A case for the Droid Charge: a perspective for potential or unhappy owners
The Droid Charge is coming up on its first birthday, and having been a day 1 adopter I've seen the phone through some downs and ups. Like many committed to this phone, I was very tempted by next generation 4G devices like the RARZ, Rezound, or Nexus. I've been disappointed with Samsung's lack of cooperation on code critical to ROM development. I've watched new phones quickly released pushing the Charge further into history.
However, i'm writing this to acknowledge what is great about this device and why you should be happy to get or have one.
Firstly, the hardware. While the Charge has only a single core and 512 memory, the shortcomings really end there. It's Super AMOLED+ screen is by far one of - if not THE most perfect display on a mobile device that i've seen and I believe it equal or superior to any of the Verizon 4G devices. It's form factor and physical buttons are pleasant to use, and it's weight feels good in a hand or pocket. Its connectivity options and accessories are top notch with full MicroSD, HDMI, and horizontal docking stations with backup battery chargers. It packs the superior Audio chips that have drawn audiophiles to the phone. It's battery life has with recent software updates become perfectly adequate: I regularly get 12-15 hours of genuinely moderate use including 45-60 minutes of calls, 2-3 hours of web browsing, and 1 hour of bluetooth music streaming on a single charge. (Caveat: frequently on WiFi, while on 4G only battery lasts more like 8 hours). However with a cheap, replaceable battery which fits in my slim wallet as easily as 4 folded $20 bills, I easily do whatever I want as long as I want so long as I can charge while sleeping.
Secondly, the software: yes, it's come a long way. Those of us who remember rooting ED1 and hoping for a voodoo lagfix back in June know how bad it was - the color scheme, the RFS file system, the terrible browsing. However, as of today on Eclipse ROM 2.0 (FP1 based) the phone performs beautifully with no lag on home screens, snappy browsing, and an attractive, feature rich interface.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, is the Value. The Charge is the best phone dollar for dollar that you can buy today. Commonly available on craigslist for $120 used with a $20 docking station from Ebay you can have a great setup for less than the cost of buying other phones with contract. I was recently in a position to upgrade to a Galaxy nexus for $350 (from ebay, selling charge for $120 for a net cost around $200) and thought to myself, why? are small advances in CPU and memory that affect me little on a daily worth $200? and the answer was clearly: no. Can i get a better gingerbread experience with longer battery life on the Razr Maxx? For $400 net cost maybe, but only slightly, and with nearly equivalent battery life so long as you plan ahead. And what if you drop the phone on the ground and shatter it? You could have a new Droid Charge for less than the deductible if you carried insurance, which could save you $10/mo - or $400ish if you had a shiny nexus or Maxx with no policy.
And so, that's my opinion as a Droid Charge early adopter. If you're thinking of getting one today you'll luck out and have a great experience - head over to the forums and read the stickies on ODIN, CWM, and then get a FP1 based ROM right away. If you're thinking of jumping ship, and $200 is at all consequential to your life, consider what you get from another phone in your overall value decision.