Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

Summary: Motorola is rolling out the Droid Bionic with Verizon Wireless this week, and this device is stepping up the prices for 4G LTE smartphones.

TOPICS: Mobility, Verizon

As Motorola Mobility is prepping itself for a merger with Google (pending approval, of course), the mobile device maker is expanding its Droid series with an anticipated new release this week: the Droid Bionic.

Up front, the most obvious way that Motorola is raising the bar with this Android 2.3-based smartphone is with the price tag, which is set at a whopping $299.99 with the signing of a two-year service agreement with Verizon Wireless. Oh, and don't forget about the requirement to sign up for a minimum $39.99 monthly talk plan and data packages starting at $30 for 2GB of coverage.

There are a few ways to get that price back down to the average cost for a mobile phone with 16GB of onboard memory (i.e. $199.99), which includes a promotion for feature phone owners who want to upgrade. They'll get a $100 gift card towards the purchase of this device. Additionally, there is a deal on one of the accessories. Anyone who buys a Lapdock (which looks and operates very similarly like the one for the Motorola Atrix), will receive a $100 mail-in rebate when he or she subscribes to a $50 5GB data plan or higher.

Although, that Lapdock is $299.97 on its own. It's a fair price to pay if you're interested in using your smartphone to stand-in for a netbook or even a laptop depending on your computing needs. Of course, if you're going to be using a Lapdock, you'll probably need a 5GB data plan or higher to account for browsing, accessing Citrix Receiver to edit PowerPoint presentations, accessing remote files using Motorola's ZumoCast semi-cloud app, and streaming movies from Netflix.

The 4G-ready Droid Bionic is an impressive handheld device with dual-core 1GHz processors, 1GB of RAM, a 4.3-inch qHD Corning Gorilla Glass display, and a rear 8-megapixel autofocus camera that can shoot 1080p videos. Additionally, business and enterprise-minded users can utilize the Droid Bionic as a 3G/4G mobile hotspot while connecting up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices, along with SD card encryption and Citrix GoToMeeting video conferencing using the front-facing camera that is supported over 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi.

CNET: Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless)

There are also a bevy of accessories that can keep users productive while on-the-go, including the aforementioned Lapdock, as well as a vehicle navigation dock that comes in hand with Verizon's VZ Navigator and GPS functionality, an HD docking station with ports for attaching speakers and displays (as seen with the Atrix and the Motorola Photon 4G) as well as a simpler (and cheaper) Webtop adapter that does the same job as the HD Docking Station to connect the phone to a larger display, but without all the fancy ports for speakers and connecting wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled accessories.

However, customers will have a few reservations before buying this device. Understandably, the pricing is the most obvious as this is one of the most expensive smartphones on the market as of this Thursday. Additionally, it will be hard to justify paying that cost depending on the battery life.

We all know by now that 4G activity is a major battery drainer for smartphones, MiFis and the lot of them that use LTE connectivity. On average, you can consider yourself lucky if you can squeeze up to six hours of battery life when browsing actively, which isn't really that much if you're using this for work.

When I asked Verizon reps about the battery life, the only specific time frames I learned were that the Droid Bionic's removable battery can last up to 650 minutes of talk time and 200 hours on standby when on 4G mode. However, when I asked about browsing, streaming and more, Verizon was reluctant to give any more specific numbers, citing that customers use their smartphones for a large variety of different purposes.

I don't think that answer is good enough, and consumers shouldn't either. It's an easy way to cover up that there's a problem with the battery life. If the battery life was decent, then the makers would be boasting about it.

There are ways to conserve the Droid Bionic's battery life. Users can opt to drop down to 3G connections when they want, and there are some options in the Settings menu. Additionally, Verizon and Motorola are selling an extra battery with a docking station that can charge both the extra battery and the Droid Bionic simultaneously for $49.99. After the device is available, we might see soon how necessary that extra battery purchase could be.

Check back for our hands-on review with the Motorola Droid Bionic later this week!


Topics: Mobility, Verizon

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  • Master Joe Says...You're Kidding

    Stand-in for a PC or not, NO cell phone is worth $300 at the discounted price (discount meaning 2-year contract price). A 10" tablet can't replace a PC entirely, which means a 4.3" smartphone certainly can't, especially if the battery life isn't quite up to par. If they're going to start charging $300 for the phone up front, then get rid of the ridiculous early termination fee prices they are charging customers.

    --Master Joe
    • Phones should not cost more than 150 dollars

      Even these that work as small PCs.

      Android phones can be connected through the USB port/bluetooth or wifi to a keyboard, monitor and harddrive.

      With over 500K submitted apps and over 311K available apps. They can be just as functional. Now if they can just make them a bit faster!

      (App claims can be verified at Androlib)

      Why hasn't the Android community celebrated the fact that over 500k apps have been submitted to Android Market and over 311k are now available?
    • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

      @MasterJoe [b]Stand-in for a PC or not, NO cell phone is worth $300 at the discounted price [/b] That's a bit subjective - I feel that my iPhone 4 (32GB) was well worth the $249 (refirb) that I paid for it because of all it can do.

      Beyond that bit I agree with you especially in terms of the ETF. I would add to that for the carriers to stop with the double dipping of the data for tethering/hotspot customers and charge one flat fee for data to be used for smartphone data access or for tethering/hotspot usage.
      • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

        @Pete "athynz" Athens He said $300. You say $249. What's your problem?
      • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

        @TomDavisSr What's your problem? As he said it is very subjective and there is not disputing that. There are going to be people that think their phones are worth well over $500 and the fact that MasterJoe said $300 and Pete is talking about his $249 iPhone really doesn't make any difference to anybody reasonable, they get the point. Anybody, like yourself, that takes issue with it is simply trying to start something, get over yourself.
    • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

      @MasterJoe I totally agree. If 4G means substantially higher cost phones and data service I'll pass. Last year $30 was the cost for "unlimited" data, now plans begins at $30...

      No way am I going to get ripped off by Verizon and others for the privilege of limited 4G coverage and usage.
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    The ridiculous thing that you (almost) pointed out James, is that the 650 minutes of talk time isn't even over 4g. So while 650 minutes is a ton of time, it is all done over 3g! The phone cannot send voice over 4g - only over 3g. And when talking the 4g modem shuts off because it doesn't do both at the same time.

    For me, I won't talk for 650 minutes in an entire month. But I will browse for 3 hours some days, and in those days I better have a charger nearby!

    Or I could just do exactly what I'm doing now and not overpay for the burden of an LTE modem (in battery life and huge $$$) - just stay with my underspeced, underpriced HTC Trophy WP7 that is 10x more consistent and reliable (and faster/smoother) than this or any other "flagship" Android phone.
    • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

      @pittphan <br><br>Another fool wih no clue what he is talking about.<br><br>The 4G modem never shuts off. While you talk over 3G on a Verizon 4G phone, the LTE radio remains active pulling email, news, weather and whatever else you have set up. I know this because I had an HTC Thunderbolt and I now have a Droid Charge. I watch pron while talking to my clients all the time. <br><br>Now stop talking out of your ass.
      • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

        @solomonshv <br>You know you can turn the 4G off on these right? On the thunderbolt you punch in *#*#4636#*# then tick CDMA Auto (prl) and it turns the 4G off and stays on 3G only.So to say the 4g never turns off would mean you have no clue what your talking about so stop talking out your ass. (-: the phone and verizon data is way to high. I prefer my Htc evo on boost unlimited with shrinkage I pay $35 a month right now for unlimited everything. i tether my Galaxy tab and laptop to it for no extra costs.Enjoy
    • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

      @pittphan I thought their comments about battery life were pretty pathetic as well. When you have to start your response with "...the Droid Bionic???s removable battery..." it just says to me that battery life isn't going to be very good so we are pointing out it's removable so you know you can carry extras. If it was worth noting they would have done so, even if it was just OK.
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    It sounds to me like Verizon (and probably AT&T as well) is concerned that LTE data traffic might overwhelm its network. After all, the LTE part only covers the data rate between the phone and the tower; the landline or microwave backbone stuff is all the same as now. Before the carriers could deal with a nation of LTE phones, they've got some upgrading to do. One way to throttle the LTE data traffic is to keep prices high on the LTE devices.

    As they learn more about the loads these phones put on their networks, they can bring the prices down.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    Wow, just watched a video demo of the Bionic's camera features. Pinch to zoom was craptastically jerky on this super expensive, dual core 1GHz Android phone. That's just sad.
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    I'm sure that some will pay the fee to have the "latest and greatest" phone available, but most will balk at $300 when they can buy a similar phone for $100-$200. Most people are not buying phones based on speed of the processor, and most are not swayed by 4G BS. The economy is in the $hitter and they are raising prices and ETF?
  • Battery life

    What's the point of having a mobile phone if you can't count on the battery to at least last for one day?
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    You are going to need a hand truck and a foil hat to cart this thing around. By the time you strap on a car battery, extra dock, equipment, and another phone to call VZW tech support to wonder why they promoted yet another Android phone that looks exactly like all the other ones save for some updated hardware that will perform well for a few months. After which will likely be plagued with memory errors, hardware failures, etc. Save the app stats too, open source platforms are a gift and a curse to developers and users; open season for malware, and garbage apps to hike stats. You want a toy, waste your money on this, otherwise carry a prepaid and a laptop and have a nice day.
  • I'll take my free &quot;dumb-phone&quot;...

    ...with a 2 year contract & make phone calls. I need to be connected when I need to be connected, not 24/7. I certainly won't try to surf the web on a 3" screen for $300 when I can use my $400, 15.6" dual-core laptop anywhere there's a wifi connection. Sure, I have to lug it around at times, but it builds character. Before I get hit with the silly replies that "people need to be connected...", let me retort - I run a pretty successful IT business without thinking that I'm so important that I have to be available all the time. I don't need a $300 phone-thing, a $50 data plan & unlimited talk & data on a eye-ruining underpowered device. I do need a mobile computer that does what I need it to do when I need it to do it. I also need to be dis-connected & be with my family when I want to, not just throw them the crumbs of my time. Oh, I also don't need an overpriced i-thing anywhere near me. I'm getting along just fine, thank you!
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    keep in mind that the Bionic has 32 GBs of memory (16 built in and it comes WITH a 16 GB microSD card). The Apple iPhone 4 with 32 GB of memory is also $299, so why is everyone making such a big stink over the Bionic? The Bionic has a faster (dual core) processor, a larger screen and better camera.
  • RE: Verizon and Motorola push pricing boundaries with Droid Bionic

    Ive read really good things about the droid bionic. I have an og droid and im really considering this to be my upgrade! i understand the costs of the phone; with technology the way it is w/ this being top of the line I understand the price, but a discount is always welcome!

    If anyone wants a discount on this phone, I have access to it at $279.99 for new verizon customers. Email me at and id be glad to help anyone out!
  • Bionic motorola droid

    I'm Michael in Tucson. This is my third bionic phone since Jan. 18, 2012. Verizon has tried to help but to no avail. The bionic has to be the dumbest of the So-Called smart phones. besides three bionic phones I also replaced the sym cards twice and reset my phone to factory settings quite a few times. How sad to have a phone that works great as a paper weight. I've asked to be refunded my money and to return this junk many times but they kept putting me off until the MAGIC 14 DAY NO RETURN policy went into effect. Needless to say I'm very dissatisfied with verizon and the bionic phone.