and the rest of the cell-phone mafia might as well rechristen the end of the spring as smartphone season. In the past few weeks, the new KIN ONE from
new iPhone 4 (made by Apple, of course) and
EVO all splashed into the cell-phone market with gusto. And last week, Motorola took its turn on the smartphone high dive and dropped its new Droid X ($199/plan).
I've been testing the unit over the past week or so and had several briefings from company execs. And though the Droid X is nowhere near the ultimate small-business tool -- more on that in a second -- the unit offers real business value in the suddenly crowded uber-phone market.
And just like that, Motorola's fortunes on the cell-phone high seas have suddenly improved.
What you get:
The Droid X, within limits, is one serious mobile productivity tool for the small business.
For sure, Motorola, Verizon and Google deserve credit for not only addressing the shortcomings of early Android phones like the myTouch and the HTC Hero, but stuffing this unit with oodles of business-friendly features. The rippin'-fast 1 GHz processor does away with much of Android's legendary multitasking sluggishness. At least in early testing, I could email, navigate, check my calendar and still make a phone call. I know, shocker.
Business types should also approve of the swanky new easier-to-use touch keyboard, the high-quality 8 MP camera, the 720P camcorder and 16 GB of storage. The Skype app (from
) is an effective international calling solution. And the
app promised many hours of in-flight distraction. But most importantly, the battery life, at least in my initial tests, seemed a step beefier than earlier Droids. Say, six hours for average use. Overall, the Droid X is a full step more refined, powerful and useful than previous Android phones.
Clearly Motorola has a new cell phone player on its hands.
More on Smartphones Whatever Happened to Nokia?
What you don't get:
For all the Droid's upside, this is still nowhere near the ultimate mobile business tool.
For starters, the Droid X has no keyboard. Not only does that do away with the uniqueness of the previous Motorola Droid model, it puts business users back in the dumb position of having to choose between app-friendly, touch-enabled devices like the iPhone or Droid and more data-entry friendly tools like the BlackBerry from
Research in Motion
And then there's the 800-pound networking gorilla in the room: The Droid works only in the U.S. -- how silly is that? This is a
phone. Remember, Verizon is rolling out its 4G networks later this year, so strictly speaking, assuming a two-year contract, you are buying a legacy device.
And how sucky is that?
In terms of performance, style and applications, Motorola has elbowed into the front ranks of uber-phones like the iPhone and the EVO with the Droid X. Verizon has also smartly priced the unit: Unlimited data is a reasonable $30 a month above the probable $70 a month you will pay for flat-rate voice and text.
And while I mourn the loss of the keyboard and wonder about finessing the 3G/4G networking transition, the Droid X is a legit small-business tool. You heard it here first, the word of Motorola's demise as a cell-phone power have been grossly exaggerated.
-- Written by Jonathan Blum in New York
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Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on FoxNews and The WB.