Review: Samsung DROID Charge (Verizon)

Posted by Dan H. on Jun 16, 2011

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Loosely based on the company’s Galaxy S II series, the DROID Charge by Samsung is Verizon’s second 4G LTE device. It had a rocky start — with a LTE outage the day before the planned release, it was delayed for a bit, and now it’s finally here. We’ve been playing with one for a few weeks, so keep reading for our full impressions!

Hardware

Like the rest of Verizon’s LTE smartphone lineup, the DROID Charge is equipped with a 4.3-inch, 800 x 480 display. What really sets the DROID Charge apart is Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus technology. The display is incredible, and it’s probably one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a mobile device. Colors pop, blacks look fantastic on the display, and we really enjoyed using it.

Once you stop staring at the display, you’ll notice the four physical Android buttons — Menu, Home, Back, and Search. The buttons are actually buttons that click for a change, and they’ll perfectly clicky, and provide great feedback. You’ll also find an earpiece, along with a 1.3MP front-facing camera for self-portraits, and video chat.

On the left side, there’s a volume rocker, along with a microUSB port for charging and sync.

On the right, you’ll find the power button, and the HDMI port, which is covered by an extremely difficult to open plastic cover.

On the top, you’ll find the 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the back, you’ll find the 8MP shooter + flash, along with the speaker. There’s a strange hump on the back, towards the bottom of the Charge. It’s a little strange, but it’s something you’ll get used to.

At 5.11-inches tall, 2.66-inches wide, and 0.46-inches thin, the DROID Charge is a big phone. We don’t mind the larger form factor — but it’s something to keep in mind. However, like most Samsung phones, the DROID Charge is basically all plastic. For $300 (on-contract), we really wished Samsung would have used higher quality materials on the phone.

Software

The DROID Charge runs Android 2.2.1 with Samsung’s custom TouchWiz UI on top. Again — we mentioned this in our LG Revolution review, and we’re saying it again: why aren’t companies shipping their devices with Android 2.3, Gingerbread? Gingerbread has been out for quite a while, and seriously guys — it’s time to start shipping devices with Gingerbread.

We’ve covered TouchWiz many times throughout different reviews, so we’re not going to go in-depth with it. In short, it’s gotten a lot better. The first few versions of TouchWiz were completely unusable — they were buggy, slow, and a painful experience. Samsung really did a great job with the newer versions though — it’s colorful (really shows off the Super AMOLED Plus display), much less buggy, and a usable experience. With that said, we still prefer stock Android devices.

Camera

The DROID Charge is equipped with a 8MP camera + flash. Pictures looked fantastic. Colors looked fantastic (especially on the , shots snapped quickly, and we were pretty impressed. Videos looked great in 720p also.

4G LTE

The Charge runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network (full review here). Verizon claims that customers should expect download speeds of 5-12Mbps down. We’re happy to report that we were able to achieve download speeds of 7Mbps and 6Mbps up consistently.

The DROID Charge’s 4G connection can also be used as a hotspot for 10 devices. In our testing, the hotspot function is completely useless on the Charge. When we connected our laptop, we saw dropped connections (at least four times per hour), slow speeds, and sometimes, it just flat-out stopped working. It could be a problem with our unit, but we’ve seen the same problem on the ThunderBolt and the Revolution.

Battery Life

The DROID Charge is powered by a 1600mAH battery. We were barely able to pull through a full day of usage, so you may want to purchase a spare battery, or be prepared to carry your charger around.

Pricing

The DROID Charge is one expensive smartphone. It’s available for $300 with a new two-year contract from Verizon.

Conclusion

The DROID Charge is an excellent device. We absolutely love the Super AMOLED Plus display, and while we still prefer stock Android, TouchWiz isn’t too bad. It will leave a huge dent on your wallet though — at $300, it ain’t cheap. If you’ve got the money, and you’re just craving for some LTE action, we highly recommend the DROID Charge.

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Dan H. (119 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


Dan H. is a gadget lover. The computer is his mother tongue; he started using them since before he could remember. He specializes in mobile devices, and is nuts about any kind of new technology. Follow me on twitter: twitter.com/techshoe. Contact: dan (at) mobilitysite (dot) com

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    I Currently have a Droid Charge, took the offer for it from the call issue with the Fascinate, before that i had a Motorola Droid (D1). I am a member of several sites, most who know me will be from XDA, and http://www.droidcharge.net I am learning more about android every day and absolutely love this OS. I research and test anything i post and download any files to one of my online storage accounts, so you can count on links I post to work and anything posted was tested to make sure it worked at least reasonably close to as advertised. and all instructions will be thorough and easy to follow. After almost 10 years in the Army it was necessary to get good at explaining things so that even the DUMB AS HELL soldiers could get it, no I am not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, it's just the writing style I have become used to. I hope I can learn good stuff here as well as help those less experienced than myself.

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