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Firmware upgrade expected for Motorola Droid

By C.J. CASTILLO
Feb. 12, 2010 at midnight
Updated Feb. 22, 2010 at 8:23 p.m.


Everybody's talking about touchscreens, resolution, multitouch, pinch-to-zoom; all they are saying is give the Droid a chance.

So this week everyone was excited about news that Motorola was going to release a firmware upgrade for the Droid, which would include support for multitouch, an enhancement to the virtual keyboard and improvement to the battery life.

However, it is now the end of the week as this is being written, and it is still not known when the update will be released. Earlier in the week Motorola announced on its official Facebook page that the Droid's update to Android 2.1 was planned to roll out during the week. However, over on the Motorola forums, a forums manager posted that they "jumped the gun on the details" of the release. So at this point your guess is as good as mine as to what features will be included or when the upgrade is released.

News that the Motorola Droid will receive multi-touch support is something many have been eagerly awaiting. This multitouch feature is already available on some smartphones with touchscreens, such as Apple's iPhone. The feature allows you to pinch to zoom in on Web browsers, maps and photos.

Recently the Droid did receive an update that enabled multitouch on its Google Maps application.

Speaking of the Droid, I had the chance to review this smartphone for a few weeks. Being an iPhone owner, I wanted to see how it compared.

When I first turned on the phone, I was very impressed by the 3.7-inch touchscreen, which is slightly bigger than the iPhone's. Images and text on the screen looked sharp and very clear.

The device itself, the design, is not as smooth and sleek as the iPhone. The Droid is heavier and I'm pretty sure I could hurt someone if I threw it at them (not that I'm promoting throwing this phone around).

The Droid has a camera with a resolution of five megapixels and comes with an LED flash; the iPhone 3G S has three megapixels and no flash.

The photos taken on the Droid were not spectacular; it takes a while to focus and take photos. You can also shoot video at a resolution of 720x480, and the video quality was very good.

One feature of the Droid not available on the iPhone is a sliding physical keyboard. The physical keyboard was difficult for me to use; the keys were flat, too small and very close together. I made more typos than usual when using it.

The other option is to type on the onscreen, virtual keyboard, similar to the iPhone's. The virtual keyboard took a while to get used to, but the more I used it, the faster I was able to type.

If I had a Droid, I would probably never use the physical keyboard.

The homescreen of the Droid contains the default apps included on the phone, and additional apps can be downloaded on the Android Market. Also, on the Droid you have the ability to multi-task, meaning you can open various applications at once and have them running in the background, which is not an option on the iPhone.

The GPS was one of the features I used most on the Droid. It definitely was a nice addition, having a free voice, turn-by-turn GPS function, using Google Maps. I'd have to purchase an app to use this feature on my iPhone.

The Droid has a removable battery, 16 gigabytes of memory, an SD-slot to add more memory, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability. The phone is $199 after a $100 rebate if you sign up for a two-year contract with Verizon.

Although I'm not about to throw away my iPhone just yet, overall, the Droid is a great smartphone if you are on Verizon's network.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can follow her on Twitter (@cjcastillo) or contact at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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