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September 13, 2011 • Editorials

To Bionic or Not to Bionic

I have been angsting over a new phone for some time now. My original Droid is barely hanging on, and I am due for an upgrade. It was disappointing that Verizon didn’t pick up the Galaxy S II along with the other carriers, but the Motorola Droid Bionic hung on the horizon. I have been trolling various sites for reviews, but they all seemed to sum up with one word: Meh.

All of them are quick to reassure readers the Bionic isn’t a bad phone, it is just…not great. In fact, most of the reviews seem to end with similar sentiments.

Slashgear concluded:

Meanwhile, there are faster phones on the horizon. Samsung’s freshly-announced Galaxy S II variants for the US market promise faster processors, while Verizon likely has it’s own fresh superphones just around the corner too. Nonetheless, if you want the strongest combination of LTE, dual-core and display today, the DROID BIONIC by Motorola is your only option. Just don’t expect perfection.

Engadget said:

The Bionic is a great choice for right now, the best combination of wireless and device speed that we’ve yet seen on Verizon. For that reason alone it’s a smart purchase — particularly if you’ve been hanging on to that OG Droid for months and months waiting for a phone like this to come along. But you should know that this isn’t a world-conquering device, the kind of thing that will leave you walking tall and proud for months and months to come. If you’re okay with that, then buy with confidence.

This is my next also determined:

This is not the killer handset that I think a lot of people were expecting it to be — it’s a good phone on a great network that will keep you satisfied… for now. As usual with Android phones, there always seems to be something else just around the bend, and you’ve got to figure out if you’re going to take the next exit, or keep on trucking. Let’s just say that the Droid Bionic isn’t a bad place to pull off and grab a cup of coffee.

Really, for $300 and an 18-month commitment, I expected a lot more. If this phone were a bit cheaper, even $200, I think I would not be as disappointed. (And yes, I know Amazon Wireless has it cheaper, but the upgrade price is a still-steep $249.) But if I wanted a phone that was just ok, and likely to be outdated sooner rather than later, I could pick up a number of non-LTE handsets on Verizon for a lot less. The price and hype make it seem like this should be a cutting edge phone, but the reviews indicate it’s the phone version of last year’s Honda Civic: reliable but boring. I know I shouldn’t shop based on rumors of better devices, but given the collective yawn greeting the Bionic, I plan to wait.

For what, I’m not sure. The Nexus/Droid Prime is rumored for Verizon, but I don’t want to wait forever. At this point, if Samsung/Moto/HTC and Verizon don’t release something impressive, I will probably jump ship to the iPhone 5! I can always return to Android in the future, but for now, with the latest great robot hope turning into quite the yawner, I don’t see the incentive.

What’s your take? Have you tried the Bionic? Are the reviews too harsh? Let us know in the comments!

5 Responses to " To Bionic or Not to Bionic "

  1. doogald says:

    I don’t care so much about boring, but I do want a phone that I can comfortably stow in my pocket, and, unfortunately, any of the decent Android handsets on Verizon seem to be 4.3″ displays. Now I’m hearing that the Droid Prime/Nexus Prime/whatever-it’s-going-to-be is even bigger than that?

    I am also waiting and seeing about the iPhone 5, but I don’t love the glass back of the iPhone 4, and there are things about Android that I know I would miss on iOS – namely, the ability to archive text messages in my Gmail account; a real gmail app, that works the way that Gmail is supposed to work; a choice of keyboards – these are the big ones. However, the only somewhat decent Android phones that look interesting to me – the DInc2 and the Droid 3 – are supposed to be plagued with poor reception, and I live in the one Verizon Wireless reception hole in MA east of Worcester.

    Meh.

    • Haha – I hear you on the reception!  Before we moved to Corning we lived in Townsend MA for 15 years and even in 2008 we had to stand by the front window and lean forward to get one bar!

      Also agree on size – I remember people laughing about the Dell Streak 5 as being amusingly oversized, and yet some flavors of the Samsung Galaxy S II have 4.52″ screens!  I don’t want anything nearly that huge.

  2. David Min says:

    I am currently using the Bionic.  Personally, I think it’s a great phone overall.  Compared to the Thunderbolt it replaces, the battery life is much much better, the call quality is superior, and I like the fact that it has very few Custom UI changes.  It feels not too far from stock.

    That being said, the PenTile screen is starting to drive me crazy.  When I look at it head-on without the phone moving, it looks pretty good, albeit nowhere near as bright as the Super AMOLED Samsung screens (which may be a tad too bright IMO).  However, as soon as I start to jiggle the phone a bit (like using the phone while walking) I start to see the artifacts creep in a bit.  It drivers me crazy because the artifacts aren’t always there, so I find myself straining to really look at the screen because my eyes are fooled into thinking something is happening on-screen when it really isn’t.

    I’ll give it another few days but I’m not so sure this is the phone for me.  That being said, I see things “on the horizon” but nothing with a firm launch date that I can see that would be a better option.

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