Hands-On with the Motorola Droid X (With Video!)

I just had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Motorola’s latest addition to their Android lineup, the beastly Droid X superphone, and man-oh-man, is it glorious. It’s not exactly unique; it’s nearly identical to Sprint’s EVO 4G, both in appearance and specifications — but given how well the EVO 4G has been received by Android fans, I’d say that’s probably not a bad thing.

The Hardware:

When I say this thing’s similar to the EVO, I’m not kidding. Both have a 4.3″ display (though the Droid X’s has a sliiiightly higher resolution, at 848×480 rather than 800×480.), a 1 GHZ CPU, an 8 megapixel camera, and rock the fullface touchscreen candy bar form factor in a pretty jaw-dropping way. The X lacks the Evo’s 4G functionality, and the front-facing camera — but other than that, it’s pretty much spec-for-spec.

With all that said, this thing is about as easy on the eyes as they come. As you’d expect from anything packing a 4.3″ display, this thing feels massive in your hand — not so big that it’s overwhelming, but definitely bigger than what I’m used to. It fits in my almost-but-not-quite hipster pants, taking up pretty much the entirety of the front pocket.

In our cursory glance, the overall build quality seems top notch. They’ve done away with the easily dented speaker grille of the original Droid, and dramatically improved their battery cover design. That may seem trivial, but those little touches tend to reflect how well a device is built through and through.

Though it’s missing the front-facing camera, I otherwise favor this device’s face over that of the Evo. Why? Actual, physical, real-life buttons. Call me silly, but I can’t stand touch-sensitive buttons.

The OS:

Alas, contrary to what we heard at the last minute, the Droid X won’t be getting Android 2.2 at launch. It’ll get it “this summer”, but it launches with 2.1 out of the gate.

Unlike all Droids that came before it, the Droid X is running Motorola’s customized user interface, MOTO BLUR. If you’ve spent any time with other handsets running this UI (like most of T-Mobiles Moto/Android offerings) and are thus shaking your head in disappointment right now: don’t fret. Though we’ve only spent a few minutes with it, this latest version of BLUR seems to be dramatically toned back from everything we’ve seen so far (Thank God.) The social networking widgets are moved out of your face to a back page, and many have been turned off by default.

Motorola’s got a few nice customizations in place here, such as a fairly nice CoverFlow-esque sliding view in the video player’s list. It’s smooth as butter and slick as heck. Want a more standard list? You might be out of luck. I couldn’t find one, nor could the rep.

Video recording/playback:

Though you can only tell so much from a 5 minute demo of the device’s video functionality, I walked away impressed. The video output via HDMI looked stellar, and the demonstration videos shot with the device all looked surprisingly good. Of course, they all coincidentally took place at extremely brightly lit beaches and parks, rather than the quality-destroying bars and nightclubs they’ll actually be used at.

Motorola makes pretty clever use of the device’s 3 microphones (front, back, and a noise cancellation mic on top) with three video “Scenario” modes: Narrative, Outdoors, and Subject. Narrative turns down the volume from the back mic, focusing the audio recording on your voice as you shoot; Outdoors shoots from both mics, using the noise cancellation mic to nullify some of the wind; subject is the contrast to the narrative option, focusing the mic recording input on things behind the camera.

Other notes:

  • It comes with a few built-in applications: Skype, Blockbuster, NFL Mobile, V-Cast, and Backup assistant. As far as you can tell, you can’t remove these. Boo.
  • It comes with Motorola-added Live Wallpaper, featuring the now iconic Droid eye
  • Conclusion:

    So far, so good. I’ll wait until my full review to really decide where this sits on the Android totem pole, but I’m having a hard time finding any flaws with this device so far. If you’re open to switching carriers, you might still want the Sprint EVO for its 4G functionality and the front facing camera — but if you’re a Verizon devout, this looks to be the new one to beat.