent dropped a call yet and am getting 15-24mbps downloads.  Hell, I was in an elevator and picked up 8mbps…in an elevator.  

    • Anonymous

      Nope it’s because of samsung’s cheap plasticy ways. every other galaxy s phone has had plastic but i dont think any have been as bad as this. ive speedtested a bioinic next to it and it got the same speed. i understand that the bionic’s battery cover is plastic but the rest is metal unlike the charge.

    • Anonymous

       nothing wrong with plastic construction, i understand that metal can f up reception and add some serious weight to the phone (hey there tunaboat).  However, i used to have a samsung fascinate, got it exchanged for a droid incredible 2 a few months ago.  Both phones are plastic, but the htc feels much sturdier and feels like a higher quality device.

      The problem isn’t with the plastic, its that its cheap  plastic.  If you made a metal phone cheaply, it’d feel like crap.  Samsung just needs to up the quality a little bit is all.

  • Anonymous

    wow thisso shacking and   hot to  have own eventhogh othr so hive  this  cant compare  than els so diferent and easy to you cant leran in one minute to understude

  • STCharlesChuck

    I understand why they can it the CHARGE.  I have to charge it sometimes twice a day- the battery life is terrible!

  • http://www.facebook.com/borgey401 Andrew Borges

    this phone is such poop

  • Evansk010

    The Droid Charge has all the right in the world to have the “Droid” tag. It has an amzing futuristic design and looks better then anyother phone on the market. It has a super AMOLED screen that can stand up to Apples Retina display. It has an 8mp camera and a 1.3 mp front facing camera. Touchwiz is its goods and its bads but its better then the stock android on previous phone the Droid 2. It has an amzing battery life for a 4G LTE phone. Its even lighter then my Droid 2 which is half the size of my Droid Charge. All the buttons are placed exactly werew they should be. Thank god Samsung has a lot more sense then Moto by putting the power button on the side, which is quicker and easier then having it on top. Samsungs Touchwiz is also a lot more colorful then stock android which takes advantage of the Super AMOLED screen. And when set on a table the speaker isnt muffled because of the hump that so many people complain about, its ther for a reason! And the Samsung Charge’s load-up screen kicks the butt of any other phones load-up screens!

  • Anonymous

    Just wanted to chime in: running stock Gingerbread and it is by far the best phone I have ever owned. DX, Inc, iPhone, TB, DX2. I properly rooted and rom’ed Charge ruins them all.

    • Anonymous

      You are high. Flashing gingerbread EP3HA with this did nothing to fix the terrible plastic construction or the dropped data i get every hour. it also doesnt fix the fact that the chrome dents as if its a sponge 

  • Isuern1

    Exchanged my iphone for the charge. Its the best thing ive done. I love it all. Iphone headed for ebay

  • Jsmith

    I am sorry but this review is pathetic. You gush all over the Thunderbolt despite it having major issues, drop data, random reboots, battery drain amongst a few. Yet with this phone all you could say is how much you hate the cover (get a case for it) and the bloatware, are you kidding. Both phones are great and despite your opinion, which by the way is in the minority, the Charge is just a better phone. Better screen, better battery and 4G. Screen and battery life are key for any droid user and this phone has it. Bloatware, root and remove. Plastic, buy a case. Touchwiz get Launcher Pro, Go Launcher, ADW launcher. Come on dude step it up. Just because you don’t wan’t the phone doesn’t mean it sucks. I would never  buy a Thunderbolt or LG Rev that doesn’t mean they are bad phones. 

  • Jsmith

    I am sorry but this review is pathetic. You gush all over the Thunderbolt despite it having major issues, drop data, random reboots, battery drain amongst a few. Yet with this phone all you could say is how much you hate the cover (get a case for it) and the bloatware, are you kidding. Both phones are great and despite your opinion, which by the way is in the minority, the Charge is just a better phone. Better screen, better battery and 4G. Screen and battery life are key for any droid user and this phone has it. Bloatware, root and remove. Plastic, buy a case. Touchwiz get Launcher Pro, Go Launcher, ADW launcher. Come on dude step it up. Just because you don’t wan’t the phone doesn’t mean it sucks. I would never  buy a Thunderbolt or LG Rev that doesn’t mean they are bad phones. 

    • Anonymous

      as a former fascinate owner, no amount of launcher pro will fix touchwiz…

      The main issue the reviewer seems to have is that it is called  a “DROID” and priced like one, yet it doesnt meet the bar that has been set.

  • Marty

    Sells for $185 at Costco in LV with a bluetooth headset and a case.

  • Mike

    I’m having a horrible time with mine.  The screen is fantastic, but it’s slow, unstable (it crashes about 2-3x/day), and has an awkward design.  I’ve also had issues with call quality.  This was my first Google-based phone after I broke my iPhone, but when the iPhone 5 comes out, I’ll be paying full-price for it.

  • Mike

    I’m having a horrible time with mine.  The screen is fantastic, but it’s slow, unstable (it crashes about 2-3x/day), and has an awkward design.  I’ve also had issues with call quality.  This was my first Google-based phone after I broke my iPhone, but when the iPhone 5 comes out, I’ll be paying full-price for it.

  • kevkavalier

    It’s $174.88 at Sam’s Clubs in my area.

  • Hypernez

    What about the Internal Memory and the Ram.  2GB internal Memory and with no apps running the Task Manager says it is using 270/328 MB.  Sending it back to Verizon.

    • Dmzman

      why do you think they include a 32GB memory card?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Royer/100000358962998 Travis Royer

        sounds more like someone didn’t realize when VZW listed it with 2GB of memory, that they infact meant storage space. lol

    • Anonymous

      That’s ram. it only has 512mb of ram like every other samsung galaxy s phone. But for some reason this one is worse because on my friends infuse 4g which has 512mb of ram also, it says 150 usedd out of 462mb. and thats in the task manager…

  • Zoug68

    I like this phone. I got it at Costco for $180 and it came with a car charger, a leather case and 2 screen protectors.