DROID Charge Review

April 28, 2011
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Welcome to a phone that's set to go in direct competition with the HTC ThunderBolt. There's no getting around the fact that this phone is set to throw some punches as the second phone on the market to be running on Verizon's 4G LTE network for ultimate superfly data speeds, so we've just got to take a look! This phone has a 1.0Ghz single-core Hummingbird processor, a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, and Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 user interface lying over a Google certified Android 2.2 Froyo mobile OS. Is it enough to take a swipe at the market at $299.99 with a new two-year contract with Verizon, data+talk monthly bills starting at around $70 a month? We shall see!

Before we begin, have a look at our Hands-On and Unboxing post for sassy handheld video that could win an award for videography!

Hardware

This is a big phone that has no qualms about being so. It's not the thinnest phone in the world, but it's not as fat as the ThunderBolt with its extended battery on. Its dimensions are thus: 5.11 x 2.66 x 0.46-inches (130 x 68 x 12-mm), and it weighs in at a tiny 5.04-oz (143-g). So it's light! It's very light and made basically entirely of plastic on the outside. There's a chrome-reflective rim around the top part of the device that, if it's not metal, it's certainly doing a good job of pretending that it is. Samsung, if you're listening to me - go for more metal! Add a wide metal rim here, a strip of metal down the back there, a kickstand up the side (though that'd be weird,) and you'll get highest marks from yours truly. It adds all sorts of visual value, and metal means quality 9 times out of 10 in everyone's mind that I know.

Believe it!

Beyond that, there's a power button up the right side right beside the plastic-covered HDMI port. On the left there's microUSB port with no cover, (good move,) a very nicely fashioned volume dongle, and a hole into which you'll be able to string a dongle - again, we'll get more into dongle lifestyle in the main news feed soon. On top you'll find your headphone jack and one of two mic holes (the other one on the bottom of the phone.) Also on the top you're going to see a lovely tiny DIGITAL BY QUALCOMM sticker that lets you know you're rolling out with the big Q.

Display held up in direct sunlight

The display is Super AMOLED Plus. It's magnificent. It's basically the best. Have a look at this photo of the HTC ThunderBolt, the DROID Charge, and the LG G2x one next to the other. The ThunderBolt has a TFT LCD, the Charge has the Super AMOLED Plus, and the G2x has an IPS LCD. Judge the results for yourself - power!

Software

This device comes with a total of 28 applications installed right out of the box. Like I noted in the hands-on post yesterday, you'll be using a portion of them most certainly and a majority of them basically never. This handset will run basically everything you're going to want it to run in a fine and dandy fashion unless you're looking to run dual-core-specific games such as Pinball HD and Riptide GP - both of which will not run outside an NVIDIA Tegra 2, for example. If you're not into those sorts of games, on the other hand, you'll still be golden with a 1GHz.

You'll also going to get a few apps that you might find rather invigorating - AllShare which will allow you to connect via bluetooth to play media from your phone on a separate player, play media on your phone still hosted on a server, or control media on a server playing on a separate device. Neat and simple. The game "Let's Golf 2" is here, and has been sitting on basically every device we've reviewed over the past month, believe it or not. Good job to whoever's making that happen - the developers must be super pumped up! Rock Band, Slacker Radio, TuneWiki, Kindle, and Rhapsody are also included, and work just as well here as they would on any other top-tier phone.

Then there's TouchWiz 3.0, Samsung's tried-and-true user interface sitting on the top of Android that'll make your experience unique to Samsung phones. It's whipping along left and right and nice as one might expect - we're hoping for an upgrade to 4.0 right after the Galaxy S II comes out, since that's the boat this ship is sailing in on - have a closer look at some neat features on that version courtesy of our good pal Philip Berne right over here. -- This video was filmed at CTIA 2011 in Orlando Florida, if you'd like to know.


Camera

On the front of the Charge you're going to find a 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat and an 8-megapixel camera on the back for video and photos as well. As with most mobile devices with a camera on the front and the back, for the most part you'll be using the back camera for collecting media, the front camera for video chat.

Phone and Performance

Phone audio in and out as well as keeping connected has been perfect, so perfect that I'm debating whether or not I should even keep reporting on this section for smartphones. Every one of the bigger networks here in the USA has such good voice coverage that it's basically a thumbs-up by default.

Then there's performance. Have a look at the following benchmarks and see where this phone adds up against the rest of the Android family. You'll find that it's not at the top of the stack, but like most top-tier phones being released these days, it's apt to compete against other phones that are also right out of the box.

This isn't a phone that's going to beat the crap out of the competition if it's planning on competing against dual-core chipsets, but it's certainly alright for your average user. The HTC ThunderBolt, for comparison purposes, regularly scores right around 1000 in Quadrant right out of the box as well, so if you're looking to make these two LTE phones compete, you're going to be comparing user interface overlays for sure - HTC Sense 2.0 or TouchWiz 3.0 - which one will you take? -- note: I've not gotten too far into comparisons here between the ThunderBolt and the Charge on purpose as it's a subject more than worthy of its own post - stay tuned to the main news feed for that next week.

Battery

The battery on the Charge is alright. We'll be continuing to test this little monster out over the next few days and weeks in order to give you a much better idea on how battery will be working with LTE (as Verizon's LTE network was down a bit yesterday, the 4G factor might not be blasting the battery as much as it has possibly been on the HTC ThunderBolt.) For now, looks like we're getting something like 14 hours - so maybe a full day for you heavy users? This is what we've gotten out of testing, from top to 8%. Since Verizon LTE-based phone's battery life has been a big issue of late, I'll be putting up at least one more dedicated battery post on the Charge next week - stay tuned!

Wrap-Up

Get ready for a bigtime phone that's punching its way out of the manufacturing plant as the second phone ever to be running on Verizon's 4G LTE data network. It's got a bit fat screen and a top-tier 1GHz Hummingbird processor and Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 user interface over the top and an accelerometer, a compass, GPS and, what do you know? Everything else a top-tier Android phone has. Samsung's 1Ghz Hummingbird processor makes sure you're processing graphics as fast as they're going to go on a single-core processor and with the gigantic 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, you're set.

What are you deciding now if you've never used an Android phone before? Not much to consider! It's a big beautiful phone running what's nearly the newest version of Android, solid and perfect for those of you who wouldn't know enough about the mobile OS to know the difference between this and Android 2.3 Gingerbread (the absolute newest.) And you've got what's basically the biggest and the best screen for a handset on the market today.

If you're considering this and some other Android phones, you'll be deciding more than likely between this, the HTC ThunderBolt, (the only other phone running on Verizon's LTE at the moment,) or one of the dual-core phones on the market right now - G2x or the ATRIX 4G, one running on T-Mobile, the other on AT&T, both with their own set of benefits on top of the fat processor power.

It's a blast of brightness, made to show itself off as a data-speedy media magnificent entertainment machine toting the excellence of Android, Samsung, and Verizon Wireless. Check out the close-up photos above and below and stay tuned to Android Community's main news feed to experience all the coverage of this device we've got - all you could possibly desire!

NOTE also that DROID Charge was supposed to be available today, but per word from our Verizon contact Brenda Raney, the device's availability has been delayed: "Customers who go to stores today have the option of leaving their contact information and they will be notified when the device goes on sale." Hopefully soon!


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  • http://twitter.com/xguntherc Cory (xguntherc)

    there ya go.. BABY PICTURES! Cute!

    Congrats Burnsy.

    • Anonymous

      If only this was the Galaxy S2 instead of a fat single core phone. Not sure I can hold out until September though to use my upgrade.

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      Review Power x 1000!

  • Mary

    Ummm, the processor is Samsung 1GHz Hummingbird. The LTE is Samsung’s modem and the CDMA is Via Telecom’s 3G EVDO/1X. Not a single Qualcomm device in this phone. The sticker is just because of the license requirement. Please get your facts straight.

  • Mike

    What Weatherbug widget is that? I can’t find it. :(

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      Probably TouchWiz exclusive.

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      Probably TouchWiz exclusive.

  • Tscherer3044

    It has a hummingbird processor, not a snapdragon.

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      i agree

  • Tscherer3044

    It has a hummingbird processor, not a snapdragon.

  • Odelacr23

    does anyone know what wallpaper that is? its in the 7th photo.

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      It’s a special edition Android Community wallpaper – coming out via the main news feed soon!

  • Odelacr23

    does anyone know what wallpaper that is? its in the 7th photo.

  • Anon

    The thunderbolt does not score around 1000 in Quadrant Standard like stated above, it scored 1756 and 1878 on the 2 I tested at the Verizon store, and those bad boys were running a ton of apps in the background! Im going to wait for the Galaxy S2 variant with dual-core, should be out in a month.

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      You’re going to LOVE the Galaxy S II. ThunderBolt tested around 1000 last I checked it, and the one I was running I’m sure wasn’t amped up in anyway – doesn’t really matter how many apps were running either, you should be testing it under lots of different circumstances.

      • Tao369

        My Thunderbolt averages 1700, no manipulations.

      • Tao369

        My Thunderbolt averages 1700, no manipulations.

      • Tao369

        My Thunderbolt averages 1700, no manipulations.

      • Tao369

        My Thunderbolt averages 1700, no manipulations.

  • Anon

    The thunderbolt does not score around 1000 in Quadrant Standard like stated above, it scored 1756 and 1878 on the 2 I tested at the Verizon store, and those bad boys were running a ton of apps in the background! Im going to wait for the Galaxy S2 variant with dual-core, should be out in a month.

  • Zozon

    Samsung uses proprietary RFS file system, if you apply EXT2/4 file system to the phone, the score will skyrocket up to 2000 in Quadrant. These benchmarks, especially Quadrant and Linpack, are inaccurate and are easy to manipulate with.

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      Even if I never manipulate them and run the tests right out of the box?

  • Guest

    I could be wrong, but how can one evaluate the phone when Verizon has not started to sale the phone yet. I think Chris Burns is doing some kind of self-promoting and is either associated with the phone factory or magazine. Chris, how about check the news before you click the submit button…

    • http://androidcommunity.com/ Chris Burns

      wtf are you talking about? It’s a review unit.

    • Anonymous

      Wow are you dumb.

  • Charger Fan

    There is no Qualcomm in the Charge. Q-free, baby. Sticker is just because it operates on a CDMA network.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jdeglavina John DeGlavina
  • Raptor007

    Nice review, great photo’s. You missed one key item, memory. How much of the 2GB internal storage do you actually get? Rooting will get rid of some, but what is it stock out of the box?

  • Raptor007

    Nice review, great photo’s. You missed one key item, memory. How much of the 2GB internal storage do you actually get? Rooting will get rid of some, but what is it stock out of the box?

  • Uthaman

    I hope they fixed the screen color. A demo unit I used had grotesquely exaggerated color. It was so wrong I couldn’t stand to look at it. Who cares about type or brightness when it is just plain wrong! Just like a TV, the color must be accurate!

  • TwistedPenguin

    Love the new Droid Charge! Got mine on 5/19/2011; most things seem easy to set up; all my email accounts; twitter; still have lots of things to explore. 

  • Karsko

     

    My last phone was a Blackberry Storm and I upgraded to the
    Charge.  There have been some hiccups
    going from a Blackberry (and very easy syncing) to the Android platform.  If you are a new convert or considering
    converting:

    1.      
    You have to setup a gmail account and you sync
    through that.

    2.      
    Syncing Outlook calendar is easy as Google Calendar
    has a very easy setup and auto sync.

    3.      
    Syncing Outlook contacts is a pain. If you are
    on a network e-mail client there is a sync program but if you are just an individual
    you have to go through saving the file as a .csv file. Then import in your
    gmail account and then sync on your phone. There are some apps that make it
    easier but they don’t support all of the fields I needed and reviews show they
    wiped some data. But now I have this 3 step process for every time.

    4.      
    Syncing files is also an issue. But I discovered
    Dropbox, free up to 2GB, that allows you to sync files amongst several
    computers and phones.

    The Charge has amazing speed, a very bright and colorful
    display and is very easy to use if you have ever used a smart phone before.  But there are some quirks. It added some icons
    to the desktop when I never intended it to. The online manual doesn’t show how
    to delete but I found an Android platform that shows if you hold down the icon
    a delete button appears that you can use.

    There are several cool apps for the Android market and many
    are free. Some that are recommended:

    Advanced
    Task Killer – really helps with battery life

    Ringtones
    Free

    Google Sky
    Map – hold it up at the sky and it shows the constellations

     

    Battery life is not great. I am charging the phone every
    other day and not using it that much. But the wall charger works very fast and
    the USB crawls. In comparison I used to charge my Storm about every 5-6 days.

    Uploads and downloads were very fast and it displays if you
    are on the 4G or 3G networks. Reception in my neighborhood is one bar better
    with this phone than my Storm. Phone quality is great according to the people I
    call but on my end I would say average. It doesn’t drop calls like my Storm did
    but even on the highest volume I sometimes cannot hear them very clearly.

    You don’t need Verizon Navigator with this phone. I
    cancelled it and have been using Google Maps program for navigation. It works
    well and it is so much easier to integrate with restaurants. You can see
    reviews, rate, navigate, call, go to website, etc… Much more detailed than
    Navigator and it has been accurate so far.

    My research covered several providers and phones and I was
    hoping to try the Droid Bionic but the original phone was scrapped and my Storm
    was dying so the Charge was my second choice. I am very happy with it but wish
    someone would make an Outlook – Droid sync program. Most forums have people
    saying they would pay up to $50 for that program and I agree …. File integration
    would be nice too.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TIL5KZO5LUPGYA65762VDINIPU John S

    You can actually get the DROID CHARGE 4G with $100 discount for new
    subscribers and $50 off for existing Verizon Wireless subscriber: http://bit.ly/lOCjEh

    DROID CHARGE > ThunderBolt!

  • kboz

    I love, love, love the charge. My boyfriend is now considering switching over from the droid 2. I haven’t had any issues with it yet. It seems to be very user friendly. Very glad I bought the charge.

  • Vash1988

    U can get it for 180 at Costco now

  • AZSunshine

    Bought this phone 1 month ago and love it. I have always hated my cell phones and I have to say that this thing rocks! Battery life is more than adaquite for me and I consider myself a user with a average talk and data up time (I can go two days on one charge if I’m not on it alot).
    The software is trouble free, the screan is awsome and downloads are lightning fast when your on 4g, although it does get a little glitchy when it has to switch between 3 and 4g signals.
    -thought I would write a comment cause I read alot of other before buying this unit. Thank god for review sites so we can make better decisions before buying crappy poducts! 

    • MAS12255

      I got it for $129, yesterday, and then there is the trade in, through Verixon,  which is $100 from Verizon in the form of a gift card, making the cost for only $29.00! What a deal!

  • Nota_29

    So I have haD the charge forlil over a month now and just recently the back key has started to make a clicky sound. I keep my phone as clean as possibLe and havent gotten anything on it. has this happened to anyone else? Its becoming quite annoying other than that I love this phone.

  • Not Happy

    This is the worse phone ive ever owned, im now on phone number 3 ! Ive spent hours on the phone with the techs at samsung trying to resolve issues. Their answer…. We’ll over night you a new phone. I’ll sum this phone up for all of you. Piece of crap!!!!!   

  • Gymnast919

    Cant wait for June to get this baby! And you van get this phoen for FREE on verizon if you get the 2 year contract which i am doing…I can not wait any longer <3333333

  • mary

    this phone sucks. i hate it so much, its slow, the typing is awful, and its just damn confusing to use. dont get this, get the iphone, its so much better

  • http://twitter.com/NiniGebhardt nicole gebhardt

    I like this phone except for the fact that I will be getting my third phone in three weeks, due to a faulty camera. When I try to take a picture, at random the phone will just shut off after you hit the button to take the picture and in order to turn the phone back on you have to remove the battery. I’m becoming extremely frustrated with this and obviously it’s not my fault if it’s happened to two brand new phones. If I can I am looking into getting a completely different phone.

  • Richard Lim

    why does it repeat the text message i send when I sent to two people at once?? can they fix that bug???

  • brooksby1

    Got this phone for my wife. Fast, easy to recover contacts when the phone has to be replaced. We are on the third phone. After a couple of weeks it started to sound like you were underwater. The second time, after a couple of weeks the speaker quit working and the keys would not respond at times. Now on phone 3. Hoping this works. Ended up getting a larger battery on ebay because the original would last till the evening and then die. Now we get 1 1/2 days with no surfing, some texting and some calling, but not excessive amounts.