This is the best Samsung handset I’ve ever tested. Same may beg to disagree — with the Galaxy S II. But the SGSII is not in the States yet, and as of tomorrow (May 14, 2011), the Droid Charge will be. So there. Samsung’s Droid Charge sports a massive 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, an 8 megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, 1.3 megapixel front-facing, 32GB of microSD card storage, HDMI-out and a 1600mAh battery.
Read on past the break to see how amazing the Droid Charge is, especially paired with Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE service, as well as its only real pitfall — that you will have to charge your Charge — a lot.
Looks And Feel
The Droid Charge has a rather quiet design. It looks like shield you might find in the Zelda games or in Infinity Blade for iOS. Whatever you may compare its looks too, it’s pretty easy to see how its name was almost “Stealth”. But it’s not called the Stealth, it’s the Droid Charge. And rightfully so (more on that later). Weighing 5.04 ounces, holding the Charge for extended periods of time is rather easy for me at least, and I quite like the design actually. Moreover, it actually looks quite cool. And the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus WVGA screen (800×480) easily matches the quality of the Retina display seen on the slowly-aging iPhone 4.
As per what seems to be a Samsung Mobile USA standard is the dominance of plastic in the design of their phones. It seems to be a fascination of Samsung to use plastics all the time but thankfully the plastics used on the Droid Charge’s build are of a satisfying (read: decent) quality.
Using The Droid Charge
When you use a Droid Charge, the first thing you become aware of (besides the word ‘Droid’ screamed to you on boot-up or when receiving a call) is Touchwiz 3.0. My least favorite software user interface layer on Android by far, Touchwiz has a tendency of making the fastest handset slow down by using over-sized widgets and rather iOS inspired appearance. Keep in mind that iOS has one of the best (albeit sometimes boring) user interfaces in the world, but Samsung’s duplication of it is terrible. However, Touchwiz won’t get in your face in such a way where you’ll want to smash your $300 handset on the floor, but that’s just my opinion.
However, there is one nice addition from Samsung in this version of Touchwiz 3.0 on the Droid Charge: Taking screenshots. By holding the Back button then pressing Home only once, you can save a full screenshot when using the Droid Charge to your Gallery.
And of course, another dislike I have for the Droid Charge’s software is that it runs Android 2.2 (FroYo), which in this day and age is too far back an OS for a high-priced handset like this to use (it’s $300, remember?). Work harder on the updates, Sammy.
As soon as I received the unit, it was missing charge (Get it? Sorry about the pun.). So I proceeded to charge it of course, and found that that doesn’t take too long when plugged into the bundled microUSB cable and wall charger. Off I went, downloading apps at blazing fast 4G LTE speeds, of which I’ll get to in a moment.
There’s an 8 megapixel shooter on the back with an LED flash and a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera. Both take reasonably sharp shots and video, the 8MP camera capable of 720pHD video and the front-facing 480p video. Anti-shake is an option on the back-facing camera settings and greatly improves the clarity of photos without increasing the short shutter and autofocus times. All photos seen in the gallery below are taken at the maximum resolutions and the last photo comes from the front-facing camera.
Droid Charge Camera Tests
720p HD Video Test
All Hail The 4G LTE Speeds
This isn’t AT&T’s phony “4G” HSPA+. Nor is it Sprint’s 4G/WiMax data network. Or T-Mobile’s HSPA+ (which admiringly is pretty good considering it’s still HSPA+). This is 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE). Verizon and Samsung state that Verizon 4G speeds are of 5 MBps to 12MBps on the Droid Charge — which for me was completely false. In fact, whether I was in SoHo, Chelsea, Brooklyn, downtown or uptown New York City or somewhere in between, 4G LTE proceeded to speeds on average of 16MBps, beyond the suggested maximum, even reaching a peak of 24MBps downloads in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, which to my assumptions was probably near a 4G LTE tower. See a gallery of SpeedTest.net shots for proof.
4G LTE Speed Tests
I applaud Verizon Wireless’ and Samsung’s engineers for getting this much speed onto a single-core, 1GHz smartphone. Amazing.
Pity The Battery Life
I’m going to rip Samsung on this one: The battery is awful. Just, horrible. From a full charge at 9:30AM the Droid Charge approached 50% of battery life left at just 11:45AM. By the time this sentence was being typed, I only had 28% of battery life left. This meaning that if you use Twitter, make a few speedtests, check a few emails, open 4 tabs in the web browser (non-Flash), have GPS turned off, and automatic brightness like I did, the Droid Charge only lasts 6-7 hours on a full charge.
Amazing 4G LTE speeds. Bright, crisp, and fun Super AMOLED Plus display. Snappy single-core performance in menus and apps. A Relatively slim design. I’d recommend the Droid Charge to anyone in a heartbeat, but I’d give a stern warning: Bring the charger or microUSB cable with you if you plan staying outside for more than half a work/school day, because 4G LTE and a massive screen is an extreme beating to the 1600mAh battery.