Guest Post: DROID Charge Review

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This is a guest post by Illinois blogger and tech enthusiast Eric Wilborn.

First off, let me give you some background. I am an HTC fan through and through. I like the look and feel of the Sense user interface and cannot fathom a permanent device without it. I have had some interaction with Samsung’s Android layout; my wife used a Fascinate for quite some time and I am constantly supporting friends’ devices. That being said, the Droid Charge by Samsung still took me by surprise.

From the minute I opened the ornate box (Verizon does so well with keeping the “Droid” name illustrated, convincing and successful) I could tell that this was a great device. I had seen and used it briefly before while my wife contemplated it as her next device, but you never really get to know a device until you’ve held it in your own hands without restraint or a sales person’s peering eye.

The screen size alone is enough to impress, but paired with the crisp image and beautiful resolution, the Charge’s phasers are set to AMAZE. While there is no bad use for this brilliant screen, it shined extremely well while playing back movies, viewing high resolution pictures, and, of course, the essential reason to own a smart phone: playing Angry Birds.

I haven’t been a fan of physical buttons for quite some time, but the Charge’s buttons didn’t hinder my interaction with the phone. My only complaint about the design of the device was the spacing between the frame and screen. Large enough for a grain of salt or sugar, somehow this gap wouldn’t accommodate a fingernail to dislodge the foreign matter from its grasp.

Samsung’s skinning of the Android system is simple yet effective. The application list elements remind me of iOS… several dynamic pages to list all apps on the device with a bar of four static apps across the bottom that are typically accessed often. I normally utilize Power Control on my Android devices; it is a wonderful quick toggle for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and other settings. Samsung negated my need for this app by including similar functionality in the drag-down action of the phone’s title bar.

Samsung also offers a Task Manager on the device. In the world of Android development, similar third party apps are highly controversial and frowned upon, so I found it interesting that they included the app. My main interaction complaint was the timing of waking the device up. Upon pressing the power button it sometimes took two or more seconds to brighten the screen and then the screen would often turn black within another five seconds. There was probably a setting to modify this somewhere, but I was focused on other aspects too much to care.

And now for the basics that concern everyone. Battery life was fair to slightly above average. My first few days with the device, prior to installing many apps or linking accounts, I was seeing two days before needing to charge it. In that time, I logged around 20 text messages and maybe half an hour worth of calling, as well as some Web browsing, all in 3G-only coverage.

Upon installing apps and linking accounts, I experienced just what I had expected: around eight to 10 hours before needing to plug in (this is where Angry Birds came in, four email accounts were being synced and Web usage spiked, especially while within 4G coverage).

The camera on this device took immaculate pictures. It adjusted well in low light and always seemed to know when to use the flash.

The Droid Charge dominated in every signal strength comparison I put it through. It averaged two bars higher than my Droid Incredible, a bar higher than my wife’s Incredible two and one to two bars higher than a Samsung Alias 2.

Verizon’s 4G network did nothing but impress. The connection rivaled my Comcast home Internet speeds, loading pages within seconds over the Mobile Hotspot app.

My verdict: If you’re looking for a sturdy device with a large, brilliant screen and 4G connectivity, get the Charge. Pick up a ZAGG invisibleShield and a case because this is a device you’re going to want to keep until your next available upgrade, if not longer.