updated 05:45 pm EDT, Thu October 7, 2010
We try Motorola Droid Pro and more at CTIA
Electronista had the opportunity to try Motorola's new phone lineup for CTIA today, headlined by the attention-seeking Droid Pro. The phone has earned an early reputation as a BlackBerry killer, and we're inclined to believe it; the device fits very perfectly in the hand with a mostly good, portrait style QWERTY keyboard with a distinct tactile feel. It also uses the same 1GHz TI OMAP processor as the Droid X, and the speed is very evident as it zips through Android 2.2.
The display is of course noticeably smaller than on its touch-only cousin, but this is arguably the way QWERTY-equipped work phones need to go. A 3.1-inch, 320x480 screen may seem small on other phones, but for a BlackBerry-like design it's massive and sharp. We didn't feel like it was cramped, and the modernity of Android kept it humming where most pre-6 BlackBerries simply feel old. That it has a five-megapixel camera and the same Android Market access also means it can be a "fun" work phone; we noticed that the demo units had Need for Speed: Shift installed, hinting that Motorola felt the same way.
Our only significant gripe was with the keyboard, though this may be force of habit: neither the Enter nor period keys were where we initially expected them to be, so we would end up deleting or typing a comma instead. We'd have to use the Droid Pro for longer to gauge how much of a problem this would be, but for now we're optimistic that we could get used to it before the smartphone hits Verizon later in the fall.
We had mixed opinions about the rest of Motorola's introductions this week. The Bravo was notable simply through its mid-range, straightforward design. At 800MHz, it's not as fast as the Droid Pro but still handled most tasks quickly and was very comfortable with a completely rounded shape. The browser did bog down somewhat, however.
The Flipside, the other genuinely new AT&T phone, was less exciting. It's using an older 720MHz chip, so it feels noticeably slower, but it's also very conventional. We thought the keyboard was good -- lacking in sheer responsiveness, but well-spaced and comfortable -- but there didn't really seem to be a reason for the trackpad other than novelty. It worked well but could have been handled by a much smaller pad. We'd rather opt for the Flipout, which isn't new to those outside the US but has a much smaller, and more clever square form factor to go with a lower price.
The Verizon Citrus was the only phone we really didn't like. It could go through the motions at a decent pace, but performance was clearly throttled back compared to even the mid-range AT&T phones. The 240x320 screen is too clearly pixelated. Motorola's backside trackpad is clever; we liked that it could work as a true cursor. But we're not sure it would honestly be useful, and even during the demo we noticed certain areas where it didn't work but should have. We'd recommend paying the small premium for most any other of Verizon's Android devices.