Our best buddy Vince at our sister site SlashGear is at it again, with a full review of the Droid Charge. Android Community’s Burnsy posted his review of the Charge last week, complete with pictures of his beautiful new baby, but Vince’s opinion is one you don’t want to miss. A quick overview of his review follows below, and you can read the whole thing over at SlashGear.
The Charge is still delayed after Verizon’s 4G outage last week, and it will be Verizon’s second 4G LTE smartphone. The HTC ThunderBolt paved the way for ultra high-speed handsets, which could double as useful mobile hotspots, but sucked the battery down so quickly that the ThunderBolt expired before its time. So the Charge by Samsung needs to deliver on better battery life while still providing the same super-speed. The Charge has the same 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display that stunned us with the Galaxy S II, so it is no Charge carbon copy. So does it deliver?
The Droid Charge has much glossy-finish plastic, with most of the phone being 0.46-inches thick and a lip at the bottom, lifting the rear of the phone off the table and helping to avoid scratches. Some might prefer a more uniform design, however.
Samsung’s 4.3-inch 800 x 480 Super AMOLED Plus display, steals the show up front, and is protected by a slab of Gorilla Glass. It’s bright, color-saturated and beautifully vivid, and while the resolution may suffer in comparison to the iPhone 4 or Motorola ATRIX, the Samsung’s sunlight performance and vast viewing angles go a long way to making up for that lapse in pixels, and Samsung’s 50-percent extra sub-pixels do a great job of smoothing out text and graphics.
There are the standard four physical buttons – menu, home, back and search – all the way down at the bottom of the chassis. They can be a little hard to press with a thumb while supporting the phone with the same hand. There is a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera and the usual proximity/light sensors, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge.
On the right side are volume keys and the microUSB charging port, while on the left is the power/lock button and, under a small flap, a micro HDMI port. We prefer the separate connector to the Galaxy S II’s hybrid USB/HDMI port, which requires an adapter cable to use. On the back is an 8-megapixel autofocus camera with an LED flash. Sitting next to the camera is the 4G LTE SIM. Following on from the Thunderbolt, the Charge promises high-speed data connections that, in some cases, can exceed what you’ll get from your home internet. The Charge also has the usual WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS, along with the standard digital compass, accelerometer and other sensors. Keeping things running is Samsung’s 1GHz single-core Hummingbird processor.
Software and Performance
We are somewhat disappointed that the Charge is running Android 2.2 Froyo, especially since the Galaxy S II will already be running Gingerbread. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI runs on top, which could be good or bad, depending on your perspective. The Mobile Hotspot app is extremely useful, assuming you have the relevant tethering plan, allows you to share the DROID Charge’s 4G connection with up to five devices over WiFi. Samsung’s AllShare DLNA app is also present, for streaming content wirelessly, as well as the HDMI port for direct connections. Other apps are bloatware: Lets Golf 2, Rhapsody and other titles, which unfortunately can’t be removed.
Performance is quick, but not dual-core quick. The DROID Charge scored an unimpressive 998 in benchmarking tool Quadrant Advanced, and a sluggish 6337.3ms (lower is better) in browser benchmark SunSpider. Contrast that with the Galaxy S II’s 3540 in Quadrant Advanced and 3584.3ms in SunSpider, and you can see that the LTE handset is at a disadvantage. That may become more of a problem as Android gets more demanding.
The 8-megapixel camera on the Charge takes some great pictures. The camera app is responsive and touch-focus useful, and though the LED flash is of limited use in truly dark scenes, it does the job in low-light situations.
The Hummingbird processor limits video recording to 720p HD, rather than the 1080p on the Galaxy S II. Still, the end result is very watchable, with accurate colors and little blurring aside from during faster pans. There’s the choice of either autofocus or touch-focus during recording, though it’s not the quickest to react.
Sample video with the Charge:
Phone and Battery
Verizon’s voice network is solid, and the DROID Charge suffers no issues with calls. The 4G is capable of some impressive numbers, showing speeds of up to 17.62 Mbps on the downlink and up to 7.2 Mbps on the uplink.
Having seen the HTC ThunderBolt chew through a full charge in short order, we were more than a little nervous about the DROID Charge’s appetite. Happily it seems Samsung has managed to balance performance and power – impressive given the size and brightness of the Super AMOLED Plus display – with us managing 6-8 hours of heavy use before it died. With more casual use, and some tweaking of things like social network updates and other power settings, you could comfortably get through a day. Still, using the Mobile Hotspot app for any length of time chews through the battery in relatively short order.
The ThunderBolt opened our eyes to LTE on a smartphone, but its voracious thirst left us unable to recommend it to anybody other than early adopters. The DROID Charge by Samsung, however, is a far more balanced device, with plenty on its own to recommend it. We’re not thrilled with the plastic chassis, but the Super AMOLED Plus display is a joy and the battery life sufficient for a day’s use.
As with other single-core smartphones we’ve reviewed recently, however, our primary concern is longevity. With Verizon asking a hefty $300 for the DROID Charge, with the usual two-year voice and data plans (and tethering if you want the useful mobile hotspot functionality), we’d want to know our new smartphone could handle anything Google or developers might throw at it down the line. The Samsung can certainly keep Froyo running today, but it falls short of the capabilities of a dual-core device and that might undermine what updates it can receive.
That’s a concern not limited to the DROID Charge by any means, of course, and the single-core processor does likely assist with battery life. If data performance is your primary concern and you want the biggest, brightest display around, Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus smartphone ticks those boxes and then some.