In with the new, out with the old: Samsung Galaxy Nexus (2011) and OG Motorola Droid (2009).
In with the new, out with the old: Samsung Galaxy Nexus (2011) and OG Motorola Droid (2009).

So I blew it. I waited to see what hot phones would come out of CES, and none did – at least not any leap forward Androids; and Lumia 900… I still don’t think the Nokia handset can revive Microsoft’s mobile hopes. We did see some decent introductions. Sony in particular has a penchant for slick hardware design (the PS3 is the ultimate, especially as a streaming media hub). Their new Xperia Ion and S are solid entries, though not envelope pushing by any means. Samsung’s Galaxy Note, with its mammoth 5-inch display, is testing the smartphone-tablet tweener market. It seems, however, that the phone I may want is already on the market.

My trusty OG Droid has served me well, but it’s age is showing – just pulling up the home screens can take 5-10 seconds; and starting up Nav can be an exercise in patience.

Galaxy Nexus impressed me (review) but there were enough question marks (notably battery life) to delay my upgrade decision. At least that was the case back in December.

Instead, I decided, it would be better to wait for CES. Surely, we’d see quad-core (no), flexible displays (no) and some sort of break through battery life (yes!). My prognostications were slightly off (“missed it by this much”) but not nearly as bad as when I suggested the iPad would underwhelm.

Now going on an impressive 26 months of service (like a lot of you out there who jumped into the Droid Does fray in November 2009) the original Motorola Droid is a testament to the power and flexibility that is the Android platform.

In absence of must-have Android kit out of CES I was again stuck: which smartphone would replace my OG Droid? After reviewing the available (or soon to be available) models I narrowed my list to: Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Droid 4 or Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx.

There’s always the possibility of waiting. I’ve played that game already, and nobody wins, really. It’s impossible. In fact the longer the wait the longer I’ll need to wait on the backend to upgrade again to the latest and greatest in late 2013, early 2014.

Here’s the candidates, in no particular order – I’m on Verizon, so these are all running on Big Red:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Notifications on Android Ice Cream Sandwich - the best in the business.

The obvious choice. For us early adopters, this is the cat’s meow. Want ICS? This is the only game in town. When I tested a unit for Stark Insider, I found it fast, well made (but still plastic-y). ICS is not a game changer, but it does evolve the Android experience with marked improvements. There are some obvious hiccups. This is an OS in transition as Google attempts to create one platform for both tablets, and smartphones. My favorite part of ICS is the aesthetic. Love it – the new Roboto font is hip and modern, the notification system (the best on the planet)  is even better now, and there is an overall dark/Matrix-like quality to the new OS. But, and this is a big BUT, the battery life stinks. It’s impossibly bad. Some suggest I have a bad unit, or did not let the battery power cycle. For more on that, you can read this post here with plenty of he said/she said comments on the Nexus Battery – how can some users get mere hours while others claim to be running on a single charge for days?!

Motorola Droid 4

Droid 4 - a familiar friend, sporting new duds.

Likely the best choice if you’re a slider type. Coming off an OG Droid the Droid 4 basically hones the overall package, and ups the specs (1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB, 4.0-inch qHD display, 16 GB on-board memory). Unlike the Nexus, this one is not a tour-de-force. It merely refines the hardware keyboard experience. That’s not a bad thing. If you’re loving OG Droid’s keyboard — I know a San Francisco playwright that uses it to write entire scenes! — then this is a natural pick. Word is the contract price will be $250.

Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx


The Android Gods listened and gave us... battery life.

Well, well, well. What have we here?! It seems as though somebody was listening. We need battery life! And so it shall be. The Maxx, as you know by now, is a RAZR with a larger battery (3,300mA). Everything else is the same. Unfortunately it’s not quite as thin as the original model (8.9 vs. 7.1mm), but the trade-off may very well be worth it for some. Motorola claims Maxx will run up to twice as long. Ah, yes, the Gods have spoken. Don’t look for ICS. Moto promises upgrades sometime this Quarter; once that happens, this could be the crown jewel in the Android line-up.

Three great choices. Did I miss any?

Out of these Androids which one will make the cut when it comes time to retire your trusty OG Droid?