Motorola Droid To Hit US Shores Next Week

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Motorola’s attempt at an iPhone killer, dubbed the Motorola Droid, is to be launched in the US next week

Motorola’s troubled handset division will deliver its iPhone killer, dubbed the Motorola Droid, in the US at the end of next week.

The long expected Motorola Droid runs Google’s Android 2.0 and will be available on the Verizon Wireless network on Friday 6 November. It will cost $199.99 (£122).

“We’re proud to work with Verizon Wireless and Google on the first smartphone to feature Android 2.0,” said Sanjay Jha, Motorola’s co-chief executive officer of Motorola Mobile Devices, in a statement.

“Droid by Motorola delivers a rich consumer experience with warp-speed web browsing, a mammoth screen and Motorola’s expertise in design and voice quality. Combined with Android’s open, flexible graphical user interface and the power of Verizon Wireless’ 3G network, Droid is a smartphone that simply doesn’t compromise,” Jha added.

The Droid is a thin slider phone with a full qwerty keyboard, GPS, WiFi and 3G connectivity, voice recognition and a multi-window HTML browser.

The display is 3.7 inches and features a width of 854 pixels, reducing the need for side-to-side panning, Verizon explains, and featuring more than 400,000 pixels total. At more than twice the norm, it should make for some brilliant video watching.

The Droid can also run up to six applications at once, can be customised with widgets and the growing number of applications in the Android Market, and can perform voice-dictated Google searches and relate them to the user’s location. More traditional searching can also include the device as well as data within the user’s applications.

There’s a 5-megapixel camera with DVD-quality video capture, an included 16GB of memory that’s expandable to 32GB and reportedly a 550MHz processor, if the original leaked specs are to believed. (Officially Verizon simply refers to it as a “fast Cortex A8 processor.” The Palm Pre’s processor is also based on an ARM Cortex A8). Integrated Gmail and Exchange push email are also included, as are Google tools such as Google Maps, which can also be put to work via voice.

“Droid by Motorola gives customers a lifestyle device with access to more than 12,000 applications that will help them stay in touch, up to date and entertained, using the best 3G network in the country,” said John Stratton, Verizon Wireless’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in a statement.

Analysts also have high hopes for the Droid, with Technology Business Research’s Ken Hyers calling it a likely “serious challenger to the iPhone” and possibly the first to be able to go head-to-head with AT&T’s darling and hold its own.

If priced competitively in the $100 to $200 range, Strategy Analytics Analyst Neil Mawston also told eWEEK that while the Droid was no iPhone or Pre killer, it could at least “give both companies a sharp jab in the ribs.”

It will be interesting, then, to see how the Droid will fare if, in 2010, the iPhone joins it on Verizon’s network.

In an Oct. 28 research note, Broadpoint AmTech Analyst Brian Marshall wrote, “In our view, Apple is the best technology company on the planet with numerous catalysts on the horizon… ” He continued, “the iPhone’s importance and success in the US wireless market is undeniable, and we believe [Apple] will benefit tremendously from increased US penetration if [Verizon Wireless] is added to [Apple’s] carrier partner network in [the second half of 2010] after AT&T’s exclusivity agreement expires (we believe in June 2010).”

There is no word yet on UK availability.

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