Droid X Review (And Must Have Apps)

by Ed Cabellon on July 22, 2010 · 10 comments

Photo of the Motorola Droid X

After much debate about the iPhone 4 or Droid X, I chose to leave AT&T last week and join Verizon to get the Droid X.  I wanted to give you a quick review of my initial thoughts (pros and cons), one week into using it, along with my favorite apps (so far).  Overall, the device has lived up to its hype and made me a believer in the Android system.  I hope this can answer some of your questions and enlighten your curiosity about the Droid X.

Please note that I moved from a BlackBerry Bold 9000 to a Droid X.  Your experience may be different depending on your former device, your mobile technology acumen, and other random stuff :-)

The PROS:
- Internet Browsing: This has been the best feature of the Droid for me so far.  I left my BlackBerry Bold for a better mobile web experience and I got it.  I have the FULL internet at my disposal with Adobe Flash support. (Update: The Froyo update came last month and has been great. No problems so far for me!)
- Email Integration (Outlook): We run an Microsoft Outlook Exchange Server on our campus, so integrating this email was another important feature for me.  With the onboard app called “Corporate Sync”, all of my emails, calendar and contacts from Outlook are now synced wirelessly.  I love being able to type in a email recipient and have my Outlook LDAP access to auto-find a recipient!
- Notification Light:
Another feature I thought I would miss on the Droid X from my BlackBerry was the blinking notification light. The Droid X has one and it flashes different colors for whatever you want to be notified on.  I love being across the room and seeing what activity is happening on my device!
- Speed:
This device is FAST and processes at a speed that I’m quickly getting used to.  As I have learned how to stop and start the processes I want running, I’ve gotten the device at a consistent speed I’m comfortable with.
- Multitasking: This device does a great job with running multiple applications at the same time. Jumping from app to app has been virtually no problem as the Android OS handles it with very few issues.
- Camera: I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how great the 8 megapixel camera is. Both photo quality and video quality are fantastic and the numerous options on the camera rival any standard 8 megapixel camera (macro, panoramic, burst, etc. settings are available).  The video capture is also fantastic (720p), but I have yet to connect it via HDMI to my HDTV.  More to come on this!
- 3G Hotspot: This works great, the only challenge is that it gives you 2GB of data per month.  If you have a lot of devices connected, it could eat that up quickly.  You could also upgrade to a 5GB plan if you needed.  You need full 3G bars to see its full speed!
- Verizon Wireless Service – Yep, it’s awesome. 3G service everywhere, fast downloads, and yes, “I can hear you”.  Have not dropped a call yet.

The CONS:
- Battery Life:
All the talk about the challenging battery life are true.  Your experience may vary, but I’ve had to “plug in” my phone on average by 5pm each day to keep it from shutting down.  I got a secondary battery as I did from my BlackBerry and I have all types of chargers around (plus my USB cord) to keep it going.  I will typically keep it plugged in at work, in my car and at home to keep the battery charged. (UPDATE: Download the JuiceDefender app and you can get it your battery to last until the evening!)
- Size of Device:
Yes, the screen is amazing and makes for a fantastic mobile experience, but it’s size has and will turn some people off because it won’t fit in most pockets. It’s thin and light, but may make you question the “portability” of it.  I’m OK with the size, but list it here since that is what most people say they don’t like about it when the first see it.
- MotoBlur: I’m not a fan of this feature and they’re is no way to remove it from the device so I have to manually stop this process if I find it running the background.  If someone out there knows how to do this, I’ll be your new best friend… for real.

The MUST HAVE Apps: (IMHO)
Credit for these recommendations go to my old friend Andrew Potts and Twitter friends Amber Sibley, Shannon Albert, Michell Jaworski, and Jeff Jackson.  Unless noted, the apps listed are FREE.

SOCIAL NETWORKING
- Twitter: I now use Seesmic exclusively and am very happy with it!  Others you could use include: Plume - $3. Twidroyd Pro – $5
- Facebook – Until a better third-party app comes along, this is it!
- Foursquare - Don’t knock it until you try it! Its a fun location based app to share your favorite spots with your friends.

FUN APPS:
DroidLight
– Turns your Droid X into an incredibly bright flashlight! VERY helpful. DON’T use the “dual flash option” battery drains like crazy.
Google Goggles
– Absolutely cool.  You just have to use it to see how awesome it is.  It uses pictures to scan the web.
Car Locator
: Totally COOL app. One button sets your GPS position. Then it pings you back to wherever you ping’d. Useful not only for your car.
Google Shopper
– Take a picture of something (books, pens, anything really) and it tells you about it.
Google Translate – You speak, it translates to text and then speaks it back to you. Star Trek communicator worthy :-)
Google Sky Map – AMAZING, GREAT for kids. You’ll freak when you see how it works.  It really is a mobile planetarium!
My Tracks
– Great for hiking, walking around a city, or participating in other outdoor activities. Once recorded, you can share your tracks, upload them to Google Spreadsheets and visualize them on Google My Maps.
Voice Recorder – Does what it says, very useful!
Barcode Scanner
– Lets you read all types of bar codes including second bar codes on the web to get apps, go to web pages, etc. Very cool.
- Retro Camera – Very fun to create photos with an old school feel!

BUSINESS/PRODUCTIVITY:
Bump: Share contacts easily with Android and iPhone users with this very cool app!
LogMeIn: ($30)Remote Access and Desktop Control Software.  It works with their free service and it is AMAZING. You literally have full access to every computer you use w/no monthly fees. (and it works beautifully over 3G)
Dropbox: It’s pretty much self explanatory.It’s like a shared folder on every device you use with the files stored locally and on the cloud, with all changes automatically updated to all other devices instantly. Also, a right click gives you a URL to share any file (apart from the public folder you have) 2GB, ALL FREE.
DocumentsToGo Full – $15 it’s not cheap but is a MUST have. It is MUCH better than the stock readers and allows you to fully edit files in the entire office suite (including changes tracking)
Quick Office – $10, which I find to like better than DocumentsToGoFull after using both!
Evernote – Lets you capture your ideas, experiences, and inspirations as the happen, wherever you find yourself. Then easily search and find all your notes, even those created using Evernote on your desktop.
WordPress – Edit your blogs on the go, with this great mobile app!
Voice Recorder – Record and upload voice memos on the go!
TripIt – Centralizes all my travel information into one easy place. Pulls all data from confirmation emails, very easy to use!
Chrome to Phone – Awesome if you use Chrome as your web browser. Send anything you are looking at on Chrome directly to your Droid in a click! 

Media Consumption
Amazon Kindle App – I can read any books purchased via Amazon on my Droid, bookmark my page, then open it up on my iPad like I never missed a beat. Awesome!
TED Mobile App – Watch the best lectures/talks in the entire world on your Droid. When I need some inspiration or new ideas, this is the app I go to.
SportsTap – Scores, stories, daily wrap up of my favorite teams on the go. Great app!

DROID X CUSTOMIZATION/OPTIMIZATION
Advanced Task Killer: Great app to help control what is apps are running in the background.  If you find your Droid sluggish, run this app and free up your memory! (Update: Do not use this app. Use JuiceDefender instead!)
ASTRO File Manager
: MUCH better than the one that comes with Droid X.  You’ll NEED this if you are a power user and find yourself needing to access the SD card, rename files, etc.
Handcent SMS
– MUST GET THIS. It’s a SMS client (you’ll make it your default client and turn off the stock client) I can’t say enough about this app. It let’s you customize EVERYTHING, including the pattern and rate of vibration for each contact. So i know who is texting me when the phone is in my pocket (if its someone important). Also, the look and feel is much better than the stock version. Also, has a “pop up” window for when text come through.
WeatherBug – This is the best app for weather. MUCH better than the Weather Channel!
Volume Control – MUST HAVE. simple (most simple) way to set up themes for volumes and vibrates. Be sure to understand all the different volumes in android. You can get very specific but if you don’t know what they cover you could think it’s silent when it isn’t. This helps incredibly.
McAfee Wavesecure – Complete backup system for my Droid and includes a remote wipe feature in case phone is lost or stolen. Great app!

GAMES
Robo Defense
– Tower Defense Game. Fun as heck, addicting.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Android Light Saber – For obvious reasons.
Toddler Lock – If you have young children, this is a must have app on your Droid. They will love it.
HomeRun Battle 3D - The best “homerun” derby game out there for Android.
Angry Birds – Just.plain.awesomeness!
Labryinth – As soon as you play this, you’ll remember :-)
Mini Shot Basketball – Very fun, miniature version of the one you play at Dave and Busters.
SkyDroid (golf) - If you are a golfer and ever wanted to have a “sky caddie” with you, now you can :-)

MUSIC
DoubleTwist:  If you’re an iTunes user, this app syncs iTunes over WiFi based on whatever playlist you select. It’s smart, if you delete/add songs to a playlist it will update on the phone. VERY useful.
Pandora Radio – If you don’t know about Pandora, it’s time you find out.  It’s a great alternative to your already played out iTunes list!

Are you an Android phone user? Do you have the new Droid X? What are some of your experiences and what apps are on your “must have” list?

Eric Stoller July 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

I would add DoubleTwist (import your iTunes music to your phone) and Layar (like the Matrix, you have to see it to know what it can do!) to your list of must-have apps.

I can attest to the size of the phone…I wore jeans with shallow pockets today. It just barely fit! However, I can say without any hesitation that this is the greatest mobile device that I have ever used. I purchased it on a Thursday and did not use my laptop for 4 days…that’s unprecedented / amazing!

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Michell Jaworski July 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Great review! I am sooo in love with the Droid X now. Maybe by the time my upgrade comes around, the Droid X 2.0 will be out! Also need to check out some of your app recommendations.

Here are a few more apps:
Seesmic – This is the best twitter client for the android I have found. I like it better than the native Peep app and the Twitter app.
Solitaire Free Pack – Has lots of solitaire games if you like to play cards on your phone. This is always a must find for me with a new phone.
SportsTap – If you are a sports fan, this is a great app. It keeps sports scores and news for most major sports and allows you to follow your favorite teams with real time score updates! (Only downside is that you are limited to 5 or 7 teams)
Kindle for Android – If you have a Kindle, you can share books between your Kindle and Droid phone with this app, or just use your android as a kindle.
Google Navigation – works with Google Maps and can replace any incar GPS you might have!

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mksteele July 23, 2010 at 7:33 am

I’m glad you’re happy with your decision! I thought you might be. :)

I have a few more app recommendations for ya:

Key Ring: Scan all your discount cards (grocery store, pharmacies, etc) and carry them on your phone. http://www.froogloid.com/key-ring
Twidroyd: It’s my Twitter client of choice. I had trouble with Seesmic keeping my place in my Twitter stream. Never had that trouble with Twidroyd.
BeyondPod: RSS and podcast manager. http://www.beyondpod.mobi/android/index.htm
Amazon: app for amazon.com. Great for managing wishlists, etc.
Fandango: From your location, search movie times, etc.
FXCamera: Add effects to pictures as you take them.
IMDb: Pretty much imdb.com in an app. Great for answering that burning question, “What ELSE was he in?” :)
MicDroid: Auto. Tune. Awesomeness. Need I say more.
PhoneFlicks: Manage Netflix queue on the fly.
Shazam: Listens to songs playing and names them, keeping track of songs you’ve “tagged.”
SWYPE: SWYPE keyboard. Amazing. Once you get used to it…it’s so much faster than a normal keyboard. http://www.swypeinc.com/
Ringdroid: Allows you to create a ringtone from any song loaded on your SD card. http://www.androidapps.com/t/ringdroid

Can’t wait to try the games you listed above!

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Michael J Breitner July 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Ed, from what I’ve been able to learn from various forums, there is no way to stop MotoBlur from loading since the bootstrap is protected. At some point, I imagine someone will back hack the code and come up with a solution. The best you can do is delete the widgets to minimize its footprint and its use of your data plan.

Mike

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Kivi Leroux Miller July 24, 2010 at 12:10 am

Going from a Blackberry Storm to the Droid X in a couple weeks. Thanks so much for this great list to get me started on the transition.

Would love to hear of any good calendar apps that preserve the category/colors from Outlook, which I use to keep my sanity. Google Calendar doesn’t include any kind of labeling unfortunately unless you put each category on its own calendar, which is way too much hassle.

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Mike August 1, 2010 at 12:34 am

Ed…it is true the battery life SUCKS…but with the right customization you can get more out of the phone. Also glad you are on board…I went with the Incredible for the size and I love it. The apps you sent out are great, and also check out these:
Evernote
Google Places
ESPN Score Center
Google Voice
Twidroyd
Glad to have you in the world of Droid

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Ted August 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I think you will see the battery life improve with some time. My friend got a Droid X on the first day it came out. He initially had battery life issues, but after a couple weeks he actually saw his battery life improve to almost two days. New batteries tend to not have the best life for a given amount of time, but do improve. Droid X generally is considered one of the smart phones with better battery life, much better than for instance the HTC Evo 4G.

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Amanda September 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm

May I ask who developed the Volume Control app that you use? Typing in “Volume Control” gives me 4 exact matches, all of them free. Thanks!

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Ed Cabellon September 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

This one was developed by RevoSolutionary Development. Hope this helps!

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