UPDATE: This preliminary review was based on a brief time with this smartphone. A more complete version written after extensive testing is available here:
The Samsung Droid Charge was released on the Verizon Wireless network earlier this month, featuring a high-speed processor and a gorgeous, roomy screen. Going for a price of $300 after a two-year contract ($570 unsubsidized), the Droid Charge is one of a handful of devices to run on Verizon's new, high-speed 4G LTE network.
I've spent some time with our review unit over the course of the past few days, and here are some of my thoughts so far. A full review is coming soon.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The most noticeable aspect about the Droid Charge's build is that, put simply, it's gigantic. Though it seems a little ridiculous to think that this thing is meant to slip into your pocket, there is an obvious payoff to such a design: it has a big, beautiful, 4.3-inch, Super AMOLED Plus screen with a WVGA (800 x 480) resolution.
The quality of the screen is great. It's sharp, it's vivid, and it displays colors exceptionally well. My only qualm is that at such a large size, few applications that involve images or video properly utilize all of the real estate. What good is such a large screen if I'm stuck watching YouTube videos in a little rectangle that's shrunk down and placed in the middle of the display?
The Samsung Droid Charge runs Google Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) and is powered by a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor. It has 2 GB of onboard storage, but the phone also ships with a 32 GB microSD card (the maximum capacity allowed by the expansion slot).
In terms of local performance, the Charge runs fairly smoothly, running apps at a respectable speed while keeping a handful of pre-loaded widgets running and updated at all times. Browsing, however, is a different story.
I was looking forward to trying out Verizon's highly-touted 4G LTE data network for the first time, but from what I've seen on the Charge, it may not be worth the price of admission. Browsing and downloading was at best average and, at times, even a little slow. Perhaps I bought too much into the marketing, but with the high-speed network, I was expecting something noticeably faster than what I've seen on other smartphones. Instead, what I got was more of the same with the occasional hiccup.
Other features of the device include dual cameras -- an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat -- as well as a 1600 mAh battery, supposedly good for up to 660 minutes of usage and 280 hours of standby.
On the whole, I have found the Samsung Droid Charge to be a solid phone, with its standout screen being its most appealing facet. Just browsing the menus and using certain apps and games is a practice in simplistic joy, as the colors are crisp and bright, and everything is noticeably sharper than what I've seen on other phones.
That being said, there are still certain drawbacks that keep this smartphone from being a perfect fit for everybody. Its excessively large size that allows for its lovely screen could be a deterrent for many, and in my preliminary testing the battery life is fairly poor. Bearing in mind these complaints and a few other, smaller issues, it's worth warning prospective buyers that there are plenty of things to like about the Charge, but you will do so in spite of its flaws.
To find out more about the Samsung Droid Charge, come back soon for my full review.
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