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Motorola Droid - Why I converted to Verizon after 11 years with T-Mobile

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For 11 years, I had been a T-Mobile customer. Actually, I was originally a PowerTel customer. Then they were bought by T-Mobile, and I became a de facto T-Mobile customer.

I frequently described T-Mobile as the KMart of the cell phone world. Significantly cheaper than AT&T and Verizon. Mostly because I had a plan from 1998, that was unbeatable. Then in the early 2000's, I got unlimited internet (because I was in a test market) for $2.99 / month. Eventually, I had to give that up to get 3G, and had to pay retail price for unlimited internet.

But, after 11 years, my requirements changed. Most notably, I needed good support for MS Exchange (ActiveSync), and a nimble phone. My wish list also included an SSH client so I could access servers on the go, decent camera, and fast 3G phone coverage.

T-Mobile has 3G coverage, but not with a phone that met those requirements. So I waited.

Then, about a month ago, a friend of mine asked me "Have you seen that new phone out by Motorola? It's supposed to be an iPhone killer."

This was the best marketing for the Droid that there ever could have been. "Motorola Droid by Verizon: the iPhone killer."

Instead, they have some inane "Droid Does" garbage. No benefit. No nothing. Droid Does what? Dallas? The marketing for the Droid device is so inferior to the device itself, it's almost sad.

Obviously, the advertising agency for the Droid is not the same one who thought up "there's a map for that."

So in the end, it was a long journey from T-Mobile to Verizon, but ultimately, it was a trek I made for the following reasons.

 

1. Open Source

If there's not an app for it now, there will be one soon.
The first disappointment I heard about the Droid was that the browser did not support multi-touch. For those of you out there who don't know what multi-touch is, it is the technology that allows you to zoom by pinching the screen.

However, by the second day of release, the Dolphin browser became available in the Android Market (the Droid equivalent of the Apps Store) and it had multi-touch. And it was free.

This is just a great example of how quickly apps are being developed for the Droid. It's breakneck speed really. Goggle hands developers everything they need to make apps for the Android operating system. I would image, that shortly, very shortly, every app that exists for the iPhone will have a Droid equivalent. And... I'll bet the Droid equivalent will be free.

 

2. Workability

Finally, I can read attachmentsWord docs, Excel, PDF (that's a big one) they are all readable by the Droid. Just download the required apps, which are free, and you can read them. icViewer, in particular, is one of my favorites for PDF. Small app, works great, and supports multi-touch.

 

3. Exchange

Yes... Android 2.0 not only supports email, but folders
My previous phone was a Windows Mobile phone. It, of course, had active sync, but the most frustrating thing about that phone (a Motorola Q9h from AT&T unlocked to run on T-Mobile's network) was that it would never show me my sent items, and it would never show me other folders than the inbox.

Not matter how I configured it, it just wouldn't show it. The Droid, on the other hand has a WONDERFUL implementation of ActiveSync, and allows me to see ALL my folders.

 

4. Google Platform

Maps, Earth, Talk, and Voice, Oh My!
The Google Maps application that is built into the phone is amazing, and over Verizon's 3G network, it is quick and nimble. You can see your friends with Latitude, and you can get driving directions from where you are to where you want to go. It's fantastic.

Google Talk is integrated as well. Start a chat on your laptop, and then finish it in the car.

But by far the GREATEST thing about the phone is integrated Google Voice. Using Google Voice on your phone's data connection, you can make and receive UNLIMITED PHONE CALLS FOR FREE.

Of course, Verizon still makes you by a minutes plan. Just get the base 450 plan and setup Google Voice, and you're home free. You'll never use a single minute.

The VoIP connection over Google Voice is phenomenally good. No dropped calls yet, and no quality problems. In fact, using Google Voice, the bass quality in caller's voices is quite better than over the normal calling line.

You also get the benefit of Google Voice's transcription service for voice mails. Someone will leave you a message, Google Voice will transcribe it for you, and stick it in your inbox. The voice mail just became email. It's not perfect, but it is still VERY cool.

 

5. Voice Recognition

Circa Star-date 2199
The Droid can understand you. You can do voice search to query the web via Google' search engine. You can do voice search to find a contact, you can tell the phone call so-and-so's mobile phone.

It understands. It dials, and it rarely makes mistakes.
 

6. The Camera

5MP? You can't be serious.
That camera is just sick. Not only does it come with an LED flash, but it allows you to press the camera button down to focus, and then release to take the picture. Just like a real camera.

The picture quality is better than one of the other digital camera's I have in my house that are circa 2004. It also takes HD movies if you switch into video mode.

 

7. Data Integration

Linking Google, Facebook, and other Networking Sites.
The last thing in this list (only because I can't think of any more at the moment) would have to be the integration with data services on the web such as Facebook and others.

The Facebook integration is superb. It will even import the profile pictures of your friends on Facebook to serve as the contact picture for that person in your contacts or when you text message them. Finally, in a world where unified messaging is not yet mature, at least we have unified social networking. Maybe that's a statement on our priorities as a country, but I digress.

 

8. Tethering

So I lied. I thought of one last great thing about the Droid.
Tethering is a process by which you turn your PDA or cell phone into a modem so your laptop can get on the internet.

Verizon offers a tethering service for some monthly fee. But, in true open source fashion, pdanet has developed an app that allows your computer to tether off the Droid FOR FREE. (Just pay $29 for the app... a great investment in my book).

The tethered Droid is actually significantly faster than my Verizon AirCard. The AirCard routinely gets 1.5MB down in the Metro Atlanta area. The Droid is getting 2.2MB down, and 512KB up.

Needless to say, I am not renewing the aircard contract.

Bottom line, I have a cool phone, with great features, that is fun to use, and has lessened my communications bill by nearly 1/3 (because I don't have to pay for phone, phone-internet, and aircard anymore).

The Droid is a great phone.

So before I go, I will give you the only two things wrong with the Droid.

First, the battery life is not great. But, given the bright, hi-res screen, I guess that is to be expected. When you first buy the phone and get obsessed with it, you'll learn that it runs out of juice after 4.5 hours of constant use (surfing, downloading apps, taking pictures, SSH'ing into the mail server, etc...). However, under normal use, it will last you from sun up to sun down without issue. Just in case, invest in a car charger.

The only other issue is that the email crapped out on me yesterday. For no reason, Exchange just disappeared. This wasn't a big deal. I just deleted the account, and re-set it up, and the whole process only took 5-6 minutes. But none-the-less, it crapped out on me. Happened only once. Not sure why.

Hopefully this will be a helpful article to some of you out there considering the Droid. Buy it. You won't be disappointed.
16
Author:DrDamnit
17 Comments
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
Great article! I'm counting down the weeks until I can get a new phone under my Verizon plan, and this just increases the anticipation! I voted "Yes", above.
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by:younghv
DrD - As mentioned above, a thoroughly enjoyable and informative Article.
Big ol' YES!
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by:b0lsc0tt
Very interesting article!  Thanks for your time and the contribution.

bol
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by:pgnatyuk
I voted "yes". I'm reading your second article and both are really nice.
I can explain - now I don't need to buy Droid, I've read everything here and I understand how it works. :)
I do not see a lot of positive articles about Droid. For sure it is not an "iPhone killer". As well as HTC or LG or Samsung phones. Not now.
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by:Jenn Prentice
Great article! LOVED the Debbie does Dallas reference!
My husband wants to get a Droid when he's due for an upgrade with Verizon and I will be passing this article along to him.  
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by:b0lsc0tt
>> now I don't need to buy Droid, I've read everything here and I understand how it works. <<

Not to take from the article but it could never be the same as actually using a Droid.  The same is true of an iPhone and any article on it.  Sure the details may help and inform but this article isn't meant to be exhaustive and can't highlight features/benefits that a specific user may find most helpful.  I am not sure what "I can explain" means but hopefully you won't be advising as an "expert" on the Droid just based on this and other articles.  There is no substitute for personal experience and exposure.

>> I do not see a lot of positive articles about Droid. For sure it is not an "iPhone killer". <<

I have seen a number of positive reviews, both before it was released and since.  In fact many that used the phrase "iPhone killer" did so because they reviewed the phone so highly.  I have always thought that phrase more marketing or exaggeration than something to be taken literally.  The iPhone is just too good to be easily "killed" or completely replaced.  It will always have the niche of the iTunes users, Mac owners, etc.  From my reading of articles those who named the Droid such used other reasons for that "conclusion" and highlighted some key features/benefits of the Droid over other phones, even the iPhone.

Mainly I am glad to see something I feel can really compete with the iPhone (and AT&T if you are in the US) for those who want options.  The Droid isn't the only legitimate competition to the iPhone but I feel is a primary threat and definitely should not be ignored (by Apple & AT&T).

bol
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by:DrDamnit
@b0lsc0tt:

You're 100% on target. Great follow-up!
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by:jakers
Yeah, the iPhone killer statements were really more for hype than full-blown truth. I love the Android and the iPhone. Personally, I use an iPhone due to the three year service contact that I'm stuck with currently :X. Would I switch to Verizon and their Android if I could? Absolutely. But why? Why switch from the iPhone? Well, the problem doesn't lie in the iPhone itself, but the provider. AT&T is overpriced, and has very little 3G coverage across the map. I do wish the new iPhone had a better camera, but it's nothing to really complain about. Also, if you're into social networking, Droid definitely has the iPhone beat in this aspect.


I hope I didn't ramble here and strew random sentences together :)
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by:Los22
I'm glad I stuck with T-Mobile now that the new Nexus One from Google is out. All that the Droid does and better/faster. I don't need a physical keyboard. The new plans from T-Mo are great too. I'm saving money on the new family plans compared to what I had previously. My fiancee and I are spending less and gettnig more.

The Android OS is defintely taking off. I never liked the iPhone. My whole family switched and I could have gotten an iPhone with them (for free no less) but I didn't like it. I'm glad Android came out. Now my family likes my girl's MyTouch but they spent a bunch on their iPhones, so they're reluctant to switch.  LMAO

Also, most people aren't aware that T-Mo has spent millions on their network and have just launched HSPDA so 3G customers with phones like Nexus One and similar new phones can use it now.

I really dislike AT&Ts commercials where they claim they have more coverage, then mention their 3G network, leading people to think that coverage map is for their 3G but Verizon's ADs are right on the money. AT&T has horrible 3G coverage.  LMAO
Got to love these marketing tricksters.   ;-)
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by:MightySW
Great article.  You should have stuck with T-mobile.  Not only is the G1 better and faster with the EXACT same apps, but t-mobile will soon come out with the G2.  The G1 has been out for how long??? 2 years?  

I can do the same things you just mentioned above with my tmobile myTouch 3g and it is FASTER than ANY stock Droid.  Of course I did some playing around, but wasn't that your 1st point?  Plus I don't have to bother with a slide out keyboard.

Sorry, but you just bit the big one with Verizon.  They are all go and no show IMO.

Thanks man.
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by:Kevin Cross
Thanks!
Voted yes above.
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by:Justin Ellenbecker
You realize active sync and folder support were in all versions of the Q9, maybe you should learn what the device can do before saying it can't.  Also the "Droid Does" slogan is only part of it so it applied to all phones.  "For everything the iPhone doesn't Droid Does."  There are so many shortcomings in your review that you make a great phone sound almost bad because of your lack of knowledge of your previous phones.  Also the tethering PDA.NET works on the Q9 as well.  I am a proud owner of Q9c for work and a MOTO DROID for my personal phone.  But many of the things you claim the droid does that you were unable to do is not the Q9s problem but more operator failure.  You forget to mention the extra cost for exchagne syncing with Verizon and a few of the other features.  Next time you write a review of how one product is far superior to the other make sure you have all of your facts please.  I have PDF word and excel apps on my Q9 as well.  And most of it was built in.
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Expert Comment

by:india1_a
wonderful, so simplistically written. Android is going to revolutionise the Mobile Market all over the world. Real pioneer OS (open source). Change the way people interact in the future.
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by:DrDamnit
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by:to2007
I just got an HTC Incredible.   I have been a fathful Verizon user since 1984 when they were not Verizon!  I have been through lots of phones and handheld compupter phones of all types.  I have primarirly used WIndows Mobile devices from Samsung over the laswt few years.

I decied to try a WIndows Mobill HTC Touch Pro2   it was nice with a few short comings. I just can't stand the touch screen on any phone.

I decided to try the Android OS pon the HTC Incredible as it nseemd like a very fast device.  Unfortuenaly for those of us who use it to interface to Outl,ook coincstantly it has lots of short comoing. The "people"/comntacts do not sunc notes in the contact. THe Contacts are sorted by first name with no way to change the sort order per HCT anbd Verzizon.  IU have been told that the first Motorola Drioids may have sorted last name first but now that has chagned. Business runs on last name!  Further being in the tech busniess we rely on the calendar in Outlook to handle our schedules and also transfer appointmenets and notes to billing. We assign categories to all appointments, "onsite suypport"  , "phone support", "travel" etc. Apparentlyh this can not be done in the Android OS.

Plus when it cones to calling a contact you get a list of all contacts,(00 in my case, sorted byu first name of course and no way to quickly scroll through them from the "a"'s to anpother letterfurther down the alphabet.  THe HTC Touch Pro2 WIndwos moblei has a bar on the side that jumps ot the letter you pick to quickly mover thorugh contatcts.   AN yes you can in the Adroid OS as well as WIndwos Mobil, type that first few leteres. For instacne though if  i type  "sm" for the first letters in Smith, it sorts from a to z all the names with "sm" in the first and or last name!  THat doesn't always narrow it down to oine screen of contacts. SOme WIndows Mobile phones also allows for fast scrolling where you hold the scroll down and after a second or 2 it knows you want to move fast so it jumps from letter to letter through tha alphabet and lets you stop on "S" and then scroll to the "Smith's"

I notice the orieginal author said hyou can tlkak to the Droids    i found that interseting for wed surfing and Gooling but you can't sya with Blue Tooth headset attached to your ear, "call Steve Smith"  HTC and Verizon acknowledged this is known issue with Andriod OS!  It doesn't do much for obyueing all the new hands free laws if i have to slowly sort through to Steve Smith by looking down at the handset and then call him!  MY WINdows Mobile devices have been doing it wtih Bluetooth since my Samsun i730 and WIndows Mobile 2003!!!!    SOme inovatioin this Android OS!!

all in all the web surfing in the Driod Incredible is cool but the day to day business use of fast contact dialing, categorizing contacts and calenedars and notes is disappointing and unusabel. MY bad for not testing for 30 days oince got it and now Verizon may not take this darn thing back.

ANy thoughs woudl be appreciated even if you thionk i am all wrong.  Sorry foir typos that may exist late for meetings and had to vent
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by:DrDamnit
@to2007:

You're almost to writing an article yourself! Have you considered turning your "vent" into a full blown article? I think it would be worthwhile...
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by:b0lsc0tt
I had forgotten about this but have to post a comment that I really like the new Android 2.2 (Froyo) update.  The previews I had heard made me excited for the update.  I got it last week and it has met or even exceeded my expectations.  Flash was not part of the update and does not seem available yet.
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