What's hot: A rare QWERTY-bar Android smartphone, Verizon world phone, fast, good business enhancements.
What's not: Tiny keyboard, display not among the best.
Reviewed December 12, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The Motorola Droid Pro pulls me in two directions. The Android geek in me loves that it's fast, runs Android OS Froyo 2.2 and is built like a tank. The BlackBerry fan in me says "hello QWERTY-bar!", aloha Exchange ActiveSync and VPN support. But put it all together and you have a very competent Verizon world phone that's a jack of all trades and master of none. The Droid Pro's keyboard is tiny and slippery and had me pining for my BlackBerry Bold's keyboard. The small 3.1" HVGA display suffers from the same pixelated, though somehow sharp, look as Moto's recent entry level QVGA Android phones like the Flipout and Charm. It's not exactly a BlackBerry killer and it's not a top dog Android phone with the sex appeal of the Motorola Droid 2 and Motorola Droid X. What is the Droid Pro, then? It's a bridge phone that helps BlackBerry users who desperately want to get into Android find their groove. It's familiar enough in form factor to make that transition easier. It does push email for Exchange and Exchange services (not a vanilla Android OS strong point) better than average, it has basic profiles settings and it has a tricolor notification LED unlike most Samsung Android phones. It has remote wipe and VPN support so your IT guys will finally say "yes" to an Android phone.
The Droid Pro has the usual Verizon CDMA service with 3G EV-DO Rev. A and it has a SIM card slot. You know what that means, world travelers? The Droid Pro, like the Droid 2 Global, can work overseas on GSM networks. As per usual, Verizon supplies a Vodafone SIM and provides International roaming plans for an additional charge. The phone is locked to that Vodafone SIM card, but we hear you can get it unlocked if you've been a customer in good-standing for 60 days.
If you have a need for speed (and it happens that a NFS Shift demo is pre-installed), the Droid Pro is currently one of the fastest stock Android phones. It has a 1GHz TI OMAP ARM Cortex-A8 family CPU with PowerVR SGX graphics, 512 megs of RAM and Android OS 2.2, which is currently the latest and fastest Android OS release (at least until 12/16/2010 when the Samsung Nexus S on T-Mobile ships with 2.3 Gingerbread). All of that power packed into a business phone with a middling HVGA display-- this phone is a bit of a contradiction. Not that business users want to wait while their slow phone processes email and MS Office documents, but there's an excess of speed here for business tasks.
The Motorola Droid Pro and the BlackBerry Bold 9780.
Deals and Shopping:
The smartphone scores 1480 on Quadrant Benchmark, and that puts it near the top of the heap among unmodified (not overclocked) Android smartphones (the stock HTC G2 and myTouch 4G score higher). Need for Speed Shift, a tier one 3D racing game, plays flawlessly and the phone has no trouble playing FLV Flash video and locally stored high quality videos. But that 320 x 480 display is awfully small and low res compared to the 854 x 480 pixel Droid 2-- it's not the best for watching videos or playing beautifully rendered 3D games. Web page text is positively tiny in the default view, so you'll be pinch zooming and using the on-screen +/- buttons to bring things into focus. Email and texts are however easy to read and MS Office documents are clear. Motorola includes Quickoffice for viewing and editing MS Office documents and viewing PDFs. No, PDFs aren't best viewed on a 3.1" HVGA display.
In terms of design, Motorola took a page from Samsung's design book and gave the Droid Pro a gloss black plastic back with a white line pattern. Gone are the soft touch surfaces and metal of Verizon's other Moto Droid phones. The Droid Pro feels heavier than its 4.73 ounces and is solid and sturdy. The chrome sides are slippery but the phone's thick enough at 0.46" allow for a firm grip. The Pro has the usual Google Android front buttons in capacitive form for menu, home, back and search. The power button is up top as is the 3.5mm stereo jack and the micro USB charging port is on the phone's left side. There's an assignable button on the phone's right side (errr, BlackBerry Convenience key) that launches the calendar by default, and you can change it to whatever app you wish. The large speaker grille sits on the back as does the 5 megapixel autofocus camera lens and dual LED flash.
Reception, as we've come to expect from Moto, is excellent. Outgoing voice quality is superb and incoming voice is very good, though it does at times sound a bit digitized. The rear-firing speaker is very loud and clear, reminding us of the excellent speakerphone on the original Motorola Droid. As a voice phone, the Droid Pro gets top marks. For a business phone, we were a bit shocked by the collection of Droid ringtones that ranged from grating to embarrassing from a business user's perspective-- robots gone wild with a touch of R2D2 on burnt gear oil. Don't worry, there's a healthy selection of more pedestrian ringtones included and you can use your own MP3s as ringtones.
The usual wireless radios are on board: WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR and GPS. The Droid Pro comes with Google Maps, Navigation, Latitude and Places as well as the $10/month VZ Navigator. The GPS worked well with both Google's apps and VZ Navigator. The loud and clear speakerphone was easy to hear and understand in the car.
Here's our video review of the Motorola Droid Pro:
Multimedia and Camera
The phone uses Google's standard music player and Gallery for photo viewing and video playback. The usual YouTube player is here as well as FLV Flash 10.1 video playback support in the web browser. You won't get the heavy level of multimedia customization found on phones like the Samsung Fascinate or Continuum, but those phones target consumers rather than business users.
The camera's 5 megapixel sensor with autofocus lens is standard for a higher end smartphone. The Droid Pro packs a dual LED flash for better than average illumination, though we didn't find that the phone took particularly good low light shots. Again, this is a business phone, so the camera clearly isn't at the forefront of Motorola's design considerations, and as such it takes just OK shots. Honestly, even business people (assuming they're allowed a camera at the workplace) like to take photos, so we'd like to see this consumer vs. corporate divide go away. That said, Motorola's Droid smartphones are excellent products, but none, regardless of target audience, have cameras that wow us. The Droid Pro's images have passable colors and sharpness but aren't extremely crisp and colors are a bit subdued. The camera can shoot video at a max of 720 x 480 resolution, and videos look a bit murky.
Internet, Email and Software
Obviously, the Moto wants to be a messaging phone, and it succeeds in terms of MS Exchange, SMS, social networking and other email support. The keyboard could be better, but for those of you who despise on-screen pecking, it's better than nothing. We had no problems with Exchange support and the phone got emails quickly (as quick as our desktop). There's a widget that streams new email messages to your home screen and Exchange ActiveSync support for calendar and contacts. We noted that some of our contact photos didn't sync from the server, and some users online have had issues with Exchange connections though we haven't had any yet.
The web browser is Google's usual excellent Webkit browser, graced with Flash 10.1 playback. Flash performance was a bit better than average among Android 2.2 phones with better frame rates and less browser slowing. Data transfer speeds were good over Verizon's 3G network, and for those of you who'd like to use the phone as a MiFi, it has Verizon's 3G Mobile Hotspot application (requires an additional monthly fee to use).
Since this is a business phone, Verizon and Motorola haven't mucked it up with too much bloatware or UI customizations. Verizon's VZ Navigator, Backup Assistant, 3G Mobile Hotspot and City ID are on board, as is Skype for VoIP calls. There's one game demo, Need for Speed Shift, and the usual set of Android apps. Motorola's most notable additions are the Authentec IPSec VPN client, Exchange sync and remote wipe apps.
The Motorola Droid Pro does the job intended: it's a gateway smartphone for those defecting from BlackBerry to the world of Android. It has the beloved QWERTY-bar design that's second nature to BlackBerry users, push email and a few solid additions to improve security. The Pro is solidly build though we suspect the gloss plastic back will disappoint Motorola Droid fans. The Pro has very good reception, is good for voice calls and Skype, and has solid battery life. Top that with Verizon's first class service and you've got a solid business fun with some Android coolness.
But it is a tweener phone of sorts: half BlackBerry and half high end Android. What we're left with are compromises of proportion: the keyboard is too small and not good enough to hold its own against the Bold or Curve, and the display is too small for an Android phone with this much power. Motorola has added some good software for business users, but we're not sure that makes Android secure enough to suit corporations accustomed to RIM's extremely tight OS and server software. That said, as an Android push email and messaging phone for business users? Overall the Droid Pro succeeds.
Price: $179.99 with a 2 year contract and $479 without a contract
Display:3.1" capacitive multi-touch LCD. Resolution:
HVGA 320 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer (can be disabled). Has proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and haptic feedback (can be turned off). Has tricolor notification LED.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance:1GHz TI OMAP3620 CPU (ARM Cortex-A8 family with POWERVR SGX hardware graphics acceleration). 512 megs RAM, 2 gigs flash ROM with 1 gig available for storage.
x 2.36 x 0.46 inches. Weight: 4.73 ounces.
Phone:CDMA dual band digital with 3G EV-DO Rev. A. Has quad band GSM and 3G 850/1900/2100MHz for world roaming and comes with a Vodafone SIM card. Has Mobile Hotspot feature (use your phone as a WiFi access point for notebooks and other devices).
GPS: Has GPS with aGPS and compass. Comes with Google Maps and Navigation and VZ Navigator.
Camera:5.0MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash. Max video recording resolution: 720 x 480 at 26-30fps.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR.
Software:Android OS 2.2 Froyo. Has Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Authentec IPSec multi-headed VPN support, Exchange Activesync, remote wipe capability and SD card encryption is coming in 2011. Verizon apps: VZ Navigator, Backup Assistant, City ID, My Verizon Mobile and Skype. Other apps: NFS Shift demo, DLNA (WiFi multimedia home network streaming), Media Share and Quickoffice (create, edit and view MS Office files and view PDFs). Has Mobile Hotspot feature.