Verizon’s Droid ads pit the new phone against the Apple iPhone – comparing their manly device to one they infer is girly. To determine which phone has the most testosterone I put both phones through their paces. The verdict? Well, testosterone seems to have little to do with the basic functioning of each phone and there are enough men using the iPhone that I don’t believe there are any technical or stylistic reasons why the iPhone should be considered a feminine device.
Still, marketing can persuade people of just about anything if it is consistent and effectively developed. Lines from the ad below such as, “It’s not a princess, it’s a robot” could potentially cast a stigma in the gym, nightclubs and schools.
But getting back to the phones themselves – The Motorola Droid is pretty fast. My six year-old commented that when you rotate the phone the Droid doesn’t have the delay the iPhone has. This includes the 3GS and iPod Touch. The Android-based device further displays web pages with aplomb and gives great response time on WiFi or EVDO. It is also more fashionable than I thought it would be based on early pictures. It is usable and dare I say cool?
In terms of applications, there are still many times more apps available for the iPhone but the Droid has mastered some minor and important details most smartphones have — details like a simple back button allowing you to more easily toggle between apps. The Droid also allows widgets on the home screen which can be useful for adding things like a stock ticker. Another thing the “girly” phone can’t do and the Droid can is run background apps.
Apple has approximated multitasking with its alert feature but to be honest, the feature has delays and is not reliable enough for communications. Moreover if you jailbreak the iPhone you can approximate the functionality of widgets, run background apps, etc. But for those people who play by the Apple rules, you still have many limitations.
Regarding email, Droid has a more cumbersome interface and is not as fun to use. I also had a heck of a time getting it to work with Outlook email. I brought it to my MIS team for help and they expressed frustration as well. Obviously this is not an issue if you use Gmail. The Motorola phone does have a crisp screen with greater resolution than the iPhone and this was helpful in some situations such as reading email. But in most cases the iPhone screen with less resolution looks better.
Verizon portrays iPhone as a Princess in TV ads
If you happen to open your deleted folder on the iPhone it becomes an agonizing dance of waiting and waiting for recent items to appear. I have approximately 148,000 emails in my deleted folder and I have never waited long enough for the iPhone to find the most recent deleted items. I always wondered why Apple couldn’t just sort from the most recent emails downward. Interestingly the Droid does bring up recently deleted emails a few minutes after selecting the deleted folder. During this test I noticed Apple paid attention to which of my email folders were nested or indented and presented them accordingly. Droid did not.
Another benefit to Droid is the home screen button which can also bring up running applications if you hold it. If you are like me and toggle between your browser and email while working, you need this functionality which Apple does not offer.
Droid offers free turn-by-turn GPS with voice recognition integrated with Google search. This is quite a useful feature and this reason alone could persuade many to buy this phone. In addition there is better integration between Google’s various services on the Android-based device. Then again, this should be no surprise.
What is a surprise is that when you want to switch Google accounts and delete the current one, you need to wipe the phone clean – applications and all. And if you do this in an area where there is no Verizon service you cannot use the phone because you can’t activate it. This is one of those flaws which may only affect a shared phone a reviewer uses but it can be seriously annoying. Then again, what if you decide to change your Google account? You should never have to wipe your phone clean – for any reason. These are the sorts of challenges shared by Google and Microsoft that explain why Apple is doing so well in the market. They seem to care about simple things like not wasting their customer’s time.
To balance this, an important Droid benefit is a Micro-USB connector – not a proprietary one like Apple. In the past, Motorola has used Mini-USB but disabled any other charger besides their own. In this case they have opened up, realizing they don’t have the power in the mobile market they once wielded. These days they need to make as many customers happy as possible.
In terms of the web, Google’s browser seems to have more functionality than Safari on the iPhone but I still prefer Safari’s ease of use and rapid ability to see all eight web pages which can be open at once.
In terms of stability, Droid has a bit farther to go. I had freezes, hang-ups and other minor problems. None of which required a reboot. A few times I did reboot to get wireless working though. In both cases, this happened when I lost EVDO coverage.
For years I complained about the iPhone keyboard but once Apple embraced the concept of landscape typing in email I started to get quiet because the keyboard is pretty good. I could go either way on the Droid vs. iPhone keyboard and hats off to Apple to showing me and millions of others that a virtual keyboard could be created to satisfy those of us who type a great deal on mobile gadgets.
If you are in need of testosterone, see your doctor. If you are looking for a fast device with a good screen, great network and real keyboard, I prescribe the Droid. If you are looking for the best mobile phone with the simplest interface, most software options, most accessory choices, integration with iTunes and the most productive experience with minimal set up difficulties, skip the gym and head to the Apple Store and pick up an iPhone.