Verizon graphic designers don’t know Android from the iOS

Verizon Motorola iOS.

See anything strange about the phone in that image? Maybe the fact that it’s a Motorola and yet, for some reason, it’s running Apple’s iOS. I won’t call it anything more than a slip-up by the graphic designer, because that’s probably all it is. It does seem a little strange that the iOS screenshots would be so close at hand.

Source: Engadget

Motorola Devour is like the Droid’s weird cousin

Motorola Devour.Verizon and Motorola announced a new phone today. Called the Devour, the phone looks like a mini-Droid, or as my title suggests, the Droid’s weird cousin. It’s got a smaller display, a presumably smaller keyboard (yikes) and runs Anroid, albeit through Motoblur, Motorola’s odd Android distro.

I would guess the phone is going to fall somewhere around the Droid Eris in terms of price. It’s not a bad phone for $100, but like the Eris, it seems like a waste for what you’d get if you spent another $99. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Motorola is so obsessed with the physical keyboard, either. The pad on the Droid sucks. It really sucks. Android’s software keyboard is just so much nicer, why not rely on that?

If Motorola is your thing, you can get the Devour in early March.

iPhone tops the 10 most popular phones in the US

iPhone beats out everybody else.The Nielsen Company has released the top performers in the tech sector for 2009. Among the company’s lists is the cell phone chart, at the top of which sits the iPhone.

I know. I was shocked, too. Below that it’s the Blackberry 8300 series. Again, a pretty big surprise. The two most popular phones in the states this year are actual smartphones. Perhaps most surprising of all was the number three spot: the Motorola RAZR. I don’t know if people just aren’t resubbing, so they don’t replace their out-of-date phones, or if there just weren’t enough smartphone options on Verizon, the nation’s network of choice.

Whatever the case, the RAZR is still hanging around in big numbers, but it’s getting beat out by the smartphone explosion. Manufacturers take note: people want mobile web access, so much so that the smartphone sector is finally beating the pants off feature phones.

Source:

Motorola Debut i856 giveaway

Motorola Debut i856 Slider.Just a reminder to enter yourself in our Motorola Debut i856 giveaway. Motorola was kind enough to offer up two of these for our readers, so you’ve got double the chances to pick one up. As far as feature phones go, it’s a great choice for anyone with a taste for music. Visit the contest page at Bullz-Eye for full details. I’ve also posted the rules below.

If you want to enter to win this item, please send an email to:

contests@bullz-eye.com

Please put the name of the item in the subject line of the email and include your full name & address in the body of the email.

Limit one entry by email per promotion. Please do not abuse this rule. If multiple emails are consistently sent from the same address for a particular promotion, that email address will be blocked from all future Bullz-Eye.com giveaways.

We do not share your email and personal information with anybody. Click here for our privacy policy.

You must be at least 18 years old to have a chance to win.

Winners will be selected by Bullz-Eye.com at random. Your chances of winning depend upon the number of items we have to give away and the number of entries we receive while the promotion is posted on Bullz-Eye.com.

Void where prohibited.

CONTEST ENDS: DECEMBER 30, 2009

Handset Review: Motorola Debut i856

Motorola-Debut-i856I’ve spent the last two weeks with the Motorola Debut i856, a feature phone on the Sprint network that makes use of iDEN tech with push-to-talk. It’s the slimmest push-to-talk phone I’ve seen and has solid voice quality and a decent music player. Unfortunately, the keypad makes texting feel like a chore and with increasingly cheap smartphones, the i856 might not have enough features to keep your interest.

Design
The i856 is definitely a good looking phone. I’ve always preferred sliders to clamshells, and again, the thin body is a nice addition to the world of iDEN devices. At 4.19 inches long by 2.0 inches wide by 0.59 thick, it’s small enough to tuck into a pocket or a small purse. The front of the phone has a ring with four navigation buttons and a selection button. The left, right, and selection buttons control the media player whenever you have music playing. The rest of the time they’re used for standard browsing. The side of the phone has your volume rocker, the push-to-talk key (which also pulls up the contacts page) and a volume toggle. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, allowing the use of your headset of choice.

One confusing design feature is the placement of the microSD slot. It’s inconveniently tucked under the battery cover – not a huge deal, but a pain if you like to switch out your music regularly.

The keypad design is where the i856 suffers most. It looks good, but the buttons are spongy and close together, making it almost impossible to text with two hands. The keys are raised, so it’s easy enough to dial by feel with one hand, but doing anything else is an exercise in frustration.

Features
With any feature phone, I look for it to do one thing really well. If I wanted something that could multi-task well, I’d step up to a smartphone. The i856 actually has a great little media player. It organizes tracks by artist, album, and genre, and (my personal favorite feature) it supports podcasts. You can set the phone to play music in the background while performing other functions, and the keys that toggle on the front of the phone make it easy to control what you hear. The player supports a wide range of formats, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting what you want on the phone.

The i856 also has a 1.3MP camera. It takes pictures of about the quality you’d expect, worse in low light. There’s a 600 capacity contact list with the ability to group contacts for push-to-talk and customize caller ID photos and ringtones. Beyond that you get the basic downloads for wallpapers, ringtones, and games.

Quality and Performance
I was really impressed with the call quality on the i856. It’s crystal clear on both ends, so much so that my friend thought it was a VoIP call. Speaker phone was good enough for occasional hands-free use. Again, media features are strong and easy to control, just make sure you’re using a headset. The external speakers sound tinny and thin.

Overall, this is a decent phone if you’re really committed to push-to-talk. Beyond that, your $100 could get you a Palm Pre if you’re committed to Sprint (the i856 is also available through Boost), which is a much more flexible device.

Giveaway!
Motorola has offered us two of these handsets for a giveaway. As soon as we have details for the contest I’ll post them here. Don’t forget to check out our other reviews at the Gadget Teaser Reviews section.

Just how many Droids has Verizon sold?

Motorla Droid.Now that the Droid has launched we all want to know how many have sold. Well, I want to know anyway, and I’m guessing a few of you probably do as well. If you take Bloomberg’s word, opening weekend showed 110,000 units sold. Developer uLocate, which develops the GPS app “Where” has confirmed those numbers and done one better.

According to uLocate, the Where app typically gets installed on 10% of new Android devices in the first month, jumping to a 25% penetration rate thereafter. The same was true for the Droid, boasting 11,000 downloads during opening weekend. Since last weekend that number is up to 25,000, meaning we’re looking at 250,000 Droid sales in the first week. Considering the Palm Pre only sold 300,000 in its first month, that number’s looking pretty good. Doesn’t hurt that you can get the Droid on Verizon who, despite recent bad press concerning fees, is the most desirable network in the country (though T-Mobile is probably a close second with its new plans).

Hopefully it’s onward and upward for the Droid. I’m not personally a fan, but success of the handset means good things for Android, and that’s something I can get behind.

Source: Boy Genius Report

Why does the Droid have that keyboard?

Motorola Droid from Verizon.I was pretty excited to go out and get my hands on a Droid yesterday. I made my way out to a local Verizon store, where a new owner was kind enough to let me play around with the phone and make a few calls. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the device. The screen looks incredible and the whole thing operates pretty quickly. Call quality was better than my iPhone, but what isn’t. What I can’t understand, though, is why Motorola added the physical keyboard. It’s not that a hardware keyboard is a bad idea, but that keyboard is the bad idea.

Seriously, that keyboard is terrible. The keys are too close together and so difficult to push that I found myself hitting multiple keys at once pretty often. The top row is too close to the slider, making it difficult to get my thumbs in there to push. The keyboard seems even more out of place when you use the virtual keyboard. I didn’t like it as well as the iPhone, probably because of the lack of multi-touch support, but it’s the best I’ve used outside an Apple product.

The obvious conclusion is that it’s meant to be a differentiator from the iPhone. Unfortunately, it detracts from the quality of the phone, and makes it a lot thicker than is necessary. I think part of the problem is that no one wants to make anything so close to the iPhone that an exec says, “Well why wouldn’t they just buy an iPhone,” and that’s a terrible strategy. The iPhone is great, but it can be improved upon, and there are people who just want something a little different. So give them Android, but leave the pointless differentiators on the design table.

My only other problem with the phone is the Android Market. It’s still too barren to make me seriously consider a switch, even if it would mean Google Voice and Google Navigation.

Cell phone inventor says mobiles are too complicated

Martin Cooper, inventor of the cell phone.If you take a look at today’s most popular devices it’s easy to see the shift away from specialized gadgets to universal tools. The Nook from Barnes and Noble is the not-so-missing link between ereaders and tablets, camcorders are shooting still pictures and vice versa, and of course there are our cell phones, which are screaming toward becoming the all-in-one device of the future. Martin Cooper, grandfather of cell phones, thinks that’s a bad thing.

The 80 year-old has voiced his ‘simple is better’ opinion about the iPhone in the past, and he’s said it again to a privacy conference in Madrid this week. “Whenever you create a universal device that does all things for all people, it does not do any things well.” Cooper’s really put me in a pickle here. Obviously the guy has made very significant contributions to the world’s technological progression, but it seems he’s lost his gift for foresight.

To say that a device that does all things cannot do any one thing well is just patently false. Take a look at computers, or do we classify all that they do as computing? Take a closer look at the iPhone. Sure, the phone part of it sucks – maybe even blows – but the internet browsing is pretty great (just needs flash to get my super awesome stamp of approval) and the media features are second to none. And the device is really still in its infancy. Compare where cellphones are today to where they were when Cooper made the first cellular call in 1973. Now give the technology another 35 years and imagine where things will stand.

To be fair, Cooper could be saying that universal devices can never rival dedicated devices – think DSLR versus a cell phone camera – and there he may be right, at least in some cases. But is that really what we’re after? That sort of quality is just overkill for the average user, and splits from one of the features that makes combined devices so popular – convenience. Cell phone cameras can easily match point and shoot quality without requiring you to carry another device, and that’s what makes them so great.

Whatever Cooper meant, the future he imagines is likely very different than the future we’re likely to see. “Our future I think is a number of specialist devices that focus on one thing that will improve our lives,” he said. And I think you’re crazy.

Can’t afford the Droid? Get an Eris

Droid Eris.It looks like Verizon will be launching more than one “Droid” branded phone on November 6th. According to a leaked document picked up at Engadget, the HTC Eris will hit stores the same day as Motorola’s Droid at $199 with a $100 mail-in rebate.

The Eris is basically a rebranded HTC Hero, though in this case running Android 1.5 with the popular Sense UI. It’s a sharp looking phone, but the processor leaves a bit to be desired. Also, no word on whether Verizon will be pushing Android 2.0 onto this thing, so you could be missing out on Google’s free navigation app. Motorola’s Droid, on the other hand, gives you a physical keyboard, much faster processor, and guaranteed Android 2.0.

For the price, though, it’s hard to go wrong. The regular HTC Hero costs $180.

Source: Engadget

Best Buy cures those Droid rebate blues

Best Buy and Android gettin along just fine.If you’re going to release a great device, a gadget of any kind really, don’t bog the thing down with rebates. It just gives me reason to pause before selling anything I can find just to get my hands on it. I wasn’t so surprised to see Palm try the rebate thing with the Pre. The company really needed money. But Motorola? I figured they’d be a little better off. Thankfully, Best Buy’s decided to just sell the thing for $199.99 outright with a contract.

This sort of thing takes a lot of the burden off the wireless stores, which tend to be small and understaffed, especially as you get more rural. It’s also just nice to be able to walk in and pay the $200 without worrying about rebates. In case you forgot, the Droid launches on November 6th.