It was time for me to upgrade from the Samsung Saga. It’s been nice, but the old Windows Mobile is lacking in features that the modern phones have. I’ve wanted a Droid ever since they’ve come out, but the original price was about $500 or $200 with a 2 year contract with Verizon (and then we’re back to being locked to a data plan that I have no interest in). Well now, it’s been almost 2 years since the Droid was released and people are coming to the end of their contracts. It’s about that time they usually want to upgrade their phone, which means you can find these older phones on EBay.
I picked up a used Droid for $60 shipped. It was in decent shape (no damage to the keyboard or LCD, but normal wear on the case). I purchased a 16 GB microSD card on sale from TigerDirect for $20 and a cable pack (since the auction I won didn’t come with the USB cable) for $6 on EBay which came with the USB sync cable, another wall charger, and a car charger. I used another ESN transfer service that I found on EBay for $1.99 and started using the Droid. All-in-all, I’m about $90 into the phone with 16 GB of storage, 2 wall chargers, a USB sync cable, and a car charger. For a phone that retailed brand new for about $500 2 years ago, that’s not too bad.
I have to preface this next portion with the following statement: This is my first experience owning an Android device. Prior to this point, I’ve only owned non-Smartphone cell phones, 2 Windows Mobile phones (the 6 series), and an IPod Touch. I’ve seen what Android powered devices could do, so I knew this would work well for what I needed to use it for. The difference between Windows Mobile 6 to iOS was huge, but the jump to Android is incredible. You can jailbreak an iOS device and you’ll get more freedom, but rooting an Android device with it’s own keyboard is like having a miniature, mobile computer in your pocket that you customize any way you want.
However, there are few things that make me a little uneasy about the Droid. I’ve heard random noise about security concerns in Android, but never really read into the issues in depth. One thing that I noticed right away is that Android doesn’t encrypt any data on the microSD card by default. That made me very reluctant to store any application data on the SD card at all. In the event your phone was stolen, anything that an android application stores on the microSD card would be accessible simply by removing the card and inserting it into a PC. That alone was reason enough to be certain nothing sensitive was stored on the microSD card. I’ve had several discussions about this with friends and co-workers ever since I found out about this and I still feel Android should have an option to encrypt SD card data (apparently others feel the same). Windows Mobile 6 even had this feature.
After researching the encryption on the microSD card, I then started to question how the apps share data, and found articles regarding certain apps that had been caught reading data stored by other apps. I had always known there was an issue with malicious apps in the Android Market and the iTunes store, but legitimate apps stealing data from other legitimate apps? That’s not cool at all… So, this made me very picky as to what apps I was going to install. There are also ways to exploit Android to extract data. One such attack can be done using an XSS bug on an Android 2.2 device that will allow the attacker access to the SD card (video demonstration using XSSF in Metasploit).
To take the same approach that I have taken for the last few years (which is find the cheapest cell phone service that doesn’t require a dataplan) WIFI on the phone was a must and the ability to install quality offline applications (that don’t require access to the Internet). After some research, I decided Page Plus is still the best value for the service (1200 Talk n’ Text with 100 MB of Data for $29.99 is the best and most affordable plan I’ve seen). I used Kitty Wireless to do the ESN Change (it was $1.99 on EBay). Some apps that I found that were highly recommended are MapDroyd (which allows offline GPS), WikiDroyd (offline Wikipedia reader), and FBReader (popular free e-book reader), MoboPlayer (free video player), and Opera Web Browser for android.
Overall, my impressions of the phone itself is good. Call quality on the Droid is about the same as the Samsung Saga (slightly better). The accelerometer behavior during a call took a little getting used to, but easy to adapt to. It’s very easy to turn on/off the data plan, as well as disable Auto-sync or Background data traffic of the applications. Easy to move apps to different home screens. My only complaint of the hardware is the keyboard. The keyboard doesn’t quite feel right and takes a little getting used to. The keys themselves are glued on to a press button keypad and one of the keys has already come off. I’ve come accustomed to the raised button keyboard of the Samsung Saga, so the flat keypad is a step down in my opinion. CNet did a nice video review for more information on the phone.
The TL;DR version of this post: So far, the Motorola Droid on Page Plus works well and I’m satisfied. I like the Droid more than any other mobile device that I have used in the past. I plan on doing a few posts regarding this phone and/or the Android OS as I’m getting used to all that it can do.