Motorola's Droid X Is Spot On

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Motorola's ( MOT) Droid X makes its high-profile sales debut at Verizon ( VZ) Thursday at a time when smartphone shoppers can't seem to get their fill of the latest generation of superphones.

Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 4: sold out, antenna problems and all. Google ( GOOG) Android-powered HTC EVO at Sprint ( S): sold out indefinitely. Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible: sold out until August 9.
Droid X

With August consumer demand outpacing thin supplies, the timing of the Droid X is spot on.

"I think a million in a month is doable," said MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen, referring to Droid X sales.

Verizon isn't "getting the Incredible in volumes they needed, and the iPhone antenna dilemma presents it with some pretty delicious advertising angles of attack," said Kuittinen.

Verizon said it has "plenty of inventory to respond to our customers' demands." In the event of a sellout, a Verizon rep said customers can order the device at the store and receive it at "their homes within 24 hours."

The Droid X is a follow up to the original Droid phone Motorola supplied to Verizon in November. And it marks yet another step up from the first Droid in the feature race with a 4.3-inch screen vs. the 3.7-inch screen in the original, an 8-megapixel camera v. last year's 5-megapixel and a speedier 1-gigahertz Texas Instruments ( TXI) processor.

After three weeks of testing, the Droid X reveals some key strengths and a few weaknesses.

Size. The Droid X is considerably bigger than the original, but since it lacks a keyboard, it is both thinner and lighter. Initially, the big screen, 16% larger than the Droid and nearly a quarter bigger than the iPhone, seemed a bit too large. But you quickly adjust, then appreciate all that extra screen space.

The 4.3-inch screen is the same size as HTC's EVO, and both super-sized phones fit quite easily in the pocket. The difficulty, though minor, was trying to reach all the way across the phone, a distance a little too far for the average thumb. So some maneuvers do require two hands.

Upshot: 4.3 inches is a good size and it could easily become the preferred size for superphones.


Camera. The Droid X is a very good point-and-shoot camera for most well-lit shots. With the camera trigger on the right and the focus buttons on the left, the phone is an easy shooter with a variety of options. See an attempt of taking a black-and-white photo with the Droid X below.

For those who frown on megapixels as the ruler applied to camera quality, this much can be said: More is sometimes better. In the case of the Droid X, since there's no true optical zoom on the camera, you have to use digital zoom or cropping to bring the image closer. And with all the extra pixels in the shot, the picture stays surprisingly clear as you zoom in.

Indoor shots are still a big problem for camera phones. The lenses and sensor chips are just too small to capture enough light indoors. And the dual LED flash is just a joke.

Upshot: Droid X doubles as your all-around outdoor, easy to shoot camera.

Video. The so-called 720p video capture is technically high definition. The videos captured however, weren't exactly what you'd comfortably call HD. That said, the video camera is top notch for a phone.

With Apple iPhone's HD video capability and the shooting power of the new Android phones like Droid X, it's hard to see efforts like Cisco's ( CSCO) Flip camera going much further in the market.

Upshot: The Droid X shot decent videos and as an added bonus, if you are playing music while filming, you have a built-in soundtrack. Not a killer app by any means, but fun to play with.

Buttons. The row of plastic buttons across the bottom of the screen for menu, home, back and search is a bad idea.

Not only do you get a flimsy plastic feel at the bottom of some sweetly polished glass, but as buttons, they stink. The problem is that touchscreens give you a proximity contact requiring only a slight touch. Physical buttons require a firm push. The transition from soft touch to firm is a constant annoyance.

Upshot: The buttons belong under glass. The Droid X gives you the feeling that it missed that step of the evolution.

Function. Awesome Google Navigation -- check. Pandora plays on through multitasking and display timeout -- check. Syncs with Microsoft ( MSFT) Exchange for office email -- check.

One problem, which could be easily fixed with a software tweak, was the resizing of Web page text. If you are one of those folks that likes to read a lot online, then you will run into a little hitch. When zooming in on the text, the Droid X software fails to reconfigure the margins to keep all the words visible on the page.

Upshot: Nobody wants to scroll from side to side to read an entire sentence. A simple fix is required.

Overall, the Droid X is on par with HTC's big-screen EVO and the superb Incredible. The upgrade is significant from the original Droid, but something suggests that there's an even better phone out there. Maybe it's the iPhone, maybe it's a future Droid, but this Droid X comes pretty close.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.