November 9, 2009

Droid Responsiveness and Ergonomics

Much has been made about Verizon's new Droid phone on Google's Android platform, and I agree with the reviews looking at the myriad details. But it seems that not enough has been made about the Droid's responsiveness and ergonomics.

Everything about actually holding and using the Droid is just a bit uncomfortable and sluggish. There are many examples, but here are a few that popped out in my first experience (in comparison to a long time with iPhone).
  • To wake up the Droid you have to press the on/off button on the top right. There is no natural grasp that lets you do this. It requires several seconds to regrasp the phone, press the button, and then regrasp again so you can unlock it. Compare with iPhone - press the home button with your thumb with the phone in your natural grasp and then immediately swipe with the same thumb.
  • Whenever I press any of the buttons on the side of the Droid (power, volume or camera), the keyboard slides open a bit making it harder to press the buttons you were trying to press.
  • The keyboard is oriented over an inch from the right side of the device, so not only do you have to type with your thumbs off center, but you have actually reach with your right thumb - making the much lambasted keyboard even more unpleasant.
  • All the graphics are slower, the touch screen is less responsive, and everything is less smooth. Yes, the display is sharper due to the higher resolution screen, but the actual experience of using that display is worse. iPhone is almost magically responsive to a very soft touch. This detail is crucial to people's enfatuation with iPhone. Every single interaction with iPhone is sensually pleasant. Android is, well, just sort of ok.
The Droid is a fine device, and if I didn't have an iPhone, I would be happy to have one. But after my first day of playing with it, I don't think there is any chance I'd trade my iPhone for it. On the other hand, Android is catching up fast, so a year from now it might be a pretty close battle.

Oh, and Droid turn by turn Navigation really is great. Part of the reason it is so good is because it uses a beautifully rendered perspective map view which I haven't seen the equivalent of on any online map - whether it is iPhone, TomTom, Google Maps or Earth.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I love my Droid -- but -- it is an ergonomic catastrophe. You can't tell which side is up without looking at it. When handling it, I'm forever hitting buttons that I don't want to hit, or having trouble finding the buttons that I do want to hit. The ringer loudness button is particularly easy to bump. The teeny-tiny keyboard is just about impossible to use without hitting lots of wrong keys. It took me a month to learn how to answer it without dropping the incoming call. It's actually a dreadful phone, but it does a great job with so many other things that I've managed to forgive its shortcomings.