Fri, 05 Oct 2012

A Brief Review: Motorola Droid 4

Update: Bugless Beast didn't work out so well for me over time. It eventually crawled to a halt. My real fix came with Sourcery v2.2, outlined here.

After trying to raise my OG Droid 1 Motorola Droid A855 from the dead using the Bugless Beast ROM, having initial success and then watching my Droid degrade yet again to an unusable state where I'd wait many seconds for any activity of a button press to transpire, I pulled the trigger on a Droid 4.

So far, it's been disappointing, from a purely UI point of view. The hardware is fast. Buttons work properly when you press them. But Motorola/Verizon bung it up yet again by releasing an Android version chock full of annoying bloatware and unnecessary modifications. Where they won me over with the release of the OG Droid 1 by keeping the Android OS clean and simple, they ruin it here with the Droid 4. The text messaging and email apps are very noisy - tons of font and emoticon options clutter the screen. There's tons of misused space. Text messages display 3 messages at a time when there's space for 9. The UI feels like a comic book. It feels like text and UI options are splayed all over the screen in seemingly random fashion.

But these aren't even the deal breakers for me; those come along with the keyboard and button layout. After spending years with the Droid 1, I came to expect a certain feel from the keyboard. I loved the tight, small buttons. This keyboard (and device) is bigger, and not for any gain, save for video. It's harder to type by feel. The buttons give a lot, making it harder to type fast. It's moderately nice to have a number key row and proper locations for !@#$%^&*(). However, by putting the Caps Lock button where the Shift button would normally be on a keyboard, I am constantly having to edit my messages to repair having pressed Caps Lock. The Shift button is a far reach from where it would normally be in a QWERTY layout. It's something I haven't yet been able to get over, since my automatic touch typing response kicks in whenever I am using it and it is very hard for me to correct. Moreover, some genius decided that they would move the Back botton from the bottom left corner so somewhere in the middle of the layout, forcing you to look down to find it's location. This phone forces you to look at it, while the Droid 1 could be driven blindly and feel like an extension of one's hand. The back button is an integral part of the Android experience and moving it to a spot where you can't feel for it completely ruins the UI.

I reinitialized Bugless Beast on my Droid 1 following a great tutorial on Reddit here:

Last time I had trouble installing V6 SuperCharger and KickAssKernelizer and it seems these two scripts are essential to avoid Droid Degredation. So far, it's been running smooth. I think I am going to get my cell service reinstalled and send the Droid 4 back to Verizon. LTE is faster, but it's not that much better of an experience.


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