Reviews

Phone Review: Motorola DROID PRO software review

January 14, 2011 | by Chris Smith

Android Phones and Devices

Droid Pro 1

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, the hardware including camera and build quality, as well as how the phone performs as a business device as that is how Verizon and Motorola are marketing it. Today we are looking at Motorola’s implementation of Android and the included software.

Speed

We are talking overall performance here and with the DROID PRO’s 1GHz processor I have to say that it feels like the fastest Android device I have used to date. I have compared it to my HTC Incredible that is rooted and overclocked and the DROID PRO is still considerably faster. At first this didn’t make much sense to me and thought that maybe I was having some sort of delusion but my Quadrant scores check out. The highest score I got was a whopping 1573 easily blowing by any other average speed of Android devices.

This performance shows itself while using the device. Live wallpapers, something that tends to bog down the Android OS quite a bit, run without a hitch. System-wide transitions are smooth, games play great, even the newest Dungeon Defenders, and running multiple applications is not a problem.

Moto has really outdone themselves with making this device perform well.

The Motorola Application Platform

Many Android phone manufacturers out there are putting their own spin on how Android should look and work. While some Android users feel that this is an annoyance and that manufacturers should simply stick with stock Android, others think that the added “niceties” are worth it. I sit somewhere in between; I want my Android experience to be snappy, so if the interface slows it down, I tend to stay away.

The Motorola Application Platform is kind of a slippery thing for Moto. Some call it MOTOBLUR, NINJABLUR, etc. but according to Moto themselves, devices like the DROID 2, PRO, and X have the Motorola Application Platform (MAP). The MAP is a trimmed down version of BLUR, in my opinion, as it takes some of the annoyances of that UI and fleshes them out a bit providing the user with a decent experience.

Actually, as I used the PRO more and more I started to really like some of the custom widgets that are available and thought that overall the interface was pretty decent. One of the widgets that I really liked was the contact widget which allows you to add certain aspects of a contact to your homescreen like their phone number or their email address. Upon pressing the shortcut you can email, call, text, etc. the contact without having to actually choose the action from a contextual menu. The slick part of this widget is that it can be resized allowing more “quick actions” to be added inside of the widget.

There are a bunch of other widgets and additions that the MAP gives to Android, yet some of them aren’t as useful. For instance the Twitter application and widget that is included on the DROID PRO is severely lacking. You can basically log in, tweet, and sort of view other’s tweets. For the “power Twitter user” (there is one of those?) Moto’s idea of how to use Twitter will not work at all as there is no list support, trending topics, etc. It seems that Moto has tried to cram in a lot of this functionality without actually thinking about how the user may need to access their information — essentially adding a checkbox to a feature list.

Business Utilities

The DROID PRO is considered to be a business user phone, and with that comes business user and corporate IT grade software. Motorola has tried very hard to make this phone meet the needs of the business user with it’s Global capabilities by way of a SIM slot that can be used “anywhere in the world”, and I have to admit this device is definitely capable of a “business” lifestyle.

One of the biggest things for corporate customers is the idea of Exchange support, and the DROID PRO has it right out of box. Setting up my hosted Exchange account on the PRO was easy and smooth. All of the Exchange contacts that I set up for testing were “sucked” down to the PRO as well as my corporate calendar and settings. Also, the DROID PRO features remote wipe and control, just in case you are on the road and you leave your phone with all those trade secrets on it up for grabs. Exchange syncing worked well, emails were delivered and sent quickly. Moto has set up a good corporate email experience on the PRO.

Quick Office is also included with the DROID PRO and it is really nothing new if you have already used it on another device. It isn’t my favorite mobile office software (I much prefer Documents To Go), but for standard viewing and editing of Office docs it does a good job. My suggestion for making this thing into a business beast would be to just lay down the money for Docs To Go and call it a day.

Overall Impressions

When Motorola started to customize the Android OS with MOTOBLUR I wasn’t a very happy camper. Mostly because it truly weighed the devices down and didn’t provide much (if any) added benefit. I’ve got to say that with the added performance of the 1GHz processor that the PRO houses, the sometimes too heavy customizations that Moto has included really work well. In fact I have really enjoyed using the Moto DROID PRO, mostly because of it’s well performing software.

If you are a stock Android fanboy though, the PRO is definitely not for you. On the other hand, the DROID PRO performs well and if you can live with some customizations and need top-notch business additions to your Android device, then the  new Motorola DROID PRO will easily replace your stagnating BlackBerry.