Verizon Motorola Droid upgrade options

With a legion of original Moto Droid users coming off contract next month (Nov. 9), will the iPhone 4S lure some to iOS?

Motorola Droid
The original Moto Droid (Nov 9, 2009) - a classic, just like a 1973 AMC Gremlin.
Motorola Droid
The original Moto Droid (Nov 9, 2009) - a classic, just like a 1973 AMC Gremlin.

Yes, I’m still on an original (“classic” I tell you!) Motorola Droid that I picked up almost two years ago to the day at a local Verizon store in Silicon Valley. It’s a little worse for wear. The edges are slightly worn, and that rapper edition gold coating on the side camera button (what were they thinking?) has flaked off mostly.

To its credit, though, Google Android 2.2.2 is a solid, and amazingly versatile mobile OS. I use navigation almost every day – it’s the #1 feature. I revere how well it can recognize voice input and its easy to ready maps and directions. The camera is horrible. That’s no secret. And the processor is too slow now to handle all of the multi-tasking Android can throw its way. Customizable home screen panels with widgets are handy, and give Android an edge over the iPhone in terms of flexibility.

Speaking of iPhone…

With a legion of original Moto Droid users coming off contract next month (Nov. 9), will the iPhone 4S lure away some to iOS? Likely yes. Early sales reports suggest that pre-orders for the somewhat underwhelming upgrade are in the neighborhood of 1 million units.

Some of you have probably already upgraded your Droid earlier. Others, like me, are possibly holding out to the very last minute (how painful is that?!) waiting for some uber Android phone to hit just in time.

So, then, what Android phones out there look good? And, remember, this phone needs to go the distance, and it will take a pounding. No doubt, I’ll bounce it off the driveway a few times, splash some cologne on it, and drag it along the Baja sand.

HTC Rhyme ($199)

HTC Rhyme

I can’t stand the name. But I like HTC. They, along with Motorola and Samsung, account for the majority of licensed Android handset manufacturing. There’s really nothing remarkable about the Rhyme. Standard 3.7″ display. That color?! I’m guessing I’m not the target customer. Just warming up here…!

Samsung Stratosphere ($149)

Samsung Stratosphere

I admit it. I’m always dubious of phones that aren’t priced at $199 or $249. Call me shallow, but I don’t wait 2 years to upgrade to a mid-range phone. The Stratosphere looks good though from what I’ve read: 4-inch Super AMOLED display, slideout QWERTY. Then there’s the speed, 4G LTE. Not bad at all.

Droid Bionic ($299)


Droid Bionic

This is likely the natural choice for us firstgen Moto Droid kids. It has that similar, evil looks. It’s a spec beast (“Dominion Over All”). And it’s currently the Android best seller on Verizon. The lack of slider is not a big deal to me. I might prefer lighter weight, slimmer profile this go-round.

Samsung Droid Charge ($199)

Samsung Droid Charge

Here’s where Android phones start to look all the same. I don’t see anything remarkable here with the Droid Charge. It’s solid, yes,but there’s nothing really to write home about. I think what I might really like is a Galaxy S II, but it’s not to be found (as far as I know) on Verizon.

Apple iPhone 4S ($199)

Apple iPhone 4S

It’s an option. As I previously wrote on announcement day, the iPhone 4S is by no means a world beater, but it’s Apple. And it’s incredibly well designed. But… then the buts… you’re pretty much locked into iTunes, you don’t get the killer nav you get on Android, you get a less integrated experience if you’re all in on Google apps (gmail, calendar, docs, voice, etc.). You get Sri though! Boo, I say!

And… ?

Palm Pre

Just kidding.

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  • Barry Davis

    Fun article. But you’re using the old Bionic media images from when it was originally anounced in January. It’s a totally different phone now. 

    • Barry, I’ll update that, thanks for pointing that out!

  • Chunalt787

    No mention of possibly waiting just a little longer for the Nexus Prime or ICS?

    • Good suggestion. From what I can tell so far the Prime is going to be on AT&T. I don’t want to switch because I’m grandfathered with unlimited data on Verizon. But I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for all options, and willing to wait a bit for the next killer bit of kit!

      • Anonymous

        Actually, the Prime (Galaxy Nexus?) is supposed to be released as a Verizon exclusive.  There was a vague rumor about a keyboard-included version but nothing I’ve seen anywhere else matches that rumor (unfortunately).

        I’m an original Droid user that will probably be upgrading to a Droid 2 via ebay until VZ makes a real LTE qwerty phone.  The Strat could work for a year, but the contracts are 2 years…  not to mention that it’s basically a Droid 2 with LTE, a slightly better screen, and half the storage built in for about 3x the price.

        And I *badly* want LTE, too.  Oh PLEASE let there be a Nexus Prime Qwerty!

        • Thanks for that info Joe. I’m going to do some Google-ing on the Prime/Galaxy Nexus tonight… I like the sounds of it, although I’m on the fence about qwerty. Since playing around with the Galaxy S II I really came to appreciate its slim form. I hardly use the keyboard on my Droid, though I admit it does feel far more natural than the virtual keyboards.

          • Anonymous

            By the way, the Stratosphere is now free on contract at wirefly for upgraders.  I’m reconsidering doing that and then buying a Droid 4 or whatever on ebay in 6-9 months.

        • Chris G

          Joe.  I don’t need more reasons than it is a Nexus on VZ to upgrade, but the lack of a slide out keyboard is a huge plus from my pov.

          I have seen a full qwerty galaxy s2 coming soon though.

      • Ian Santopietro

        Actually, if anything, it seems it will be a Verizon exclusive, at least at first. I think a carrier agnostic launch would be a huge game-changer, too. To put out the same phone, with the same looks, and the same UI, and the same specs, on EVERY major carrier simultaneously, that would stir the market up quite a lot.

        Have you looked at Sprint at all? They do offer unlimited Data, and from what I can tell they’re much less expensive than Verizon. Plus, with free domestic roaming, you could roam all over Verizon’s network and not have to pay extra for it. If they get that new Nextus, that must be a pretty tempting idea.

  • Kenny

    Im in Iraq right now still with the original droid when all my buddies have move on to different droids. The Bionic is probably gonna do it for me. Kinda partial to Motorola…

    • Hey Kenny. First Irag comment on this site! I’m partial to Moto too if only because it’s what got me hooked onto Android a few years ago. Samsung will be close too, very slick build.

  • KenDellinger

    I LOVE my original Droid and was excited when I heard the rumors that Nexus Prime might have a keyboard…but i think that is unlikely. Pure Android is more important to me…so I’ll be getting the Nexus Prime regardless. 

    • Same here, I remember typing in my gmail/google account info into the Droid and boom (!) it was all there- calendar, contacts, email, etc. Plus I really really like the customization of the panels. It’s a workhorse – a little bit slow now, but man, thank our lucky stars for Android. Someone had to give Apple a run for the money!

  • Anonymous

    Droid Nexus .. nuff said

  • Anonymous

    I upgraded to the Droid X2 several months ago and so far I love it.  Battery life is great and it does everything I want it to do.

  • Chris G

    I too am still rocking the OG Droid.
    But your article seems to have left out the most obvious replacement.  The Nexus coming to VZ in about 3 weeks.  Wait.  It will be worth it.

  • Denine

    I am in the exact situation. I thought about caving in and getting the iPhone 4s but I rather not be stuck with a non 4g phone for 2 yrs. I am currently waiting for the Motorola (HD/Spyder/razr) and the Nexus prime. They will both be announced next week, and both are suppose to be on Verizon.

    • Denine

      And I forgot to say my original droid doesn’t have much life left. It is extremely slow and battery lasts for only 4 hours. I don’t know how much longer I can wait!