Meet the Droid X

The X is big, eXtreme, even. In many ways, the X is Motorola’s EVO, sans 4G. Both pack 4.3 inch screens, but no keyboard. In fact, the X is slightly taller than the HTC EVO by  5.6 mm on paper (127.5 for the X, 121.9 for the EVO), which itself is impressive. That’s not to say it’s unusably large, or that the size is a problem, but it’s a big phone that commands big pockets.

Everything about the X seems like it can be followed up with a “that’s what she said.” The thing’s size, performance, how long it lasts - on battery of course. Seriously, you can mentally add that onto so many sentences, it seems as if the EVO and X are both answers to the proverbial question “why not?”

In reality, the 4.x” size screen phones seem a class of their own now, of which the EVO and X are newest members. Until we grow larger thumbs (genetic modification perhaps?) I think this is the upper limit for smartphone screen size until we get foldable screens. Any larger, and your thumb literally can’t sweep out far enough to reach the far corners of the screen. Anand has stated before that his cutoff size for when the tablet segment starts is at 5 inches; I think that’s right on the money.
 

The X increases the screen size of the original Droid, while maintaining the somewhat unique FWVGA 854x480 resolution of the original Droid (Motorola erroneously maintains this is WVGA), compared to the more standard WVGA 800x480 resolution of other Android devices. The result is that dot pitch is a bit higher on the X than the EVO. It’s interesting that Motorola is sticking to FWVGA - this is admittedly exactly 16:9 aspect ratio and excellent for anamorphic videos, but no doubt still gives developers a bit of pause.

The other major change the X brings is TI's OMAP 3630 SoC with a 1GHz CPU core, but more on that in a bit.

The X is also thin. Really thin. The majority of the device is 9.9 mm thick, while the top of the device is 1.4 cm. Motorola has made a tradeoff here - make the rest of the device thin and wide at the expense of a bulge in another location. That bulge, unsurprisingly, is the camera. The camera’s optical system simply requires a certain throw distance. Motorola could’ve made the entire device a uniform (and beefy) thickness, or do what it did and make a phone with a bit of a step.

The step isn’t a problem at all. I couldn’t feel it in my pocket, don’t think it’s ugly, and it has the added benefit of keeping most of the device propped up off of whatever surface it’s on. The result is that you won’t scratch the camera cover, won’t scratch the back of the device, and won’t have the device rock and roll from having a curved backside. The other positive is that when rested, the device is propped up at a few degrees.

But probably the biggest and most welcome change is that Motorola has ditched the ubiquitous capacitive buttons that have been an intermittent annoyance on some Android devices.

Some phones have pulled it off perfectly - the EVO’s buttons work fine, and the Motorola Droids that I’ve played with were perfect - but on others it’s a real scourge. On my Nexus One, the entire digitizer intermittently decides that keyboard presses map to menu, home, or back at times. Apparently I’m not alone either.

On the X, the row of buttons are the real uncut deal, and they’re perfect. There are really two sets of rocker buttons - the leftmost two is one rocker, the rightmost two are the other - but you won’t notice. They don’t jut out a lot, and don’t get pressed accidentally in the pocket. Right below the row of buttons in the center is one of three microphones on the X.

Up at the top of the X is the proximity sensor, notification LED and handset speaker. The proximity sensors are on the right side under the plastic, and the LED is on the left. There’s also the ambient light sensor up there.

On the right side of the phone are the volume up/down buttons, and the two level camera button. Motorola made a sort of big deal about their gold colored camera button on the original Droid, so I’m really confused why it’s a metallic red now. The volume rocker on the original Droid used to be stiff and problematic, the X’s is perfect. The camera button still requires a lot of force to click in all the way, and remains the only way to actually trigger camera capture.

Moving around to the other side are the Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI ports. They’re a bit close together - maybe I’m special, but more than once I found myself trying to plug the USB charger into the HDMI port on accident.

Up top, there’s the power/lock button, 1/8” headphone jack, and a second microphone port. The top is slightly tilted - thankfully the power button doesn’t stick out normal to this surface, but rather perpendicular with respect to the display. Otherwise it’d get worn in really odd and probably fail fast.

The bottom is where things are interesting. There’s the slightly raised 14 mm bulge where the camera and LED flash are, which rolls off over part of the battery door to the 9.9 mm thickness area. Finally, down at the bottom is the third of the X’s microphones, and a slit for the speakerphone. You can slide a fingernail in there, but there’s thankfully a fine mesh preventing pocket lint from collecting inside. The Motorola logo has some pattern to it, so it shouldn’t rub off.

In the Motorola Droid review, I talked a lot about the beefy metal battery door. I’m pleased to report that the X has one as well, and it slides on and off snug and secure, doesn’t creak, doesn’t vibrate. It’s solid. Under that door is battery - you have to pull up on a tab to get the battery out. Once it’s out, you can get to the preinstalled 16 GB microSD card. The card doesn’t have a push-click mechanism, it simply slides in and out.

My only complaint about this pull tab battery release arrangement is that you pull and rotate the battery about the wrong axis. The battery slides in and goes down along its long axis, while the tab pulls up and kind of pries the battery against the way it slides in. I could see someone - if they’re not careful - being aggressive and breaking something, but I’ve yanked the battery numerous times to get the SD card out and haven’t broken anything yet. Just be careful.

Looking carefully, there’s a gold contact switch next to the pull tab which clearly makes contact with the metal underside of the battery door. You can see where it’s made contact with the door and left a little mark as well. More on that later.

The plastic exterior on the X feels rubbery - it’s got a grippy tack that has lasted a few solid weeks of my greasy hands, and doesn’t slide around. On the front at the very top and very bottom, the plastic bits seem to actually be a stiff rubber. Not sure why you’d want those parts rubber, but they feel different and more rubbery.


Left: Motorola Droid. Right: Motorola Droid X.

Overall, the build quality of the X is solid. Motorola has pulled off two high end Android phones that really feel good and inspire a lot of confidence. There’s no give or play with any of the buttons, the volume buttons aren’t loose and broken out of the box like some Droids were, and the grippy plastic makes it feel even better. Again, I think having the phone tilt a few degrees and not rest completely flat on surfaces will help the back not get scratched up.
 

Introduction Comparisons and What's In the Box
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  • PCR - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    I really enjoyed this review and wanted to let you know what a great job you guys did. It is very through and informative. Keep up the great work :) Reply
  • Pedro80 - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Guys..come on..
    - visually.. the EVO looks way better
    - HW - the Samsung Galaxy S performs better
    - HW - the Samsung Galaxy S features a much better display
    - and (most importantly IMHO) a device that bricks (shits?) itself when you attempt to install a different version of the (the same! open!) operating system
    ..isn't worthy this kind of acknowledgement..
    Already, devs in the Android community are asking Motorola to leave the OHA (Open Handset Alliance).

    [Droid X Brick a Brac]
    http://www.wirelessandmobilenews.com/2010/07/droid...

    [Motorola responds to Droid X bootloader controversy]
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/16/motorola-respon...

    [Why Motorola should be asked to leave the Open Handset Alliance]
    http://www.absolutelyandroid.com/why-motorola-shou...
    Reply
  • leexgx - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    at the moment it just prevents you from using your own cooked firmwares (puts the device into recovery mode so it can be re-flashed with factory image)

    must admit my sisters samsung galaxy s does look nice (compared to the HTC desire or Sony X10 xperan {big one} ) And it comes with an 1500Mha bat so should last more then an day use (the G1 i had was horrid on bat life had to turn it into an brick and fit an 2200Mha bat to it)

    Very disappointed with the screen on the HTC desire (one its smaller then my HTC HD1 my bad lol,) the screen is Not made of Strate line of pixels like normal screens are so an Striate line or Single dot text is wiggly
    Reply
  • v12v12 - Monday, August 16, 2010 - link

    Thank you man... FINALLY some voice of true dissent! While the rest of the zombies on here clap and rave; the REAL issues come out in your post. Course as most zombies behave, they either flat out ignore it (Jobs/Apple/big-corp mantra). It seems like people in today's society are more and more becoming fanboyed about anything "new." Their supposed reasoning and logic (lack thereof) skills are deteriorating generation after generation.
    _The more "entertainment" devices these nefarious companies produce, the more you all open up their mouths and ask for another spoonful. Not ONE mention of how these devices are actively spying and reporting your Internet usage, phone calls/txts/tweets/facebook blah blah. Everyone just happily uses them with out even asking... HRMM this device pretty much is my personal log/journal (txts, calls, tweets, surfing etc.) and the phone corps CAN and DO turn over ALL of your info to the NSA/CIA "secret" rooms (AT&T anyone?)

    SURPRISE! http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2007/06/spy...
    Merry Xmas! http://news.cnet.com/AT38T-sued-over-NSA-spy-progr...

    Gotta LOVE them spIphones: http://www.squidoo.com/iphonespy

    Iphone owns drones! http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/080210-your-...

    SpyPhone: http://www.spyphoneguy.com/

    *** Do you actually THINK that the NSA/CIA/Govt doesn’t have their OWN in-house versions of this type of spyware that CAN be remotely installed on your phone w/o your consent???*** You’re a complete FOOL if you don’t think they don’t ALREADY have this type of stuff and are using it to track the MAFIA
    http://www.zdnet.com/news/fbi-taps-cell-phone-mic-...

    http://www.technewsdaily.com/hacked-smartphones-co...

    Yet you all happily browse away, not knowing for SURE that "someone" or some group isn't recording your EVERY form of personal/private communication with these uber "smart" devices. Yep, no CCleaner or data-encryption/wipe when BIG-BROTHER is siphoning the data off at the SOURCE. HAHA I love it... everyone is so caught up being "entertained," and 1-up'ing everyone else with their newer toys; all the while someone else IS watching and tracking your most PRIVATE (so you thought) behaviors.... Course no mention from Anand (nothing personal boss) or any of the other review/tech sites about it either. Lol... Jokes on YOU all... Soon some of you will be BUSTED/RATTED out by your PHONE in the near future. All those supposed "private" txts and crap will come out in full public view, when they have your ass in court for some talk about picking up a "sack, dub, nuggets, green, trees" and anything else considered "illegal" at the time or arbitrarily deemed an "act of terrorism," which NOW puts you under the guise of the PATRIOT-ACT, which essentially STRIPS you of nearly all your rights afforded to you by the Bill-of-Rights and that has-been document call the CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES.

    Yep, this IS going to be yours/mine and everyone else's future if people don't start inquiring about the SECURITY of these devices, aside from whining about being about to NOT crack the eFuse etc.

    You've been warned; now back to being "entertained," (aka, distracted/deceived).
    Reply
  • puffpio - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    I'm curious (and I hope you and others are too!) about how an overclocked Droid fares against a Droid X?

    Many rooted/custom ROM Droid people have no problem taking their phones up to 1Ghz

    1Ghz OMAP 3630 vs 1GHz OMAP 3430 would be an awesome comparo
    Reply
  • Goty - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Good to know. I ran most of the same benchmarks on my own and it seems that the Captivate is actually slower in the Sunspider test than any of the newer TI or Qualcomm SoCs, but faster in everything else. Very curious.

    Anyhow, looking forward to the review(s)!
    Reply
  • metafor - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Sunspider is kinda wonky. It can vary depending on what version of the browser you're using. In either case, unless you know you have the exact same software, it's usually not a good way to test processor speed. Reply
  • cgalyon - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    This was the best review I've seen of the Droid X thus far, by a large margin! Very thorough and pleasantly objective. Keep up the great work! Reply
  • FozzyofAus - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Great to hear.

    The Galaxy S has been on sale in here in Australia for a while and I'd love to see how it compares to the HTC EVO and Droid X.

    Regards,
    Michael.
    Reply
  • FozzyofAus - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Background reading on performance from another site:
    http://androidandme.com/2010/07/news/droid-x-vs-ga...

    No doubt your review will be even better when it's ready.

    Regards,
    Michael.
    Reply

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