Droid X review: Verizon and Motorola's answer to iPhone 4?

Droid X review

Droid X review

Come next week Verizon users still waiting for a mythical iPhone 4 all their own will get Motorola's latest, greatest new Android offering -- the Droid X -- to hold them over. And Verizon users with no interest in anything Apple will have the new king of Google's ever growing hill to play with.

The original Motorola Droid on Verizon was arguably the first smartphone to really give the iPhone 3GS a run for it's money. However, it came out months after the iPhone 3GS when hype had abated somewhat, and it's Droid Does list included things like multitasking, which iOS 4 now Does Too. That means while Droid X is a better, badder phone, it has a tougher challenge ahead of it as well.

If size matters, the Droid X is bigger... 4.3" of screen but with less pixels, at a lower density, and without iPhone 4's IPS Retina Display panel.

It's got a bigger 8 megapixel camera on the back to iPhone 4's 5 megapixels. But iPhone 4 has a back-illuminated sensor that isn't as chopped up, which should mean better low-light pictures, and iOS 4 camera software while less feature-filled still seems to produce better images with just a touch of the tap-to-focus-and-balance. iPhone 4 also has a front-facing camera (and FaceTime), Droid X don't.

3 external mics on the Droid X, including one for video camera work trump iPhone 4's two mics. iPhone 4 does have a gyroscope, though. And yeah, Droid X has got dual antenna. Ouch. Otherwise they're both monsters on the spec sheet.

In terms of apps Apple's App Store still wins on sheer number, though Google's Android Market retains bragging rights on being more open.

Droid X is only running Android 2.1 Eclair right now, though a turbo-boosting 2.2 Froyo update is on the horizon. So, a lot may come down to whether you like Droid X's "don't call it MotoBlur" UI, which seems quicker and cleaner than the CLIQ if not as spartan as the original Droid. iOS 4 on the other hand is iOS 4, there's only one iPhone and one interface on the market at any time.

Strangely, that may mean the Motorola Droid X will face stiffer competition from something other than Apple's iPhone 4. Verizon already has the HTC Droid Incredible, Sprint the HTC Evo 4G, and every carrier and their subsidiary seems poised to get a Samsung Galaxy S class-device, including Verizon with the Facinate. As we've mentioned before, in a world where Apple releases one major iPhone a year, and Android can drop 8 news phones in a weekend, it gives any one new Android as much competition from within as without. And that's great for Android lovers.

So is the Droid X currently iPhone 4's big nemesis? If you live in the US and don't want AT&T, it's definitely a phone to look at if you're in the market today. If not, wait a week or more. AT&T might drop a tower in your backyard and Google might just drop 5 more Android's on another carrier.

Great time to be a consumer!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Droid X review: Verizon and Motorola's answer to iPhone 4?


Is it just me or does this guy's hand look very uncomfortable hold this HUGE phone! To top it off his hands look pretty big, imagine the smaller people holding this thing. Just my opinion, might as well bring your laptop if your gonna have something this big. Droid x is a no go for me, love my iPhone 4

I think the Droid X is a great phone along with the HTC EVO 4G but the problem with the Android platform is when you're looking to get the latest and greatest and not be outdated in just a few short months, it's not the platform to stick with. You just buy a new X phone and they've already made 3 more to trump that! This is why I love the iPhone's platform because you don't have to worry about another phone coming out until a year later and the OS works with them all, excepting the antiquated ones. Apple's support of their old phones with their operating system seems to surpass any other manufacturer as well.

Yup. I'm switching to verizon and the Droid X next week when my contract is up. I'm on the pre pre-order list right now (lol). This thing is a beast where the iPhone 4 seriously failed to impress...and I'll be able to hold it with my left hand! Zing! Sorry iPhone after 2 years, you're no longer king of the mountain, my attention has wandered...I think it's time we get a divorce.

The phone won't even be out until next week, yet it's coming out with an outdated version of the os? They should at least be able to get it out of the store with Froyo, or are they already so fractured that no Android device will ever be boasting both the latest hardware and software simultaneously?

It's really only relevant on same carriers as the iphone. I can't imagine carrier jumping is significant. The Samsung Captivate (that the right one? hard to remember with their idiotic branding) is the only real competition to the iphone.

That phone is huge, somewhere in between the iPhone and the Dx would b a nice new screen size. Anyway love my iPhone4 not leaving any time soon plus I get great service from AT&T in Md.

Android is great so leaving most of its users clueless as to how most features work. I talk to soo many people with Android phones that don't even know how to do things my Grandma can do with my iPhone. iPhone wins on ease of use hands down.

Enjoy having less pixels to cover more real-estate on that screen. Just tell yourself it's your eyes going blurry, not the screen.

It just looks like one big ugly giant man phone. It oozes testosterone. It makes me wonder if a woman even had any input in the design. I don't give a crap what features they put on it. If the new iphone had looked like that, I wouldn't have bought it.

The reason they keep coming out with so many Droids is because sooner or later they are hoping they get it right. There's always something wrong with one of the devices. Of course no device is perfect but each device that comes outs either has manufacturer defects or lacking features. Why doesn't think thing have a front facing cam? And then to top it off all the devices don't get updates in a timely manner. You either have to hack your phone or wait until the update hits and then at that point 3 more devices will have come out to put yours to shame.

honestly I saw an ad for the phone and at a quick glance I thought it was a picture of an iPad at first.

Lol at all the hating. Take the blinders off kiddies. 2 years ago I waited in line on 3G to get the top of the line phone (which hardly worked for 2 months because iPhone OS 2 was done so poorly. After the OS stabilized I was happy until I realized how much the phone was lacking in terms of copy and paste, MULTITASKING, dynamic homescrens and so much more. I love apples responses just as their response now to the antenna issues, those features are overrated and you don't need them. That's cool though because there is competition here, and now apple gets to play catchup in the game. Indeed the iPhone is simpler to use. Luckily for me, I have an IQ over 80 and am positive I'll be able to get the Droid to do everything I desire and more.

Yeah, its just way too huge IMO. I think the 'Droid Incredible' is the best phone on Verizon, it is much more reasonable in size.
I got the I4 myself because it was the best phone on the AT&T network. The screen size is about right.

The Droid X is Motorola's answer to the HTC Evo is HTC's answer to Nexus One is Google's answer to...
Whatever. The newest Android phone always turns the second-newest Android phone into a collectors' item. The pile of obsolete Android phones just keeps getting bigger. I just hope they're recyclable.

i love how people here are commenting on android phone being released with problems. if i recall there are a number of issues with the iphone4, including the antenna issue, the loose home buttons, and the proximity sensor malfunctioning. i am a former iphone user i had a 2g, 3g, and 3gs, i switched to the original moto droid and i have never looked back. i can live without the front facing camera and the retina display...if you take those two features away what is so special about the iphone4 that the majority of android phones don't already do?

Actually the Droid X also has a 6 axis motion sensor which is based on/is a gyroscope. Also the "back illuminated" tech is just Apple speak for LED Flash, which the Droid has as well. The pictures seem slightly better but a mechanical shutter vs a virtual shutter should ensure that the Droid X can compete well after a quick update to fix it.

I'm not hating on the phone. It will make a great phone for some dudes with big hands. I'm not technical so maybe it does kick the iPhones arse. But for me,iPhone=simple and everything I want, so I'm happy. I came from a BlackBerry and I have to admit, I thought some things on it were complicated. My husbands an engineer and he still needs my help to change the wallpapers on his BB. He's getting an iPhone4 in Jan cuz in buying it for him.

As much as I loved the EVO hardware (sans camera quality) android os and the marketplace is a bit behind when compared to the fruit. Froyo ups the ante, but again, the marketplace is still lacking which is not surprising when there is only a fraction of developers. Even some ports of applications don't stand up. Having a supercharged device gets boring when you don't have anything to take advantage of it with. Google needs more time to grow. Having a handful of devices launch every month will probably help a lot with that :D

@Android is ok says:
"The reason they keep coming out with so many Droids is because sooner or later they are hoping they get it right. There’s always something wrong with one of the devices. Of course no device is perfect but each device that comes outs either has manufacturer defects or lacking features. Why doesn’t think thing have a front facing cam? And then to top it off all the devices don’t get updates in a timely manner. You either have to hack your phone or wait until the update hits and then at that point 3 more devices will have come out to put yours to shame."
Sounds more like the iphone!!

@former iphoner, well one thing the iPhone can do is last past breakfast without the need to recharge or swap batteries. Another is store up to 32 gigs of data without me needing to buy a sd card... Those are just off the top of my head give me some time & I'm sure I can come up with more.

Motorola is going backwards. Remember the old giant cell phones? I want a good phone that looks nice, and has a great app store. By the way, why have a camera that good on the droid, when then screen will never show you the true ability if the camera.

The crazy thing is people are forgetting is two big deal breaker for me is about this droid. 1: No email will be push while talking and 2. No internet searching while talking. That's Verizon and Sprint for ya.

Seriously, you Apple fanboys need to lay off. Every time this website publishes a review of a phone, instead of talking about the specs in a fair and impartial manner, all you do is whine that it does not level up to your damn Iphone. No one talked about the GPU on this phone, which runs independently of the main processor, which will blow the Iphone away concerning graphics and 3D gaming. You won't talk about the areas of improvement Apple should be paying attention to (like holding the phone however I damn well please) but pointing out everyone elses. Go play with your half-assed multitasking pieces of crap.

Well, I HAD the HTC Incredible. I was UN-IMPRESSED! I edit pics for a professional photographer all from my iPhone 3GS. You know, you take the pic, save it, and then add really cool effects to get that perfect pic. Try that with the crappy Android apps. Not gonna happen. Almost every single photo editing app I found, required setting up the pic BEFORE you took it.
I don't know about the rest of you, but, trying to get that wild deer or screaming baby re-shoot the pic is dang near impossible. After 2 weeks of that UN-Incredible, and those laughable apps, I returned it, lost $30 in restocking fees and went back to my WONDERFUL, AMAZING, CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT, iPhone! Expensive lesson learned!

What makes me laugh is droid fans come to an iPhone website. Nothing else to do? Anyways people get way to angry over this whole phone war. Now don't get me wrong I love my iPhone 4, yes even with the annoying antenna problem, and loved my 3GS. I will probably never get a droid because it's kind of retarded that they have a new phone every two weeks as it seems. That to me says they are doing something wrong and that's why I wouldn't be suprised if droid does ever sell more then the iPhone because they have like thirty different phones to the loan iPhone. That size of a screen is just way to big. I don't know a whole lot about this but from what I hear it's being released with outdated software?
Relax people their just phones. Everyone has their preferences there is no need to argue about it. Leave that for the phone companys.

Why is this article called a review? Don't you actually have to have the phone in your hand and use it for a while in order to review it? Perhaps the article meant to say spec sheet comparison. Just seems pretty lazy to review a device that hasn't even been touched by the author. Thats like reviewing movies based on their trailer. Good work.

You guys need to get real. Check out the posts on your own iPhone blog bitching about the antennae on the iPhone, its poor version of multitasking, its yellow stained screen, its botched proximity sensor, and apples fearless leader doesn't give a crap to fix any of it before they launch the phone. You act like no other phone competes but android really does. Sure their aren't 220,000 apps in the market yet but they aren't slowing down either. The customer base is growing substantially and to me it would make the market seem much less saturated and easier to be noticed than in the bloated and restricted app store. Go ahead and drink the kool-aid so we can move on. Your beloved iPhone has flaws too, only difference, Google will update me before a year passes and I can actually make a frigging phone call when and where I want to. Posted from an Android.

Not really that many Android devices if you look at realistically. That is kinda moot when comparing to iOS which is availabe on one device, iPhone. In the US, iPhone is available on one carrier, AT&T. Android is an open OS created by Google for ANY, manufacturer to use, modify and deploy as they wish. These manufacturers have made phones in line with what their customers have come to expect. Before iPhone and Android many people were in love with a Samsung or a Motorola ect.
The fact that Android is being used by several manufacturers on several carriers makes it seem like there are too many Android phones. However, if you just look at the manufacturers, the scene doesn't look any different than it did 2 or 3 years ago. NOT ALL CARRIERS USE THE SAME NETWORK. You do know besides being locked, why your iPhone won't work on Verizon or Sprint. It makes sense for Motorola/HTC/Samsung to make different models for different carriers.
You all may agree with me on one thing though. It is absolutely silly the way some people jump from carrier to carrier just to get the latest device. Fact is, all of us today are absolutely spoild. We have so much to choose from and this year there are some really nice smart phones out there to suit almost everyone.
Enjoy whatever you have and don't let anyone tell you theirs is better. Just because it is for them doesn't mean it is for you.

iPhone 4 the win. let me start by being 100% honest. The second i see a phone that is better than the latest iPhone i will buy it on whatever carrier it is on, this has been my way of thinking ever sense i sold my sony ericsson P1i to buy the first gen iPhone. WIth that said no other phone has come close to the iphone even back mere years ago when it lacked crucial features. Android will never catch up because honestly google does not want to catch apple, they just want android in as many hand so they can spray adds in your face. Open may sound good in theory but people who like open expect free, and good developers wont develop for a tiny android market for free when they can make money in apple huge app store. Specs are worthless if you get nothing out of them. 8 megapixel camera sounds great, but it still doesn't take better images? And keep referencing all these so called issues bu truth is they cant be that bad seeing how there are less iphone 4's returned that Androids sold. The funniest part is a year from now the same android lovers will be proclaiming the latest android device as the iphone 4 killer while the droid x and evo are no longer a relevant argument.

Lol @ editing photos for a pro photographer on your iPhone. Please tell me you're not being real. There is so much wrong with that it's not funny.

@Lars? First, go back to school. Fix your grammar and syntax. Second, got any proof to back up your statement "there are less iphone 4's returned that Androids sold?"

iOS 4 does not multitask. You're pausing an app, and switching to another, then pausing that app to switch back and the developers have to program the save states into their apps for it to work, that's not multitasking, it's an illusion of multitasking. Android actually runs the apps simultaneously, it doesn't pause an app to switch from one to another, therefore Android offers true multitasking.

The Droid X is a big phone but none the less it is going to be a great phone. Actually a small few have recieved it already and the 2.1 software works pretty damn well. Yeah Froyo 2.2 will change the game for this phone in a huge way. However, I like the iPhone 4 once the "very real" issue(reception) is resolved, cough(AT&T) works on them, I'll make my decision. Also I think putting the antenna on the outside of the phone so as the hand becomes in contact was not a good idea. I now they wanted to compensate for the short comings of AT&T's reception problem but maybe work with them to build their signal strength instead.

Guys/gals see for what it is, a choice, and a decent one at that. I am one that was hoping for a iPhone on VZW and got a moto Droid instead. I love my phone and I'm glad moto is making really good devices again. A lot of us owned many moto phones that served us well over the years.

Simply a gorgeous looking phone, with a superb screen. If I had any complaint about the droid x, it would be that it is slightly larger than other models, which, while it makes for a great screen experience, it is pretty large for a pocket...

What I dont comprehend is how youre not even a lot more popular than you might be now. Youre just so intelligent. You know so significantly about this topic, created me consider it from so many diverse angles. Its like men and women arent interested unless it has some thing to accomplish with Lady Gaga! Your stuffs great. Continue to keep it up!