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No Need To Avoid The Droid

It seems to be mandatory that every new smartphone release includes the phrase “iPhone killer” in a press release or marketing campaign. Very few handsets have lived up to that hype but whether or not Motorola is calling its newest phone – The Droid – an iPhone killer, it comes pretty darn close.

The Android OS-based smartphone hit the market in early November on the Verizon Wireless network. I got to play with the device a few days before its release and have yet to find many reasons not to get it. In fact, if you’re a Verizon customer who’s been thinking of switching to AT&T’s service, this could be your answer and anchor to keep you where you are.

Several things initially stand out when you first set your eyes and hands on the device. Number one, the screen. THE SCREEN! Oh my is it gorgeous. Slightly larger than the iPhone’s screen this measure 3.7 inches diagonally and it has a higher resolution at 480 by 854 pixels (or 854 by 480 depending on how you are holding it). Text seems easier to read and images are very sharp.

It is heavier than most other smartphones and the edges aren’t as sexy as other similar devices. The Droid is blatantly rectangular in shape – something that will probably be smoothed over in the next version.

If I have to pick on one thing it would probably be the keyboard. Over the past few years I have become used to typing on a virtual keyboard. The Droid has this feature but also a slide out physical QWERTY keyboard. Because the keys are a good size for your thumbs I found myself almost hyper extending them to reach some of the keys. I stuck with the virtual keys.

It has a 5-megapixel camera which is higher quality than my normal digital camera. It takes a little while for the auto-focus feature to hone in but photos come out great and I can’t say enough about the incredible video quality.

Garmin should be shaking in its boots as the GPS capabilities from Google may put them out of business. Turn-by-turn directions on top of Google Maps led me to every address I punched in. And that service is free. See ya Garmin.

Need email and calendars? Yep, they got two apps for those. In this case, one client would have been better than two but you can keep your Gmail and Microsoft Exchange info separately.

The web browser was speedy and the double-tap zoom process works well. I did have to retrain my fingers not to pinch-and-zoom as on other smartphones.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in and it comes with 16GB of memory and an SD card slot so you can add more. Did I mention the battery is removable? Take that, iPhone.

The Droid is priced at a typical $199 (after a $100 rebate) with a two-year contract. Ironically, AT&T’s exclusivity with Apple’s iPhone ends in two years. No use waiting Verizon Wireless fans – get the Droid.

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