January 10, 2011 | by Chris Smith
We just got our hands on the new Motorola DROID PRO from Verizon Wireless and we are going to put it through its paces in the coming days. We will take a look at how the phone performs, its software, and the hardware including camera and build quality. Today we are looking at the build quality and performance of the hardware.
Overall Look and Feel
The first thing you will notice about the DROID PRO overall is that it’s shiny. We are talking damn shiny. The screen and the plastic housing is extremely glossy and almost slippery feeling. It is a long way off of what Moto has been doing recently with their other DROID phones in that the material is cheap, shiny plastic. The other Moto DROID devices, even the DROID 1 make the DROID PRO look and feel extremely cheap. It’s really a shame.
I have to say my biggest pet peeve is that the DROID PRO feels like it about to slip out of my hand at any moment. The original DROID, DROID 2, and even the HTC Incredible have a great “rubberized” feeling to the back of the device allowing for it to sit comfortably in one’s hand. The DROID PRO however doesn’t have this; the back is “slidy” plastic.
Like I have already stated, the DROID PRO’s build quality is a tad flimsy, but I have to say that for a fully plastic device it is surprisingly solid. Some pure plastic phones, like the HTC Incredible is creeky and makes annoying noises when being used. The DROID PRO didn’t have this type of feel, although after some time the plastic may “wear in” and develop some of these creeky annoyances.
The screen is solid, the keyboard is constructed very well, and the phone feels somewhat solid in your hand.
The DROID PRO features a 3.1-inch, 320×480 capacitive LCD. If you are coming from another “DROID” device on Verizon you may at first be in shock at how small the screen is. I know I was. After a couple of minutes it becomes usuable, but you will notice that icons and text render somewhat smaller, and that the pixel desnisty of the screen is lacking. When held up to an original DROID with its quality LCD screen, you will notice a huge difference in clarity as pixels on the DROID PRO can easily be seen.
The screen is highly responsive though and colors seems OK if not just a little washed out. Watching video is a sub par experience though as you really start to notice the lack of quality in the screen. For basic web browing, email handling, social networking, and even some Kindle reading, the screen will hold its own. Though if you need a quality screen, this is not the device to get.
The DROID PRO has a 5 MP camera with dual LED and auto focus. Please don’t be fooled by the whole mega-pixel = quality thing, because in the case of the DROID PRO it is simply not true. Pictures lack depth, performance in low light is not good, and in bright light everything is washed out. Colors tend to be too saturated in bright light (take a look at the reds in any of the brighter pictures below) and they all lack depth.
One thing that the camera did well was take photos of text, which is good for the intended crowd of “business users”. The text is clear and readable and definitely able to be immediately sent to someone for review. It would be nice if the camera performed better, but for the intended business user, it might just be enough.
When it comes to video the the camera performs well. The video is fluid, not exactly HD quality, but definitely passable. The audio seems crisp and loud and playback is smooth.
The DROID PRO houses a 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM and it is obvious that Motorola put some time and effort into the performance of these components. The overall performance of the DROID PRO is excellent. Switching between applications is fast and you will not notice any lag in the OS. It definitely shows that Moto has done some tweaking of the OS to suit the hardware. Applications open fast and even gaming is lag free.
Quadrant scores are at the top of the heap with a whopping 1522 at its highest easily trumping the average Nexus One with Android 2.2+ score. The 3D performance is good; around 20 – 50 FPS.
The call performance of the phone is excellent on Verizon Wireless as usual. Calls are clear and most people sound excellent over the phone’s speaker. The speakerphone takes a note from the original DROID being one of the loudest speakerphones I have ever heard. The best part is that it isn’t annoyingly loud; it’s to the point of it being extremely useful and nothing else. For business users this will work out great.
Battery life is excellent as the device ships with a 1420MaH user replaceable battery. Motorola claims 7 hours of talk time. I didn’t test these claims, but with hard 3G use of browser, downloading podcasts, streaming music, using GPS, messaging and the like I easily got through a day with about 20% battery left. If that isn’t enough for you, you can always go out and pick up another battery to swap out during the day with the PRO’s replaceable battery.
It’s sort of crazy to me how Motorola made this device perform so well but blatantly missed other things about the hardware like the material, screen quality, etc. If Moto would have made their device quality as good as the keyboard and the performance aspects, the DROID PRO would definitely be one of the best Android devices on the market.
So, hardware wise the DROID PRO sits somewhere in the middle and will be looked over by users that want a premium looking and performing device. This shows that there is still room in the market for another portrait QWERTY Android device, one that meets the demands and overcomes some of the complaints of the DROID PRO.
If you are looking for a decent build quality and hardware with excellent performance and keyboard then the DROID PRO is the phone you want. If you are looking for a 100% premium experience from hardware though, then you will have to keep on looking.