- Outstanding screen
- Smooth performance
- Good call and camera quality
- 4G LTE kind of a letdown
- Poor battery life
The Samsung Droid Charge sports one of the best screens in the game and is a powerful device, but poor battery life and unimpressive 4G LTE performance tend to weigh it down.
The Samsung Droid Charge is available on Verizon Wireless networks and is one of the carrier’s few 4G LTE-enabled handsets. It runs the Android OS on a high-speed processor and has a generous-sized touchscreen.
This smartphone is available for for $300 after a new two-year contract with Verizon, or at an unsubsidized price of $570.
BUILD AND DESIGN
In terms of its size, the Droid Charge is very much on the large side for a smartphone due to its extra-roomy 4.3-inch screen (one of our commenters referred to it as a sub-tablet, which I thought was a rather apt way to refer to it). Akin to the Motorola Droid X2 not only in sheer size but also with a slightly tapered back, the Charge is certainly not the most portable device available; it’s actually not too thick — and it’s surprisingly light — but its width and length make it look a little ridiculous when you pocket it.
This particular phone doesn’t have a physical keyboard (it would only serve to make it even more unwieldy) so it instead relies on the use of a virtual keyboard for text input. While these are obviously nobody’s favorite, I found it to be relatively painless to use in comparison to others that I have experienced in the past; the keys were a reasonable size and felt natural with the haptic feedback turned on. In order to make decently-sized keys, however, the keyboard is a bit larger than some that I’ve seen and as such, in the browser, it leaves only a sliver of screen visible when the keyboard is up and the navigation toolbar is pulled down from the top.
The back of the device is where the camera and single speaker are located, but a quick word about the backing of the Charge: it’s made of extremely slick plastic. I personally prefer rubberized or textured material on my phones so as to ensure that it isn’t at risk of slipping out of my hand at any given moment. So if you’re anything like me, I would suggest getting a case or sleeve of some sort.
If I didn’t make it clear in my earlier first-look review, I believe that one of the best parts of the Droid Charge is its dazzling display. The Charge sports a 480 x 800 (WVGA) Super AMOLED Plus Touchscreen that measures at 4.3 inches, giving it plenty of room to show off its crisp, bright colors and sharp quality. The brightness and high quality of the screen allows it to be viewed comfortably outside, even on sunny days.
As much as I like having a large, vivid screen, I feel that its capabilities are so rarely capitalized upon. As odd as it sounds, the Charge probably looks its best just when I’m milling around in the menus or using a few select apps; otherwise, I’m watching videos online that are grainy, have poor color quality, and sometimes aren’t the right size to utilize all of the real estate (though YouTube does have a “high quality” option that, while it still only looks decent, at least fills the whole screen). As I mentioned in my first-look, most videos are too small for such a big screen and are just centered with a large black border surrounding it — much like when Android tablets first began to proliferate and apps weren’t of the right size or resolution to run full-screen.
While it’s not really the fault of the Charge that there are few types of media that maximize the potential of such a fantastic screen (though uploading other media onto the microSD as well as viewing photos or videos taken with the phone’s camera are viable options), it makes me wonder whether such a large form factor in the name of a 4.3-inch screen is worth it.
Other Buttons and Controls
In terms of any other external design features, everything the Droid Charge has is relatively standard fare. A volume rocker switch and micro USB port are found on the left side, while the power/standby button and a micro HDMI port are on the right. The front of the device features the standard four-button Android layout (options, home, back, and search), and the top has a 3.5mm headphone jack. The back panel of the phone must be pried off to access the microSD and SIM card slots, along with the battery.
One thing that did bother me, though, was the absence of a dedicated camera button. Accessing the camera software and shooting pictures or video are all handled on-screen, which makes spontaneous capture a little cumbersome.