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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Verizon, Motorola Introduce Droid X

By: Sascha Segan

Verizon Wireless and Motorola on Wednesday introduced their latest Android-powered smartphone, the Droid X. The Motorola Droid X has a large 4.3-inch touch screen, an 8-megapixel camera and a 1-GHz TI processor.

"You have essentially a personal supercomputer," Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said at the announcement.

The Droid X is clearly an important product for Verizon, Google, Motorola and Adobe, who all sent top executives to introduce the phone in simultaneous events in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. It's also Verizon's fourth offering in the Droid line, after the original Motorola Droid; and the Droid Eris and the Droid Incredible, both HTC phones.

Like the HTC EVO 4G for Sprint, the Droid X is a large slab (2.6 inches x 5.0 inches x 0.4 inches, weighing 5.47 oz) with a big, bright screen running the Google Android operating system. Unlike the EVO 4G, the Droid X runs Motorola's own skin over Android 2.1. This isn't the company's earlier MotoBlur software, but a new set of widgets for social networking, messaging and media that do things like integrate Twitter messages into your e-mail inbox.

The Droid X is Motorola's 11th Android-powered smartphone, Motorola chief executive Sanjay Jha said. It's also a great phone, he said. Motorola spent considerable time working on improving phone call quality on the Droid X, and gave the device multiple antennas and three microphones for improved noise cancellation. One microphone, which faces out, helps record great sound for videos taken with the HD 720p video camera mode.

The Droid X's 854-by-480 screen and HDMI video out "screams video," Stratton said, so the device will come with some cutting-edge video applications. The phone can rent and buy movies from Blockbuster that play at 800-by-480 resolution on the phone's screen. A newly-updated NFL app will stream live games to the phone, and V CAST Video will provide a range of other video clips.

Skype has also been integrated onto the Droid X, just like on many other Verizon smartphones.

Shantu Narayan, Adobe's chief executrive, participated in the launch even though the Droid X won't have Adobe Flash when the phone comes out on July 15th. Even though the phone has been designed to run Flash, and Flash content will be hardware-accelerated for better speed and lower power usage, the Droid X ships with Android 2.1. Flash requires version 2.2. Both the new Droid X and the older Motorola Droid will get a 2.2/Flash upgrade "later this summer," Stratton said.

The phone supports wireless hotspot mode, too. A $20/month fee gets you 2 Gbytes of wireless hotspot or tethered PC use, over and above the standard $30/month data charge which lets you use the Internet on the Droid X itself in an "unlimited" way, Stratton said.

The phone has a large, but removable 1570 mAh battery and can be upgraded to a 1930 mAh battery that is only one millimeter thicker, Jha said. Other specs include 8 GB of internal memory, a 16GB included MicroSD memory card, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.

Although the Droid X is coming out just a day before Apple's official sale date for the new iPhone 4, the announcement was mostly free of digs at Apple. Schmidt got in one when he called the phone "not a toy, not just an app engine," but the assembled executives were much more focused on promoting the diversity of the Android ecosystem. Google said today in a press release that 160,000 Android phones are being sold per day, worldwide.

The Droid X will arrive at Verizon on July 15th and cost $299.99, minus a $100 mail-in rebate. Any Verizon customer with a plan that expires in 2010 will be eligible for the upgrade price, Stratton said. Accessories will include a car kit that automatically kicks the phone into "car mode," and an HDMI-compatible dock.

The Droid X is exclusive to Verizon Wireless, but a similar model may come out in the future on international carriers, Jha said.


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