Verizon Motorola Droid Bionic Review

October 16, 2011

The Motorola Droid Bionic is Verizon Wireless’ first dual-core smartphone to support their lightning-fast 4G LTE network. That nugget of information alone makes it a compelling device for consumers who skipped the Droid X2 and Droid 3 for lack of LTE support. Come to think of it, the Droid Bionic is almost a mash-up of the DX2 and D3, but with the all important 4G connectivity and more RAM. Let’s take a look at the rest of the spec sheet – it features a 4.3-inch qHD display (960 x 540 with 256 ppi), 1GHz TI OMAP4430 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, an 8 megapixel rear camera with 1080p HD video capture, a VGA front-facing camera, 1,735mAh battery, and it runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with the “Blur” user interface. That certainly makes for a nicely packaged smartphone.

Unfortunately, the Droid Bionic seems to have been put through a process of delays and a redesign in order to get to this point. Should consumers be disinterested in the device for taking longer than expected to arrive on the scene, or does its raw power and speed still excite potential suitors? Read our full review of the Droid Bionic to find out!

Unboxing and Hardware

In this close-up shot, you can see the Droid Bionic’s VGA front-facing camera, Motorola branding, the usual sensors (proximity/ambient light), notification light, and ear-piece speaker.

This device has a set of four capacitive touch-sensitive buttons that function as follows: Menu, Home, Back and Search. Like the Droid 3, the Droid Bionic is rocking the reverse “chin” design towards the bottom of the handset. Here you can see one of the microphones and Verizon branding.

Motorola has been on their game lately when it comes to using mobile displays that work well under direct sunlight. The 4.3-inch qHD LCD on the Bionic continues that trend, as visibility is above average outdoors thanks to the extreme brightness levels. Similarly, the display looks stunning indoors due to its high resolution. Motorola uses Pentile technology here, which may be an issue for those who like to view their display up close. In case you’re wondering about the Droid Bionic’s dimensions, it’s 66.9 x 127.5 x 10.99 mm (2.63” x 5” x 0.43”) and it weighs 158 g (5.6 oz).

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the Droid Bionic. We get a good look at the power/sleep button, 3.5mm headphone jack, battery door latch, and you can even make out the second microphone that’s creeping over to the backside. This angle also offers an interesting view of the downward sloping hump found on the rear cover.

This perspective shows you the angle of the slope, which is hardly noticeable. It’s more like a bunny slope, really. The right side of the phone also holds the volume up and down rocker.

The left side of the Droid Bionic houses all the ports. As you can see, we have microUSB and HDMI-out for mirroring.

On the back, we have a soft-touch battery door that’s riddled with logos and branding. The third microphone and exterior speaker are present on the left side. And, of course, we also have the 8 megapixel camera with LED flash – more on this later.

The rear camera is capable of taking 8 megapixel photos and full 1080p HD video when in camcorder mode. Sample photos and video can be viewed below.

Under the hood, the Droid Bionic is powered by a large 1,735mAh battery, which should get you through the day comfortably with light to moderate use. It also comes with a 16GB microSD card to supplement the 16GB of on-board memory.

Benchmark Tests

Benchmark Results:
Quadrant Standard: 2,440
Quadrant Advanced: 2,680
CF-Bench: Native – 9,535 Java – 2,631 Overall – 5,392
Antutu: 4,931
Multitouch Test: 10 simultaneous touch-points
NeoCore: 59fps

Verizon 4G LTE Speed Test

Software Overview: UI, apps, widgets, camera, browser, Swype and more

1080P HD Video Recording Sample

Sample Photos (click to enlarge)

Gaming Performance

Call Quality and Reception

We were pleased with call quality and didn’t notice any issues with reception in our area. Calls always went through and we were told by multiple callers that we sounded loud and clear. Likewise, we were able to hear callers without problems.

Battery Life

The large 1,735mAh battery powering the Droid Bionic enables it to get a solid day of moderate use on a single charge. Heavy users will naturally need an extra charge or two to get through the day. The LTE radio consumes more battery than 3G, but the extra bump in capacity enables it to be on-par with previous 3G-only devices.

Pricing and Availability

The Motorola Droid Bionic is available now through all Verizon Wireless channels (telesales, retail stores or online) for $299.99 $249.99 with a new or renewing two year agreement. You can also purchase it off-contract for a hefty price of $589.99. As you’ve probably realized by now, Verizon charges a little extra for the ability to connect to their LTE network. Check out Verizon’s website for more information or to order online.

Final Verdict

The Droid Bionic would have been the talk of the Android world had it been released on time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, so it entered Verizon’s lineup with many of the specs we’ve already seen before in the Droid X2 and Droid 3. That extended delay certainly eliminated some of the excitement that we felt when it was announced way back at CES in January. That being said, the fact that it’s Verizon’s first dual-core LTE Android smartphone counts big time. The lightning-fast data speeds combined with dual-core processing power makes this one speedy device. While there will always be something more enticing around the corner, the Droid Bionic offers an Android experience that’s more polished than previous Droid-branded devices were able to achieve.

- Supports 4G LTE data speeds
- 1GHz TI OMAP4430 dual-core processor
- Capable of playing graphically intensive games
- Bright 4.3-inch qHD display
- Solid build quality
- Full 1080p video recording capability
- Photos can be rather stunning with proper lighting
- Loud speaker
- Good call quality
- Blur UI now offers more useful features and eye-candy than it did earlier in the year
- Some bloatware is removable
- Battery life is pretty good for an LTE device
- HDMI-out mirroring
- Full gig of RAM, unlike the Droid 3 and Droid X2
- UPDATE: Upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

- Too bulky for some
- Camera is sensitive to movement
- Blur UI considered too overbearing for some
- Aside from more RAM and LTE, it’s more of the same
- Should have arrived earlier this year

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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