Droid Bionic review roundup

The Droid Bionic reviews have begun to trickle in. Let's take a look at the score cards.

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This week, Verizon Wireless began selling the Droid Bionic, a smartphone built by Motorola and running exclusively on Verizon Wireless. On paper, the Bionic is a formidable machine – dual-core 1 GHz processors, 4.3-inch HD display, 8-megapixel autofocus camera with flash, and 1 GB of RAM. But how does the Bionic hold up in real life? Let's go to the score sheets.

The design

"The Bionic is not the thinnest phone out there. It’s not the lightest, either," admits Russell Holly of Geek.com. "It is, however, a phone that feels solid and is built to be cradled in your hand, while giving you the piece of mind that it is unlikely to slide out of your grasp. As far as design goes, this is probably my favorite phone from Motorola since they started making Android phones."

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The design, continued

The Bionic "feels solid but not heavy, refined but not dull," writes Tim Stevens of Engadget. "It's definitely traipsing along a fine stylistic line that divides sophisticated and boring, but we'd say it's leaning more toward the former than the latter. The only bits of brightwork are the chrome volume rocker and power button, while a subtly polished metal ring wraps the screen and stretches out a bit below it. That screen itself is Gorilla Glass, as you'd expect these days, and it has an interesting beveled edge to it that means the extents of the surface are very subtly recessed below the edge of the phone's body."

The OS

"The Bionic uses the most recent version of Google’s mobile operating system, nicknamed Gingerbread, but adds its own customizations to the OS," writes Joshua Topolsky of the Verge. "There are lots of little ways in which Motorola seems to be changing the way Android works in an attempt to make the system easier to use or simply to differentiate its software from other manufacturers’ offerings. Some of these tricks work, but most don’t. Some of the cosmetic changes are great, though, particularly a fancy new grid you see when you move icons and widgets around your home screen."

The battery life

"Anecdotally," writes Nicole Lee of CNET, "the Droid Bionic performed well in day-to-day usage. From a fully charged phone at the start of the day, we surfed the Web, navigated with Maps, watched a few Flash video clips, checked e-mail, and used it as we would normally. By the end of the day, we had only used about 15 to 20 percent of the battery. We did this with the 4G LTE speeds enabled."

The 4G connectivity

"Verizon's 4G LTE network now covers about half the country, and you can expect awesome speeds from the Bionic," writes Mark Spoonauer of Laptop mag. "In our tests using Speedtest.net we saw an average of 11.6 Mbps downloads and 3.4 Mbps uploads, with bursts on the downlink up to 20.1 Mbps... The Bionic pulled down mobile sites (CNN, ESPN, NYTimes) in 3 to 4 seconds and full desktop sites like Yahoo and the full NYTimes in 7 to 9 seconds. We were equally impressed by how the Bionic handled Flash content. An episode of Conan O'Brien we streamed from TBS looked clear at full screen."

The apps

In a post entitled "6 Ways the Motorola Droid Bionic Is Better Than the iPhone," Sascha Segan of PC Magazine notes that "the burgeoning competitive world of Android app stores is creating lots of great deals. Amazon and GetJar are offering different paid apps for free every day; if you shop around, you can get terrific apps for less dough... The biggest deal here, though, is LTE. The difference between LTE and 3G is vast, whether you're streaming video, downloading files, using your phone as a hotspot or just surfing complex Web pages, and Verizon's LTE network is expanding fast."

The final word

"Most customers aren't won by fact sheets that list things like dual-core processors or HDMI connectivity," writes Mark W. Smith of the Detroit Free Press. "They don't want a machine or tool. They want a piece of the magic that has sent the iPhone to the top of buyers' wish lists. The Droid Bionic has that, if you can wade through all the cold packaging. It's an undeniably great phone, powered by the fastest wireless network in the air today. For those who have been waiting out the 4G smartphone race this summer, hoping for a hit with the Bionic, your wait has been rewarded. This one is worth buying."

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