Droid Charge: Best Android phone? (photos)

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.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Telcos
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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

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42 comments
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  • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

    I only wish Samsung would get better at incorporating updates to their phones. This one already lags behind with 2.2, and they are consistently the last ones to update when new releases come out. Likewise their deep customizations to the ROMs have been pinpointed as the cause of the WP7 udpate fiasco. Just leave it alone! HTC are the best in this regard time and time again...
    bc3tech
    • Andoid OS 2.2 was released in May of 2010, 2.3 in December of 2010, so the

      @bc3tech: ... updates lag year behind.
      DDERSSS
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @bc3tech Agreed. Samsung makes great products but their poor update support undermines their efforts. I have a Captivate. It's a great phone but would hesitate to purchase another Samsung based on the update history.
      jporter1000
    • custom rom

      @bc3tech

      www.xda-developers.com
      duganator
  • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

    All those great features and, yet, not enough foresight to go with a dual-core processor? Just setting everyone up for more 'hurry up & wait'...
    zookeeper24
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @zookeeper24 - I really question the whole dual core thing in a phone, at least at this point. Most apps can't take advantage of it, and this thing seems plenty fast enough. Most importantly, it seems to get great battery life even wit 4G constantly on, which is astounding. Sounds like they got it right to me.
      ArtInvent
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @zookeeper24 Agree with ArtInvent. What exactly do you need it for, if everything works as it should? It's exactly the same discussion as with computers with some, do your really need a quad-core, when all you do is email and watch youtube?
      dragosgalben
  • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

    James, although I agree that the battery life on 4g is a real plus, would you really consider this an "upgrade" over the year old EVO 4g, especially when you would need to switch carriers? I just can't imagine signing a new contract on a new carrier (whose service costs more) and paying $299 for a single core Android device. The hardware just isn't enough to justify the cost and new contract IMO. Also, the Google Voice integration on Sprint is excellent and will only get better.<br><br>I am staying with Sprint 9as I have for nearly 20 years now) and am due for my annual upgrade this year as a Preferred Customer. My problem is figuring out which Android device to go with as a true upgrade to my rooted EVO (running CynaogenMod 7). Logic dictates the EVO 3d, but I don't know if I like it much more than my old EVO. I could care less about "3d" features and the device is a bit blah to me. maybe that will change when I see it in person. I really love the look of the Nexus S 4g, but don't like the idea of locking in for a year or two with a [nice] device that is already out of date with regard to processor. Why couldn't the Nexus S 4g have a better processor. Any suggestions appreciated as the upgrade qualification is approaching June 6th!<br>-OJM
    OJMc
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @OJMc Dude, the speed of LTE is far superior to Wimax... That's a big benefit... The most I ever got with Clear (in an excellent coverage area) was 13.3 Mb Down and like 1 to 2 Up... With LTE I've gotten 18 Down and 20 Up in an area that didn't even register as their strongest coverage area.
      slickjim
      • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

        @Peter Perry I think you are missing my point. This phone (hardware) is not a significant upgrade over the EVO from the perspective of specs and is already behind the curve with a single processor - regardless of the carrier. For that reason, I was questioning why James would select it as his next phone (on contract presumably), especially when it would involve the hassle and added expense of switching carriers. the specs of the device just don't seem to justify signing a two year contract at added cost when higher spec'd devices are already available.

        As for focusing solely on a comparison of Sprint and Verizon's "4g" networks, that is a separate issue which I won't belabor here. The fact is that either 4g service is plenty fast enough for all but a handful of users (unless you are transmitting a lot of large files to/from your phone on a regular basis or simply like to brag about having the fastest download/upload speeds).
        OJMc
      • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

        I would not count on the speeds to stay that fast...NO body is on the network so you have no competition plus verizon is looking at slowing speeds down or speed tiers. Bottom line 4G is only as good as the spectrun the carrier has...Verizon will not be able to keep up those speeds with the amount of spectrum they own... but enjoy it while you can...
        bo138150
      • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

        @Peter Perry There is always talk of the intial speeds, but who here hasn't had their phone (or computer for that matter) lose it's crispness / responsiveness over time? And I'm not talking about a phone loaded with crapware, have a DroidX with latest updates and its nowhere near as fast as that first week
        dwpeac@...
      • I don't get it

        @Peter Perry What kind of app would you run on a smart phone where, besides a speed test, you would notice the difference between 13mb down and 28mb down or even 2mb up vs. 20mb up?
        mchinsky@...
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @OJMc I'm in the same boat! My EVO does everything I need to get done, but new hardware is always the way to go if the cost is reasonable. I was thinking about getting the Nexus S just to try it out and then immediately go back and get the EVO 3d. But the best Android phone on the market right now IMO is the LG G2X but it's on TMobile. If the EVO 3d can match it's feature set, I think the wait will have been justified!
      worldbfree4me
  • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

    I wouldn't buy a Samsung Phone on Verizon until they get up with the Build Quality and the Internal Memory... Until then I'll take the inferior screen and weaker battery of the Thunderbolt any day because everything else about the phone is superior and the Extended Battery works great!

    Oh and for the record, if you're in an Area with 4G coverage then the Thunderbolt is actually pretty good on Battery all things considered (I would say 8 to 10 hours and more than 24 with the extended battery).
    slickjim
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      Must disagree on battery life for thunderbolt. 4g usage was four hours light usage before low battery signal. Took it back after three days. Will now try this one.
      onlineternal8877
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @Peter Perry
      I too trust HTC over Samsung when it comes to mobile phones. The only phones I got from Samsung until now are Omnia, Focus (2 of them) and Galaxy Tab. I am not going to buy any more Samsung devices. I returned my Samsung LTE Hotspot after struggling to get connected good number of times.
      Ram U
  • I don't think so

    Verizon's predatory business practices keep me away from them. And CDMA is just crappy technology.

    People are still buying mono-processor phones? :-)
    rag@...
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @rag@...

      Listen here, troll:
      1) Every one of the US phone businesses is "predatory" by your standard.
      2) CDMA is FAR superior (and LTE is even further along the tech curve) to GSM, HPSA+, WiMax, etc. I have no idea where you got your ridiculous thought.
      3) Considering there is no phone OS that uses dual core yet, why not use a single core phone? There's not a multiprocessor phone in existence, either. Multi-core is extremely different.
      evilkillerwhale@...
    • RE: Droid Charge: Best Android phone?

      @rag@... As people have said, there are few apps that do anything with Dual cores yet. If they can build them without a sacrifice in battery life, great, but until that, battery life is more important. I think the next substantial Samsung leap is the Galaxy S2 which will probably be on the carriers in different forms mid to late summer. Until then, I'm real happy with my Epic 4g although I live in an area with no 4g coverage in NJ. Neither Verizon or Sprint covers this area.
      mchinsky@...