You have to hand it to Motorola; as little as a year ago their future looked bleak. Android was still in its infancy and lacking polish, mainstream devices running it were few, and there weren’t public or visible signs of any forthcoming devices which would challenge the dominance of BlackBerry or iOS, especially from Motorola. A few months later, they launched the Motorola Droid, and a few months after the floodgates opened up - out has poured a steady stream of relatively polished devices running Android 2.x. It’s been breakneck almost, with new flagships every 3 months on average - the latest is Motorola’s Droid X on Verizon - henceforth just 'X.'

You also have to hand it to Verizon for getting its act together. Previously, they were infamous for crippling device hardware and OSes - the Touch Pro notoriously lacked an entire row of keys, and half the RAM. Their smartphone lineup also used to consist entirely of BlackBerries and Windows Mobile devices. That’s all changed.

Since the first Motorola Droid, they’ve been probably the single most vocal proponent of Android, embracing and billing their lineup of “Droids” as serious iPhone alternatives. The unique combination of being the largest carrier and the largest 3G footprint (and the  perception of having above average coverage) has resulted in massive growth of the Android platform. That’s definitely a turnaround for two giants.

Eight months after launch, the Motorola Droid is now a relatively old piece of kit. It’s amazing how fast the market is moving - the fact that an 8 month old handset is now obsolete is a testament to just how breakneck this pace is.

Motorola and HTC are now locked in a battle for dominance of the Android segment on the nation’s largest carrier. On one side is the HTC Incredible, on the other is the X and eventually the Droid 2. Across the aisle at Sprint, HTC has the EVO 4G. If you’re interested in a smartphone of the Android variety, you’ve got the most options ever right now, and the X is the newest contender. Let’s dive in.
 

Form Factor and Build Impressions
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  • Jonathan Dum - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the comprehensive and all around excellent review, but I have one caveat.

    As far as Android phones go, their multitouch screen controllers have tended to be sub par (try any multitouch on a nexus one, for example). I would like to know if there's any noticeable difference between these newest phones and older Android phones with capacitive screens.

    As always, keep rocking these reviews, Anand. ;)
    Reply
  • Frangible - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    I've not used another Android device, but it's hypersensitive compared to my iPad/iPod Touch. Portrait keyboard mode drives me nuts. If the touchscreen were alive, I'd say it would have a degenerarive demyelinating disease. Unfortunately putting prednsone tablets on my Droid X does nothing.

    It's so twitchy I can blow away the Blur, Swype, and even a modded HTC keyboard with Graffiti (free from Android Market btw). And that's Graffiti with my *thumb*, in portrait or landscape. If I started using my Pogo stylus... oh, it would be*on*.

    Clearly, others don't share my opinion, but the touchscreen on the Droid X is incredibly fruuuuustrating at times.
    Reply
  • Frangible - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    As a new Droid X owner, let me first say thanks for another great in-depth review, especially regarding the screeen details-- I just have to know these things, dammit.

    Anyway, just wanted to make two screen-related comments:

    1. The outdoor screen comparison pics don't show any obvious transreflective displays. This either means none of them were, or they weren't angled in a way where a transreflective display would be obviously better.

    FWIW, my iPod Touch Gen 1 has a TRD, and even my iPad's display is somewhat TRD (though with poorer contrast than the iPod or even a Tungsten TX in direct sunlight; a consequence of a lesser area of reflectivity, or the IPS display?) I don't know which of the iPhones have TRDs, but it would seem likely the iPhone 4G would be on par with the iPad.

    Anyway, a TRD adds a LOT to outdoor viewing if you angle it correctly. You can even turn down, or off, the backlight.

    The Droid X is certainly not TR, and was worse than my much dimmer Moto Q9C outdoors (due to the touch layer). And yeah sadly, the Tungsten Tx on min bright was better. So that's why I bring this up-- TRDs are the daywalkers of the LCD underworld, so imo this should be accounted for in outdoor comparisons.

    2. I looked at the pixel structures of a variety of displays under a 100x light microscope. The Droid X's sub-pixels are divided into two sections, each with a black "hole". It looked quite similar to the PSP Go's subpixels, though with a standard RGB pattern and lack of the chevron textures on the PSP Go's. I assume this is some TN variant? Does anyone which kind?

    The iPad's subpixels were divided into to halves of a series of stacked chevron color bars. Only the green subpixel had the "hole" (transistor?) which looked an awful lot like a mandlebrot fractal to me. FWIW.
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    I always love reading ATech's reviews, but this one was especially wonderful.

    I laughed out loud at the following sentence:

    "Everything about the X seems like it can be followed up with a 'that’s what she said.'"

    Simply hilarious.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - link

    Yes, I especially love some of the very technical tests as well. For example...

    1. I let my wife use it for a day and she likes it...

    2. I work in milliseconds so having a webpage load 1s makes any other phone besides iphone a no go

    3. I have no fcking clue about real multi-tasking, although I know it's been around for decades, but I'll just demand for it and do a bat-shit review of it.

    4. My wife and kids love it so it's an editor's choice! Go buy it.

    5. It only has a few thousand apps, not the millions and millions of apps like iphone so it's crap, regardless if many of those millions of shtty apps and dictated.

    Obviously, I'm exaggerating the comments to the extreme but the basis is there. While at it the review might as well include the orgasmic scene from the movie "When Harry met Sally."
    Reply
  • honkj - Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - link

    for anyone wondering why that survey showed iPhone owners get more sex...

    this "theone" guy pretty much shows how clueless and geeky and "lady" hating, some Android fanboys come off to the opposite sex.....

    actually they just come off as hating anything that moves.
    Reply
  • jasperjones - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    a dozen comments already that point out the high quality of the review. it's getting boring. anyway, +1, excellent review. i've made critical comments on your smartphone reviews earlier this year. but the last couple of reviews were just awesome, and my confidence in AT is fully restored :) Reply
  • Hazdaz - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    It is so nice to read a review that is more than just a corporate press release. Actually taking the time to really review a device and give us honest and very thorough information is what I love about this site.

    I just ordered my X and won't get it for a few days, but I tested all the usual suspects and felt that it was the right phone for me... assuming I can get used to the size.

    I know there are a few people that mentioned the GalaxyS family of phones and I have to say that I really wanted to get one... they are slightly smaller in size than the X, but because of their curved shape, they felt even smaller - while still offering a 4" screen. And about that screen, well it did look great, but from all the hype, I was really expecting for it to be even better. Anyways, I really wanted to like the phone - and I was ready to settle on it actually, until I tested the call quality. HUGE let down there... I could barely hear the person on the other end of the phone call, and the speakerphone volume was terrible. Tried this test on more than one version of the GalaxyS and was quite let down.

    The Incredible actually had the best sounding speakerphone that I have heard, it was quite loud - but alas I was looking for something a little bigger in size. The X had good volume - much louder than the GalaxyS - so that's the one I picked.
    Reply
  • ImmortalZ - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - link

    The gold contacts on the battery door are a staple of Motorola designs since a long time. My old E6 and it's cousin the Z6 both have gold contacts to the battery doors. So does the RAZR line. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that nearly every one of their phones with a metal battery door has multiple contacts from the door to the phone. Reply
  • MacTheSpoon - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - link

    The review was spectacular in many ways, but I couldn't find anything about call quality. Does this thing actually perform well as a phone? Did people you talk to think you sounded good, and did they sound loud and clear to you as well? How did it compare to other phones?

    Was this info in there somewhere, and I just missed it?
    Reply

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