Monday, August 29, 2011

Samsung Droid Charge Review by Kirk Spencer

Let me take just a brief moment to introduce myself. I'll be the new cell phone review specialist here at I'm a software developer for Android and I participated in the original Android Developer's Challenge back in 2008. I've got a burning passion for anything dealing with smart phones. My main goal is to exponentially increase the coverage we offer for cell phone reviews and information here on, starting with the Samsung Droid Charge.

With that out of the way, today's review is of the Samsung Droid Charge. This phone is available through Verizon Wireless and it runs a customized version of the Android operating system (TouchWiz). Here's a list of the phone's specs:

Type Verizon
Operating System Android 2.2, Froyo
SAR value - Head (W/kg) SAR Value: Body 0.75 W/kg

Internal Display Size (inches) 4.3" Display
Touch Screen Yes
Color Mirror Gray
Battery, Standby (hours) Standby Time: Up to 280 Hours
Battery, Talk Time (hours) Usage Time: Up to 660 Minutes
Product Dimensions (inches) 5.11" x 2.66" x 0.46"
Weight 5.04 Ounces

Right now The Droid Charge is $169 on a two year contract through Verizon Wireless. That's not a bad price considering what you're getting.

Operating System

You might be wondering why I'm taking time to write about the operating system. Let me explain. Samsung has taken advantage of the open source nature of Android and they've customized it to provide a unique android experience. It is sometimes difficult to attract customers on the hardware alone, so most cell phone manufacturers that have android phones also have their own flavors of the operating system.

I'm personally not a huge fan of TouchWiz, but thankfully there are plenty of customizations that can help. LauncherPro, ADW, Go Launcher to name a few. The beauty of Android is the flexibility it gives to the users. If you don't like the dialer that came with the phone, there are plenty to chose from.

The one thing you're left with is software that can't be uninstalled. Applications installed in the system folder of the phone cannot be uninstalled without root access. Unfortunately Samsung/Verizon ship the Droid Charge with apps installed in the system folder that not everyone will want or use. The ones I noticed that can't be uninstalled are:

1. Amazon Kindle
2. Bitbop
3. Blockbuster
4. City ID
5. Lets Golf 2
6. Rock Band
7. Slacker Radio
8. TuneWiki
9. V CAST Media Manager
10. VZ Navigator

Lastly I would like to comment on the search feature. A previous Samsung phone (Fascinate) was shipped with the search button pointed to Bing rather than Google. It's nice to see despite the potentially unwanted additional software, users at least have a choice now for their dedicated search button.


Samsung is known for their beautiful screens. The Droid Charge's 4.3 inch display is no exception. If you've never seen how vibrant their screens are, you're missing out. The colors are extremely vivid and give it almost a glowing look because of how bright they are. The only negative thing I noticed about the colors had to do with white. White on the Droid Charge is not as bright as any of the other phones I compared it to. Honestly I don't think you will notice it too much unless you're holding the phone up next to another phone and both happen to have white screens being displayed. Having said that, everybody's tastes are different and I recommend you compare the screens of several phones if you're in the market for a new phone.

The Droid Charge comes with Corning's Gorilla Glass which is a really nice feature. Gorilla Glass is “lightweight, and highly damage-resistant” ( Another thing I noticed was the number of fingerprints on the screen...or should I say the lack thereof? I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between the Gorilla Glass used on the Droid Charge vs something like the original Droid. The screen doesn't suffer from finger print smudges anywhere near as bad as other phones I've used.


Benchmarks are a good gauge on how a phone will perform, but they cannot always be taken as gospel. There are times when a benchmark will run better on one phone with the same processor as another phone built by a different manufacturer. The performance difference usually has something to do with the drivers, or the benchmark being optimized for that phone/hardware. The benchmark results here demonstrate relatively well how the phone performs:

There are a few things here that I would like to talk about. The first thing that stands out to me is the 3D graphics capability of the phone. The score certainly reflects my experience with the phone. I played plenty games and the phone performed exceptionally well. One of my favorites is Dungeon Defenders. It's a rather demanding game but I was still able to play it. All of the 2D games I threw at it played perfectly.

For the Droid Charge's generation, most of the other scores are somewhat average, only slightly outperforming other phones in the 2D graphics. The SD write speed is only slightly slower as well as the CPU float-point score and the CPU integer score.

Call Quality

Having previously owned the Samsung Fascinate, I am glad to say that the call quality of the Droid Charge is improved. All the phone calls I've made had clear audio. I didn't have any trouble hearing the person on the other end and they could hear me without any trouble or distortion to the audio.


4G is definitely a strong point for this phone. I love seeing such fast internet connection speeds on such a small device. Being somewhat of a nerd and an internet junkie, it always puts a smile on my face knowing that I'm connected with speeds capable of downloading over 100 MBs in a very short amount of time. I use Audible frequently and as an additional test to the 4G antenna on the phone I downloaded several audio books. I was impressed with how quickly they downloaded. These speed tests back me up:

The only drawback to using 4G is the drain on the battery. The increased speeds do come at a bit of a cost. I was willing to accept the cost since it meant I was listening to my favorite audio books quicker than I would have thought possible and browsing the internet on my phone with the same speed I get at my house on a dedicated line.


A good cell phone camera is never going to replace a good DSLR, but they sure have come a long ways. The Droid Charge comes with an 8 mega pixel camera. I wasn't really concerned with how many mega pixels it was. I wanted to see how well it takes pictures and the quality of the video it takes. With plenty of good light, the camera takes stunning pictures for such a small lens. As with most cell phone cameras, the less light there is when taking pictures the more the quality will suffer.

The front facing camera is a nice feature if you know others that have front facing cameras. You can also use the front facing camera to take self portrait shots. I’ll spare everyone from the several self portraits of yours truly. Unfortunately we did not get to test any kind of face to face phone calls, but it’s another nice option on the Droid Charge.

Mirror Mode

The Droid Charge has a dedicated HDMI port that supports HDMI out mirror mode. Connect a Droid Charge up to a 1080p screen and you've got a multimedia device that can stream videos rented from the new Android Market, play games and show off pictures and videos to the family. It’s rather impressive to see some of the higher quality Android games up on the big screen, using the phone as a controller.


Most of the Android phones I've used have capacitive buttons for menu, home, back and search. I was slightly turned off by the fact that I had to press a button, however I can say that if you've ever accidentally pressed one of those capacitive buttons, you'll be glad to know that it doesn't happen with the Droid Charge. There is a slight bevel to the buttons and they have a slight brushed look to them.

The phone has standard rocker volume buttons on the left side and a power button on the right side. Sorry, no dedicated camera button for those of you that enjoy having a dedicated button for taking pictures.


Here are a few more pictures of the phone to give you an idea of its overall look. One thing I noticed is that the sides and back of the phone are extremely slippery. I tend to baby my phones. Having a phone that’s so slippery was quite scary. I was constantly concerned about it slipping out of my hands. You might want to consider getting a case that offers more grip for this phone.

The phone is thicker than other Samsung phones, but that's to be expected for now with any 4G phone.


Battery life of almost any phone is largely related to the usage of the phone. Heavy 4G usage will drain the battery quickly. Turning the brightness all the way up will drain the battery quickly. Thankfully the Droid Charge comes equipped with a moderate battery. The battery capacity is 1600 mAh. On top of the everyday usage (texting, phone calls and internet usage) I played games quite a bit and pushed the brightness all the way up for the entire time I was using the phone. I could last about half a day like this before I would need to charge the phone. If you're a power user you might consider looking into an extended battery; however for an average user you will probably get a full day out of a single charge.


Overall the phone's performance was about what I expected given the specs. There are plenty of next gen phones coming out towards the 4th quarter this year that will dominate any phones currently on the market. However, if you're looking for a snappy phone with a beautiful screen, fast connection to the internet, plenty of storage space and a reasonable price tag then you should consider taking a close look at the Droid Charge. We're awarding the Droid Charge our Recommended Award for its considerable list of features, performance, and the affordable price. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at