Two weeks with a Motorola Droid Bionic – 4G, dual-core, new screen and focusing

I  look at a smartphone primarily as a content creator – still photos/video  on demand for publication.

The Bionic is a fast phone, capable of running on Verizon’s 4G LTE. The switching between 3G and 4G is smoother than I have experienced with earlier Android 4G phones.

A dual-core processor and 1 GIG of RAM with 32 GB of memory storage expandable by a microSD slot make it fly.

The hardware powers 3D graphics, embedded Flash in browsers, and HD video processing from the video camera quickly and without a glitch.

Watch a video comparing the processing speed of my Motorola Droid X and the Bionic processing a Flash heavy web page in the same browser .

Motorola’s 4.3″ qHD display tends to be brighter than earlier screens and power consumption appears to be considerably less than earlier 4.3 screens – 10% rather than 53% for my 4.3″ Droid X on the battery consumption graph.

Colors are more saturated than on the earlier Motorola screens, although less true to life in color rendition and contrast. Bright yellow is more of a golden brown.

If decreased font size comes along with higher resolution, it defeats the impression that a higher resolution screen is better. The smaller fonts look softer than the same sized fonts on earlier screens and varies depending on the background color.

While you can increase font size on some apps, like Gmail and Tweetdeck, there needs to be a way to universally tweak font size without rooting the phone.

Other than increased battery life, I find no advantage to the qHD screen over previous screens.

The interface for the 8MP rear facing camera has been updated with a tree menu system that is easier to use. This earlier review touches on the new menus and the improved panoramic mode.

Auto-focus has replaced fixed-focus for video shooting that was used on earlier Motorola phones. I found the focus often hopping around in low light situations. When zooming it lagged and jumped. Nice idea, but if it doesn’t work well it’s worse than fixed focus.

As a still camera, there are times you just can’t get the continuous auto-focus to lock in the close range or it will sometimes focus and then won’t in the next photo. You can’t tell if it’s focused until the photo has been shot. Sometimes the focus locks looking blurry, but is in focus after processing. Other times it’s just blurry.

The focus process is slower than when there was a mechanical button on the earlier models, when you pressed and locked the auto-focus and actually were in control of the process, however the processing is faster.

A lack of a shutter button makes shooting over your head, or using the camera at odd angles awkward. Without it there is no ability to lock in focus at a given distance simulating a manual focus experience.

What is particularly shocking is that Motorola had a good focusing/mechanical trigger system with earlier high-end smartphones which peaked with the Droid X. It deteriorated with the X2 when Moto decided to drop the mechanical button and got worse with the continuous focusing system on the Bionic, combined with the loss of the mechanical trigger button.

Hello Motorola! This isn’t working. Why did you break things that worked!? Start by putting a trigger button back on your high end phones.

The front-facing camera works well and is in focus for a wide range of distances with still and video.

The Bionic has the option to use the proximity sensor to lock the device automatically when inserted into your pocket.

The HDMI output of the visible area can be adjusted with a slider unlike earlier models with preset screen sizes.

The Bionic’s internal WiFi hotspot can operate on 11 different channels to avoid conflicts and up to a maximum of 5 devices to gobble down 4G

The battery is 1735 mAh

The Bionic scores 100 in the network and processing department with a nice solid build quality, but Motorola needs make the camera interface at least work as well as it did on earlier phones and come to a new conclusion about what makes a good screen experience.

About Paul Kuehnel

Paul Kuehnel has worked for the York Daily Record/Sunday News since 1984. Follow him on Twitter @paulkuehnel.
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