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Review: Droid X and Gingerbread – A Delicious System Update

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After checking for system updates for the past few days, and drooling with jealousy from those included in the “soak” test group, I was finally treated to a system update (Version 2.3 aka “Gingerbread”) from the folks at Motorola. A list of new features can be found here. For a review and reflection from hands-on experience, please continue reading.

Cool and refreshing
Easily the most noticeable changes come with the appearance of the operating system after the update. From little changes like a refreshed clock font to (finally) the removal of the white notification bar to the teal accents on the 3G, Wifi, and antenna strength icons, the look and feel of Android indeed received a minor facelift.  Moto Blur (Motorola’s add-on to Android) added some refinements with their custom widgets now rotating with cube style animations. Speaking of animations, though, I do miss the “some window animations” setting that has since disappeared.  It is all or nothing now, and the animations seem a bit less fluid, so much so that I have elected to turn them off entirely.

Speed is what we really want

Aside from the animation issue mentioned above, I have found the Gingerbread update to be snappier and the best place to experience this is in the web browser.  Little touches in the interface design (i.e. updated spinning wheel and cleaner progress bar) have improved the look, but “under the hood” changes have provided a fast and robust browser experience. Launching the app drawer (through the new and customizable dock) is super fast, and the ability to sort apps into groups and quickly open the Market through a dedicated button have all been supportive of a faster experience when using the Droid X.

But is the battery is better?
Always a big issue with any mobile device, especially as the smartphone gets “smarter” or equipped with more powerful hardware and faster connections, is the battery life. Android 2.3 promises to improve the power management capabilities, and so far, after purposefully leaving my phone uncharged at work, I am casually observing better battery life compared to how my phone behaved at this point in the day prior to the update. Data and chart loving users will be pleased to see significant amounts of information on how one’s battery is getting used, and the addition of profiles allows you to quickly set various selections of wallpapers and widgets that can also assist in making your phone more power efficient.

Although these Android OS updates won’t receive as much fanfare or recognition as a major Apple iOS release, there is much to be said with the improvements that come included with Android 2.3 – Gingerbread. Droid X owners should be pleased, and to those anxiously awaiting their device’s turn – I hope that you won’t have to wait as long as we did.

Photo Source: Intomobile.com

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About David Chan

  • Liz

    If I’m running a previously leaked version of gingerbread can I still get the ota update?

  • Seiko

    Ya but you have to flash back to stock froyo

  • fred

    I have tried the update and its not that great when it comes to the hotspot….some issues and went back to froyo

  • http://www.androidvideoreview.net Sherwinator

    So far I think Gingerbread has been a solid upgrade. Sure, it has some problems, but I think so far the plusses outweigh the minuses. An upgrade is an upgrade. And the Droid X is one of the first devices on VZW to get GB. Here’s my website’s video walkthrough.

  • Georgedroid

    “custom widgets now rotating with cube style animations”??? What droid x gingerbread are you looking at cause mine sure doesn’t have cube style animations.

  • ToNiiO

    Idle if its just me … but does anyone else have a change in the background color when you scroll thru menus even on facebook? ?

  • Liz

    Anyone have simple instructions on how to flash back to stock? I’m clueless…was able to do leaked update easy enough, but everything else sounds complicated and confusing.

  • David

    How can I turn off the notification tone from my email but still leave it on for text messages? Froyo was able to separate the two issues.

  • Patches

    Yeah I updated to Gingerbread and my phone will not stop freezing, I’ve removed the battery about 10+ times already. Is anyone else experiencing this?

  • DJ Jayito

    Good Job IDIOTS! We now have expensive paperweights. No wonder APPLE RULES THE WORLD!

  • Cobra commander

    While I’m not the cool guy that has rooted my phone, I am the smart guy that knew the update was coming so I waited. So far it works great and has infact helped my battery life.

  • karen

    I am also having issues with my phone freezing, I have no idea what to do and it is killing my battery :( My phone doesn’t ring now either…

  • IHSV

    My droid x also froze a bit at first, i guess because of the completely new software updates. Just leave it turned off for like 5 minutes, then leave it sitting turned on for about 5-10 minutes or so. Mine didn’t freeze at all after I left it alone for a bit.

  • DJ Jayito

    Just a comment at Cobra. I am NOT cool, either… Did not root my phone… My update KILLED my phone – TOTALLY FROZEN PHONE.

  • http://chanatown.net David

    Wow, I’m loving the comments – here are some responses:

    @Georgedroid – OK, I might have been dramatic, but the stock Moto widgets did get a visual update, so that’s what I was referring to.

    @David – You should still be able to change the notification sound (including silent) via the email settings.

    @DJ Jayito – although this is just feeding the mouths of Apple fans, there is something to be said about a single device getting a single update. But, that’s the flipside to Android’s method of madness, right? There’s always the rooting option.

    @Cobra commander – love the name.

    Regarding Freezing: IHSV made a good suggestion of doing a power cycle, though I’m noticing a few glitches in the update still. It is amazing to think that this update has been brewing for awhile now and that there are still issues.

    Keep the thoughts coming, and thanks in advance for the civil discussion!

  • http://chanatown.net David

    @DJ Jayito – that totally sucks. Hopefully, Verizon and/or Motorola will be able to help you out since you were not rooted. Sorry about that!

  • Mikewr007

    Totally useless!!! Can’t answer incoming calls. When in an app the screen seems to freeze. Can’t stop apps, must remove battery. Have removed battery 10+ times. Now I need find out how to go back to Froyo :-( !

  • Hattrick

    All,
    Just a bit of tech advise about the 4.5.596 upgrade:
    I’m a mobility/exchange engineer for my company, as such I’ve been testing the RC’s for the DX Gingerbread release for the past 2 months, when I got word that VZW had finally approved and was rolling out the OTA, I had to RSD my DX back to stock .340 & waited for the OTA.
    OTA roll out observations from my user community & myself :

    1: Users that had been running .340 but had rooted their device
    A. upgrade would fail if device was still rooted.

    B. If the user rolled back & removed the root hack/SU the device would take the upgrade but would freeze up as soon as the device would display the users start page.

    b1: This was fixed by:
    1. Pulling battery
    2. Pressing the power button and the “home” key at the same time until the “Android Recovery Mode” screen appears
    3. Pressing both volume keys to launch the recovery mode options
    4. Selecting “Wipe user data/reset to factory default” – by navigating up or down with volume keys and using the power button to select.
    5. Once complete reboot device and run through the device activation.
    b2. This kind of sucks, but most of your settings are held in the Google cloud and your personal data is stored on the SD card so there not much data loss.

    C. Corporate sync stops working:

    We had to adjust our Exchange ActiveSync policy (this is a server side change at the organization/client access level) by changing the time out & “Allow simple password” settings.

    This morning I’ve had to reset 5 more devices, these phones are stock and not rooted. The fix from b1 solved the problem.
    Personally I’ve had no problems, however I did start from scratch, by completely flattening my device, formatting the SD card, allowing the OTA to install without my apps installed, resting to factory default and then reactivating and allowing my apps to pull down from the cloud. (the cloud/market restore of my apps kind of cheese’d me off a bit it only pulled down about 50% of my apps. I had to manually search and download the rest)
    Hope this was informative.

    Cheers,
    Hattrick

  • thatdroidguy

    Im loving this update…….@ dj there’s always innocent casualties war, mergers and updates……not rooted hope u got insurance…….

  • kevjohn

    Update hosed my X! *super sad face*
    Time for my third factory reset, my SECOND one in 2 weeks! (the first one was totally unneccesary, the second one was due to a bad SD card)
    I always lose my valuable text messages and my app data when I do this. Looks like I’ll have to play through Angry Birds yet again.

  • alex

    Can it be taken off and use the original one

  • Travis

    Ya but the questions is can Android and Gingerbread keep up with Apple. Assuming iOS 5 is released next week, Google and Android and going to need to come up with some more cool features to keep up.

  • Sam

    Took two(2) hours to download. Using GoLauncher and the screens just piled up on one another. Seems that is all fixed, but new contact app really sucks. Existing birthdays are in binary, rather than date format, and birthdays cannot be added or modified. Cannot edit, add or delete group contacts.

  • Sam

    Also, LED notification no longer works, so there is no indication of a missed phone call, voicemail or text unless you turn on the screen.

  • http://chanatown.net David

    @Sam Not sure if you were just referring to GoLauncher, but I am still able to edit contacts and my LED notification still works as it did from before.

  • Sam

    Yes, you can edit contacts, but you cannot edit or add birthdays because there is no entry/edit field for birthdays, and what I did have entered before the update is now in binary rather than date form – and is thereby useless. And, you cannot edit contacts within groups, i.e., moving a contact from one group to another, or even editing individuals within a group.

    As for the LED, it no longer works whether I am using GoLauncher or the stock launcher, and I have read of many others experiencing the same issue.

    Overall, Gingerbread is a significant improvement, but I will probably go back to Froyo until these issues are resolved.

  • Guest

    This new update is lousy. I loathe it. The way you wrote the article it would appear you work for them. Everything about this lousy gingerbread is horrible. The worst part is you cannot “undo” it. Motorola and verizon and Google will not allow you to or you void your warranty and your customer service rights. The email sucks..all grey incoming and outgoing and the text, camera and wigdets suck. This is the worst upgrade I have ever seen and am so upset I am ditching Verizon and the droid. Your review was too glowing and did not list all the HUGE problems with this mess and the fact the PAY TO STAY widget is there forever.

  • http://chanatown.net David

    @Guest – well, I agree that some issues have come up since installing. I now notice some lag in the phone, but I still like the visual improvements. I agree with you as well that it’d be nice to have an option to revert that’s easy. As a writer, I do tend to focus on the positives, so you got me there. I definitely don’t work for Motorola though; if I did (or perhaps if you did), Gingerbread would have been perfect, right? Thanks for the comment.

  • krash

    I had the same issues, phone locking up. contacts messing up. I dialed *228 to resrt my phone, problem was solved for me, good luck.

  • jay

    upgraded yesterday… put a new screensaver on and now feels like a got a new phone! Changes must be subtle but definitely feels snappier.

  • sfcrzer

    I upgraded my Droid X to the new gingerbread software and I have had nothing but problems with it. My stock music player comes on automatically all the time without me starting it. It also comes on when I plug in my earplugs and skips from song to song. It also came on after I retrieved my voice-mail messages. The battery life has been severely shorten with this update. The phone also gets real hot. In addition a lot of my third party apps no longer work properly. I’ve tried factory re-setting the phone with no avail. Also, just to let you know I have not rooted this phone. I’m totally disappointed with this update. I have had no luck with Verizon with this problem. I would suggest anyone who hasn’t updated their Droid X , not for a while. Is anyone else having these problems?

  • David

    after the update i can no longer get yahoo to send me my emails.

  • Hardcastle

    I can’t edit the birthday part of ny contacts either and wish I could

  • Mark

    Not haapy with Gingerbread. I updated my Droid X and found many porblems. For instance, it deleted some of my contacts. It didn’t populate the phone dialer when I got a phone number for a business from the web. It ALWAYS rebooted while using Pandora. It would occassionaly lock up. After Verizon swapped my Droid X three times it was still having the same propblems. Not a harware isse but a software issue.

  • aamy

    I’m having issues as well with the update. My battery used to last close to 8 hours, now I’m down to 4 hours. 3G is close to non-existent now, when I only had a few dead spots before. Text messages constantly failing. Lots of apps are force closed constantly now. Hope they come out with an update to the update.

  • Mike

    WTH happened. Since updating to GB from Froyo apps disappear from home page, it takes forever to clear cache, the phone reboots itself A LOT, and memory drains quickly which also causes the battery to die quicker. Even with task killers and force stopping a lot of apps it still sucks memory. Other than the look of the OS it sucks. Need to rollback to Froyo.

  • Mike

    Oh, and when I click on a phone number from a webpage it does not input it in the dialer.

  • pam

    I used to could see when someone received my text messages now I can not! How can I fix this?

  • Jeff

    I updtaed to the supposed wonderful Gingerbread and every since then my camera will not auto-focus at all. It takes the most horrible pictures I have ever seen. I have tried 2 paid for apps and it appears to be better but nothing like it was before the update. This is the worst battery draining update I have ever seen. My phone reboots all the time on it’s own accord. It gets warm as well. The biggest disappointment is the basic 1 megapixel camera quality that I hate and need for my work. Neither Motorola nor Verizon care one bit either. They simply point the finegr back and forth and nothing for the consumer gets resolved. I also cannot go back to factory software. What an absolute shame. Everyone should simply boycott both Motorola and Verizon for rippoing us off with a forced update.