I have been using a Droid X for the last three days. I’ve read the reviews that are out in the blogosphere and want to take a different approach. I’ll simply compare the Droid X with the HTC Incredible that I’ve used since early May. I’m very satisfied with the Incredible but ultimately I conclude: While they’re both great phones, the Droid X is the better phone.
I wanted to compare apples to apples as much as possible. I had both phones running LauncherPro Beta for the home screen, instead of Sense UI (Incredible) and some form of blur (Droid X). I prefer LauncherPro Beta to both so this was a “real world” modification to the phones. I used the phones in similar settings to compare antennas and Wifi reception.
Form Factor and Ergonomics — Both phones feel solid but the Droid X weighs in at ~5.5 ounces vs. Incredible at ~4.5 ounces. It’s not enough difference that you need to wear suspenders to keep your pants up but the extra weight is noticeable. The Droid X has a massive 4.3″ screen vs. the Incredible’s adequate 3.7″. This makes the Droid X a considerably larger phone overall (basically, Motorola and Verizon’s answer to the HTC Evo). I was asked on Google Buzz whether the phone fits comfortably in a pocket. It does. I found the larger screen easier to type and Swype on. (Swype is preinstalled on Droid X, a nice touch (pun intended).) Droid X has a dedicated camera button and physical Menu, Home, Back and Search keys, oddly in that order. The Incredible lacks a camera button and has virtual or flush Home, Menu, Back and Search keys. I like the feel of the physical keys better for those functions. The Incredible has an unnecessary optical trackpad that I almost forgot about because I use it so infrequently. Winner: Droid X, primarily due to massive screen size. Admittedly, this is a highly subjective assessment and some may prefer the Incredible because it is smaller.
Screen Quality — Both screens are very responsive and do multitouch well. I couldn’t distinguish the screens based on responsiveness. To compare the displays, I loaded Beautiful Live Weather wallpaper on both phones. Side by side, the blue on the Incredible’s AMOLED was much deeper or richer than the “washed out” powdery blue on the Droid X. I initially concluded that colors on the Droid X were “washed out.” However, I crowdsourced an answer and Bud Gibson and Mark Richards on Google Buzz directed me to PC Mag’s comprehensive screen review. The review found that the Incredible oversaturates colors by 37 percent and the Droid X undersaturates by 6 percent, which means the Droid X has a more accurate display of colors. In fact, the Droid X has the most accurate display of colors of all of the phones tested, including the iPhone 4. Nonetheless, I showed the screens side by side to two tech-savvy people who both preferred the oversaturated Incredible. This whole issue may be somewhat of a red herring because of the shortage of Samsung AMOLED screens that are used in the Incredible; the later batches of Incredibles are rumored to have Sony TFT screens similar to the TFT screen used in the Droid X. Winner: IMO, Droid X for accurately displaying colors vs. AMOLED Incredibles. However, inconclusive because information about future Incredible screens is unconfirmed.
Antennas — The Droid X receives better signals than the Incredible. In the same location where my Incredible regularly drops calls, the Droid X did not. This was not a fluke; the results were repeatable. The Droid X also appeared to obtain stronger Wifi signals. Winner: Droid X.
Sound Quality — Both phones sound good and the ear pieces are loud. I don’t think a good argument can be made that one is better than another. Winner: Tie.
Battery — Battery technology really hasn’t kept pace with advances in smartphones. Battery life is probably the chief complaint about smartphones, excluding the highly-publicized complaints about the iPhone 4 dropping its signal. If I can make it through the day without a charge, I’m thrilled. The Incredible usually goes the 8-10 hours with light to moderate use. On my first full day with the Droid X, it went 12 hours with about 1.5 hours of heavy Wifi use and 0.5 hours of talk and still had more than 20 percent of its charge remaining. One reason could be that the Droid X has battery manager software baked into the OS. Also, the battery in the Droid X has more milliamps than the Incredible’s battery (1540 vs. 1300). Winner: Droid X by a large margin. Furthermore, for those requiring even more juice, an extended battery for the Droid X will be available.
Storage — Both phones have 8 GB internal and can support up to 32 GB on a card. The Droid X comes with a 16 GB card, whereas the Incredible ships with a 2 GB card (which I never received but I already owned a 16 GB). Winner: Droid X wins by a hair because the 16 GB card comes with the phone.
Other — The Droid X has microphones up the wazoo… I believe there are three of them. Frankly, I don’t know what they all do (one is noise cancellation but the purpose of the third is unclear to me) but there must be a reason for them. The Droid X has a HDMI output but it requires some type of adapter that doesn’t come with the phone. I have seen videos of the Incredible outputting to a flat screen but it was by standard video cables, not HDMI. Both phones have 8 megapixel cameras with dual stage LED flashes. I’m not a camera guy so I didn’t futz around with the cameras but the Droid X can record in 720P and the Incredible can’t. Some say a software update will enable it in the Incredible. Winner: Droid X because it has slightly more bells and whistles.
Both run Android 2.1, contrary to early rumors that Droid X would launch with 2.2. The Droid X is expected to receive a 2.2 upgrade by late summer. That’s based on official word from Verizon. The best estimate on the Incredible was a statement by HTC that it will receive 2.2 before the end of the year. This may mean tomorrow or it could mean December 31st.
Stock UI — Sense UI might be a little better than Motorola’s blur. In any event, I recommend replacing almost every item that can be replaced on the phone, including the UI. You can read my recommendations here. Winner: They both lose to LauncherPro Beta. :P By the way, I noticed that on the Droid X there is a red indicator that highlights the cursor in text fields. This was helpful in locating the cursor and it continued to display even when I changed the UI. This is a nifty improvement.
3G Hotspots– Droid X can create a 3G hotspot to support up to five Wifi devices. The Incredible may get this feature by a software update. (This optional feature will cost $20 per month.) This feature is easy to use. You simply key in a hotspot password for the other devices and toggle it on. Winner: Droid X.
DLNA– The Droid X supports it and the Incredible doesn’t. This is a fantastic feature and underplayed by other reviewers. Digital Living Network Alliance is a trade organization that has created a protocol of sorts by which various devices can share media. For more information, the Wikipedia page is pretty good or visit DLNA’s page. You can play music from your Droid X on your computer or vice versa. You can also transfer music wirelessly from one device to another if you are using the same Wifi router. PS3s and many other devices support DLNA (Wikipedia has a list) and I think you’ll be hearing more about this technology. Maybe we’ll have cloud-based music solutions later this year but until then DLNA streaming is great. Winner: Droid X.
Pre-Installed Apps — Both phones come with some bloatware that cannot be removed. Other than Swype, which comes on the Droid X, I would prefer not having any of the other apps on either phone. (You might find the Blockbuster app on the Droid X appealing but I didn’t.) Winner: They both lose because bloatware sucks. :P
I’m a satisfied Incredible owner but, all in all, the Incredible doesn’t seem to do anything better than the Droid X. That said, I’m not paying full retail to upgrade to a Droid X. If I had upgrade eligibility or if I were a new Verizon customer, I would choose the Droid X. Speaking of upgrade eligibility, check out this promotion: if your Verizon contract expires anytime in 2010, you can upgrade to the Droid X at the subsidized price, which is competitive at $199.
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