Smartphones

Review: HTC Droid Eris

Although the HTC Droid Eris hasn't received as much press as the Motorola Droid, Shawn Morton explains why it may be better device for most smartphone users.

The Droid Eris was the second Android handset that Verizon Wireless released late last year. It didn't receive as much attention as the Motorola Droid, but it might just be a better device for the majority of smartphone users.

Specifications

  • Operating system: Google Android (Cupcake)
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM7600, 528MHz
  • Internal memory: 512MB ROM/288MB RAM
  • Display: 3.2-inch 320x480 HVGA Resolution Capacitive Touch Screen
  • Technology: CDMA: Dual-band 800/1900MHz, CDMA2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO rev.
  • Email: Support for Office Outlook Mobile and Microsoft Exchange with Direct Push
  • Dimensions: 4.45" (L) x 2.19" (W) X .51" (T)
  • Weight: 4.23 ounces
  • Battery: 1300 mAh Li-on; Talk time: 214 min.; Standby: 373 hrs.
  • Speakerphone
  • Built-in camera: 5.0 MP w/Auto Focus
  • I/O Interface: Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for stereo wireless headets; Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b/g
  • Expansion: microSD memory card slot
  • Navigation: Ultra slim bartype phone with capacitive touch display, end/power button, send, home, menu, back/clear button, search, volume keys, TrackBall
  • HTC Droid Eris site
  • CNET News.com Droid Eris photo gallery

Who is the target market?

This device is great for users who want a slim, inexpensive device that still has some higher-end smartphone capabilities like a touch screen, app store, and 5.0 MP camera. As with other touch screen devices that lack a physical keyboard (iPhone, BlackBerry Storm 2), it may take a while to get used to typing on one. If you send a lot of e-mails on the go, the Eris may be frustrating at first.

What problem does it solve?

The Eris offers a couple of innovations that existing smartphone users can appreciate: HTC's Sense UI and the Android Market.

The Sense UI is a custom user interface that device maker HTC places on top of the Android OS. It provides a much more elegant experience than the default Android OS. This is a benefit whether you are a smartphone power user or a first-timer.

All Android devices can take advantage of the Android Market. There are more than 20,000 apps available in the Android Market (compared to more than 100,000 in the iTunes App Store for iPhone), so you can easily add apps for Facebook, Twitter, news, weather, travel, shopping, etc.

Standout features

  • Overall design: HTC is the one device maker that gives Apple a run for its money in terms of hardware and software. The Eris is a great looking device both inside and out. It feels great in your hand (and pocket) and isn't bulky like the Motorola Droid.
  • The screen: The 3.2" screen on the Eris is crisp, bright, and responsive.
  • The OS: Android, especially when coupled with HTC's Sense UI, is the most hyped mobile operating system right now. The continuous innovation, along with the more open app store environment (Android is trying to make app development and approval easier and faster than iPhone app development), means you get new features and apps faster than on other operating systems.

What's wrong?

While the overall design of the device is solid, the back of the case is made of plastic; this makes it look a bit cheap. Also, the back of the case snaps on and off (rather than sliding or having a release button), so I worry about durability over the long term.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

While the beefier Motorola Droid got all of the marketing hype, the sleek and slender Eris would be my choice if choosing Android on Verizon. It combines really nice industrial design with a custom UI that makes the phone a snap to use. It also has built-in Outlook and Exchange support.

Add in the fact that you can get an Eris for under $100 (as of this writing, Verizon is offering the Eris in a buy-one-get-one-free deal at $79 with a 2-year contract), and it may be the best Android value on the market today.

User rating

If you have used the Droid Eris, rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think.

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1 comments
james.lonergan
james.lonergan

I was looking close at getting the HTC Hero from Sprint ... cheapest I could find was $149 by renewing my contract. The Eris was offered at $79 and I ended up getting it for $9 on Amazon.com. Upgrading from the HTC Touch, ... this phone is amazing. Great internet experience, smooth email, music player works well, ... easy to organize the screens and an overalljoy to use.

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