The Tech-Savvy is (read "I am") Disappointed with the Motorola Droid X
First of all, unless you live under a rock, you're at least heard of the buzz Verizon has been building concerning the Motorola Droid X. This phone has not been unheard of, or unseen. It was leaked first as the Motorola Shadow. Yesterday, July 15, 2010, was the Droid X's debut on Verizon's all-star 3G network.
A buddy of mine had followed the @DroidLanding campaign, that was started by an awesome teaser video. I had even ignored posts about how the Droid X would be locked, and even articles about how it will self-destruct if you try to modify it. (I'd also like to take a moment to inform you that Motorola responded to this rumor, reporting that it will not self-destruct after all.)
So I decided today that I wanted to go take a look at it. I drove to the Verizon wireless store in my area, which is where I bought my Motorola Droid on November 9, 2009 -- three days after its release. I told my friend before leaving work that he should slap me if he caught me the following day hiding the Droid X in my pocket. I anticipated walking into the Verizon store, and wanting to leave with it, in a repeat performance of my first experience with the original Droid.
Let me make that point again: I anticipated wanting it. Badly. And probably impulse-buying it.
Naturally, I assumed the only working Droid X was located in the huddle of people on the far side of the store. I did not disappoint myself with my reasoning. I looked around at the other devices for a moment and waited patiently behind a lady testing it out. Even with the store-version, which had about 50 applications various people had installed on it while testing it out, the first thing I noticed after I picked it up (other than the size) was how blazing fast it is. The OMAP processor in it is running at 1.0 GHz. I have my Droid overclocked to this same speed, and being the same family of processors, I was impressed with how much of a boost I noticed.
But then it all went down-hill. Being the lover of the Droid sound that came stock on the original Droid, I opened the Messaging app to text myself, so that I could text back the demo Droid X and see what noise it makes. I was a little annoyed at first that I couldn't find it the Messaging app. They've renamed it. The app is called "Text Messaging" instead of simply "Messaging" and the icon is totally different.
Actually, let me take a minute to complain about this now. I think the app itself was different. It had bubbles and such. The background was white, instead of black, and the text was dark-colored. That wouldn't be such a big deal if the screen wasn't so huge. If you're a big text messager, this is a problem. Do you know how much more power is consumed by a screen that is 4.3 inches, instead of the Droid's 3.7? Do you know how much more power is consumed by outputting a white background instead of a black one? When you turn your phone off, the screen is already black. It takes power to make it white. Not to mention the bubbles! Dear God! Don't most of us like Android so much because we DON'T like Apple's iOS? So why are we going out of our way to emulate them?
It wasn't just the Text Messaging app. MOST of Android's default icons were replaced with no-doubt Motorola versions. The stock launcher on the device was replaced by Moto's new obscenity. It worked as you would expect mostly, but when you swipe from one home screen to the next, the launcher dock is covered by a progress indicator that lets you know exactly where you are. You can't instantly access the launcher until the moto-trocity auto-hides itself. If you press the home button when you're already on the default home screen, the launcher will open for you. And it's not the pretty 3D one built into Eclair (Android 2.1) or Froyo (Android 2.2) by default. It's a boring black-background 2D one.
The skin is changed. Even the stars on the applications in the market were different. The highlight color of normal fields was not stock Android. The dialer was OMG hideous. The area above the buttons that the phone number showed up on the cool smoked glass area? They replaced it with an awkward looking white text box with a red border. PUH-LEASE.
Oh, and if you're hoping that just all this is going to go away, because you can just flash a custom ROM to it (praise be to CyanogenMOD), you're wrong. The Droid X has as close as you can get to a hardware lock. There's a physical transistor that is switched to force the device into the Recovery mode immediately if an unsigned (un-factory) bootloader is found. The phone will reboot into the recovery CONSTANTLY until the signed bootloader is found on the device again. "Oh, that's no problem. The pirates will find a way around that. They always do." Well, being a large advocate of "the pirates" and all things in the electronic underground, I hope you are correct. But it's unlikely, since the same technology was used in the Motorola Milestone (overseas version of the Droid) and after more than 8 months, it still hasn't been unlocked successfully. What's Motorola's response to this? Buy a device from another manufacturer.
Why should this matter to them? How about 52,000 people downloaded the CyanogenMOD 6.0 RELEASE CANDIDATE (not even the final version) in the FIRST DAY it was available. Not one of them will be able to rock this ROM (or any other) on the Droid X, unless the underground busts out some impressive black voodoo.
Buy the Droid X if you're on Verizon and want a good Apple iOS competing phone. It's probably the most impressive on the market today. If you want a solid phone that will probably run Vanilla Android, wait until Droid 2 comes out next month.
Overall, I'm really disappointed in Motorola. A buddy pointed out they're just trying to stand out from the rest of the manufacturers, but they aren't understanding that their effort through software to do that works completely against them. It worked with HTC, sure, but that's because they were building software for Windows Mobile, and we all know how much that sucked. I thought Motorola really had the balls to compete with Apple under Google's open influence -- which is what the Android platform is all about. They didn't even compromise in the Apple way. Instead, they've fully conformed and are now just like them.
Update: (2010-08-31 @ 10:53 PM ET) It seems Motorola has gone to completely alienating their customers. When an unofficial Android 2.2 update for the Motorola Droid X came out, some people flashed to it, excited for updates on their new device. It appears Motorola may leave them on that unofficial build, and let them be stuck there. Honestly, I think Motorola should be ashamed of themselves. At this point, I'm almost 99% sure my next Android device will NOT be a Motorola offering. As much as I dislike HTC, they aren't this bad.