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Droid changes life 

Some phone.

DROID: Gives iPhone a run for its money.
  • DROID: Gives iPhone a run for its money.

I'm a Luddite. My friends mockingly refer to me as Matlock because I cannot perform the most basic of technological functions and react to new advances in tech gadgetry in about the same manner as a typical 80 year-old man might — grumpily. I was probably one of the last, lonely holdouts in Central Arkansas to buy a cell phone when I took the plunge in 2005. The last new phone I bought was purchased one year later and I used it faithfully until about three weeks ago. It wasn't much to look at, but it did receive phone calls and text messages, which is all that I needed it to do. Or so I thought.

On Nov. 6, armed with a little extra cash and at the nudging of close friends, I walked into the Verizon store on Cantrell Road to buy the much-trumpeted Droid, the Motorola-made smart phone that would, according to some advertisements and tech enthusiasts, change the smart phone game forever.

I have to admit, I was scared. My little phone, a Nokia candy-bar model, had been a reliable and faithful companion. It had survived circuit-jarring drops from unbelievable heights, screen-scraping slides across sidewalks and each of the elements from extreme Texas heat to the winter chill of New York. It wasn't fancy, but it got the job done. It was all the phone I'd ever need.

However, any attachment I felt for that little piece of junk was gone the instant I picked up the Droid.

It was beautiful. A little clunky, but not too big and nicely balanced. It had a perfectly un-scathed screen that you could actually see through, a considerable improvement on my current situation. The Internet was surprisingly fast and I could tell from the display model that a whole host of apps would prove to be very useful — a cardio-trainer, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, etc.

Because I never had an iPhone, I can't give you a comparison. I can only say that my Apple-toting friends all react to the Droid in the same way: defensively, sprinkled with a little bitterness and resentment. You can just see it on their faces as their whole sense of cell phone superiority drains away.

But it's not their fault they don't have the coolest phone on the market anymore. Apple fell asleep at the wheel, and now they're getting car-jacked.

Droid came out with a very aggressive ad campaign, targeting the iPhone directly in a series of “iDon't” commercials. Then came the “There's a map for that” ads showing a vastly more connected Verizon 3G network. Apple has fired back with a series of commercials featuring Luke Wilson that come across as defensive and forced. Yes, it's true that on the iPhone you can surf the web while you're on the phone, but that's one of the only things it has over the Droid. And I can't honestly say I've ever needed to check my email while on the phone. I'm not as busy or popular as Luke Wilson.

The Droid has a better camera, longer battery life, a free Google maps navigation system and a physical keyboard, which makes texting, Twittering and blogging a breeze.

The iPhone does have more apps — almost 10 times more — but that should change with the proliferation of smart phones that use Google's android operating system. Google has also promised to allow open-source apps (there won't be an official Droid app store), which should promote development.

So far, I've been impressed with the small number of apps that I've downloaded. I can keep up with my bank account, track the distance and time of my afternoon run, check up on my friends with Twitter and Facebook, jot down to-do notes and listen to Pandora. I can even do more than one of those things at once, which is impossible with the iPhone.

Bottom line: The Droid is a great phone. If you're under contract with Verizon, or looking for an alternative to the iPhone, you should check it out. Is it perfect? No. Will it change your life? Maybe. It made mine a lot easier and more efficient. Texting is no longer a chore and it's great to have the Internet and all the apps at my fingertips. Oh and by the way, it's a really good phone. I haven't had one dropped call and the sound and functionality are great. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use my YouTube app to pull up a good ol' episode of “Matlock.”

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