After Hours optimize

Verizon Droid microphone problems = fun gadget, but not a quality phone

A Verizon Droid user recounts her experience with the mobile phone and the lack of customer satisfaction -- from both Verizon and Motorola -- when she reported audio difficulties in the original and replacement devices.

A couple weeks ago, a good friend of mine was updating her Facebook status with complaints about her Verizon Droid. I asked her to send me an e-mail with more information about her experience. Here it is in its entirety:

“I bought my Droid two months ago. During the first 30 days, I called customer support to explain the problems I was having. The biggest one is that when I make or receive calls, no one can hear me. They say I sound like I’m talking through a tin can, muffled, and cutting in and out.

“I went back to Verizon within the 30-day exchange program but was only able to change the phone for a different phone, not the Droid. The tech checked my phone – he called his wife five times, asking if he sounded okay – and said that nothing was wrong. So, I decided to keep it.

“I made more follow-up calls and stops into Verizon. They claimed that I hadn’t contacted them regarding any problems. According to the manufacturer’s warranty with Motorola, they will replace my phone of 60 days with a used/refurbished phone, but not a new one. They call these phones "like new," but the replacement they sent had clearly been used and was older than my original phone. What’s even worse is that this second Droid had the same audio difficulties.

“Clearly, the Droid is having problems with (for lack of correct terminology) the microphone in the phone. I’ve been on Motorola's Droid support forum and there are numerous posts regarding this exact issue. The Droid is a fun gadget but has not proven to be a good phone for many people.

“Bloggers on the site have offered solutions, such as when call clarity is poor, switch your speaker phone on and then turn it back off. This does clear it up for a few second, but then it reverts back to its original poor clarity. Another recommendation was to turn off the call privacy feature, but when I tried that, it didn’t work.

“One guy posted the code to get into the hidden screen to change the vocoder level to the highest setting. Motorola warned people that this is tampering with the device, but I tried the EVRC-B setting anyway. Unfortunately, even that didn’t fix the problem.

“Verizon is not acknowledging the problems and Motorola really is not backing the issues either. They say they are working to fix the bugs, but in the meantime, many people are stuck with a gadget that’s fun but not a quality phone – and stuck in a contract with Verizon, waiting out the two years to get a new mobile device.

“I’ve already contacted the President of Motorola, the President of Verizon, the Midwest regional President of Verizon, and the Better Business Bureau. I’m going to continue to find more avenues to get the word out about the problem. Hopefully, the more people voice their difficulties with the Verizon Droid, the more motivate these companies will become to fix the known bugs and ultimately satisfy their customers.”

Have you experienced problems with the Verizon Droid? If you were considering purchasing this device, does this user’s experience make you pause or reconsider? Please share your feedback in this post’s discussion thread.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

38 comments
paladin
paladin

After delaying for years in getting the luxury of a smartphone, I am now highly disappointed with the HTC Incredible because of the poor sound quality. What good are tons of gadgets if it sucks at being a PHONE? When I did my research, it was ranked as one of the best, but looking back now on those reviews, they were just reviewing features, and none bothered review the primary function of being a good phone. My $18 Wal-mart cheapo phone sounded better.

drluisauw
drluisauw

I am on my 4th Droid, I started having the same problems in January when I got the phone. I am a doctor and my patients can not understand me. It is right down dangerous at times, not to mention when I leave prescription information on the pharmacy voicemail. I keep doing everything that is asked of me, keep getting the same story from Verizon and Motorola that nobody else is having the problem. Resets, refurbished phones and nothing works. I am so frustrated that after seeing all these posts, nobody at either company has taken the issue seriously or offered new phones or alternatives to those experiencing the problem. Last time I called Verizon, they told me they no longer were exchanging the phone because they were working on a software issue and were now blaming it on Google. I was told an update would come soon but 3 weeks later, my phone is still worthless and a hazard. I would like to hear from someone at Motorola or Verizon that takes this issue seriously and recognizes the threat to patients not being able to understand my instruction or possible wrong prescriptions! The phone has a lot of cool features but primarily it needs to work as a phone

lilboss
lilboss

A very bad phone I purchased 3 for my wife and kids all three had different problem and had to be replaced within a month or few weeks after the purchase.

BaskelGroup
BaskelGroup

I don't mean to make this a "this vs. that" war post, but I'm working with a new startup company as their Tech/Comm/IS director. We're currently in the midst of selecting wireless phones. Currently I'm trying to decide between the Blackberry (Tour, or Bold) or the Droid. Does this audio problem also exist on the HTC Droids or just on the Motorola DROID?

chaslbolt
chaslbolt

I've owned several Motorola Phones, and continue to buy them because of their good signal capability. However, none of the Motorola phones I've owned have ever performed according to advertisement. One phone would not bluetooth properly. There have been two class action law suits, one on which I should be receiving a check this month (regarding battery problems). Seems Motorola never has a solution - they are always 'working' on a solution. Sad that a company having been in the phone business so long can't get it right just one time.

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

I like the Droid, I dont think I have the same audio problem but I do have a similar issue with call receipt and transmission issues when I am at home. As I am in Verizon's "extended" data area. I have no problems in other areas. Probably because I live on the corner of BFE street and way out there road. My GF on the same service gets 3 bars regularly with one of LG's popular brands. So, I use her phone when I am at home. I did call in once to attempt a resolution but to no avail. I have to say that we live in a wonderful fantastic time, and I appreciate the wonders of our current tech and it will only improve. I did nothing to create it, so I will use it and appreciate that they let me pay to play. One day, I will be telling my great grand children, "back in my day I had to drive to work 50 miles" and also "back in my day we had smart phones that surfed the internet".

brian
brian

We have several people at our company using the Droid and none of us have had this problem.

JBoutot
JBoutot

Oh, yeah, me too. New Droid phone was supposed to replace my land line. I have full bars service where my office is located. Good thing I didn't port my office number deciding to give it a 30 trial to see if it could really replace my land line. I spend hours at a time on the phone with clients and was looking forward to being able to keep it in the dock and talk using a bluetooth headset. So my very first conversation with a client was a bust. They kept telling me I sounded like I was talking through a tube, or water, and I kept cutting out. Full bars? I started watching the service meter and lo and behold, it kept fluxuating up and down while talking on the phone (in the 2+ months I've been using it I haven't seen this when not talking - only when talking). The underwater talking problem only worsened when the service would drop. So we had to switch back to the land line. I tried everything - multiple bluetooth headsets (one of them is a top of the line $100 headset) and they all did the same thing. So I tried speakerphone... same results. Tried just holding the darn thing to my ear... same results. I don't think the problem is with the microphone - I think it is a problem with the processing analog-to-digital of your outbound voice. I returned the phone as defective after 1 week and was given a brand new replacement. Same problem. Exactly the same, no different. So I ended up having to cut my services down to the minimum as the phone is pretty useless as a primary communication device. Too bad the iPhone and ATT don't have 3G where I live - Verizon owns the skies where 3G is concerned in Vermont. So now, I'm wondering if it would be cost effective to just bite the bullet and pay the early termination fee and get rid of it. With the plan I have, it's about $75 per month. That's not a lot of money, but it's a lot of money to pay to basically get emails from my exchange server while I'm not in the office. Jerry Boutot, MCAD MCP AppDataWorks, LLC

jfuller05
jfuller05

It's a really cool gadget, like you said, and the quality of the phone can be improved.

rob
rob

When one reads reviews of cell phones on the web or in magazines, the quality (or lack of) is rarely mentioned. All the features are explored in great detail, but some of us have a cell phone SO WE CAN TALK ON IT! I get better transmit voice quality with my Plantronics Blue Tooth headset than the built-in microphone, which is more convenient anyway.

bhrbek
bhrbek

I switch from Sprint to Verizon for this phone and people keep telling me I sound like I'm underwarter, talking in a tin can, talking 10' from the phone, etc. My business purchased 4 of these phones and 3 of us are having issues with the mic. It's CLEARLY a phone issue.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

If this had been the 'other' phone in this article, there'd already be a hundred comments about how crappy the device and the manufacturer are. Non-Zealot talks about 'double standards' and here is absolute proof of it. I don't care what brand you talk about, some percentage of that product is going to have problems; some more than others. I'm sorry that this particular individual is having an issue, but at the moment the problem sounds like either a software issue or a bad solder joint inside--a manufacturing defect either way. Having worked in electronics all my life, and with computers for most of that time, I'm familiar with both how difficult such issues can be to find, and how annoying they are until you find them. Quite often you have to wait until the breakdown bricks the device before you can find the cause of the problem.

FAST!!!
FAST!!!

What the heck does this title mean anyway? "fun gadget" - humm... Anyway my Droid works great! It's a phone, I get my email on it which keeps up to date for work, get my news, sports and weather fix whenever and whereever I am, get directions to where I am going, listen to my music, keep entertained, etc. Oh yeah, and I have a keyboard to type on. And my doctor showed me the voice to text feature which really works well. So anyway, I like my Droid.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

I received the following e-mail yesterday: "Motorola contacted me regarding the complaint that I made 10 days ago. They said it will be resolved, and it's also nice to know that I'm not the only one having these problems."

suinc
suinc

I got my Moto Droid 2 days after it's release in October. I've had no such problems ever. There are things I think that require improvement like landscaping when the phone is turned horizontal with the screen closed, and fixing the MP3 player so that it alerts you when a phone, text or email is coming in, not stopping the playing of the tune you're listening to. All others will stop playing only when a phone call is incoming, but theirs clearly stops rather than reducing audio when messages of any type are incoming. I disagree with you on the quality of the device. I dropped mine twice from about 5' onto the asphalt of the parking lot. I have a small nic and the device is still near perfect in appearance and functionality. Sorry you're having your issues.

jf555
jf555

You need to see an audiologist

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

This could really hurt Google's/Android's reputation here. It's not Google's fault (it's Motorola's as the manufacturer and Verizon as the reseller) at all but when people think of "Droid phone" they think "Google's phone"

mattohare
mattohare

Loads of promises, no follow through. I was leaving the old AT&T wireless (just before they were bought by Cingular) because of their customer service problems. I didn't expect it to get worse, but I found that it actually did. They may have good coverage and some nice phones. But with the low grade of service, I'll not even go into their shops to get out of the rain.

Luis Outumuro
Luis Outumuro

The article is about a Motorola Droid, but the photo used in the article is one of the HTC Droid models. Might want to use the correct photo so as not to confuse or mislead people. Just an FYI.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I don't talk a lot on the phone, but I've had no one complain about my audio quality. On the other hand, one of my employees was on the phone from DC today on his Droid, and having the problems described here. It occurs to me that I often have troubles like this when I am trying to talk to this one employee. With that said, on my other mobile tablet device, which cost a bundle and is supposed to be from a company with a laser focus on "quality", I've been having the well publicized troubles with the wifi... C'est la vie.

aerialpro
aerialpro

I have had three Motorola droids replaced and still the same problems with the microphone, They keep telling me the is no fix for the droid at this time and they are working on the problem with some kind of software fix.Everyone I call can't understand me and most people hang up on me. I wish Verizon would get there act together, they have no customer service anymore.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think that the one thing you'll very rarely see that "other brand" accused of having is significant quality control problems. In fact, that is why *when* that "other brand" has issues, it is such a major story. Now, I've disputed that this is because there is any inherently superior quality to the components of that other brand (as a matter of fact, the recent trouble with the 24" iMacs were because of a commodity PC component that was causing the same kinds of problems in the PC world) - but instead because Apple simply spends more attention on quality control (thus having a better record of weeding out problem components before they end up massively distributed in products). I agree, brand-loyalism that ignores the *facts* is useless. Sony used to dominate CRT monitors with their trinitron tubes. Insisting on purchasing Sony LCDs today because Sony Trinitron tubes were so good back in the day is senseless brand-loyalty. Paying the brand premium for a Sony LCD is wasted money. If VW started putting out better performing, more luxurious, and more reliable vehicles than BMW, VW would be on my agenda for future cars. As a matter of fact, Ford or Chevy could be on my agenda if they delivered - just because that is an unlikely future scenario, doesn't mean it is impossible.

smartplan09
smartplan09

Verizon has the best service among the big cellphones companies!

DadsPad
DadsPad

I had ATT wireless for years and the connection service wasn't what I wanted. Called Cingular and said I was considering switching to another service. She told me that ATT wireless was different than Cingular and that people that switched to the Cingular wireless cured their problems. I did this, got 1000 free minutes, plus rollover min. and a Motorola flip phone. Much better service, still have the phone, still have good service.

Tink!
Tink!

I got stuck with Verizon landline and DSL when we moved but it has been ok. Although they are now in the process of merging with Frontier Communications so I don't know how things will be in the future. Verizon Wireless has been good to us. My SO and I got ours and then a month or so later we added the kids. Haven't had problems with the phones and customer service has always been helpful to me.

ot-adam
ot-adam

I purchased 2 Droid A855 7/2. On my first call 7/3 to my brother, he immediately told me my phone sounded really bad. He kept saying "what, I can't understand you? Call me on another phone." I got that from everyone I called, whether they knew me or not. My wife had the same issue with her phone. We ended up exchanging the phones for new ones 7/5. Same problems, but not as pronounced. Big problems with the speaker phone too... you can always hear them fine, but they have a really hard time understanding you. I found 82 pages of similar complaints at Motorola's support pages here: https://supportforums.motorola.com/thread/16215?start=0&tstart=0. I've since tried to exchange my phone for a 3rd phone, but Verizon said no exchanges for sound problems. The store manager showed me a Verizon internal e-mail that stated that Motorola, HTC and Google recognize an issue with the sound quality of the Moto Droid, HTC Incredible and the HTC Droid Eris. It stated that a software update would be released to address the sound quality sometime in the future. It stated replacing the phone with a new unit would not solve the customer's sound problem. I was given the choice of returning the phones without a re-stocking fee since I was still in my 30 day window, or to wait for the software update and hope it fixes the problem. Of couse I was not allowd to have a copy of the memo. My wife and I settled on keeping the phones because we love everything else about it, and have found that if we keep the mic directly across from our mouths, the sound quality is workable, but still not great. We are praying that Android 2.2 fixes the problem. It's not a mic problem, as you can use the "PCM Recorder Light" app to record crystal clear audio. I spent several hours on the phone with Motorola, and they continue to deny that there is a sound problem. When I asked them about the Verizon memo, they said they released no such information. I've found the whole thing very frustrating, and I find Motorola's denial a real disappointment. I guess they don't want to look like Steve Jobs!

DJPatton7
DJPatton7

I have been using my Moto Droid since mid-April 2010. I have ongoing issues with the microphone's ability to pickup my voice and deliver it with quality to anyone I talk with on the other end. Complaints have come from people I've talked, especially family members. My prior phone was an inexpensive LG flip phone and it was great compared with what I'm getting on my Droid. A guy that I work with played back a voice message that I left with him yesterday and my words, even knowing what I was saying, were hard to understand. I am not happy with this part of the Droid's performance and can't seem to find a solution from Verizon or Motorola. Do I have to buy a plug-in microphone/ear buds to make this work?

Ricewilliamj
Ricewilliamj

I have never had an issue with my Droid and no one has ever complained about its quality. Titling this piece as "a fun gadget etc" seems more like a dig at Droid then as objective journalism. It sounds like the person may have a faulty phone, the other person on the other line might have a faulty phone, etc. This isn't a wide scale problem with the Droid. Seems more like a faulty piece of hardware which happens with...gasp...the iPhone as well.

johnf
johnf

Motorola is known as a quality provider. This appears to be a common issue for some, but not all. It is a concern for me. I am hopeful that Motorola will find a solution and do a software update. I'm counting on it, and that is why I keep my Droid despite the disappointing voice quality. J

.Martin.
.Martin.

said company would have learnt when their smart phone deice originally had the same problem.

mattohare
mattohare

Verizon (that handles the old telephone company business) is different from Verizon Wireless (mobile/cell). Verizon Wireless has Verizon (telco) as part owner and Vodafone as part owner. My negative comments are about Verizon Wireless (VZW). While there are several that have had good experiences with VZW, I've noticed that when things go wrong with them, they go really wrong and they're bad at fixing them. They know their coverage is better so people put up with more.

dearmoree
dearmoree

I've had my Droid since the 1st of Jan and haven't had any issues with it. I use it daily for work texting, email, voice and data. I think its the best thing since sliced bread.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

'in retrospect' is really the only way something can be remembered. He was trying to be helpful and he was; the error was corrected.

RuthieDen
RuthieDen

I can verify that a new Droid in my household also had horrible issues with voice quality on calls. Muffling, etc., was projected. We found that a contributing issue was the phone case/protector. When removed, issues improved nicely, but this phone is not as crisp as we would like in voice quality on calls. Definitely a shortfall in design.

dcolbert
dcolbert

About that "other device"? I don't remember hearing anything about the FruitFone having had early WiFi problems... I guess I was to distracted teasing early iPhone adopters about not being able to take video or receive pictures in SMS messages. :)

nonseq
nonseq

I used to have problems with Verizon Wireless until I started doing *228 roaming upgrade on a weekly basis and every time I travel. For the most part, my problems have disappeared. For those that are tougher removing the battery and putting it back in has worked on my Treo 700, Blackberry Curve, and now my Palm Pre Plus. Yeah, it's pretty simple sounding and I'm not a technical guy but I like hanging out with technical guys and gals.