So, I’m an android fan. I like the OS, I’ve owned a Droid Incredible for over a year now, and to be honest, it’s operation just fits with my lifestyle. I’m not a big apple fan, and blackberry.. well, forget it. The Incredible is showing its age, its still performing well, but it’s got a glitch or two. Namely that the power/sleep button seems to be acting up. That button gets used, a lot, so it’s really aggravating when it doesn’t work right.
I have my Inc rooted, and it runs CyanogenMod 7. This isn’t necessarily where I intend to go with a new phone, but I want it to be possible.
So a little while ago I started looking for a new phone. I was pretty much set on Android, and since i’m not unhappy with Verizon (and they were due to give me a discount on a new phone anyway) i decided to look at the Droid lineup again. The Motorola Droid 4 looked attractive. Here’s why.
- Decent battery life: Rated at 9.5 hours
- There’s already a root procedure
- Reportedly supports device encryption
- Reportedly supports e-mail encryption
- Slick slide-out keyboard
- Right in my price range
- It has this neat Dock available, which turns it, essentially, into a thin client desktop
- 16GB of internal storage
- No included SD card, but support for up to 32gb
- Not a tablet pretending to be a phone
I read a few reviews. Some were pretty negative, others were very positive. The negative points that i read seemed to be personal opinion rather than hard fact. Sounded like the reporter went in wanting to hate the phone, and that easily came through in the review. On the other hand, some of the positive reviews i read were from the other end of the spectrum. That they came in loving the phone, and wanted you to love it too. So read them all, and tried to come up with my own conclusion. So, going into the purchase i knew:
- The battery is not removable
- It’s a Motorola phone, so it likely has a locked bootloader
- The battery cover locks, for some reason
- It’s running motoblur
- Everyone, even the haters, seem to love this things keyboard
Some of the more opinionated problems I read about:
- Battery cover is supposedly hard to remove
- Battery cover has a tendency to warp when removed often
- SD/SIM card were difficult to get to.
These points were all things i decided I could live with. The non-removable battery is a little scary for me. I’ve had my Inc lock up to the point where i needed to pull the battery, usually when I was tinkering with something I probably shouldn’t have been, but i’m a techie, and that’ll likely happen on the D4 too. Motorola has supposedly negated this by adding in a 15-second kill to the power button. If you hold the power button for 15 seconds, it effectively cuts the battery. This seems reasonable, after all, the iPhone has a non-removable battery, and how often do you hear about those bricking because the battery couldn’t be pulled?
Hands on usage
So, last Sunday night, I ordered my D4, it came FedEx Yesterday. I unboxed it while riding home from the FedEx place. You know how that goes, couldn’t wait to see it in person and all. The battery was (Expectedly) almost dead. So I couldn’t make much use of it. Turned it back off, and focused on looking at the physical aspects. Its not a huge phone, which is exactly what I was looking for. Less than half an inch bigger per width/height dimension than my Inc. I did have to get a new belt case for it, but i expected that. Its no thicker than my Inc with the extended battery that I had for it. The Keyboard really is nice. I’ve forced myself to send a few e-mails and whatnot using the physical keyboard, and its really easy to get used to. My Wife has a Droid 2, so I have some experience with the previous generation’s keybaord. I like this new keyboard much better than the D2’s.
So i had to let it charge for 3 hours last night, which meant i couldnt actually use it until after 9PM. I put the sim card in, and activated it. Setup my e-mail accounts, set the alarm for the morning, and went to bed.
The sim card was NOT had to put in. I dont know what the reviewer was talking about. He made it sound like I’d need to be a contortionist to get under the little flap that covers the sim card. You just flip your fingernail under the cover, and pull it back. It’s rubber, and even has a recessed portion for your finger nail. Whatever. The battery cover is also NOT difficult to work with. You put a provided tool (easily substituted by a paper clip) into a pin hole and then slide the cover off with your thumbs. Maybe the reviewer didn’t have any thumbs? This would account for his difficulty with the SIM card cover. I also don’t see how he warped the battery cover by opening it. Maybe he opened it more often than I do. Being a reviewer and all. I cant see any reason to frequently open it since the battery is not removable. Do you often change SD cards? I opened it once to put the SIM card in. Then again today to put the SD card from my Inc in.
I’m a tad disappointed. In CM7, i had a nice integrated feature to register SIP service, right in the android dialler. This is missing in Motorola’s rom. I’m sure Verizon had something to do with that. The ability to make internet calls might be considered competition. How can they sell me minutes if i’m using internet calling. Ohh.. That’s right, but CHARGING ME FOR DATA! Wake up Verizon! This isnt a huge problem, i just installed cSIPSimple, and i’m back in business there.
CM7 also had a nice feature in the video recorder app. If i held the phone in portrait mode, it would record in portrait mode. Not force me to turn the phone into landscape mode. Again, not a horrible loss, just a nice feature I might miss.
With any luck there will be a CM9 release for the D4, and I’ll be able to root and get all of this back.
This phone feels like a solidly built device, and the software isnt horrible. For the average user, this is likely a good phone. For a techie like myself, you may want to wait until the root scene has panned out a bit.