Droid Bionic release date set as reviews roll in

The Droid Bionic is a go. And judging by the early reviews, the latest handset in the popular Droid line could be a winner.

The Droid Bionic is set for a September 8 launch.

On Wednesday, Motorola took the wraps off the long-awaited Droid Bionic, a 4G-ready smartphone which will be sold exclusively through Verizon Wireless stores. And judging by the spec list provided by Motorola, the Bionic is a monster, from the dual-core 1 GHz processors to the 4.3-inch qHD display. The Bionic, Motorola says, will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and include Flash and HTML 5 capability.

Other niceties: a 8-megapixel autofocus camera with flash and 1080p HD video capture, along with a front-facing camera for video chat, and a full 1 GB of RAM. That's more processing power than many computers had a few years back. Of course, with the hardware comes a matching price tag of $299 (with a 2-year contract), which is a full hundred bucks more than the basic 16GB iPhone.

Over at USA Today, Mark W. Smith says he's been testing the Bionic for a week, and he likes what he sees.

"Most customers aren't won by fact sheets that list things like dual-core processors or HDMI connectivity," Smith writes. "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."

The Droid Bionic goes on sale Sept. 8, online and in brick-and-mortar Verizon outlets.

To get your hands on one of these things, you'll have to sign up for the Verizon Wireless voice plan, which starts at $39.99 for 450 minutes per month; you also want a data package, which starts at $30 monthly access for 2 GB of data. After all, this is one of the first major Motorola releases to take full advantage of the 4G network -- a network that gets download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G coverage areas.

So with that kind of speed, does the Droid Bionic have a shot against competitors such as the iPhone? Well, sure. Motorola and Verizon have always been pretty canny at positioning the Droid line as an alternative to the omnipresent iPhone. (It's no accident that the Droid Bionic trailer showed an assassin slicing her way through a small army of cyborgs.)

And the timing is right: The release of the next Apple phone is perhaps a month off, which means Verizon can have the spotlight to itself.

Until the day when the iPhone 5 arrives, that is.

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