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Two Days with the Bionic: Some First Impressions, Bugs, and Other Thoughts

As you all know, we try to give new phones a thorough run-through of at least a full week before posting up a review on it.  We definitely do not do the 1-day press review as that seems completely unfair to both readers and to the device itself.  With that said, we know that the DROID Bionic is a hot topic right now and also that many of you are waiting to hear our thoughts on it before jumping in and buying one.  Since our full review is still some time away and many of you are contemplating whether or not you should pick one up this weekend, we thought we would toss out a few quick thoughts, bugs and other stuff that we have experienced with the phone.   

Let’s start with the good stuff.

4G LTE:  As someone that moved onto a Galaxy SII and fell in love, there was a part of me that was constantly missing 4G LTE.  AT&T’s service is as you know not the best, so when I picked up a Bionic, it was a breath of fresh air.  Solid wireless network with an incredibly fast data network.

Hardware:  The device itself is also fast thanks to its 1GB of RAM and dual-core processor.  It is definitely handling most of if not all of the tests we have put it through so far.

Call Quality:  The call quality on the Bionic is top notch and you can thank Motorola for that.  Whatever it is that they do with radios, ear pieces, etc., should be followed by every other device manufacturer.

Soft Keys:  Not sure what it is, but I really like the soft keys on the Bionic.  They seem bigger than normal and also easily touch-able.

Styling:  I have always been a fan of Motorola designs.  Some hate the hump, I think it brings a little flair to the mobile world that is much needed. It matches up closely to the DROID3 which is another phone we really liked in the style department.

Size:  Yeah, it’s big, but all phones these days are.  It’s smaller than all of the other Verizon 4G LTE phones and also doesn’t have god-awful physical home keys made for 85 year olds.

And now the other stuff.

Battery Life:  Not so hot so far.  First day, after pulling the device out of the box with a 45% charge, I ran it until it almost died which took about 5 hours.  Then yesterday, after dealing with charging woes that eventually went away, I was able to get it to 100% and then hammered on it for a good two hours.  The results – phone had dropped down to 60%.  Today will be a full day of testing, so let’s not freak out too much just yet.  I did want to point out that WiFi seems to be using an abnormal amount of battery though. Normally when at home, I toggle that on to save battery, but the Bionic appears to hate that theory. Today’s test will include zero WiFi.

Screen:  It’s PenTile Matrix and it’s not awesome.  We have been down this road a dozen times now, but as you all know, I’m not a fan of Motorola’s screens.  Colors are washed out, pixelized, not displayed correctly, and overall make the experience not what it could have been.  I’m learning to live with it, but screen tech is something you shouldn’t have to learn to live with.  And wait, weren’t these screens supposed to help with battery life?  So far not living up to that reputation I’d say.

Camera:  Eh, it’s not the best ever.  If you have decent light, like middle of the day light, it takes pretty decent pictures.  The constant focusing though is something that makes my blood boil.  It should not take this long for a camera to focus.  And if you get into a dimly lit area, the outcome can be hit or miss. Attached a few shots below from both the Bionic and Galaxy SII.

Bionic on the left | Galaxy SII on the right

(Click each for larger versions)



Lock Switch:  Top left could be the worst position for a lock switch in history.  Most people are right handed which means they also hold their phone in their right hand.  In order to lock or unlock this phone, you either have to use your left hand or adjust your hold on the device to get all the way up there to do it with your right.  (Edit:  Having a good conversation about this in the comments.  Time for a poll!)

Bad Battery Cover:  The battery cover on the unit that I’m using does not sit flush on the side with the HDMI port.  What I’m left with is a really sharp plastic edge that makes it pretty uncomfortable to hold in hand.  This could just be my poor luck, since the unit that Tato has appears to be fine.  Once I get a new battery cover, I will let you guys know.

Other notes.

Internal Storage:  People freaked out yesterday when they went into check out the storage of their device and realized that internally, it only showed as 8GB.  “But what the hell!  They told us 16GB!”  Well, it does have 16GB, it’s just been partitioned off so that you can’t have access to it all.  Part of it has been given to the OS and the other part to to “Application storage.”  If you add up the 4GB or so of app storage along with the internal you get to 12GB, which means that the OS (Blur) is taking up another 4GB.

Notification Light:  Not sure where this ridiculous rumor started, but yes, it has a notification light.

Root:  You can root already.  Instructions here.  Unroot tool here.


I’ll try to make this quick.  I’m liking the phone for the most part.  Loving 4G LTE again.  Loving the power and specs.  Not a fan of the camera, screen and lock switch.  I erased some of Blur with a home replacement and lock screen alternative.  Wish the phone was slimmer.  Happy to see a phone with Android 2.3.4.  Will be giving it more time over the next week and will hopefully have even stronger opinions then.

Any other thoughts you would like to add?  Be sure to drop them below.

  • Rodmort

    my bionic is a battery hog no matter what mode i’m in and why do I have to have wi fi running to down load a simple app ???

  • Anonymous

    Don’t know if anyone noticed but the radio on the Bionic LTE is so powerful it will cause noise in speakers if you put it to close. I have speakers on my PC and when i get the Bionic to close you can hear crackling and snow like noise. I hear the same in my car cause I have a cassette adapter connected to my phone so i can watch movies and I hear the same noise there unless I switch to 3G only and the noise goes away. I’m guessing you can hear it in cheap head phones but maybe in well insulated headphones you won’t.

  • Mecca1010

    The complete awkwardness of the lock button being on the top left is completely maddening! I do
    nt even understand why they even thought to do this?

  • Mecca1010

    The complete awkwardness of the lock button being on the top left is completely maddening! I do
    nt even understand why they even thought to do this?

  • William Williams87

    I have a thuderbolt, my lock key is on the top right and I keep it to the left side and use my left hand, but I’m a righty, and its super comfortable that way

  • mike

    haha if any of you play baseball/softball, try putting on a lefty glove(its right hand) and have a catch. We all know you’ll throw like a girl, but catching the ball will feel funky as hell.

  • mike

    So my first big annoying bug is with the HDMi out. I have to reboot the phone to make it work properly. Once I’m done watching a video on my TV, the phone will no longer go to black(timeout) on its own. I have to press the button. So, I have to reboot to make the screen timeout start working properly again.

  • mike

    Disagree about the lock position. Most people that are right handed talk on their left side, so their right hand is free to write stuff, or whatever. It feels weird for me to talk right handed — and I’m a righty.

  • Roland_K

    I don’t know if anyone has tried to transfer data to the SD Card yet, like a movie or just simple MP3’s files. The transfer speeds on the Droid Bionic are horrible!!! I transferred a 800mb movie to my Droid Bionic today and it took 34 mins to transfer. I though maybe it just needs a reboot and everything will be find. Tried to transfer the same movie again, took 41 mins, 8 mins for a MP3 to transfer. Is anyone else having this problem? I know on my DroidX 2 it was freaking fast when transferring data. Not the Droid Bionic. This is something I can live with, but damn.

    • Anonymous

      I found that if you copy the file instead of moving it, it’s faster, then just delete original file.

  • Kily53

    Noticed that i download apps from da market and when i go to look for them or tap on then it says that the app is not installed or the app is no where to be found in da app draw… if i reboot da bionic then sum of the apps show up but not all of them… anyone else having this issue? ??? Its driving me crazy!

  • Vkjdemel

    I wonder will there be a GMS version
    of droid bionic….I still use the Milestone(GSM version of droid) and need a upgrade now.
    I have been a fan of motorola devices but unfortunately there are only few GSM
    devices from moto. 

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  • Interstellarmind

    I think people looking topic this up, should be made aware of the impending release of the htc vigor. I’m telling you, people will be seriously bummed when they find out there’s a better phone available just a few weeks after, with arguably the best skin (sense), camera, and higher resolution screen.

    • Interstellarmind

      looking to pick this up*

  • Anonymous

    I went in to play with the Bionic today and to really see the difference in the pentile screen.  I wasn’t sure what the pictures and videos were showing but when I compared it to my OG Droid I couldn’t believe the difference, it was like my eyes were constantly adjusting to the pixels or something, like I was using a 3D Evo but it was in 2D, If you never realized it I guess it wouldn’t bother you, but just for the screen alone there is no way I’m going to pick up this bad boy, now if they switch screens and unlock the bootloader, well then it will be a powerhouse 5 star phone, right now I would give it 3 stars and ask Moto that next time, if they want to make a super phone give it everything and don’t skip out on any aspect of the device… like the screen… Just my POV. Nexus Prime, or whatever you are called, here I come…

  • I’m also disappointed with the PenTile Matrix and the quality of the photos. Both of these things are so crucial for a good smartphone experience. Things like this give every iPhone user the right to turn their noses up at Androids.

    Also, I completely agree that the power/lock is in the worst place—especially on a large phone like this. To those who say they use two hands to use their phones anyway seems bizarre to me.

  • Chaser457

    Can’t seem to get Picasa web albums to load. It’s tied to the primary gmail on the phone, but for some reason I can’t get it to load.

    Loving the CostCo value pack!

  • Nymetsfan22

    Does anyone know how the screen looks outdoors? My incredible looks terrible and need something better.

  • Nymetsfan22

    Does anyone know how the screen looks outdoors? My incredible looks terrible and need something better.

  • booboolala2000

    My D3 seems to do the same thing. If I have wifi on it kinda drains the battery. Especially if there are multiple signals.

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    • Cgmartin33

      I purchased a Mercedes and took it back last night…got the Kia. I’m not going to deal with a car that has a big v8 under the hood and drives smooth as silk but drains the gas tank when I drive it fast and up hills. Brilliant thinking man! Turn off 4g if you don’t like to plug your phone in and turn it back on when you need it since you live in the sticks.

      • Anonymous

        I love that analogy man, that was beautiful……

    • juan fabregas

      do u have 4g in you’re area? you can turn off the 4g antennae in the settings. 

      • Anonymous

        To late now…. Maybe you just got a defective one….. That’s what happens when you rush into things without thinking…. The bionic is truly a great phone…

  • Justin

    Its about time us left handed people got some with lock button locations…

  • Anonymous

    I just got a Droid incredible which has the power button in the same spot… It is no good the position on the Droid 1 and charge are much better. I almost always use my right hand and thumb… This setup works so well with Swype.

  • Anonymous

    Tato?  Is that like Tatoo on Fantasy Island? 😀 

  • Fatboy1184

    not to sure but i just bought the bionic and i was wondering if they have gotten the update for the new market mins has the old one so not to sure if it was me or what i have to do to get it i went from og droid to this and love it minus the market

    • Cgmartin33

      Give it a bit…it will change right before your eyes.

  • Ryanbimmer

    Hey Kellex, I’m on my Bionic right now. I just thought that one thing worth noting is the video capture quality. It is absolutely PHENOMENAL! I cant believe how clear the video shows up. Kudos to Motorola on that for sure! Overall I am loving the Bionic!

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to believe that MotoBlur takes up more space on a disk than Windows XP does.

  • Cgmartin33

    I just can’t seem to leave sh!t alone…so I have been playing with launchers on this beast. Sad to say that ADW doesn’t get along with it. When I upgraded my DX to Gingerbread I had the same issue with Launcher Pro…it just didn’t feel as smooth anymore. I made the switch to ADW after years of LP and didn’t look back until now. The Bionic just does not like ADW. Hopefully a market update will be released soon… Until then LP is smooth as silk and you’ve got to love those scrollable widgets!

    • Marc

      Have you gotten the Quick Contacts widget working with LP?

      • Cgmartin33

        No! And I feel like a crackhead trying to make it work 😉 That’s the only thing about the blur launcher I care about!

    • Cgmartin33

      I retract my previous statement about ADW and the Bionic…things have settled in after a full day of use and its back to its smooth self. Strangely enough now LP is acting up and keeps FC’ing when I’m in an app. My wish has been granted. If you want some kangerade and love the LP widgets try APW in the market…a complete rip off of the scrollable LP widgets but now I have the best of both worlds!

      • Anonymous

        Sometimes things take some time to play nice with each other…. My LPP looks and works great on my Bionic…. I got to say though the new MOTO Blur is really polished and nice so I switch from one to another every day.

  • Anonymous

    “Battery Life:  Not so hot so far.  First day, after pulling the device out of the box with a 45% charge, I ran it until it almost died which took about 5 hours.
     Then yesterday, after dealing with charging woes that eventually went
    away, I was able to get it to 100% and then hammered on it for a good
    two hours.  The results – phone had dropped down to 60%.”

    That honestly doesn’t sound “not so hot”. About what I expected. Also, I find it unfair to say you wish the phoen were slimmer when we both know that just can’t happen YET.

  • Legoturte92

    I’m a bit sad that they didn’t add the charge light on it. I liked knowing if my phone was charging or if it was fully charged.