By Ray Nicolini
When I heard about the Droid Pro with its keyboard combo with touch screen, I knew immediately that I wanted to play with this device. Therefore, after talking to Verizon, they sent me a demo to play with and by far, it is one of my favorite devices out. After saying that though, a few things did stand out on the device that I had problems with. Hit the break for the full review.
Most of you know I am a major BlackBerry advocator, so moving to an Android 1 GHz phone for two weeks was interesting. Obviously, the biggest change is the operating system. Moving from a 9650 with BlackBerry 6 running semi-smooth to Android 2.2 running extremely smooth, proved most of my friends with Android friends right, it is a better performing phone. Saying that, though, I was very thankful to move back to my 9650 after two weeks, it just felt right for me.
First thing you will notice when you unbox your brand new Droid Pro, is how solid the device feels. Being a BlackBerry addict, I know all too well about size and weight of a Smartphone. Having said that, I never got the feeling the phone was bringing down my pants due to its weight or that it looked like I was squeezing a tablet into my pocket due to its size. In comparison, it is smaller than the Bold 9650 but longer by about a third of an inch. In addition, it feels (though I do not have the exact weight) lighter than my 9650, which was good and bad at the same time for me.
As I said earlier, the main attraction for me on this phone was having a physical keyboard. Whether it is the size of my thumbs or my just overall coordination, I have the worst luck with touch-screen keyboards. Lucky for me, the keyboard on the Pro is exactly like the BlackBerry’s signature keyboard as far as looks and feel (they have the curved keys from the Bold for easier typing). Although it has the same looks and feel esthetically, once you begin to type on it you really feel the difference. I, full out, was not a fan of the typing on it. The buttons did not react as well when typing and sometimes (often) you would push a key and nothing would happen, very disappointed. In addition, the cramped area designated for the keyboard really takes getting used to.
Battery life seemed to do very well on the Droid Pro actually, and that was a major win in my eyes. Not having the extended battery I know have in my 9650, I was used to mediocre at best battery life. I was able to run a full day and a half after a full charge without it dying, and that is with more than decent use.
A big con for me was the screen size. Yes, it is touch-screen and multi-touch, but whenever I used an app or browsed the web on it, it really felt like too much was being squeezed onto the 3.1-inch screen. Although I could live with apps being squeezed, the web browsing experience was horrible to say the least for me. The speed, fantastic; the pinch-and-zoon capabilities, flawless; being able to see what in the world you are looking at, a bogie. I would rather put up with the slow speeds of BlackBerry 6’s Webkit browser and be able to see with good ability what the site is suppose to look like, than to do a good amount of googling on the Droid Pro.
When running benchmarks on the device, it ranked higher than any other Android Smartphone, which was a good sign, but I did have trouble with occasional lag (though that is to be expected).
Overall, I liked the device for its looks and OS, once I dove deeper into the device and its keyboard I almost resented it. I told a few friends that I might have been sold on the whole Android is better than BlackBerry thing, but after living solely on the Droid Pro for three weeks and then returning to my trusty 9650 with BB6, I have to say I was glad to be back. I think Android runs better on other devices and I think it is a fantastic OS (beats the heck out of iOS for sure), but the size of the screen and the keyboard blew it for me. I tried to get used to it thinking it is just because I have been on BlackBerry for so long, but I never could and I do not think I ever will. I hope that the next Android device I review will present its OS in a better light, because I believe it definitely has one.