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Motorola Droid Bionic Review

So my wait for a new phone finally came to an end today as I was able to snag a new Droid Bionic on Verizon Wireless.  I had been increasingly frustrated with the slowness of my Droid version 1 phone that seemed to get slower and slower.  A special thanks to my corporate data rep who went the extra mile to make sure I got one on launch day after having my morning wasted by the wireless kiosk idiots at Costco who claimed to have them in stock the evening before when I stopped by.

After only having it for about four hours I must say, thus far I am impressed.

Things I like:

  1. It is fast (responsiveness wise).  It lives up to my expectations so far.
  2. It is fast (network wise). Verizon Wireless LTE is absolutely amazing (I am in Beaverton, OR currently). It is also fast on my 802.11g wireless via Frontier FiOS.  Using Google Maps is no longer frustrating.
  3. The screen seems very good. (not like strikingly great, but certainly good)
  4. The touch screen seems more accurate than my Droid V1.
  5. The OS is Gingerbread of course (which I did not have on my Droid V1)
  6. The camera seems to be better quality, though it’s odd that the app does not rotate it’s menu’s.  Also- The location tagging outputs number coded errors on the screen while taking pictures which seems like poor spit and polish (though it’s way faster than the Droid V1 so I am happy)
  7. The form factor works well for me thus far.  I think it is lighter than my Droid V1 and certainly much much thinner.  I tend to carry it in my front shirt pocket and so while it does stick out the top a bit, I think the reduced weight does not make my shirt look funny as much.

Things I don’t like:

  1. Any kind of crap installed by the Carrier (i.e. Verizon Wireless) – vCast, their paid Navigation app, their paid Visual Voicemail app, etc…  cMon people…  Google does most of these way better than you and they made them free.  Deal with it and go on with life.
  2. Just about anything written by Motorola (i.e. Motoblur).  I think that having all the phone manufacturers write their own UI’s is stupid in many ways.  I find that they don’t do it any better than Google, and it just makes software upgrade cycles slower, and user training a pain due to the differences.  I understand that all the manufacturers don’t want to become a commodity (and this is a way to provide unique “”value””), but as an educated consumer, I would 100% of the time buy a vanilla Android device over one with aftermarket UI’s any day (if one were available).
  3. Verizon has some “backup” application for local contacts.  That’s dumb.  Google provides that feature for all my contacts and settings.  Perhaps it makes sense in the context of moving from “feature phones” over to Android based smart-phones.
  4. I have only made one or two calls so far and quality was good- Though I did get some feeling that the earpiece does not get incredibly loud, and it started clipping a bit at max volume.  This may not bode well for use in datacenters (TBD).
  5. So far the car mount kit I bought seems a bit flaky at detecting that the phone should launch the handsfree app as I bought a rubber cover for the phone.  It’s supposed to handle the covers OK after removing an insert.
  6. Some of the rumors had made me think it would support GSM for international roaming.  That would have been very nice.  Also, it sounded like wireless charging was a default feature, but instead, it sounds like it requires a special backplate that is not yet available.
  7. All the notifications and ringtones come set to incredibly annoying “DROID” sounds.  It’s totally a branding thing, I get it, but it is awful.

Things I am worried about:

  1. As mentioned before, we will see how well it works in the datacenter audio wise (though with the extra mic’s for noise canceling presumably, perhaps it will do well for the remote end caller)
  2. Battery life.  It get’s warm under heavy use- Which can’t bode well for battery consumption.  Also- It would appear that Verizon has only installed LTE on a patchwork of the towers in the metro area and skipped a bunch in between.  Since LTE propagates well at 700mhz they can somewhat get away with this (as LTE device density is pretty low right now) – Though I am sure this is a massive contributor to battery drain!  i.e. your phone must communicate with a tower farther away because your closest tower has no LTE panels/sectors/gear…

Overall this phone is a great win for me, though I suspect I will be unhappy with it before 24 months is up at the current innovation pace.  If for no other reason than for the fact that more efficient LTE chipsets will come out.

If your looking for a new phone on Verizon Wireless right now (and your not deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem) I don’t think there is really any question that the Droid Bionic is the way to go.


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  1. Matthew
    September 9th, 2011 at 16:12 | #1

    Motorola has had the most consistently ugly Droid UI (HTC, for example, certainly does it better than Google. Anything default in Android pretty much looks like it was coded by ex-Soviet communist open source programmers in Russia). Android UI elements pretty much make peoples’ eyes bleed.

    Let’s be clear: Android sucks, but there aren’t really other viable alternatives at the moment. The iPhone is too closed, and Windows Phone is, of course, philosophically unacceptable.

    As for suspecting that you will be unhappy with it before 24 months is up, there’s an easy answer: buy a new phone sooner!

  2. Damon
    September 13th, 2011 at 20:05 | #2

    There is so much to love about this phone. Primarily, it has a dual-core processor, and 4G. I am a big movie streamer, so with all of these features, the Bionic should have no problem keeping up with me. The app that I use to stream is the DISH Remote Access app. I love this app because it lets me stream movies and TV shows anywhere I am! As a customer and employee of DISH Network, I have been using the DISH Remote Access app for a long time on my previous phone, and I know that it is going to work great on the Bionic once I get it!

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