Marc Hughes

I am a developer from a bit west of Boston.

One week with Droid - my impressions

13 Nov 2009

So it's been a week since I got my Verizon Droid.  How's it been?

I had been using one of the G1 phones on TMobile's network.  It was running Android 1.6, the new Droid is running Android 2.0.  Let's compare Droid to that first.

Let me start by saying, they're not all that dissimilar.  The one plus the G1 had was the keyboard was easier to use.  It actually had separate physical buttons whereas the Droid has them all on a single etched piece of rubbery plastic.  The droid is faster, has more memory and storage, and looks better - all by a lot.  Holding the phone if feels like it's engineered and manufactured well.  Holding the G1, it kind of felt like a toy.

I haven't had any problems finding or running any apps.  All the ones I've tried have been great.

The new Google Maps with navigation is amazing.  Better than my Garmin stand alone GPS unit.  It's got "layers" now that can overlay all kinds of things.  Some of my favorites include traffic and Wikipedia.  The Wikipedia layer shows all of the Wikipedia references on a map.  When looking around my home, there's maybe a dozen points listed.  I'm hoping a Geocaching app takes advantage of that layer functionality soon.

The battery life seems good.  I used the navigation app for an hour and a half on my commute to work one day.  That includes the screen being on the entier time, GPS updates contantly, and lots of network traffic.  As well as the speaker telling me the directions and a traffic overlay showing me where the road would slow down.  At work, I left all of the services (bluetooth, wifi, gps) all day long.  I consciously tried to use it as much as possible.  At the end of the day there was still 15% battery life left.  Normally, I plug it in while driving, but it's nice to know I dont have to.

So, if those things were the only differences from my old phone to this one, the $200 TMobile cancellation penalty, plus the $200 new phone cost might not have been worth it.  But there was one major other difference.  The network.  Verizon is amazing compared to TMobile.  I've used the same speed-testing app on both phones in a variety of situations.  The fastest speed I ever saw with TMobile was around 300kbs.  When I was at my house, it never went over 5kbs, usually in the 1-2 range.  With Verizon, the slowest I've seen is around 300kbs.  At my house, I average 500kbs.  That over a 25000% increase.  When in the office at work, it wasn't worth even trying to get a data signal with TMobile.  With verizon, it works perfectly.  This is the biggest single selling point of the entire experience for me and I'm am a very happy customer.  This speed changed the way I use my phone from the G1 tot he Droid as much as the G1 changed the way I use a phone from a dumb-phone to a smart phone.

Cost-wise the monthly plans between TMobile and Verizon are about the same.  I do get a 17% discount because my company has a contract with Verizon so your price may varry.

I heard a great Droid radio ad today.  This one below is similar, but the Radio one was better.