In my ever evolving quest to find data service that actually works, my latest phone is the Samsung Droid Charge. This phone is a 4.3 inch SAMOLED+, LTE data blasting, 8 mega pixel shooting beast. Of course, with all these great features there are always some draw backs. Here is my break down:
Screen: Holy crap! The screen on this phone is above and beyond anything else I have ever used or seen. The screen technology is Samsungs own Super AMOLED+, and let me tell you, it is as good as the name is long. Holding it side by side to my Motorola Droid X tells the story. The Charge has deep blacks and vivid colors, while the Droid X in comparison looks washed out, as if there were a dirty film over the screen. Below is the Droix X on the left, and the Charge on the right. You can easily tell that the Charge displays deep blacks, almost as if the screen wasn't even on in that portion, while the X has a lot of backlight bleed and overall isn't that dark.
I've never gotten a compliment about the screen on my phone before, but I have with this one.
LTE Data Pretty much the only reason this phone even exists is because of the LTE radio. When in an LTE market, this phone eats up the megabytes with ease. With a good signal, I often get over 30Mbps down and 5 up. In normal circumstances, I average aboud 10/2. This is a far cry from EVDO Rev. A, which often times is so slow that you might as well be on 2G. As with the Thunderbolt, transitions to and from LTE and EVDO aren't always great. Sometimes you will reacquire LTE with no user input needed, sometimes you MUST do an airplane mode flip to get it. Overall, LTE is what makes this phone worth picking up.
Camera The Charge has an 8MP camera w/ LED flash, and it really is a decent sensor for a phone. Combined with the SAMOLED+ screen, pictures are vivid and clear. Videos are great too.
Network Reception On the CDMA side, the Charge performs like a typical Samsung. I don't know what their deal is, but even since my Samsung A460 in 2002, Samsung just seems to under perform when compared to every other company. I am not saying that it is unusable, but it definitely drops calls (or breaks up) where my Motorola did not.
On the LTE side, I have nothing to compare it to. However, the signal does drop out more than I would like it to given the frequency it runs on (700mhz). The LTE network constantly vanishes in my apartment, but this may be due to the network deployment and not the phone itself.
Build Quality A typical complaint about modern Samsung phones is that they feel like they are made from plastic....well, they are. And because of that, it is very lite. Even with the extended batter and case, it is still much liter than my parents Droid 2's. However, the plastic is very slippery, and that may be a problem for some people. As I wrote this review, the phone slid off my couch and damaged the tip of the charger, lol. The case is also scratching up fairly easily because of the plastic materials. On top of that, this phone has a rather rare inclusion of physical buttons instead of capacitive. I haven't had this phone all that long, but the springiness of the back button is already questionable. This could also be a problem down the road.
Battery Life in LTE mode Battery life with the standard battery is low. It is low enough that I wouldn't recommend buying this phone without the extended battery, which presents a problem. I was lucky to get one because the extended battery cover for the Charge has been out of stock for weeks now. If you don't get the extended battery, at least get another standard one, you will need it. This is the price we pay for having access to LTE. Battery life in CDMA mode is not bad, and is on par with other phones in its class.
RAM The Charge only comes with about 328MB of user accessible RAM. Right now, with a grand total of zero applications running, my phone is using 271MB of RAM. That is unacceptable for a Droid branded, $300 phone. After a few hours of use (or days in some cases), your usage will creep up and things will slow down. Slow way down. In fact, after not too long Launcher Pro has to re load everything on the home screen slowly every time I hit the home button. This is very annoying and can't ever be fixed with a software update.
Twitter Breaks The Phone? This is a weird one that took me quite a while to research and figure out. Something that has been plaguing Galaxy S devices for some time is that the official Twitter application totally breaks all audio and video codecs after a little while of use. No media will play until you reboot the phone. The only long term solution to fix that is to uninstall the official twitter application, if you use that. No comment from Samsung, Google, Verizon, or Twitter about this yet. BAD! Here is my video of the bug in action:
YouTube - ‪Droid Charge Media Issue‬‏
Overall, would I recommend this phone? Yes, but only if you live in an LTE area, or frequently go somewhere that does have it. Without LTE, this phone wouldn't exist. Without it, it is simply a Samsung Fascinate in a time where the Galaxy S II is almost out.
WIth LTE, however, it is something completely different. I can actually use mobile data again, something I haven't been able to do for a while
If you want LTE, get this phone (and get it now, before Verizon goes to tiered data plans in July!)