GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (LIN) - You can't get much for a penny these days. The cost of mostthings has far exceeded the formerly copper Lincoln head. In fact,the cost to manufacture a penny costs more than the penny is worth. But thereare still some things in life to be had for a penny. A ride on thehorse at Meijer? Insert coin. You can even find a fancy new Androidphone for a penny (provided you look in the
The Motorola Devour comes with a list price of $499.99, but withyour two-year contract agreement one can be had from some outletsfor that pretty penny. While the phone has plenty of positives,even for a penny, the Devour may not hold your appetite for thefull two years. Verizon sent me a device to test out since itlaunched, and while there are things I really like about the phone,it's held back in some key areas and unless you're dead-set onowning one, there are better phones out there.
The Motorola Devour shares a few features with it's older (inage) brother, the Motorola Droid. Both Droid and Devour run Android(though the Droid runs version 2.0, while the Devour runs 1.6),they're both sliders, both have a microSD slot and both are prettyhefty (the Droid weighs in at 6 ounces, the Devour tips the scalesat 5.89 ounces).
If you're looking for a Android device with a slider keyboard onthe Verizon network, these are your two choices. In my Droidreview,
At first glance, the Devour is a pretty impressive phone. It hasa brushed aluminum case with an optical tracking pad. The sliderhas a spring to it that is actually superior to the Droid. Thespacing on the keyboard buttons is improved. The Devour also runsthe MotoBlur software that syncs together all of your socialnetworking accounts.
But after time, the Devour's inadequacies really becamenoticeable. The keyboard with the incredible spring and nicekeyboard spacing is less than stellar, because the spacebar is inbetween the v and b keys. Really, whoever decided to mangle thekeyboard layout should have reconsidered. It's unnatural to typeon, and if there was a word requiring the b, n or m keys I foundmyself mangling it consistently. I'm also kind of irked that thekeyboard has the Fn and Shift keys on the right-hand side, butthat's mainly personal preference to have them on the left. Thekeyboard has a dedicated numbers row, but with regards to the Fnkeys, it's a bit perplexing that they chose to put symbols like !,@, #, $, % etc. that are naturally associated with the numbers rowto instead be put in the QWERTY row. I was also a bit disappointedthat there was no dedicated "@" or "," keys on the keyboard.
The optical tracking pad also felt limited while performing sometasks. I felt there are things (like playing games) that are bettersuited to your traditional D-pad. It was not totally off-puttingthough.
Social networking also takes a sidestep and maybe even a stepback on the Devour, and that's mainly due to MotoBlur software thedevice runs. While the concept of being able to see all of yoursocial networking updates on the home screen with widgets soundsfantastic, the execution of the design is limited. If your totalfriend/following number on Facebook/Twitter is similar to mine (inthe low hundreds), the device just doesn't cycle through updatesfast enough. You can change the speed in the settings, but thequickest transition is 30 seconds. Also, there's a lack of speedwhen wanting to check all of your updates. At one point, I had morethan 500 updates that were unread and I just ended up logging on toTwitter and Facebook to check them out because I wasn't going toswipe through every one. It's a more laborious process than I'minterested in, because on almost every other application, includingthe Facebook for Android app and TweetCaster (a new Twitter Androidapp I tried out), you can scroll through every update with speed,looking for key words or people that you want to read more about.MotoBlur does include a couple of other widgets like news andweather that you can modify, but they're not compelling enough overthe other news and weather widgets that are already available forAndroid.
There's a certain heft to the Devour. Even though it'sspec sheet says the device is lighter than the Droid by 0.1 ounces,it actually feels heavier. I asked Droid owners which feltheavier in their hands and each one said the Devour and asked for ascale when I told them it was lighter.
By far, one of the most disappointing aspects of the phone isits woefully small screen. While it's virtually the same sizeas the Droid, the screen size shrinks dramatically, the Devour'sscreen is 3.1" to the Droid's 3.7". It also loses plenty ofpixels, with a resolution of 480x320 instead of the Droid's massive854x480. Same size but having a smaller screen is a definite markagainst the phone.
As mentioned above, the Devour runs a dated version of a theAndroid OS because it comes with 1.6 preinstalled (even the Droidrunning 2.0 hasn't been updated to the current version which is2.1. At the time of this writing the release has been pushed backwith no ETA given). Now, running older software may not seem like abig deal to some people, but for me I'd rather see the latesttweaks and fixes present of the latest OS, if I'm going to buy anew phone. That being said, the Devour still has the things I likeabout Android: multitasking, Google-centered features like GoogleVoice and GMail, the Android Marketplace with tens of thousands ofapps, and a decent browser.
On the browser front one thing stood out to me: I couldn'toutscroll the page rendering. I'd flick my finger as fast aspossible and the page would scroll naturally, no rendering wasshown on screen. I was doing this while connected to a WiFinetwork, but it was impressive how there were no hiccups at all.That being said the browser still ranks in third place for me. Iprefer the WebOS browser on the Palm smartphones and Mobile Safarion the iPhone because of their built-in multitouch features thatthe Devour and most Android phones lack. Even without multitouchit's still a better browser than what I've seen on BlackBerryphones and many Windows Mobile devices (though that could changenow that Microsoft is transitioning to Windows Phone 7, but thosephones aren't available yet).
Google Maps has been upgraded for Android 1.6 to include thenavigation feature, which was one of my favorite aspects of theDroid. Google Maps will route your trip, give you directions andshow you locations along the way. It's just like a loadednavigation unit you can buy at the store, except it's free. Becauseof the included navigation features of Google Maps, I'm puzzled bythe the Verizon Navigator being included on the Devour. It justdoesn't make sense that it's there. While the Verizon Navigator isfully capable and a good navigation unit in its own right, I can'tsay that it's $10/month better. That's a personal decision everyuser will have to make though, but I'd definitely recommendchecking out the free navigation in Google Maps because it adds somuch value to the phone.
Both the Devour and the Droid have a microSD slot that you cantake advantage of by installing a card upto 32GB in size. I likethe prospect of added storage because gives control back to thecustomer. It also cuts the cost of increasing the storage becauseit's cheaper to by a seperate card than pay the premium some phonemanufacturers levy on devices. The Devour comes with a 8GB cardpre-installed, which is half the size of the Droid's 16GBpre-installed card. I don't find this a huge problem, as if I wasgoing to use either device for the long term I'd probably invest ina 32GB card. Having increased storage out of the box would havebeen nice, but it's not the deal-breaker for me like other aspectsof the phone.
The Devour came preloaded with some other Verizon apps, not justNavigator and they're all pay to play. VCAST Music with Rphasodyand VCAST Video along with Visual Voicemail are all available ifyou're interested in incurring additional monthly fees.
I liked the speed of the Devour, while not the fastest phone onthe planet, I had no problems running apps simultaneously. I'llattribute the speed to the 600 MHz Qualcomm chip inside (which isclocked faster than the Droid's 550 MHz Arm Cortex A8 processor).Both phones have 256 MB of ram and 512MB of ROM.
The camera on the Devour was a bit of a letdown. With no flashand just 3MP it failed to take very compelling photos. While it's"just" a cellphone, I find myself snapping more pictures latelywith the phone in my pocket than anything else. While theDroid's 5MP camera certainly didn't wow me with its pictures, it atleast had a flash and extra resolution. The Devour alsodidn't take very good video. While the Droid was shooting videowith DVD resolution (720 x 480), the Devour maxes out at just 320 x240. The sharpness in my recordings was absent.
I didn't have a problem with call quality or battery life. Everyone I talked to came through crisp through the handset or onspeakerphone. Battery life was strong enough to get methrough the day with moderate use, though if I really tried to killit, I could burn the battery down.
So is the Devour worth a penny? Though, when you factor inthe price of the two-year contract you're tying yourself to, you'rebetter off passing the coin to a kid at Meijer for the penny horse.I still love the Android OS, even in its 1.6 form because it is soclosely integrated with other Google services I use, but there arebetter Android phones out right now with more compelling featuresthan what the Devour has to offer. I would still recommend theMotorola Droid to customers looking for a new Android smartphonewith Verizon service (you can find it for pretty cheap online). Forthose looking to branch out the Palm Pre Plus has features found onno other phone with its mobile hot spot wi-fi technology.
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