Verizon: Motorola’s DROID Does

Verizon is betting big on DROID, a smartphone by Motorola that will run on Google’s Android 2.0 smartphone OS. DROID will be Verizon’s anti-iPhone. And this is the message:

  • iDon’t have a real keyboard.
  • iDon’t run simultaneous apps.
  • iDon’t take 5-megapixel pictures.
  • iDon’t customize.
  • iDon’t run widgets.
  • iDon’t allow open development.
  • iDon’t take pictures in the dark.
  • iDon’t have interchangeable batteries.
  • Everything iDon’t
  • Droid Does

There have been many well-equipped smartphones that have challenged the iPhone hegemony but have failed to topple it from the crown. There is a massive and dedicated following. And for good reason: the iPhone does a lot of stuff very well and better than others. The iPhone can be considered the best implementation of multitouch and UI on a smartphone platform. Another reason? The App Store is huge with more apps than all the other app stores combined. But, there is an Achilee’s Heel: AT&T. The carrier’s 3G network is spotty and voice connections can be less than satisfying. My guess is that Apple will ditch AT&T when the exclusive runs out. I think Apple will develop an iPhone that will work with any network in the near future. So does Verizon, a carrier that touts its network superiority over AT&T and all the others, combined with Motorola’s DROID smartphone have a chance at successfully beating out the current AT&T-iPhone combo? We’ll see. In my opinion, my bet is on the current champion.

Current ‘Deficiencies’: No real keyboard, no multitasking, can’t run widgets, don’t have interchangeable batteries. These are for real. But they are not necessarily all bad. Take for instance a virtual keyboard. Yes, it lacks the tactile feedback of a real keyboard but the advantage is the ease of changing languages. You can do this with a phone with a real keyboard but you’ll need add some type of additional software and start tapping the screen–something the real QWERTY keyboard folks say is terrible, on the iPhone. I’m guessing they will need to stick to a single language if they want to stick typing only on a real keyboard. It is a matter of preference but when you’re looking at a global smartphone marketplace interacting with multiple languages, the future of keyboard is virtual.

Multitasking This feature is a mix bag. Some say that multitasking drains the battery, others say that they can’t live without multitasking and are willing to sacrifice battery life. Apple chose a bit more battery life; Android chose multitasking. The gating technology is battery technology. Let’s hope we see some type of revolutionary technology that allows us to have everything, including multitasking, without having sacrifice too much battery life.

Non-interchangeable The fact that you can’t replace the battery on the iPhone really stinks. But I do like the thin and seamless design. Can Apple or anyone create a removable battery design that doesn’t add thickness?

Widgets are not a big deal in my book.

Customization You can’t completely customize the way the iPhone looks but with the enormous App Store you can transform your iPhone into pretty much anything you want. For instance, I just found MileBug Lite that lets me use my iPhone to log my mileage. PS Mobile (PhotoShop.com Mobile) lets me modify my pictures and there are some nifty filters, making my iPhone quite useful as a photography tool. It can be a full-on GPS, a game machine, your iPod, pedometer, etc. It would be nice to customize the icons, wallpaper, fonts, etc. and the Android OS does a much better job here without question.

Schmegapixels We all know it really isn’t about megapixels but the image sensor and image processing. The iPhone 3GS has a 3 megapixel image sensor but it takes really good pictures and in low-light situations. Of course, this is all relative meaning that the 3GS takes very good pictures compared to other phones. Compared to dedicated digital cameras? Not bad, but not terrible. Up against a DSLR? Not a chance. So the 5 megapixel sensor on the DROID… we’ll need to see how well it takes pictures and in the dark.

Open Development I’m not sure I get this point. If development was not open on the iPhone, I don’t know why there are thousands of apps, which have been downloaded quite a bit. Apple does have a less-than-clear approval process for the App Store and Apple can surely improve it. But, I think it is quite necessary to have some type of approval process to maintain a semblance of order. The only thing that could be improved is to define clear requirements and stick with them.

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