Motorola Droid X Final Review & Gingerbread Update Info [Consumer Bits]

by on June 9, 2011

in consumer, consumer reviews

Motorola Droid XI previously slapped out a few impressionistic reviews of my Motorola Droid X smartphone when I first bought it. Now that I’ve used for over 6 months, I can say I’ve become incredibly happy with the device. And now that the new Gingerbread update is out, updating the phone to Android 2.3.3, it’s a WOW experience!

Recap/Review of Droid X User Experience

Since November, I’ve become very accustomed to a few features on my Motorola Droid X phone. In fact, almost dependent on. I love the weather and news apps that came pre-installed. The Kindle app is my newest addiction. And a few production apps I’ve installed that I use regularly have become mainstays in my day-to-day life. If you get the right set of apps and such, your Droid X can be a great productivity tool or something that helps pass the lulls in the day.

Phone Reception

Motorola phones have always had a great ability to pull in a good signal compared to other brands my friends carry. I once had a Samsung Omnia. Besides a painful, clunky smartphone experience, this thing had horrid reception. My Motorola Droid X remedied that and I’ve not had an issue since.

Camera

I use the Camera more than I thought I would. (And with the Gingerbread update, you CAN NOW TURN OFF THE SHUTTER SOUND!!!) It can take wonderful images most of the time.

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdrivers 2011-05-03_08-56-37_91

It has a panoramic mode. It’s not perfect but if you tackle simple two and three frame scans, it works pretty good. It also has an automatic face detect, making it easy to take self portraits. Zooming in on objects isn’t bullet-proof as the pics will get grainier but overall, it’s a great little camera that’s nice to have around for most basic shots.

Oh, and they have a zoom in and out widget on the screen now when you bring up the camera.

See a panoramic pic after the break:

Droid X panoramic-downtown San Francisco

I Talk To My Phone

For me, Motorola has always had a fantastic voice recognition process, through the various models I’ve had over the years. They never need training and for the most part, understands about 90% of what I say to it. And I know it understands my foul language. It puts asterisks in place of the words. D*****! It’s even better on the Droid X.

In fact this phone’s voice recognition is so “practical” that I use it for most of my email, Twitter and Facebook interactions because rather than typing, I can talk to it and post updates to my internet brethren via real words. It’s pretty fun that way. And the microphone is pretty sensitive. I can talk to it in a normal tone holding it at arm’s length and it catches what I say.

GPS, Google Maps and Finding Addresses

One of the more fun applications on my Droid X is when I start my Google search function, and say “Navigate to (whatever address you’re looking for)”

If your GPS is enabled, a short address will work just fine. It knows where you are via your GPS settings and it looks in your vicinity. It then pulls up a unique perspective angled map showing you your path and a digitized computer female voice guides you to your destination. And it’s cool.

She promptly directs you through every turn, corner and what not. It’s probably like your basic GPS Map system most people buy for their cars, but this is my first and I find it pretty fun. It’s almost beyond cool.

Even if you don’t use the navigation tool, just having Google Maps on and locating addresses in your region is made incredibly easy. Combine that with the speech recognition system, all I ever do is talk “on” my phone and I’m not on any phone calls.

I could actually go on and on about this feature, so I’m shutting myself down right now.

Oh, one more thing on using the Navigator: Plug it in with your car adapter. When you use the driving instructions mode, it eats battery juice like some folks tank down coffee!

Apps

Apps can make or break your smartphone experience if you’re not careful. One smart process to use when snagging apps that appeal to you is to read the reviews of the app.

When I look for an app in my Droid store (Market), I carefully look at the reviews before downloading. See if there’s a pattern of good or questionable. If an app has a mediocre to poor rating, I don’t go near it. If it has many reviews and it’s above average, I tend to consider the download but still look at reviews. Sometimes folks will say what issues they’ve had and what phone they’ve had.

On occasion, I’ve caught where apps seem to not like the Droid and seen where folks have taken the time to warn us that they’ve had issues with its operational capability, or even the difficulty in uninstalling something. It’s my belief that if you don’t go bonkers crazy downloading and trying everything there is out there, that your phone/OS will operate efficiently for a longer period of time before it runs into those mysterious system snags we all run into one day or another.

Below is my list of apps that I’ve installed and my (overall take) on them.

Apps

Amazon Kindle

(Came pre-installed, totally awesome. This app on this phone completely converted me from a ‘hold in your hand’ book kind of guy to a digital book fan. The big thing is that books no longer take up space in my place. Plus, with having my phone with me every where, so too, do I have my kindle books.)

Cardio Trainer from Worksmart Labs

(Just installed, but seems awesome. Jury is still out. It registers your pace off the internal gyroscope and takes advantage of your GPS connection. It also will automatically start playing your music for you… but I think there’s a bug in that aspect of the app. I couldn’t turn the music off anywhere. I had to reboot the phone!)

Facebook

(Limited, clunky, but gets the basic job done wonderfully.)

Fandango

(Once you get accustomed to it, it’s awesome!)

Gmail

(I use it every day, every hour. Works as needed and expected. It’s about 90% functional from the web interface.)

Google Maps

(On the Droid X’s huge screen, totally awesome! In conjunction with your GPS, is fun.)

Google Sky

(A fun novelty that is pretty freaky fun to play with at night.)

Hootsuite

(For the Twitter fan, it does the job fine.)

IMDb

(About 90% functional of what you’d get on the internet/PC platform. Great for super quick checks of actors or TV/movie info.)

RealCalc

(Awesome scientific calculator)

ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner

(Incredible price comparing or price investigation tool! Better than the others I’ve tried.)

TeslaLED

(Takes over the flash for your camera, super easy & incredibly simple to use and it’s a very bright flashlight.)

Tricorder

(A fun Star Trek gimick app.)

Twitter

(Great little app on the Droid if you only have one Twitter account, otherwise, see Hootsuite.)

TV Guide

(Awesome. Don’t really need your TV’s on-screen guide with this baby. It’s faster and easier to navigate, especially when you set up favorite networks.)

Xfinity Mobile

(Yuk. Slow and cumbersome plus every time I update an app or do some other system function, it starts itself. WTH is that about? I’ve uninstalled it today while writing this review because it kept starting up with my updating my apps.)

Yahoo Mail

(Good for what it is… though it could be better.)

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clouds 2011-06-03_19-28-00_978

Another Droid Camera Photo

My only constructive advice about your apps on the Droid X or probably any other smartphone is that I’ve turned off the automatic updating ability on all of them.

On a few occasions, I’ve been stymied by an app updating itself right when I want to use a feature on my phone and with no hard drive light to tell you if there’s activity or what not, you end up staring at your phone wondering what’s up. (Never stare at your phone while driving.) One time I really needed my Google Maps app and when I started it triggered the update… grr. That prompted me to turn off updates because I needed my map NOW, not 5 minutes later.

This means that I have to manually update apps, but for me, that’s fine. I update the practical tools and ignore the games and other crap. For all I know, they’re only updating their ad delivery process… which is what I noticed a few game apps did to me… “improve” advertisement delivery.

I go into the Market, bring up the menu and choose My Apps, then click on an app and you’ll see an “update automatically” check-box. I’ve unchecked them all.

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The Gingerbread Update

I thought I loved my Android before, but yesterday a friend of mine came into my office, asked if he could see my phone, then proceeded to update my phone with Motorola’s Gingerbread update. Apparently I either trust him or he realized I would not get up and try to strangle him for messing with my phone. After playing with it, I let him live! Good call John… thanks!)

The Gingerbread update is nice. The only surprise snag for me was that I had to re-sign in to my Kindle app and sync again. But then again, it’s a newer version of the Kindle reading software.

The screen look of the phone is a little different, some of the icons are different and there are a few different things to get used to.

Here’s something cool… rather than having to scroll left and right now, you have the option, while on the center (home) screen to tap the home button and a menu-like thing pops up that will let you select which screen to pop over to.

You still can’t delete contacts that were forced into your phone book when you synced up to Facebook and the like, but if you try to delete a FB contact, it recognizes you don’t want to see this contact and the phone will hide this entry from your contacts list.

The battery manager looks different and the cool, hollow battery shape with green fluid-looking indicator seems to be gone.

Charging the phone, the screen now stays lit unless you darken it yourself with a tap of that top button. If you do darken it, it will relight itself when there’s the update message saying your battery is charged. This is probably not an issue with most if you charge the phone anywhere but at night on your bedroom nightstand.

The roll-out is occurring in phases. If you don’t have it but can’t wait, you can manually go into System Updates in the About Phone portion of Settings.

Here’s a list of updates that came with Gingerbread:

New Download Manager App
App and Power Management Details
Multi-Touch Key-Chording – New ability to enter numbers and symbols with keyboard shortcut combos.
Improved Word Selection and Copy Functionality
New User Interface and Color Scheme
Dock Icons
App Groups
Emergent Groups and Smart Contacts
Updated Calendar Options
Geo-Tagging for Camera applications
Email application- Improved contact syncing from multiple accounts, Email pushes work correctly w/ Exchange Active Sync.
Successfully edit Contacts without being directed to the home screen.
Auto focus Camera feature has been improved for use in low-light conditions
Improved battery life while using Bluetooth

My only advice in regards to updating your phone to Gingerbread is have enough battery. Mine was low, but I plugged in.

Turn on your wireless connection if you have one set up. Wireless versus the 3G connection makes the download of this 100+ Mb file go so much faster!!!

And also, be prepared for the small amount of down-time you’ll have while your phone updates. (Psst… my phone got pretty warm during the update, so don’t freak. The phone had to work overtime to get itself updated, but it’s worth it.)

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Final Thoughts About my Motorola Droid X

I don’t know if you’ve figured out how I feel about the phone, but it’s a hit with me. This phone is so intuitive and easy to use that it’s just a fun experience. In the last 7 months, I’ve only had to reboot it twice. I turn it off maybe once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. I like to turn it off every now and then to clear out the memory and restart with a clean slate.

If you’re like me, when you went from a cell phone to a smartphone, you might freak about how fast the battery goes. I use anywhere from 50 to 70% of my charge each day. Almost makes sense. It’s a large screen and a very busy screen. There are ways to help conserve battery juice but I like my updating apps and such and have acclimated with a car charger and charging at night.

I’ve chosen the Droid X because of the large screen and how easy it would be to use the touch screen keyboard and it works just fine.

Motorola Droid X (Amazon)

Smartphones (with Service) on Amazon

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Simmons July 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Thanks Phil… I’m also noticing that the camera is MUCH slower to start up and take pictures with Gingerbread. I haven’t noticed the compass issue… now I have to run outside and check that out! Thanks for adding some insight Phil!

Phil July 31, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Nice DroidX article, thanks. A few negatives about Gingerbread however: Google Sky, Google street view (compass mode), Space Junk, and other APPS that use the compass no longer work correctly, they face east when you point the phone west, for example. Verizon and Motorola are pretending there is no problem. Google is well aware of it. Apparently Motorola is responsible but don’t seem to care.

pedro June 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

No I haven’t, but iv been meaning to. I think that’s what im gonna di before I do a reset.

Bruce E. Simmons (BruSimm) June 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

If that’s your only option, yea… I’d try it. But at this point, I’m only guessing.

Have you actually hit up a Verizon store and pestered them in-person? At least if something goes terribly wrong, you MIGHT have sensible help on-hand! … hopefully.

pedro June 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Hmm. I don’t think its another app because the problem started before I even downloaded any apps… do you think a factory reset would fix it?

Bruce E. Simmons (BruSimm) June 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Pedro… the only thing I can think of is if you have an app that got confused by the update… With me since the update, my camera has been just a touch slower to open than it use to be. BUT also, I did have an app go bonkers on me. All I did was uninstall then reinstall and things were fine once again.

If you have allot of apps, that might be time consuming but I suspect it is a wayward app.

Pedro Hazza June 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm

hey, i have the same phone and got the gingerbread update and i love it! except one thing: the stupid camera seems to like to open itself, take a picture, save the picture, and then keep taking pictures. i press home and it goes away for about one second, then it keeps taking pictures again. is this just a glitch that will be fixed? or is it a problem with the camera itself? i cant seem to find anyone else who has this problem.

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