The Samsung Droid Charge has been one of the most controversial smartphones I have ever tested, and one of the worst phones some of you have ever purchased. It has a serious issue, and while I'm not going to get into it up here, I want to forewarn you that the problem has had a serious impact on my final review.
Samsung has always made some absolutely killer hardware, but did they drop the ball on the Droid Charge? Is it worth the $300 on contract that Verizon is asking for it? Please, read on past the break to find out.
In terms of specs, the Droid Charge is pretty loaded. A single-core 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM help to drive the 4.3-inch 800 x 480 screen. You also get two cameras: a 8MP one on the back and a 1.3MP one on the front. Unfortunately, it is only running Android Froyo with TouchWiz.
It's running on Verizon's CDMA 3G and LTE 4G networks, and it does so fairly well. I consistently got around three to four bars out of five wherever I was. Voice sounded pretty good, if a little white-noisy at times. And as with all Verizon smartphones, it seems, data transfer rates were very acceptable, even on just 3G. 4G LTE is pretty scarce, though, so while I do live relatively near to an LTE-enabled area, coverage was spotty at best and I couldn't get a true feel for how fast the network actually was. Hopefully, Verizon will expand even more rapidly and continue to improve the networks that are already in place.
Design and Build Quality
On the front, you'll see that the Droid Charge's main feature is, indeed, the 4.3-inch display. Samsung and Verizon branding grace the bottom and top, respectively, but there really isn't much else on the front to distract from actually using the device. On the bottom of the front, you'll find the typical Android button array; none of them are capacitive, which is really sweet. These mechanical buttons always responded to the first click.
On the back, Samsung decided to further degrade the Droid name by including a plastic backing. In my month and a half of light use, I came up with those various scratches in the back. It just completely reaffirms my belief that smooth plastic backings should no longer be used ever. It's not acceptable on a free smartphone, let alone Verizon's flagship that is $300 on contract.
Turning the device to its right side will reveal the miniHDMI port and power button. It probably sounds pretty silly for me to mention, but I really like having the power button to the side like this because it makes taking the device out of your pocket and instantly turning it on to read a text message or email so much easier, especially given this phone's massive size. In fact, I find it so intuitive that I've been trying really hard to adjust back to my iPhone's top power and sleep button.
Turning to the left, the Charge houses a simple volume rocker and the microUSB port below it. Again, a nice, clean design that allows for easier access to every button the device offers.
Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and every good thing must come to an end. And for the Droid Charge, the only really good thing was the performance. The display, while high-resolution and bright, was absolutely horrid. If you have been following Pocketables since at least late June, you probably remember reading my piece on the Droid Charge blue screen issue.
Now, as I previously mentioned, I had the Charge for about a month and a half. In that time, I had this blue screen issue about a hundred times. I am not kidding: one hundred separate occasions. A lot of you have had the same issue. Fast forward to the end of August 2011, and I wrote up a quote directly from Verizon PR about the issue. Here's the official quote:
“This is not an issue that has been widely reported by our customers. Any customer who has an issue with a Verizon Wireless phone is encouraged to bring it back to their local Verizon Wireless store for analysis. All of our phones are under warranty against manufacturer defects for one year.”
So in other words, Verizon doesn't think there is a problem and would rather switch out your $300 purchase of a brand new unit for a refurb one. I would like to apologize to those of you affected.
Getting back to something a little more nice about the Droid Charge, I'll talk about the battery life. I could get through a full day without recharging it, and still end up with about 25% of the battery left. Note, however, that since I don't live in an LTE-equipped area, I had that mode turned off and simply used the CDMA that Verizon offers in my small, pathetic little town.
The Samsung Droid Charge could've been an absolutely killer piece of Verizon hardware if it didn't suffer from this Android-variant of BSOD. The performance was definitely more than acceptable, and had some very great battery life. It wasn't too heavy, and it always had consistently good signal strength. However, every aspect of the device that made me want it for my next phone was crushed when that first blue screen incident happened.
Because of it, I simply cannot give the Droid Charge a good review at all. If I knew for a fact that this was a software issue, and could be fixed, I would probably have different thoughts about it. But I don't, and the only other thing my Verizon rep told me that it could be was an "app downloaded from the Android Market." I call bologna on that, Verizon. Sorry.
So as far as I know, this is a hardware issue, and the only way you're going to get it resolved for yourself is a total phone replacement. That's not only a pain in the behind but it also shouldn't happen on something you dropped $300 on contract for. And because of that, the Samsung Droid Charge is not worth it.