Digital Thingamajigs
Get the scoop on the latest mobile and handheld devices, high-tech gadgets, phones, gaming devices and more as well as computer-related tips and tricks. Keep up with tech trends, gaming software and check out some of the newest innovations that are turning heads in the electronics industry.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Droid Charge reviewed

The Droid Charge has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen.


If you’ve never heard that term before, you soon will.

In technical terms, it stands for super active-matrix organic light-emitting diode.

In simple terms, it’s a very pretty display.

I had a chance recently to try out some of that newer technology via the Samsung Droid Charge smartphone on Verizon's 3G/4G network. And in a nutshell, it’s impressive.

Charge: First impressions
At first glance, the Charge is very similar in shape and appearance to other “candy-bar” style smartphones. As with most Android-powered phones, it has the typical four button layout on the front for “menu,” “home,” “back” and “search.” The phone, while large in size, is surprisingly lightweight, which may be due to the plastic shield that protects the back of the phone. Some may see the cheap material as a negative, but it definitely keeps the phone light. The 4.3-inch screen, while much larger than the iPhone 4, is similar in size to the LG Revolution I reviewed last time, but that’s where the similarities end and Super AMOLED comes in.

If I had to sum up the Charge's screen in one word, I'd have to say "juicy."

The Droid Charge’s 4.3-inch display is capable of reproducing the most brilliant colors I’ve ever seen in a display. The reds, greens and blues are so rich and vibrant it’s difficult to describe. I guess if I had to sum up the colors in one word, I’d say "juicy." It’s almost as if you could squeeze the phone and watch the digital juices drip from the screen. The end result is pictures that more closely reflect real-life and colors that capture the nuances of skin tone, hair and the environment.

The Super AMOLED technology is an improvement on basic AMOLED technology in that it allows the touch-sensitive layer of the display to be built into the screen, reducing glare and screen thickness. AMOLED also functions without a backlight, which means it can produce true blacks and give you a very high level of contrast. That same high contrast along with the rich, “juicy” colors can be seen from almost any angle that you view the phone. The only negative with the Charge’s screen is that — even though it is larger— the resolution (480 X 800) is still lower than that of the iPhone 4 (640 X 960).

The Charge's 8 megapixel camera
is the best I've seen on a smartphone.
Click here to see more photos I took.
Another bright spot of the Droid Charge is the camera. As is standard with most smartphone’s today, the Charge comes with a front- and rear-facing camera for taking portraits and landscapes or using video chat. The great thing about the Charge’s rear-facing camera is its 8 megapixel resolution. The high resolution coupled with the superb display makes for some breathtaking photos, even for an amateur.

The phone comes with Android 2.2.1 installed, a 32GB SD card for plenty of storage, a mini USB port for charging and syncing and a mini-HDMI port to connect video output to a larger screen device, such as a computer monitor or HDTV. Other features include the obligatory built-in Wi-Fi, 3G/4G, Bluetooth, mp3 player and a mobile hot-spot feature.

Phone quality is on par with other smartphones I’ve tested. I experienced no dropped calls and was able to pick up a relatively strong signal as long as I was in a city or close to a major highway.

I was able to get blazing-fast
4G speeds out of the Charge.
If you’re looking for high-speed Internet access in a small package, the Droid Charge delivers. While I didn’t have very much luck getting up to speed with the LG Revolution, I had no problem getting advertised 4G speeds on the Droid Charge.

My 4G tests ranged from a low of around 4.5 Mbps all the way to 18.5 Mbps. But overall, the Charge averaged around 11 Mbps download speeds on Verizon’s 4G network, well within the provider’s advertised 5-12 Mbps. Uploads peaked around 4 Mbps.

The Charge comes pre-loaded with several basic apps, and downloading more apps is a cinch. I was able to download Netflix, Speed Test and several other apps very quickly and set up my Gmail account very easily. The only thing I would like to see would be a more updated version of Android, as the Droid Charge only comes with version 2.2.1.

Final thoughts
Overall, the Droid Charge is one of the best phones I’ve been able to get my hands on. The incredible screen, high-quality camera, light weight package, high speed Web access and other features make it one of the finest smartphones on the market. The drawback to that, however, is the price. The Droid Charge checks in at $299 with a contract. However, I have noticed some retail outlets selling the phone at $199 with a contract recently. Keep in mind that the back of the phone is made of plastic, which might be a turn-off for some, but also gives the phone a lightweight feel. Overall, if you’re looking for one of the best all-around packages in a smartphone, and you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, then the Droid Charge could be right up your digital alley.