Droid Charge: Best Android phone? (photos)

Summary:The Droid Charge is an outstanding phone on the Verizon LTE network, with superb battery life. This may very well be my next smartphone.

I test a lot of Android phones and own one personally, not because I think Android is better than other options, but because the HTC EVO 4G does what I need. Having seen a lot of different handsets of all sizes and capabilities, I can state that the Droid Charge I am testing is the best Android phone I have used. The large Super AMOLED Plus display coupled with the outstanding camera make this a phone to be reckoned with. Throw in the Verizon 4G LTE connectivity and it is definitely one of the phones to beat.

The Droid Charge by Samsung is not the most powerful smartphone on the market but it is as capable as most. The 1 GHz single-core processor won't run circles around the competition, but performs well at every day tasks. Most importantly, the Charge handles the Verizon LTE network without straining the battery, something that the HTC Thunderbolt fails miserably trying to do. You will be hard-pressed to find a better phone on the Verizon network.

Check out the Droid Charge photo gallery


Image Gallery: Droid Charge 4G and 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display
Image Gallery: Charge
Image Gallery: Charge

Specs:
  • CPU: Samsung Hummingbird, 1 GHz
  • OS: Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • Interface: Samsung TouchWiz
  • Network: Verizon 4G LTE, 3G EVDO
  • Memory: 2GB internal; 512MB RAM/ROM; 32GB microSD
  • Display: 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus (800x480)
  • Cameras: 1.3MP front; 8MP rear, HD video, LED Flash, auto-focus
  • Mobile Hotspot: Up to 10 devices, free for limited time

The casing used on the Charge is much like other Samsung phones, consisting of plastic construction. Some folks are put off by phones that are not primarily constructed of metal, but on large phones like the Charge I like the plastic case due to the light weight of the handset. The Charge feels solid yet light in the hand.

Samsung used four physical buttons on the Charge which is a nice change from all the touch-sensitive buttons currently in vogue. The buttons sit on the bottom edge of the phone which leaves the front of the handset devoted to the glass display cover. The front camera is at the top of the screen to the left of the handset speaker.

The left side of the phone has the volume buttons and the microUSB port used for charging and connecting to a computer. The right side of the handset contains the power button and the HDMI port which lies beneath a removable cover. The top of the Charge has just a 3.5mm headphone jack, and there is nothing on the bottom of the device.

The back is a smooth single piece of plastic that is removed to access the battery and the SIM card. The rear camera and LED flash is located at the top of this cover. There is a bulge at the bottom of the cover that makes the Charge fit comfortably in the hand, with no danger of dropping it.

Using the Droid Charge

Samsung tends to put good cameras on its phones, and the Droid Charge is no exception. The 8MP camera takes good still photos and HD video. Test videos I've taken indicate the camera constantly focuses while shooting video, and recordings are of high quality as a result.

The display is bright and vivid and is outstanding, no doubt due to the Super AMOLED Plus screen. Setting the display to maximum brightness makes the colors pop, and it's not bad at lower levels either. Video plays wonderfully on this screen and it is a joy to use.

I have not turned on the Wi-Fi on the phone at all, as I wanted to test it strictly using the Verizon 4G LTE network. I have encountered good coverage everywhere I have used the phone, and it is as fast as expected. I approached the 4G connectivity with trepidation, as I find it normally drains phone batteries at an alarming rate. That is surprisingly not the case with the Charge, as I find the battery can last as long as two days under normal usage. It doesn't seem to be adversely affected by the 4G connectivity at all, a first in my experience.

Verizon is including the mobile hotspot service free for a limited time, and I have tested this extensively given the problems the HTC Thunderbolt has exhibited with this function. The Charge will supply connectivity for up to 10 devices. I tested using the Charge with 1 - 3 devices multiple times and had good results consistently. I never had any dropped connections, and found a 2-hour hotspot session would only drain the battery 25 percent which is outstanding.

Conclusion

Samsung has produced a good smartphone in the Droid Charge, and coupled with the Verizon 4G network it is one of the most capable phones available. Verizon will be making the Charge available soon for $299 with a 2-year contract, a princely sum. Given my good experience with the Charge, I am seriously considering ponying up the cash and making this my next phone.

Topics: Mobility, Telcos

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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