Droid Bionic Review from a BlackBerry User

This is a guest post from Brad Behnes, owner of Behnes.com. This is an interesting take of the ever popular Droid Bionic from a BlackBerry User.

The first thing you’ll notice about the phone is that it’s big and quite heavy.  I used to think that was a sign of quality, but no more.  Now it seems just cumbersome.  Stick this on your belt and it looks like you’re walking around with a monitor stuck on you.  Put it in your pocket (if you have a pocket this big) and it will slowly pull your shirt off or your pants down.  Is that an ipad in your pocket or are you just smuggling out a few packs of Kraft cheese singles?  My usual phone is small and feels like plastic.  I didn’t like that before but am now looking forward to going back to it.


PHONE:  I really liked the way the touchscreen disabled when you put the phone to your ear and automatically unlocked when you took it away.  That was really nice and intuitive.

The size made me reminiscent of a time when phones were big and filled your whole hand.  I had a smaller, more ergonomic phone in the 1990’s.  Put this up to the side of your head and enjoy the mini tablet computer that it is.  It feels like you’re making a call with a Blackberry Playbook.  Perhaps an earpiece would work well since the only place to store this slab is rolling around on the dash, sliding on the passenger seat, or pasting it to the windshield like a GPS.

Speaking of GPS, the Google Navigator for this phone is awesome.  The graphics beautiful, the response quick and clean, and the verbal directions clear and timely.  Much better than most GPS’s I’ve used.  The Verizon Navigator app that was on the review phone had the turn-by-turn premium option turned off.  Apparently not even Verizon can stomach paying itself $10 a month for someone to test a product that is inferior to their free competitors.  The free Verizon navigator version tries to save the battery by turning off the screen every few minutes, just about the time you need to refer to it.  Then you have to push a button, swipe your finger, read the screen then swerve out of the grass back onto the road.  Repeat every few miles.  Google navigator solves that problem with the automatic setting keeping the screen on.  But let’s hope your destination is less than an hour away because you would have drained your battery.


That leads us to the battery.  I didn’t make it one day without having to charge the battery about lunchtime.  I didn’t really use the phone feature at all either.  I can’t imagine making a lengthy call and how that would affect the battery.  Plus, holding this up to your head in the car would be like a Shake Weight.  Remember to switch arms.  Don’t want to bulk up too much one side.


To let you know how bad it uses power I was using Google Navigator and had it plugged into my car charger cable at the same time.  After using it about 30 minutes the charge WENT DOWN.  Yes, with it plugged in.


I’m sure there are ways around this and the phone is full of suggestions to save battery life and it’s not afraid to share them.  ‘You’ve been using this app for 45 minutes and is draining power would you like to exit?’  ‘You are at 15% power.  Please connect to charger.’ ‘You are at 10% power.  Please connect to charger.’  After you plug it in and disconnect it from the phone it says ‘Remember to unplug the charger from the wall to conserve energy.’

Hope you don’t have guilt issues because you’ll be in the corner weeping to yourself after a cold shower if you read and concern yourself with all their friendly conservation messages.  ‘This app clubs a baby seal and melts the icecaps because polar bears like to swim.  Are you sure you want to continue ruining the planet… energy whore!’  Maybe it didn’t say that, but that’s how it felt.  Yes I want to use the app!  Why do you think I went through the trouble to download it and start it!  “Are you sure?!”  Maybe I’m not.  Maybe this whole telephone internet thing is beyond me being able to manage.  Maybe someone could tell me what to do?


It does the same with data. ‘This app uses a lot of data.  Are you sure you want to continue?’ ‘This will use up data.  Make sure your data plan will cover this.’  ‘You’ll be charged for the data used by this app’.  Really?  I suppose you need to sign away on it’s energy and data usage since once you start an app if you don’t hunt it down and kill it it will merrily run in the background until you find it (or get another app to kill it).  The apps that are running in the background are not easy to find but the data usage meter is pegged right on the home screen so I can look at my gluttony every time the screen comes on.  Geez.


Why should I be made to feel guilty to use my phone or ration its usage out of fear?  If you have a limited plan you will spend your day babysitting this phone so you don’t get a mortgage payment phone bill at the end of the month.  It’s like buying a turbo Hummer and the dash keeps giving you reminders about what kind of crap gas mileage you’re getting.  And you get 5 gallons of gas a month to use.  Enjoy.


For people with good computer ‘housekeeping’ skills and enjoy manually power off their screen after every use you might make it through a 8 hour work day without a charger.


Internet:  The 4G LTE service was solid.  Only a few places in the city did it jump to 3G.  That still was solid enough to stream Pandora without pausing.  It was great to be able to view regular (not mobile) sites on it with speed.  That came in handy a few times.  The voice recognition was very fast but about as accurate as typing with thick fingers.  As mentioned before the screen was big but not big enough to satisfy when looking at webpages vertically.  Turn it horizontal and it’s better, but pray you don’t have to type anything since the keyboard comes up and blocks all but a 1/4 inch sliver of webpage at the top.  Not cool.


Speed:  Yes, it was very fast.


Summery:  Big and fast.  That is its specialty but also the biggest weaknesses.  Too big to work well as a phone and too small to be a tablet.  So fast they will need a tiny nuclear reactor to power it.  It’s the size of a large maxi pad (no wings) but doesn’t hold the juice.  Unless you have OCD for exiting apps and turning off screens you’ll be dead in a few hours.  Fast internet if you can pay the bill and handle the guilt the morning after.