Motorola Devour Review
March 12, 2010

When the Motorola Droid made its debut back in November, rumors and pictures of a little brother device that would follow in the Droid’s footsteps accompanied it. As time went on we learned the Motorola Devour would be the device, and now 5 months after the launch of the original Droid, the Devour has hit shelves. Read on to see how Verizon’s newest smartphone entry stacks up to the competition.

When assessing the Devour’s form factor, you’ll notice some similarities to the Droid’s build. Like the Droid, the Devour is a heavy, solidly built device. The exterior is made up of aluminum, with black rubber accents along the sides and ends of the device. The Devour features a 3.1” HVGA capacitive touch screen (320 x 480) complete with 3 onscreen buttons (menu, home, back), and is complemented by an optical swipe pad on the lower left-hand corner. The Devour’s touch screen is accurate and responsive, but it is on the small side. When you're examining the phone’s display, you'll notice some wasted space, which could have been used to make a larger display. On the top of the device you will find a very noticeable 3.5mm headphone jack, along the right side of the device are the volume buttons, a voice recognition button, and a button to launch the phone’s 3 megapixel camera. The left-hand side of the device is reserved for the phone’s USB charger port, and a nicely designed rubber strip that slides off to reveal the phone’s battery and micro sd memory card slot.

The Devour, like the Droid, is also a full QWERTY slider, and the sliding mechanism on the Devour is smooth and solid when used. The keyboard features buttons that are well spaced, and more raised than the keys on the Droid. The only complaint I have regarding the keyboard is a dedicated row for numbers, which led to the space bar being placed in-between letter keys and more frequent use of the function key. It takes a little getting used to, but once I adjusted I definitely liked typing on the Devour better than the Droid. The full keyboard does add to the Devour’s bulk as the phone measures 0.6” thick, but the phone doesn’t feel overly clunky in the hand. Internally, the Devour runs on Qualcomm’s MSM 7627 processor (same as Palm Pixi Plus), and 512 MB ROM/256MB RAM. I noticed very little lag in navigating menus and opening applications, and actually found the phone to be quick and responsive. The Devour is wi-fi enabled, and comes loaded with a 8GB memory card for storage. Phone call quality was solid, as all my test calls had above average volume and clarity.

On the software front, the Devour operates on Android 1.6 with Motorola’s MotoBlur interface over the top. MotoBlur is similar to HTC’s Sense UI in that it gives you additional home page panels (5 total) to fully customize and make your own. Besides customizable home pages, MotoBlur’s biggest draw is its ability to tie-in multiple social networking accounts (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) right to your phone’s home page. There are built-in widgets to keep track of your friend’s various status updates, as well as widgets that allow you to update your own status across multiple networks. It all sounds good on paper, but I really didn’t find it that useful. For me, seeing my friend’s pictures and comments every time I picked up the phone got tired. I ended up moving the widgets one panel to the left, so I could fill my main home screen with app shortcuts. Call me a cranky bastard, but I’d rather have quick access to my important apps, than view the latest tweet. Social networking aside, MotoBlur offers some decent widgets, and does give you more real estate to customize than the standard 3 home panels found on stock Android.

One major software inclusion on the Devour is Google Navigation with spoken turn-by-turn. Up to this point, Google Nav had been reserved for the Droid and the Nexus One, so it was nice to see a 1.6 powered device running the application, and running it well. Navigation was quick and accurate, and besides the lack of multi-touch on maps, functioned as smoothly as it does on the Droid. Messaging is another thing the Devour does well, as it supports Microsoft Exchange, multiple POP accounts, and threaded sms messaging. All of the other standard Google apps are present too, with Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Maps on board.

On the multi-media front the Devour didn’t really live up to my expectations. The Devour uses a webkit based browser and includes support for Flash Lite, which sounds like a hot combination, especially when you factor in the phone’s capable specs. However, what you get is a phone that loads pages fairly fast, but oftentimes failed to render or play Flash content. Since the phone lacks multi-touch support, navigating pages wasn’t a smooth experience either. The lack of multi-touch is pretty annoying, as many new smartphones at least support double tap to zoom, if not pinch-to-zoom. The Flash Lite issues may be addressed down the road with software updates, but the two problems combined made for an average at best browsing experience. On the camera front, the results weren’t much better. The Devour’s 3 megapixel camera lacks a flash, so unless you're taking a picture with ideal lighting, pictures turnout dark and grainy. Video recording is about the same, with anything in a less than well-lit surrounding turning out gritty.

The Devour’s media player closely resembles the Droid’s, which isn’t really a good thing. The player lacks options and swipe functionality, and is hopefully near the top of Google’s list of standard apps to be updated. The player is functional, but lacks polish. Videos loaded nice and quick on the Devour, and played smoothly throughout.

To sum it up, the Devour is a solid, well built device, that even rivals the Droid’s build quality, but bizarrely falls short in other areas (small display, lack of multi-touch). The Devour’s software has some good things going for it with Google Navigation on board, and the ability to customize 5 home screens. MotoBlur didn’t really end up being very useful for me, but for those who love to stay in the social loop and never miss a friend’s status update, Blur could be right up their alley. The Devour definitely didn’t meet my multimedia expectations, although some of the issues may be worked out over time (Flash Lite), but the phone’s positives definitely outweigh the multimedia shortcomings. The major issue facing the Devour is outlets like Best Buy selling the Devour for the same price as the Droid, $99.99 on a 2-yr contract. When you put both devices at the same price point it definitely puts little brother at a disadvantage. When the phone hits Verizon Wireless, the pricing will be more properly aligned, with VZW still selling the Droid for $199.99. While it may not appeal to the hardcore smartphone user, the Devour will definitely give younger, more socially inclined smartphone shoppers a viable option.

Score: 7/10

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