I have had my HTC Dream (
Gingerbread, will not even fit in its storage, and Android-3.0
Cream Sandwich is expected in a few months. It is time to get a new pocket
computer. So which one will I pick?
A lot of pocket computer activities depend more on operating system support than on hardware components. However, the point here is to pick the hardware. The lists below are organized around the hardware that supports the activities rather than grouped by function, downplaying the very important responsibility of the operating system to use that hardware effectively.
At present, the majority of time on the pocket computer is spent viewing HTML content that is stored on the machine itself, and a close second is viewing nonlocal HTML content. The display must have enough resolution to be readable and the web browser must take advantage of that.
At times I use the hand computer outdoors in direct sunlight, particularly for map navigation. It is quite important that the display be readable in that situation, even though its color and contrast may be degraded from its performance in artificial light.
Many tasks involve extensive text entry. Specifically, I record my blood pressure; I send e-mail; I make shopping lists, I connect to a terminal (shell) session on both my work and home computers; and various similar tasks. The on-screen keyboard on the Nokia 770 was annoying in this role and Android's version is also annoying. The physical keyboard on the Nokia N810 was discouraging to use. The machine must have a physical keyboard of useable size and a pleasant feel, with separate numeric keys (5 row layout) for the blood pressure task. The HTC Dream's keyboard is pretty good. I doubt I would like a Blackberry's keyboard.
I would like to use the pocket computer more as a music source, both for albums on the machine and nonlocal streaming audio. My music collection is in Ogg Vorbis format. The computer must accomodate both wired headphones and Bluetooth A2DP, and the audio player must accomodate formats I can provide.
I rely on the pocket computer for rare but important voice chat (phone calls). It must be competent in this role. Nonetheless the payment plan must accomodate my typically low usage; I don't want to pay a lot for services I won't use.
I need rare but important connectivity (both voice and data) outside the United States. A phone that can do both GSM and CDMA would be rated highly. At present we have a HTC Trophy (with Windows Phone 7) that can do both; thus the former absolute requirement for GSM can be relaxed on the new pocket computer.
I rely on the pocket computer for navigation and mapping. It must have a GPS receiver for this activity.
Batteries degrade with time, and on a long flight I will need a spare fully charged battery to keep entertained the whole way. A field-replaceable battery is essential, preferably without removing screws.
I am of two minds about a hot swappable SD (memory) card. At the time of writing this, my normal backup procedure involves hot-swapping it into my laptop, so dramatic operations to get the card out would not be acceptable, and a card trapped behind the battery would get a negative rating. However, I hope to improve this procedure, and it's a fact that with apps on the card it's going to be a major operation to change to a different card. Thus, I may decide to be flexible on the hot swappable SD card. (Update: with dropbear and rsync on the pocket computer, backing it up is much more sanitary and doesn't require removing the SD card.)
Here is a laundry list of activities which would be nice but which are not absolute requirements, ordered by importance:
Water and rain resistance. There is no chance that I will get what I want for this requirement.
Adjusts the screen brightness according to the ambient light level. This was a very nice feature of the Nokia N810, and saves battery.
USB connection to the host computer, including file transfer via the generic mass storage driver (preferably without unmounting the card), and Android debugging.
Charges from a generic mini-USB connector, not a vendor-specific charger, as with Nokia's 1.5mm cylinder connector. The HTC Trophy has a micro-USB connector which it uses for charging, as does the Motorola Droid 3, and it looks like this connector style is becoming the standard.
Photography with a rear-facing camera. But I will normally have my real camera. A high resolution of the camera has little value. Flash is nice but not essential. Actually my most frequent use of the HTC Dream's rear-facing camera is to read barcodes and QR codes. For this, autofocus is important.
Video chat with a front-facing camera. In practice with desktop computers this has been rare. A rotatable camera like on the Nokia N800 would be a neat solution.
A LED to notify of missed calls, low battery, etc.
Bluetooth HSP/HFP telephony headset. I do not actually have one of these, but a lot of people use them continually.
Speakerphone. I have never actually used this capability on the HTC Dream, but it has proven useful on the HTC Trophy (my wife's phone), and I may use it more in the future.
USB host capability, for a wired keyboard, mouse, etc. Given the difficulty of making this happen I have not experimented with it; I have instead used a Bluetooth keyboard.
A key decision in picking the phone is to pick the mobile operator, which then determines the modulation style (GSM vs. CDMA) and frequency. This table of mobile phone frequencies was provided by wpsantennas.com, selling cellular antennas, amplifiers and repeaters. See also the Wikipedia article on cellular frequencies, which has additional information.
|800||824-896||Traditional cellular voice|
|1700-2100||1710-1755||UMTS Band 4 (T-Mobile 3G)|
|2110-2155||Split up/down lilnks|
|1900||1920-1980||UMTS Band 1 in Europe/Asia|
|2110-2170||Split up/down lilnks|
The 800MHz band is often referred to as 850MHz. Virtually all North American mobile operators use 800MHz and 1900MHz for non-4G service, except T-Mobile runs 3G on 1700-2100 (split). LTE and WiMax are on 700MHz, 1700-2100MHz, or 2500-2700MHz (for Sprint XOMH).
Conclusion on frequencies: any phone should work (2G or 3G) on any North American operator's net except T-Mobile. Internationally, adding 900MHz GSM should be sufficient.
Here is an overview of nonvirtual mobile operators in the USA, ordered by the size of their networks.
Their network is CDMA. They have 4 generations of CDMA: IS-95, CDMA2000 1x, EV-DO, e-HRPT. They are adding 4G/LTE in some areas. They are the biggest operator in the USA and have coverage in the most places; in particular, their signal is good at our house and the places we frequently go, including Redmond. It's understood that mobile operators are all weasels, but Verizon's customer service is a bit less weaselly than others. Their prices tend to be higher than competitors. My wife uses Verizon and coordination with her could yield savings.
Their network is GSM (GPRS, EDGE) with 3G UMTS and HSPA
(inclding HSUPA); plans to upgrade to LTE.
All protocols are available on both the 850MHz and 1900MHz bands.
They are the second biggest mobile operator and are
financially secure. Nonetheless, their signal is poor at our house; I can
transmit reliably but I frequently miss incoming calls. They are the champion
weasels in the business; they lost a sale (of my wife's phone) because it was
impossible to get through to a human to discuss the terms of sale (whereas a
satisfactory arrangement was negotiated with Verizon). I am currently using
AT&T because of their favorable
pay as you go plan, despite the mismatch
of the HTC Dream's 3G modem, see T-Mobile.
They have two subnets, using CDMA on one and IDEN (800MHz) on the other, the latter being unique to them. They are phasing out IDEN. Due to the IDEN issue I have not formerly taken them seriously. They have aggressively rolled out 4G (WiMax) in Los Angeles. They claim to be the third largest net in the USA (after Verizon and AT&T). Their pay as you go plans are handled by several wholly owned subsidiaries such as Boost Mobile. Their Boost Mobile subsidiary spends a lot for advertising in Los Angeles. Their coverage map alleges a good signal at my house and frequently visited locations including Redmond.
Their network is GSM. They do UMTS (3G) on band 4,
1700-2100MHz (split), unlike any other mobile operator in the world.
Their parent is Deutsche Telekom. At present they are bankrupt, and they
were negotiating being
acquired by AT&T, but the Justice Department nixed the deal. They have
adequate coverage and their signal is marginal, better than AT&T, at our
house. Their customer service is not too bad. They had a favorable rate
plan for the
Sidekick product, but when they blocked the HTTP port
(requiring to go through their WAP server) and I could not work around that,
I fired them. Weasels!
There are several other smaller nonvirtual mobile operators that appear to own their own spectrum. None of them offer advantages for me over the big four, and most are restricted to limited geographic areas which in many cases do not include Los Angeles.
There are quite a lot of virtual operators who resell transport on the real operators, with their own business models and payment plans. As a contingency I may need to pick a virtual operator who resells Verizon. The only credible MVNO for my purpose is Page Plus.
Here are the calling plans from the various mobile operators; I'm focusing on those suitable for a low-volume user. For cost estimates I'm going to assume 20Mb/month data (used every day) and 10 minutes/month voice. I really don't use very much.
Verizon Prepaid Plans: They offer a monthly plan with 450 minutes voice and
unlimited data for $65/month; or these daily plans: unlimited voice for $2/day (each day that it is
used?), $0.10/min plus $1/day, or $0.25/min with no daily charge.
Unfortunately Verizon will only allow the daily plans for
but for reference the terms for the last item go like this:
|SMS||(each)||$0.20 in+out, $0.25 multimedia|
|Data||Unlimited||$1 on each day used|
Nationwide plan monthly costs:
|Voice||450 mins||$45 ($0.10/min)|
|SMS||(each)||$0.20 in+out, $0.25 multimedia|
|$30/mo or $1/day|
Nationwide 65 Plus is cheaper than regular
think this is for grandmothers; they check that the account holder is over 65
years age. There is a two line variant; basically multiply all the numbers
by 2. Monthly quotas and charges:
|Voice||200 mins||$30 ($0.15/min)|
|500 mins||Night and weekends, no charge|
|SMS||(each)||$0.20 in+out, $0.25 multimedia|
|Data||300Mb||$20 (not on website in 2011-12-xx)|
The data plan of 300Mb for $20/mo is not visible on the website (2011-12-05), but you can get it if you call customer service. On the 2 line plan it is required on each of the lines.
Our present plan with one line costs $35/month for voice (300 prime time minutes plus unlimited night and weekend) plus $30/month for data.
Costs for the multi-line family plan:
|Voice||700 mins||$70 ($0.10/min) for 2 lines|
|SMS||(each)||$0.20 in+out, $0.25 multimedia|
|Data||2Gb||$30 (likely for each line)|
|Total||$100 or $130/month for 2 lines|
They are my present operator. I'm currently using their
GoPhone plan with voice $0.10/minute, data $15/100Mb (feature package lasts
1 month), SMS $0.20 each. Effectively I'm paying about $16/month.
There is an alternative with
unlimited voice and SMS for $2.00 each day you use it, not counting
Checking their CDMA coverage map, they
claim to have
Best coverage at my house but no 4G. Places I'm at in Los
Angeles generally have Best coverage. Coverage in Redmond is also Best.
Plans I would be interested in include:
Daily Unlimited: $2/day ($60/month), otherwise same as Monthly Unlimited at $50/month. Unlimited voice, SMS and data.
Pay as you Go: Prices are as of 2011-11-24: $0.20/minute (voice) or per SMS in or out; data unlimited at $0.50/day ($15/month). (They have boosted their price. As of 2011-09-12 it was $0.10/min or SMS an data $0.35/day ($10.50/month).) Includes call waiting, voicemail, long distance PSTN, use of nationwide Sprint network. International costs extra.
Boost Mobile offers the Samsung Prevail (Galaxy series) for $180. This is the first time they've offered an Android phone. Reviewers are underwhelmed by this phone. As of 2011-11-24 they have more Android phones.
Their pay as you go plans all include: use of their network anywhere in the USA; voicemail, caller ID, call waiting. International calling costs extra (duh). Voice: $10 gets you 30 minutes or $30 gets 160 minutes (expiring in 90 days). And up. SMS $0.10 each in and out. They do not offer any data capability.
T-Mobile's monthly plans include the same features. $30 gets you 1500 minutes plus SMS (e.g. 1300 mins chat plus 200 SMS, or vice versa) and 30Mb data, rate limited to non-4G speed. Not clear what happens if I use over 30Mb data. If you go over 1500 mins+SMS you can refill (pay more); refills can be any dollar amount but it's not clear what you get for the money. $50/month gets you unlimited talk, SMS and data (1st 100Mb at 4G speed).
They have monthly and pay as you go plans. In the latter, you pay $10 for 100 minutes ($0.10/min) to $50 for 1000 mins ($0.05/min). $0.05 per SMS in and out. Data $1/Mb (ouch). The best-looking monthly plan is $30/mo for 1200 mins, 3000 SMS, 100Mb data. My actual data usage is around 10Mb/month but it would be easy to inadvertently use more.
Summary of plans, showing the monthly cost I would probably pay:
|Verizon Daily||$32.50||CDMA||Best coverage, expensive|
|Verizon 65+||$50||CDMA||Best coverage, expensive|
|AT&T||$16||GSM||Poor home signal, champion weasels|
|Boost Mobile||$15||CDMA||Only 1 Android phone|
|Page Plus||$21||CDMA||Verizon reseller (MVNO)|
My anticipated cellular signal quality, as reported by the
Coverage Map Android app by RootMetrics.
crowdsourced, i.e. submitted by people using this application
who do objective tests on their phones in random locations.
|Verizon||5/2||-76 (A)||43/49 (F)|
|AT&T||3/2||-101 (C)||55/98 (F)|
|(Actual Test)||-93 (*)||858/147|
|Sprint||4/2||-79 (B)||142/91 (F)|
|T-Mobile||4/4||-88 (B)||208/564 (D)|
|Verizon||5/0||-65 (A)||342/186 (B)|
|AT&T||5/5||-73 (A)||590/434 (B)|
|Sprint||5/0||-72 (A)||331/34 (C)|
|T-Mobile||5/0||-75 (A)||(No info)|
RootScore® is a summary score from 0 to 5 (5 is best),
reported separately for voice/data.
Signal is in dBm, less negative is better. Letter grades are
translations of the service's rating in number of stars (0-5).
* -- Compared to this actual test at home, my signal is usually -101 to -109 dBm, or zero (connection lost).
Data gives the reported data rate in kbps, download/upload.
bps probably means bits per second. Remember that the HTC Dream
is limited to EDGE speed because of frequency mismatch; however, scores
in the database should be representative of phones matched with the
respective mobile operators. All phones that can run the app and
report performance should be able to do 3G if available.
Conclusion: I'm thinking of switching to Boost Mobile (CDMA on Sprint), but not with the Samsung Prevail.
The following lists are filtered according to my required features: 5 row slider keyboard, field replaceable battery, hotswap SD card. Probably I should restrict to displays bigger than 3.8 inch diagonal. Also I'm restricting to non-ancient phones: introduced starting 2010-06-01.
These features are expected on any such pocket computer: WiFi, Bluetooth, rear-facing camera, wired headphones, GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer.
These features are nice, but not dealbreakers if absent: Dual GSM/CDMA, ambient light sensor, front-facing camera, notification LED, mini-USB or micro-USB charger.
These features are important but are not likely to be discernable in a compact summary list: nice sunlight readable display; competent voice chat; rain resistance.
|Wikipedia's List of HTC Phones|
|HTC||Espresso||MyTouch 3G Slide||Qc 600MHz||0.5/0.5||3.4in HVGA||GSM||4 row keyboard|
|HTC||Vision||Google G2||Qc 800MHz||0.5/1.5||3.7in WVGA||GSM|
|HTC||Speedy||Evo Shift 4G||Qc 800MHz||0.5/2.0||3.6in WVGA||CDMA+Wimax|
|HTC||Lexikon||Merge||Qc 800MHz||0.5/2.0||3.8in WVGA||CDMA|
|HTC||ChaCha||ChaCha||Qc 800MHz||0.5/0.5||2.6in HVGA||GSM||Front + rear camera; only 124 grams|
|HTC||Doubleshot||MyTouch 4G Slide||Qc 1.2Ghz X2||0.77/4.0||3.7in WVGA||GSM||Front + rear camera|
|Wikipedia's Comparison of Android Devices|
|HTC||Desire Z||G2||Qc 800MHz||0.5/1.5||3.7in WVGA||GSM + WCDMA||4 row keyboard|
|Moto||(?)||Atrix 4G||nV 1GHz X2||1.0/0.0||4in QHD||GSM + WCDMA||Front+rear camera|
|Moto||Sholes||Droid (OG)||TI 1GHz||0.25/0.5||3.7in FWVGA||CDMA||Keyboard|
|Moto||Solana XT862||Droid 3||TI 1GHz X2||0.5/16.0||4in QHD||GSM+WCDMA||184 grams|
|Front+rear camera, 5 row keyboard, issued 2011-07-14|
Legend: Name(int) is the internal codename; Name(ext) is what the mobile operators call it. Processor vendor codes: Qc = Qualcomm; nV = nVidia; TI = Texas Instruments. Display sizes: HVGA = 480x320px; WVGA = 800x480px; FWVGA = 854x480px; QHD = 960x540px.
Check out the Dell Flash: 800MHz 512Mb/512Mb, 480x800px(?) LCD. Dell's Flash, Thunder and Smoke do not have the keyboard I want, but if they did, they look intriguing.
About the Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy S II: Both of them may have dual mode radios. The version of the Galaxy S for Sprint, called the Epic 4G, has a 5 row physical keyboard. A year ago this would have been a wonderful choice, but it was discontinued in 2011-02-xx. All Galaxy S II's and most Galaxy S's do not have the physical keyboard.
Of the above devices, the new Droid 3 from Motorola meets my requirements best. Let's look closely at it, particularly for any showstoppers.
8-megapixel, VGA P2P video, 8x digital zoom, AF, LED. Jimc's translation: front camera VGA (640x480px); rear camera 8Mpx (likely 3260 x 2450px), autofocus, LED flash.
What is the part number of the battery? Looking on Motorola's website, follow these links: Mobile Phones -> Droid Series -> Droid 3; accessories are listed at the bottom of the page. Battery BF5X, 1540mAh at $49.99, replacement battery door (back cover) at $9.99. I should get two spare batteries, but not from Motorola. $13.83 each from JustCellular via Amazon (2011-11-24).
Review by Brad Molen, 2011-07-21. Mass 184g, kind of heavy. (The G1's mass is 159g; Nokia N810 is 226g; HTC Trophy is 140g.) Nice, durable construction: metal edge frame. Gorilla Glass on screen. Micro-USB charger and HDMI port on left side. Power button and 3.5mm phone jack on top. Volume buttons on right side. Rear camera (with LED flash) at top right. You can get an inductive charger, replacing the standard back cover. Easily field replaceable battery. SIM and SD slot are under the back cover but not covered by the battery. SD card can be up to 32Gb (card is not included); internal flash is 16Gb. Processor: TI OMAP 4430 (1GHz dual core), 512Mb RAM, 1540mAh battery. 2 cameras: 8Mpx rear, 640x480 front. Does not have LTE.
The reviewer liked the keyboard. Neither bouncy nor rubbery; he thinks they're natural to type on. It has separate number keys on the 5th row. It has actual arrow keys. All programmer's punctuation seems to be there. Backlit keys. Also has Swype virtual keyboard, which worked out well for the reviewer.
Camera: jimc says the shots of kids in a park at dusk came out very well considering the low light level. No dedicated camera button. Camera app had no way to jigger contrast or exposure, and had bugs. Autofocus took longer than the reviewer would like, causing candid shots to be missed. Reviewer felt the colors were washed out in sunlight, ill-defined under clouds, and shadowy in low light. The Samsung Galaxy S-II camera does better. (Comment poster says: pay $4 for Camera360 app.)
Software: Motoblur is gone, no registration required. Too many long
animations in the UI (2 to 3 secs, yuck). (Jimc says: in system 5.5.959, the
animations are all well under 1 sec and are reasonable.) They do obey the
animations UI setting, though.
Battery life: Play video continuously, it will run 4hr 15min. It lasted 10 hours in active use.
Posted comments: Almost everyone loves the phone. There is an extended battery available, with an expanded back cover.
The Droid 3 has a locked bootloader. Check carefully if
CyanogenMod can be installed. Some people
claim to have rooted their Droids. This is the
Sholes (original), not
the later Droid models. Update: there is an exploit for Droid 3 and most other recent
Droid models, which worked for me.
Verizon's unlock policy is 60 days. That is, 60 days after purchase they are supposed to tell you the SIM unlock code, so you can use a non-Verizon SIM in it. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay under your contract, nor evade the early termination penalty. Which is fair since they're subsidizing your phone with $200 at least, up to $350, and they deserve to suck your blood long enough to get that back.
Call quality: Their reviewer found incoming voice to be muffled; he could
understand the partner but it
muddied the overall experience. Partners
generally happy with the results on their end. Speakerphone did
well, clear audio and enough volume.
The review is dated 2011-10-16, the reviewer is not identified by name.
The full retail price is $460, or $199 on a 2 year plan with Verizon
Wireless. I interpret this to mean that the $460 number is for getting
it from Verizon also (locked). The reviewer really likes the physical design
of the handset;
The keyboard's tactile feedback is superior to most others
I've used. The micro-USB and HDMI ports are at the bottom (reviewer
would have preferred the top, for easier use when charging).
The VGA (front-facing) camera is poor in low light, which is common on front-facing cameras. The rear camera is not wonderful in his opinion, and he would like a dedicated camera button. The rear camera does autofocus, LED flash, fast enough for 1080p video. In snapshots, he thinks the colors were oversaturated, where the Engadget reviewer thought they were washed out.
The stock OS features SD card encryption, remote data wipe, and complex password support. Jimc wonders how much of this is available in CyanogenMod. Verizon gives you a bunch of apps to access their media sources (not free), plus the Kindle app, GoToMeeting, and Citrix Receiver.
There is an app to root this class of phones in one click. Link #1 for root exploit; Link #2 for a howto.
The speakerphone is pretty bad; his partners said they had trouble to hear him. But he could hear the partner clear and sharp.
Hardware goodies: Bluetooth A2DP, WiFi (what variant?), GPS, 3G cell but not 4G LTE, 16Gb internal flash, removeable SD slot (card not included), micro HDMI connector (cable sold separately), 1540mAh battery.
Processor power on the Quadrant benchmark: 2191, where the HTC Magic (next step up from Dream, jimc thinks) is about 180. This is about twice as fast as a Nexus One or HTC Evo. A screenshot confirms that the board's code name is Solana. Link to Quadrant benchmark on Android Market. CyanogenMod users report Quadrant numbers up to 3300.
Battery: starting at 100%, he played live video over 3G for 45 minutes and ran the battery down to 10%. He doesn't get anywhere near the claimed 9 hours talk or 12 days standby.
He liked the Droid 3 well enough to make it his daily handset. He particularly likes the keybaord.
2011-11-20 -- Hashcode has fixed an issue with the second processor, and a missing image.
2011-11-16 -- Hashcode's blog and his download area. While it's being developed to load with Safestrap (see this blog), the image posted on this date can be downloaded (and flashed?) by Koush's RomManager.
Currently listed fixed items:
Items known to have problems:
Hashcode's announcement, hard to tell the actual date but this
CM-7.1 alpha build 2 and may be dated 2011-10-18, with
updates on 2011-10-23. Features working: voice chat; internal SD;
audio; GPS; 3G data; Wi-Fi; lots of unlisted others. Definitely not
working: camera; external SD.
2011-10-19 -- Guide to installing NCCN-7.1 on Droid 3. This is the alpha version by Hashcode. The procedure to flash the image is given.
2011-10-05 -- A photo and video of CyanogenMod on the Droid 3 was posted. This is alpha quality, but there's progress. Credit to Hashcode. DroidForums thread with link to YouTube video.
2011-10-05 -- Wirefly is offering the Droid 3 and a Verizon contract for $130.
2011-09-15 -- Chris Parsons (credit to cvpcs) shows a video of booting CyanogenMod-7 on a Droid Bionic. It's alpha level, but it's progress. This phone shares with the Droid 3 the same exploit to root it.
2011-09-15 -- Continuing the 08-26 CyanogenMod forum thread, OrlandoBob reports Clockworkmod is out for Droid 3. Hold down the M key when booting, to activate Recovery.
2011-09-15 -- No CyanogenMod image is available. Only nightly builds are available for Droid 2 and Droid X. But you can jailbreak the Droid 2.
2011-09-08 -- Exploit to r00t Motorola phones
including Droid 2, Droid X, Droid 3, Droid Bionic, if they run
Gingerbread or earlier. Credit to Pete Souza.
Here's the HOWTO,
which was developed for the Droid 3, not the Bionic, but should work
on a long list of Motorola models.
2011-08-26 -- CyanogenMod forum thread about Droid 3: On this date, Driftinaway reports rooting his Droid 3.
The target model is the XT862 (see Howards Forum posting below).
now offers the Droid 3 for non-contract (month to month) plans. To
find it: -> Phones and Devices -> Motorola slider keyboard ->
Droid 3, select
month to month, price $459.99, overnight
shipping included. Add to cart, pick plan.
Nationwide 65 Plus
is what you sign up your grandmother for, and there's a good cost
saving (see the Plans section above):
$50/month. Assuming I were going to immediately jump ship, I would
have to pay the first month service, an activation fee of $35, and
an unlocking fee of $20. Total price: $565 (but I get one month of
Negri Electronics offers our model unlocked for $551.50. The web page actually gives information about the phone.
World Wide Voltage offers our model unlocked for $637.99.
The Droid 3 at Radio Shack with a 2 year contract from Verizon costs $100. From Verizon itself it costs $200.
The Android View review datd 2011-10-16 alleges that the retail price is currently $460. This is possibly the non-contract price from Verizon.
On the Samsung Spica forum, rojocapo in Argentina says he tried out a global Droid 3 which his friend bought in the USA for $375. Dated 2011-10-13. Not sure if this is the XT862 or XT860.
Cellular Outfitter: Motorola Droid 3 Global Android Smartphone (Unlocked) for $555. This is advertised as 850/1900/2100 WCDMA, 800/1900 CDMA EVDO rev. A and GSM 850/900/1800/1900 UMTS. This is the one we want.
Motorola Droid 3 (unlocked) for $550.
Ready to use on AT&T,
T-Mobile or Verizon.
CellHut.com: Motorola Milestone XT883/DROID 3 unlocked for $800. This is not advertised as having CDMA capability.
Negri Electronics: Motorola XT860 Droid 3 850/1900 3G OEM (Unlocked) for $590. Advertised as GSM only.
Amazon.com: Motorola Milestone Droid unlocked, for $300. sold by FGS trading and fulfilled by Amazon. This is the OG GSM version, not the Droid 3.
I'm going to fixate on the Droid 3 (XT862) because it is superior to all others in the required features. However, I will wait a few months for a CyanogenMod stable image to be posted, before actually buying the pocket computer. If CyanogenMod is slow to appear (and I doubt it will be), then I will get serious with other models.
Update on 2011-11-22: It will take considerable time for a
Solana (Droid 3) image to be finished, this model is now about 6 months old,
and I'm afraid that it's going to be discontinued. However, the alpha images
are apparently functional for the main tasks, and so I'm going to get the
pocket computer now.
I particularly need hands-on experience with these points:
Try out the physical keyboard for feel. I got to play with one at a Verizon kiosk. They aren't Cherry keys, but the keyboard is decent.
See what the display looks like in direct sunlight.
Evaluate what the display looks like in artificial light;
reviewers have pointed out that the
organization produces an odd Moiré effect.
On 2011-11-24 I ordered the phone.
The goal is to hold the pocket computer vertically (typically in landscape orientation) so it can be seen while charging. My use-case is to replace a bedside alarm clock, so it can be seen from the bed. Other people put a cradle on the desk, so calendar events can be seen when the window pops up, or so media (movies) can be watched. The following items are listed as being specifically for the Droid 3.
Multimedia Station for Droid 3 from Walmart subcontractor, no price shown. Plug USB cable (included) into desktop computer (or charger with type A USB connector, not included, as comes with the HTC Trophy).
Motorola Multimedia Desktop Charger for Droid 3
from ShopAndroid (AndroidCentral), $48. Ports on rear: microUSB,
3.5mm audio, standard HDMI. Charger included. But not the HDMI cable.
This is the
official Motorola dock.
Motorola Droid 3 USB Desktop Charger Cradle Dock Station from iGoneMobile, $20. USB port (micro?) for power and data to phone. Separate slot for a spare battery; port and wall wart included.
Motorola Droid 3 USB Sync and Charge Desktop Cradle with Battery Slot from eAccess, $20. Very similar to the previous item. USB cable is micro-USB to type A.
I like a horizontal case that attaches to my belt. The term
seems to mean a protective shell that is semi-permanently attached to the
Pouch is often used for what I want.
Otterbox 2000 Series from OnlyDroid3, $16. Transparent polycarbonate rigid box, really waterproof to 100ft, and floats. 146 x 80 x 25mm. This is not really what I'm after, but interesting politically.
Mobo Carrera Horizontal Pouch from OnlyDroid3, $10. Black (leather?) with red lining. A single rotatable clip attaches it to the belt. Flop cover.
Cellet Noble Horizontal Pouch from OnlyDroid3, $15. Black suede leather with tan lining. Flop cover with centered magnetic dot. Removeable belt clip (vertical) plus horseshoe shaped side strap that attaches with a snap fastener.
Motorola Droid 3 Horizontal Genuine Leather Phone Pouch from Think, $16. Duplicates the design of the pouch I have now: 2 straps with a belt clip in between.
Motorola Droid 3 Horizontal Quality Leather Phone Pouch from Think, $16. Looks identical to the previous one except a different logo on the front.
Motorola Droid 3 Horizontal Leather Phone Pouch from Think, $16. Looks identical to the previous one, even the same logo.
Nite Ize Leather Cargo Clip Case for Motorola Droid 3 from AndroidCentral, $17. Dark brown suede leather. Interior slot for credit card behind phone. Flop cover, Velcro closure (not magnetic). There is one clip on the back of rigid plastic, described by reviewers as very solid. The case is generic and is said to fit about 100 phones; reviewers with larger phones complain.
Nite Ize Clip Case Sideways for Motorola Droid 3 from AndroidCentral, $12. Black nylon. Interior slot for credit card. Flop cover with Velcro closure (not magnetic). Solid looking rigid plastic belt loop. Reviewer says this particular case is the medium size, and the large variant would fit the Droid better.
Clip Case Sideways from NiteIze direct, $12. Black nylon. Interior slot for credit card. Flop cover with Velcro closure (not magnetic). Solid looking rigid plastic belt loop. The Large size (recommended for Droids) is currently back ordered. The belt clip accomodates belts up to 5.5cm wide. Exterior dimensions of large size: 5.5 x 3 x 1.7in. Medium: 4.5 x 2.5 x 1in.
Executive Series Horizontal from NiteIze direct, $17.
Black leather, gray suede interior, flop cover with magnetic closure.
Interior dimensions 4.8 x 2.5 x 0.75in
Belt clip accomodates belts up to 2in wide (no hook on end).
I actually got this case. It's nice, and according to the given interior
dimensions the Droid should fit, but the way the end elastic goes, the
Droid is actually about 5 to 7 mm too long for a comfortable fit. But
it fits the iPhone and the HTC Trophy nicely. I sold it to a friend with
Universal Touch Screen Stylus from HandHeldItems, $4.
Works with iPhone and
all devices with touch screens.
Except not HTC Evo 4G for some reason.
Nite Ize backpacking gear including mobile phone cases. Check out the
Rugged Glasses Case.
Curvyman Cord Supervisor from NiteIze direct, $3.39. Wrap your earbud cord around this thing to avoid tangling; ends are held in little notches. Includes small double carabiner clip. Colors: black, pink, orange, purple, foliage (gray?), coyote (tan). The latter is the least annoying.
Howard Forums: How to unlock a Droid 3 XT862 (Verizon CDMA) to work on GSM. Networks that it will work on:
cellunlocker.net offers unlock codes (for a price). Procedure:
Enter SIM Unlock Codeor similar language.
About Gorilla Glass
by Corning: It is an alkali aluminosilicate glass, fabricated by Fusion
Drawing (Corning proprietary process), kind of like the Gaia butterfly
ribbons. Grinding and polishing is not needed, avoiding expense and surface
micro-damage. Typical thickness is 0.5mm. It is soaked in molten salt which
exchanges potassium for sodium ions in a
thick surface layer, expanding
it and putting compressive stress at the surface versus tension in the center.
This is similar to verre d'Arques, but caused chemically rather than by
the annealing schedule.
Boost Mobile (Sprint) offers the Samsung Prevail (Galaxy series) for $180. This is the first time they've offered an Android phone. Here's a review of the Samsung Prevail by Stephen Tenerowicz dated 2011-05-12:
This reviewer thinks the Prevail is
an extremely attractive buy
for budget-minded users.
Engadget's review of the Prevail (Dana Wollman, 2011-04-25) is less
favorable: she thinks Boost Mobile's $50/month plan is a great deal, but
is underwhelmed by the phone. Particularly, the touch screen was overly
sensitive and twitchy, causing clicking the wrong link or control. Chat
partners said she sounded tinny while the sound she heard was
and muffled. (Wacked codecs? Inferior mic and/or speaker?)
Samsung's product page for the Prevail is totally useless; for example, on the specs page they don't even tell the display dimensions in pixels, nor the battery capacity.
I suspect without confirmation that the OG Droid, code named
is named after Christopher Latham Sholes, the inventor of the first practical
typewriter and the QWERTY keyboard. See this
biography of Sholes on Wikipedia.