What's hot: Huge display, fast CPU and performance, excellent camera.
What's not: Phone is very large.
Reviewed July 7, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
May 2011 update: Read our Droid X2 review, the X2 replaces the Droid X.
Ladies and gents, gather 'round for a look at the latest Android superphone. Released just a few weeks after the iPhone 4 (aren't you glad to read about something else for a change?), the Droid X by Motorola certainly takes a bite out of Apple's finest with its immense 4.3" multi-touch capacitive touch screen, latest generation 1GHz OMAP processor and 8 megapixel camera with autofocus lens and a mechanical shutter. And it's on Verizon's rock solid network with EV-DO Rev. A 3G and a WiFi sharing app. Sweet. After enjoying the Droid X for a week, we've found little to complain about other than the size. This is not the phone to hit the clubs with tight jeans or a micro-purse. Even in baggy pants it will swing like a barn door in your pocket and leave a bruise on your upper thigh after a bus-chasing jog. For those of you who can't abide a jumbo slate in the pocket but want to live a little large, there's the very respectable 3.7" HTC Droid Incredible on Verizon.
The Droid X runs Android OS 2.1 Eclair with Motorola customizations in part borrowed from MOTOBLUR. Before you panic, the Droid X's interface looks nothing like the MOTOBLUR-endowed Motorola Devour and other BLUR phones. Rather it offers social networking widgets and integration as does BLUR minus the required BLUR account and business. There's nothing intrusive or over the top here, though we will say that Moto's social networking widgets are weak compared to those offered by other Twitter and Facebook clients. We suggest you turn off Moto's social widgets and download more full-featured apps with companion widgets. The rest of the Moto software is excellent: extended home screen panels with indicators to show where you are among the panels, shortcuts to contacts and the phone, a really nice photo/video gallery widget and icon-based speed dials. Motorola worked a little magic and some widgets are resizable (we need this on every Android phone now!).
The Droid's 1GHz OMAP3630 rocks, and performs a bit quicker than the former king of the hill Qualcomm Snapdragon clocked at the same speed. It has a companion GPU that boosts performance and it performed admirably running Need for Speed Shift (see our video). Video playback was the best we've seen on an Android smartphone and our 800 x 480, 1300 kbps MPEG4 test movie played smoothly and kept audio sync in most cases (scrubbing through the movie will cause a small loss of sync for 20 seconds as it catches up). The 4.3" display is truly cinematic by phone standards, and is rivaled only by Sprint's HTC EVO 4G (the Droid X's display is not OLED but it is very sharp). For the technically inclined, the TI OMAP3630 is a 3rd generation OMAP mobile CPU based on a 45-nm process and it has an ARM Cortex-A8 core with POWERVR SGX graphics for 2D/3D acceleration. The Droid X might not be smarter than your 3 year old laptop, but it's more power efficient, runs cooler and has better graphics acceleration.
Deals and Shopping:
Now that we've dug deep, lets consider the Droid X superficially. It's a good looking, 9.9mm thin slate that's nearly all display. The dark gray soft-touch surfaces feel good, and at 5.6 ounces it's pleasingly but not overbearingly heavy. The industrial modern and masculine design esthetic is here, but the slightly rounded corners and curved back that accommodates the camera apparatus soften things just a bit. No doubt, it's a good looking phone even if not in the iPhone 4's Leica-lookalike league. That's not a bad thing since Moto lets technical and performance issues reign over aesthetics. That means no shatterable glass back and fantastic reception. The phone looks like a high end piece and it's sturdy enough to not send you running to the case section of your phone retailer's store. That said, there's a huge piece of glass here, so do take care of it.
The Droid X uses mechanical buttons rather than the touch sensitive buttons used on many HTC Android phones. We've come to love those touch sensitive buttons, but the Droid X's buttons are easy enough to press. The slide-off back panel is metal and fits snuggly. You'll need to remove it and the battery to access to pre-installed 16 gig microSD card. The battery is a generous 1540 mAh, and our phone had very good battery life by Android superphone standards. It runs hours longer than the EVO 4G with 4G enabled, and still outlasts the EVO when only 3G is enabled.
As we've come to expect from Motorola CDMA phones, both voice quality and reception are excellent. Like the original Droid, the X has excellent reception and it's a good choice for those who spend time in so-so coverage areas. With no less than 3 microphones, the Droid X does a very good job of canceling outgoing noise, yet voice sounds fairly natural even when calling from noisy locations.
The Droid X has voice dialing, a speakerphone, Bluetooth mono and stereo headset support and photo speed dial. Standard Android call features include favorites, a call log and quick access to contacts from the dialer and home screen.
Our video review covers the Droid X's design, comparisons with the HTC EVO 4G and
HTC HD2, video playback, 3D gaming and the custom home screen.
We benchmarked several high end Android smartphones using Benchmark by Softweg (available on the Android Market). This app tests 2D but not 3D graphics.
The Droid X has an excellent 8 megapixel camera with autofocus lens, a dual LED flash and a mechanical shutter. What's a mechanical shutter? It's an actual moving shutter like that of a standalone camera and it enables fast shutter speeds and better image exposure control. The Droid X can shoot 720p video at 24fps and video quality is very good. The camera avoids motion blur and adjusts to brightness changes well when shooting video. The still camera has a good set of options but the software is a bit slow. Don't expect to fire the camera up very quickly to catch your child or dog in action. Other than speed, the X can replace a point and shoot camera.
Video playback is excellent, as we've mentioned, and YouTube playback in HQ over 3G EV-DO is likewise top notch. The Gallery application has a nice 3D effect, supports pinch zooming for photos and it groups photos by date. But the music player is the basic Android affair; it gets the job done in an uninspiring way. Sound quality through the speaker is biased toward the vocal range, so voice sounds best while musical instruments sound loud but thin. Audio quality through a stereo headset is very good, and the phone also has an FM radio with weak reception. The FM radio app can automatically scan for channels and save them and it handles RDS data for station and song info.. As with all phone FM radios, the Droid X uses a wired headset as its antenna, though you can use the loudspeaker as long as you leave the headset attached.
The Droid X is a handful!
Superphones aren't known for their stellar battery life: the large display, fast CPU and wireless radios conspire to drain even beefy batteries. The Droid X breaks away from the pack and manages quite good battery life for a smartphone in this class; we had no problem making it through the day with 3G and Bluetooth on, Gmail push email active, 30 minutes of calls, an hour of surfing, 10 minutes of YouTube fun and a 5 mile navigation session using Google Maps.
The Droid X is a lust-worthy Android smartphone and superphone. The design and build quality are elegant and the 4.3" display is akin to having a portable home theater in your pocket. Though the display lacks the incredible color saturation of Super AMOLED-equiped phones like the Samsung Galaxy S, it's sharp and very easy on the eyes. The 1GHz OMAP CPU really rocks and this is the fastest Android phone we've reviewed to date; yet battery life is surprisingly good. Though the Droid X lacks 4G, we've yet to experience great coverage and fast speeds with the EVO's 4G, and we're not sure that 4G is anything better than a marketing point in most regions of the US at this point. Our verdict: it's hard to find anything to dislike about the Droid X, but there's much to like. If you don't mind a large (really large) phone, and are in the market for a high end smartphone on Verizon, the X is it.
Display:4.3", 854 x 480 pixel capacitive touch screen. Has accelerometer and proximity sensor. Has micro HDMI port, cable not included.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1540 mAh. Claimed talk time: up to 7.6 hours. Claimed standby: up to 11 days.
Performance:1 GHz OMAP3630 CPU with GPU. 512 megs RAM. 8 gigs internal storage with approx. 6.24 gigs free. 16 gig microSD card also included.
x 2.58 x 0.39 inches. Weight: 5.47 ounces.
Phone:CDMA dual band digital 800/1900MHz with 3G CDMA EV-DO Rev. A. Has WiFi hotspot feature (you must pay an additional monthly fee to use the Droid X as a WiFi hotspot for your computers).
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Has FM radio.
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HID, HSP, OPP and PBAP.
Software:Android OS 2.1 Eclair. Motorola enhancements to home screen and added social networking widgets. Full suite of Google software including Google Maps with spoken navigation, Webkit web browser, gmail, email, CarDock, Amazon MP3 and MS Exchange support. Motorola software: 3G Mobile Hotspot, Files (file manager), FM radio, Corporate Directory (Exchange), Media Share, DLNA and widgets for contacts, calendar, wireless radio controls, news, messaging, photo slideshow, social networking, sticky note and weather. Verizon software: Backup Assistant, Music ID, Skype Mobile, My Verizon and Blockbuster.