Sep 09 AT 1:21 PM Anthony Domanico 40 Comments

It’s been a rollercoaster year when it comes to the DROID Bionic. We first learned of Verizon’s first dual-core LTE-enabled device during the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where it quickly became a staff favorite and easily the most hotly-anticipated Android device for Big Red. We expected the device would land on Verizon in Q1 2011 to correspond with the launch of the nearly-identical Motorola Atrix.

But that was not the Bionic as we know it today. Those of you who’ve closely followed the Bionic’s story know that the device apparently did not pass Verizon’s internal testing, which eventually sent Motorola back to the drawing board. Since its original conception, the Bionic has shed the Tegra2 processor in favor of Texas Instrument’s OMAP4 chip (also clocked at 1 GHz).

Other than swapping the processor and some minor cosmetic changes, the first dual-core LTE device is largely identical to what we saw at CES almost a year ago. Does the Bionic bring enough to the table to make it the must-have device on Verizon’s network? Read on for our full review.


Those who have been following our site for a while know how much we love the speediness of Verizon’s 4G LTE network. This mobile network is faster than the internet many people have in their homes, allowing you to consume the mobile entertainment and information you need at insanely fast speeds. If you live in one of Verizon’s LTE cities and are a Big Red customer, you simply owe it to yourself to have an LTE device as your next phone.

The DROID Bionic takes full advantage of Verizon’s LTE network; data speeds for me have averaged between 12-20 mbps down, 2-5 mbps up.

TI OMAP4430 Processor

The DROID Bionic is the first Verizon phone to feature both a dual-core processor as well as Verizon’s 4G LTE network. The decision to produce the Bionic with Texas Instrument’s TI OMAP4430 dual-core 1 GHz processor instead of NVIDIA’s 1 GHz Tegra2 processor found in the original Bionic device was certainly a controversial one and has led many to believe that NVIDIA’s Tegra2 wasn’t quite ready to handle Verizon’s next-gen mobile network. (Though the fact that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with LTE seems to be doing just fine may suggest otherwise).

Regardless, the TI OMAP4430 processor is powerful enough to handle any task thrown at it with ease, and users of the DROID Bionic will experience the same boost in performance they’ve come to expect from the current crop of dual-core devices.

Android 2.3.4 with Motorola UI (Don't call me BLUR)

The Bionic comes packed with the latest version of Android: Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread. As expected, Motorola has included their custom UI overlay, complete with all the widgets and settings we’ve come to expect with MOTOBLUR devices. (Just don’t tell Moto I called it BLUR).

Most of Motorola’s enhancements focus on social networking. You can add a plethora of social media accounts to your profile, and the built-in social widgets and tools put all your friends’ status updates and pictures in one place to more easily manage your digital social life.

Though Motorola’s Gingerbread overlay has certainly improved from the version of BLUR found on 2.2 and previous devices, it’s still just annoying enough to make me cringe a little. If you also are not a huge fan of Motorola’s UI, getting rid of the included widgets from all your homescreens will make a world of difference.

But this overlay is certainly their best offering to date (other than their decision to go with stock Android 2.0 for the OG Droid release), and it has come very close to dethroning HTC’s Sense as my favorite of the Custom UIs. Though I’d still go with Sense if I had the choice, Motorola’s UI overlay is something I could see myself living with, earning it half a point in this category.

Form Factor

Upon first looking at the DROID Bionic, you’ll likely get a feeling of déjà vu–especially if you happen to be in a Verizon store. In designing the Bionic, it seems as though Motorola didn’t want to rock the boat too much when it came to form factor. The Bionic looks like Motorola mashed together the Droid X2 and the Droid 3 into a pretty final package.

Though the Bionic is a bit thicker than the Droid X2, it feels much more solidly put together and doesn’t have quite as noticeable a camera bezel as the X2. If you took all Verizon’s Android devices and put them next to each other, the DROID Bionic would easily be the best looking of the bunch.


qHD (quarter HD) resolution is becoming one of the staples of any Android device released this year, and of course the Bionic proudly features a 4.3″ qHD Pentile display. The Bionic’s screen features a 960 x 540 resolution, and the Bionic’s screen is nothing short of vibrant.

Though Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus displays are the gold standard when it comes to brilliant displays, the Pentile qHD on the Bionic is a close second, and will certainly not disappoint.


The DROID Bionic has a powerful set of accessories available at launch that challenge users to make the most of their new devices. But are any of them useful?

The first accessory is arguably the coolest and is the only one that’s priced reasonably. The Webtop Adapter is a mini-dongle that plugs into both your HDMI and USB ports. When hooked up to an HDMI TV, bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it turns your Bionic into a makeshift computer complete with Firefox 4 browser. Pretty cool, eh? The Webtop Adapter comes in at a reasonable $29.99, though a bluetooth keyboard and mouse can easily run you another $50-100+.

The second accessory is the HD station, which is similar to those found in the Atrix and Photon. The features largely replicate the cheaper webtop adapter, but add the ability to charge your device while using it as a computer. The HD Station adds a few USB ports, allowing you to plug in a USB mouse and keyboard in case you don’t have the bluetooth accessories. The HD Station is helpful for business users, as the accessory comes with a remote that allows you to easily flip through powerpoint slides or documents on the go.  The HD station comes priced at $100.

The third accessory is the laptop dock. The laptop dock does exactly what you’ve come to expect if you read the previous two paragraphs; it allows you to use your Bionic as a personal computer. The main difference is that the laptop dock comes complete with an 11.6″ display, full keyboard, and a modified version of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. As cool as that sounds, it really only lets you run a modified version of Firefox, as well as most the features on your phone. At $300, the laptop dock is a very hard sell. In my opinion it simply isn’t worth the added cost.

The Bionic also features a standard dock ($40), which is identical to the HD station sans access to your HDMI and USB connections. It does maintain the audio output, allowing you to use the Bionic as an alarm clock or media player.

Finally, the vehicle navigation dock ($40) attaches to your car’s windshield, connects to your cigarette lighter, and turns your phone into a semi-hands-free GPS device, while still providing access to your phone and other applications.

Though the accessories available for the Bionic are plentiful, the number of individuals who will find any of the accessories useful is very small. Unless you find a strong case for using the webtop UI, you’d be better off simply using microHDMI or DLNA to mirror your phone’s screen on your HDTV. As far as the standard dock and vehicle navigation dock go, these are a bit more useful and more reasonably priced. Though it’s hard to recommend a proprietary vehicle navigation dock that will be obsolete as soon as your Bionic is instead of a universal car dock.

The fact that the Bionic has so many accessories available at your disposal warrants an upvote in this section.

Battery Life

The concern about the DROID Bionic’s battery life has been the most often cited reason for Motorola going back to the drawing board and swapping out the Tegra 2 processor for OMAP4. With this swap came rumors of a Bionic with an impressive 15 hour battery life. So just how well does the Bionic’s battery perform on Verizon’s LTE network?

Just about as poorly as we’ve come to expect from other LTE devices, it seems. Sure, the 1735 mAh helps make this perhaps the longest lasting LTE device, but we have yet to crack the 7 hour of moderate use mark after 4 battery cycles. Needless to say, if you actually use your device on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to also spring for either a second battery or an extended battery (which should hit store shelves soon).

Of course battery usage will vary from user to user, and there are many ways to conserve battery life (such as dimming your screen or turning 4G off when not in use). It will be interesting to see if AT&T’s upcoming LTE devices are plagued by the same issues or if the inability to break 8 hours of usage is Verizon specific.


Rear Camera
The rear camera was the biggest disappointment of the lot. Though the camera takes great photos in well-lit situations, pictures often came out grainy in even moderately-lit situations. Don’t even try to take pictures with the Bionic if there isn’t ample lighting.

This is relatively on par with other cell cameras out on the market today. We are, sadly, not yet at the point where our smartphones are smart enough to replace our point-and-shoot cameras. Hopefully that day is near.

Front-Facing Camera
The front facing camera performs as well as you would expect from a front facing camera. Don’t expect to take crystal-clear self portraits, but it performs fairly well for video chat on the Gtalk application. Below are a few examples of photos taken with the FFC.

2011-09-08_14-00-04_984 2011-09-08_14-00-23_394 2011-09-08_18-47-39_503

Below is an example video taken in full 1080p HD with the DROID Bionic. As you will see, the camera performs fairly well and provides a great way to take short videos without needing to lug around a full camcorder.

Overall, the cameras perform as well as most smartphone cameras out on the market today. As long as you stick to well-lit pictures, you will surely enjoy the pictures taken by the Bionic. Also, the inclusion of full 1080p support in the camcorder results in great amateur videos.

Call Quality

Over the past few days, I’ve made a few calls to test out how well the DROID Bionic fared when it came to call quality. All calls were crystal clear on my end, and folks on the other end of the line reported being able to hear me just fine as well. You should have no problem with call quality on the Bionic.

Included Applications

When it comes to the applications included with the Droid Bionic, Verizon and Motorola have added some helpful tools in addition to the usual bloat. The most widely useful tool is the inclusion of Quickoffice, a mobile suite that allows you to do quick work on Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

For the business users out there, Citrix’s GoToMeeting is also included on the Bionic. GoToMeeting is a web conferencing service used by many businesses to conduct web-based meetings over both PC and mobile devices.

For you sports nuts out there, the Bionic features Verizon’s Exclusive NFL Mobile application, which gives you quick access to scores as well as live audio (free) and video (premium) of the games.

Final Thoughts

DROID Bionic8.5 / 10

The biggest question on everyone’s mind (okay, my mind at least) is whether or not Motorola and Verizon waited too long to release the Bionic. The Bionic immediately becomes the most powerful Android device on Verizon’s network, and the first device with a dual-core processor to also pack the super-fast LTE connection. With the hotly-anticipated Android 4.0 flagship DROID Prime launch slated for October, it would be hard for me (or anyone) to recommend picking up the Bionic in September rather than waiting a month for a device that will outdo the Bionic in almost every way.

That being said, Motorola’s DROID Bionic will be the most powerful Android device on Verizon’s network for the month of September, and provides a good alternative for those of you out there who have sworn off Samsung devices for one reason or another. If you’re interested in picking this bad boy up for yourself, it runs $299 on a new 2 year contract and can be found at your local Verizon store.

If you do happen to pick up the Bionic, let us know what you think about it in the comments.

2011-09-08_14-00-04_984 2011-09-08_14-00-23_394 2011-09-08_14-00-54_388 2011-09-08_18-47-39_503 2011-09-09_07-15-16_364 2011-09-09_07-15-44_647 2011-09-09_08-09-56_759 IMG_1941 IMG_1942 IMG_1943 IMG_1944 IMG_1945 IMG_1946 IMG_1947 IMG_1948 IMG_1949 IMG_1950 IMG_1951 IMG_1952 IMG_1953 IMG_1954 droid-bionic-review-630

The Verizon Droid Bionic is available now at Amazon Wireless for $179.99

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • SparkyXI

    If Moto would have released this 5 months ago, it would have gone down in price just enough for the 0G Droid users to upgrade to it (and slobber over it), therefore keeping more of the hardcore Moto-lovers sticking with Moto.

    In my situation – my contract was up, and my Droid was on it’s last leg… I didn’t have the luxury of waiting until the Bionic was released (even if I did, $300 is still a lot of money), so I got a good deal on a Charge ($120) and haven’t looked back (super happy with it too).

    Too little, too late indeed. I wish I could feel differently…

    • Judy

      Agreed, the iPhone 4 is much much better

      • triangle

        ignorant troll, the iphone doesn’t even have LTE.

        sorry, i will stop feeding the trolls now…

        • brant

          haha if only LTE actually made a phone something worthwhile. While you still attempt at making a decent argument with your specs war i’ll happily use my 10+ hours of battery on my iphone with a fantastic operating system that revolutionized the whole industry.

          • WickedToby741

            You dismiss LTE right now as nothing, but when the iPhone gets it, it’ll be the greatest thing in the world to you and all other iPhone lovers. Just like the Android notification bar was nothing, until of course the iPhone got one that looks and functions just like the Android one. Now all of you iPhone users eagerly await iOS 5 to get the better notifications. To you guys, a feature is useless and unnecessary until Steve Jobs announces it as part of the next iPhone, then it suddenly becomes revolutionary and magical.

            You know its okay to envy some of the features of the competition? I would never trade Android for the walled garden that is iOS, but that doesn’t mean I don’t envy the iPhone’s sleek design, superior hardware acceleration, and better battery life. It is okay for you to envy the better things Android offers like LTE and dual core processors. Because whether you like to admit it or not, they are actually better you know? Just because you don’t like Android doesn’t mean you have to not like the extra features they have.

      • WickedToby741

        Better in what sense? The fact that it uses last gen tech compared to the Bionic? The fact that its screen size is puny? The fact that it runs a locked down and controlled OS? There’s a lot of room for improvement with the Bionic, but its ahead of the iPhone whether you like it or not. Personally, I like screaming fast network speeds, dual core processors, and having freedom on my device. If you’d rather enjoy a single core, 3G only device with a locked down and controlled OS, be my guest. More 4G bandwidth for me.

  • triangle

    Agree with Sparky.

    I’m waiting to see what comes our way in the next couple of months. Vigor and Prime seem to have a leg up the bionic, with the Prime likely being the most interesting handset to come our way for the rest of the year.

  • Dan

    The $299 price point baffles me. There’s honestly not a big reason for most average consumers to pony up the extra cash for this, and anyone in the know is going to either pay $100 less for a Galaxy S II on another carrier or wait for the Prime (or whatever it ends up being). Oh well.

    • Anthony Domanico

      Just a thought, you can get it for $179.99 at amazon. :)

      • SparkyXI

        I ordered my Charge via Amazon Wireless, and I was pleasantly surprised with the process, for Amazon being green and all.

    • WickedToby741

      The higher price point is because Verizon doesn’t charge more monthly for 4G. If they charged $10 more a month over the life of a 2-year contract, the premium would be $240, so I’ll gladly pay $100 more from the start.

  • Adam

    I picked up the Bionic yesterday as I have another upgrade available should I need it (from another line on the family plan). I have been VERY pleasantly surprised — the phone is very responsive and snappy; i have not seen any lag at all doing any operation. While the specs may not be at the top of charts right now, the user experience is incredible.

    As for battery life, it is actually outpacing the Droid X that I have replaced! Same usage throughout the day which, during day hours I would only consider “moderate”. I do leave on WiFi throughout the day, but the 4G radio is enabled and connected the whole time. Granted this has only be one full day, but it is honest-to-god outpacing my 3G DX with my usage patterns.

    The build quality is EXCELLENT, best Moto device yet of the Droids, at least that I have experience with (DI & DX primarily). I had considered waiting for the Prime but I do not like Samsung’s devices or build quality based on the Fascinate and Charge. They feel and have acted cheap.

    Only knock on this has been the screen. I didn’t notice any problems or deficiencies at all after I picked it up. However, placing it next to my DX, I can tell the DX is crisper. But to be honest, you only notice this doing a side-by-side compare, not when the Bionic is standing on its own.

    This really is a VERY solid overall device that will not make me wish I had waited for the Prime or Vigor. My only hesitation would be if this device will last the full 18 months until the next normal upgrade cycle. I think for most people it will… for those wanting to be at the top of the game, I think it may not.

  • kwills88

    You guys really need to do more reviews, I love how in depth and neat everythng looks, especially with those arrows for the pros and cons

    • Anthony Domanico

      Thanks for the praise. We do basically as many reviews as we get devices.

      • Clark Wimberly

        Both. We are finally getting lots of devices sent our way from various reps but we’ve been known to buy and review a few devices in our day.

    • SparkyXI

      Agreed. Well done, Anthony.

  • Dirge

    I saw the Bionic in the Verizon store. The screen is pretty bad, in my opinion. It looks very grainy, not crisp at all. The only thing it has going for it is its dual core processor. Aside from that, there isn’t really anything there that would/should make anyone switch from a current LTE device…even a current 3G device(Droid Incredible 2, DX/2, Droid 2).

    • Anthony Domanico

      Maybe I have the super device or something, but I didn’t find any problems with the screen.

      • Adam

        I am noticing the screen deficiencies more now than at first. Specifically when moved or sometimes pressed then are slight diagonal lines visible.very close together, almost like a pixel pattern. You can sometimes see it when just tilting the phone. Not terrible, but can be annoying.

      • mikeyDroid

        I don’t know how you guys accept the screen as it is. I used a few different Bionics at different stores to make sure I was giving it a fair trial and I’d never own something that looks like such crap =/

        • DroidvsNexus

          Then wait for the Prime, it will have the Samsung level battery&weight, with the expensive look and feel of an HTC. Or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from the teaser videos&photos.

  • Zer0-9

    Great review, but you failed to recognize one of the features of the WebTop application for business users. WebTop works beautifully with the full suite of Citrix products enabling a user to have access to full desktop capabilities and applications. For the average home user this isn’t really possible as the hardware and software licenses are set for corporate pricing. For me this is some of the most interesting functionality that the Bionic offers that the competition has yet to even attempt.

    Also the laptop dock is a bit expensive but consider the expense of maintaining a netbook and smartphone data plan. Include the expense of both devices, as well as the chore of keeping data between the two devices synced.

  • cb2000a

    They waited too long to release this device. The Sammy Prime’s and HTC Vigor have both cleared the FCC and will be out soon. As these are major advancements I will wait….

  • allanbeaudry

    Am I the only person who is bothered by the fact that people think qHD is anything more than a resolution like WVGA and has nothing to do with the screen technology? It doesn’t make any sense to compare SAMOLED+ and qHD in terms of screen quality. One is a screen technology and the other is simply the name given to the number of pixels displaced on the screen. There is no reason why (and I’m sure they will soon) you couldn’t have a qHD SAMOLED+ screen.

  • johnny

    $299 would be my biggest reason not to buy this phone

  • droidtoo

    Yeah moto/verizon dropped the ball here. . .even if it were released 2 months ago, it would’ve sold like hot cakes. . . but folks either bought the other LTE phones, or like me, are now waiting to see what HTC and Samsung have to offer before the year end. . .Sure I may still get the Bionic after the competition comes out, but if it would’ve come out 2 months ago, I would have gotten it for sure. . .

  • http://None CaribGrackle

    A solid good phone, but I dunno about you’all but I expected a little bit more or something, with all the publicity I saw. Still it looks about right, it got out too late I fear.

  • fralogan

    I like a motto phone and brought the bionic on yesterday, so far very happy. No regrets. I had considered waiting for the Prime to come out, but I not a big fan of Samsung. Apple want-a-be.

  • djembeman

    I would have bought this 4 months ago when i couldn’t wait anymore and bought my LG Revolution. The Revolution has been a pretty great phone. Just had yo install Google apps to replace Bing. Love 4G LTE and good graphics processing. Highest quadrant standard scores of all the other Verizon 4G phones, except for the Bionic I’m sure.

  • Matt

    Nice review. Picked up my bionic on Thursday. My only really big gripe so far is the power/lock button location. People seem to be split down the middle on this, but for someone who uses the phone primarily with the left hand, it’s killing me. I feel like I’m going to drop it every time I go to hit the button. I could’ve been happy with it being in the middle, but it’s so awkward where it’s at right now. Other than that, I’m very, very happy with it, and even with blur.

  • frettfreak

    I say SCREW VZW and their damn over priced phones and network. Yes, their LTE is fast if you happen to live in an area with it (i dont) and why is VZW the only carrier that think their sh!t is gold?? $300 for a phone that will be outdated (by a lot) in 30 days…. dont think so.

    i dont think there is another carrier that has released a flagship android device that has been over the $199 mark (well…take that back. Epic 4G was $249 for abit). but still. First the crappy ass Droid charge for $300, now this?? NO THANKS!!

  • Richard Yarrell

    I must say I applaud VERIZON for there forray into the dualcore game I went to verizon Friday just to look at and play with the Droid Bionic I thought it was pretty good espically for verizon. Meanwhile I still believe that it’s too pricey and the actual battery life while better it still needs some work. Each carrier has there overall verison of 4g service which one is better really doesn’t matter because I believe that google needs to address the makers of batteries so maybe as we come into 2012 and quadcore device start to appear on the market they will have better battery technology. All dualcore/quadcore devices should have nothing less than 2000hr mil amp battery that would make a big difference. Meanwhile this Droid Bionic is definately the best LTE device on Verizon today but I would hold off for the Htc Vigor or upcoming Droid Prime because those device if given LTE will simply BLOW the Droid Bionic out of the water and will have better specs than the Bionic …I thought this review was very informative and should be pretty helpful for anyone out there trying to decide if they will take that dive into the smartphone market. It’s truly a race carrier by carrier and I will reserve my thought as too who is best but the bottom line here is your pocket will determine what you can and will do…

    • snowbdr89

      Shut up moron

    • Mark

      Seriously, just shut up.

  • Craig

    I bought the first Droid when it came out in 2009. I love the phone and it still works great. I was excited when I read about the Droid Bionic earlier in the year. It was a HUGE disappointment after learning hearing that the phone would be cancelled; a few days later it was cleared up but wouldn’t have the Tegra2 Processor. I was excited to learn that it would be available in July but only to be delayed and then brought out in August and then delayed again. After hearing about Ice Cream Sandwich and the Google Prime phones I am now holding out for that in October.

  • Albert Maruggi

    nice video, I see you are near Lake Liquors, #imjustsayin

  • bee pee

    I love my bionic super fast …raced it against my computer in some situations it won…and I just read it will be getting the 4.0 update…im ready for it!

  • thechad

    great article thanks