A Week with the Droid

At the beginning of the year, I got an Android Developer Phone 1 (basically an unlocked version of the T-Mobile G1) and was using it on T-Mobile’s network. For the most part, I loved the phone but hated T-Mobile’s network. If only I could have an Android phone on Verizon’s network, things would be perfect. So I waited anxiously for any news to come and eventually the rumors started to trickle in. Finally, Verizon launched the Droid last Friday and I was there early before the store opened, second in line to get one. I was in love. It’s a much faster phone than the G1, with a better display, better battery life, better camera, more memory, newer version of the operating system, better maps and navigation, better everything. Well, it didn’t have a better keyboard (the G1 keyboard has five rows of buttons with one row dedicated to numbers, while the Droid’s only has four and you have to use the alt key to hit the numbers which is kind of annoying, and also the G1 keys are more separated and feel better than those on the Droid).

My love for the Droid grew over the weekend. I saw four movies (two each on Friday and Saturday), and it kept me company while I was waiting for them to start. I downloaded and installed several apps from the Android market, most of them free but some of them purchased. However, that’s when the problems started. On Sunday evening, I purchased the Better Terminal Emulator Pro application and instantly the phone rebooted, and as soon as it came back up, it rebooted again, before I could do anything at all. And it kept rebooting. There was nothing that I could do to stop it. I found that if you hold down the “s” key or the menu key (on the keyboard, not the one below the screen), then the phone boots into safe mode, but even that wasn’t enough because it still rebooted. Trying to attach it to my computer over USB (from Linux or Windows) was unsuccessful, since it wasn’t getting far enough to allow me to see the device or attach to it.

Clearly, I couldn’t do anything at all with the phone in that state, so my only option was to take it back to the Verizon store on Monday morning, and they replaced it for me. Because it was tied to my Google account, all of my contacts and apps synced down without any problems, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle to get the second one configured like I had the first one. I did most of it in the car before leaving the Verizon store to head into work.

Surely it was just a bad phone and everything would be fine with the new one. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The battery in the new phone wasn’t fully charged, and as soon as I plugged it in when I got into the office, it rebooted. Fortunately, it only rebooted once and didn’t enter an infinite reboot loop like the last one, but I was nervous. One of the applications that had automatically synced was the Better Terminal Emulator Pro application that had seemingly triggered the problem on my first one, so I thought it would be safer to get it off the phone in case it did something to make things unstable. So I uninstalled and refunded the app, and instantly the phone rebooted, and it kept rebooting nonstop. Another trip to the Verizon store (a different store this time, mainly because it was closer to the office) over lunch and I got my third Droid. The problem app wasn’t ever on this phone, and things generally seemed to be OK., although I still noticed occasional reboots, especially if I got a text message.

Earlier today, I was working and signed up for an online service that needed to activated over the phone. I entered my phone number and waited for it to call, but nothing happened. That was when I noticed that my phone was again stuck in a reboot loop. Once again to the Verizon store. This time, I was determined to not let it happen again. I made sure that it was completely new hardware (e.g., so they didn’t move the memory card from my previous one to the new one) and I even used a completely separate Google account. I proceeded with extreme caution, and things were looking positive for a while. However, again since it was a new battery it wasn’t fully charged so I plugged it in to charge it, and fortunately it didn’t reboot. I sent it a text message and it didn’t reboot then either. So things were finally fixed, right? Nope. A while later I looked at the phone and noticed that it was once again stuck in a reboot loop. Fortunately, when I unplugged it, it stopped rebooting, and it started back up when I plugged it in again. So I left it unplugged and let it come back up, and then I sent it a text message and it rebooted right away.

At this point, I’m stuck. I really want to love the Droid, and when it’s not rebooting it’s an extremely nice device. But if it crashes when I plug it in to charge it, or when I receive a text message or a phone call, then it’s really not of any use to me. At this point, I think that my only recourse is to take it back and swap it out for the HTC Droid Eris (which is also on Verizon’s network and also launched last Friday). It’s not as nice a phone as the Motorola Droid pretty much all the way around (smaller screen with a lower resolution, less memory, no physical keyboard, not running Android 2.0), but HTC has more experience building Android devices than Motorola so hopefully it will be stable. So I’m off to the Verizon store again tomorrow, hopefully for the last time in quite a while.

2 thoughts on “A Week with the Droid

  1. Seems you are not alone. Google "droid reboot" and you will fond lots of new friends to keep you company swapping stories about rebooting droids.The question now is did Verizon screw it up "customizing" it?Or is it just crappy Motorola hardware?(Or is Android a dud?)


  2. I was early adopter of HTC Hero. Sense UI was not very usable until first firmware update and I remember to hit similar reboot loop once. Actually I disabled Sence UI until then. It is like with Windows – good to wait for the first service pack 😉 Motorola will get there…


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