Nate's Straight Talk Express: Motorola Devour - Good or Bad for Business Users?

Nate Allen
Columnist from  Indianola, IA
| March 31, 2010


Thanks to Verizon Wireless for loaning me a Motorola Devour to test out this week.  Because I consider myself a business user of the Android operating system, my review of the Devour will focus on whether its features are adequate for business users.  

The Good

The Devour's keyboard feels great in the hand.  I typically prefer one-handed typing on an on-screen keyboard, but after having used the Devour for a few days I much prefer the physical keyboard on this device.  The screen is very responsive, but on the small side for confident one-thumb typing.  For comparison's sake, I am not a big fan of the Motorola Droid's physical keyboard, not because of the shape of the keys or their proximity to one another, but because the d-pad is too large on the right side making it unwieldy to confidently operate.  The Devour's keyboard doesn't have the awkward d-pad configuration and the keys are nicely spaced out, so with a bit of regular use I believe most users would be able to quickly bang out emails, text messages and tweets.  The sliding mechanism also has good "springiness" (better than the Droid, in my opinion).  While the keyboard feels a bit too easy to slide open, the spring-action of it would help keep it closed in a purse or pocket.  Battery life is acceptable, on par with my Droid Eris.

The Bad

While the Devour supports Microsoft Exchange-based email accounts, as well as other POP and IMAP accounts, the E-mail experience is not as good as it is on an HTC Sense device, or stock Android for that matter.  For MS Exchange-based accounts, there is no option for E-mail to be delivered as items arrive, which is a vital feature that other Android smartphones, and virtually every competing operating system, supports.  This omission alone would be enough for me to not recommend the Devour to business users.  

Additionally, I have not found an option to add shortcuts to more than one email account to the homescreen (except Gmail, obviously).  My primary email account is an Exchange account, but I also use a couple of Google Apps accounts and a Gmail Account and I like to have shortcuts to each account on my home screen. There is a Messaging app that provides access to a unified inbox as well as each individual email inbox, but accessing accounts within this app takes more fingerpresses than I'm willing to tolerate after such a great E-mail experience with my Eris.

The Devour uses an optical trackpad instead of a trackball.  While the trackpad has been a welcome change in Blackberry's lineup (in my opinion), its implementation falls short on the Devour.  When using the trackpad to move between homescreen panels, instead of recognizing a swipe left or right as a finger-swipe on the screen, the trackpad merely highlights the adjacent app shortcut, so it takes several swipes of the trackpad in the same direction to move to the next home screen panel.  Additionally, the trackpad does not seem sensitive enough to efficiently use while within the text of an email to move between letters and words to make corrections.

The Ugly

The Devour is awkward looking and very heavy.  While the phone's housing feels very rugged due to its aluminum construction, it is that quality construction that is likely the cause of the heavy weight of the device.  The screen is smaller and of poorer resolution than the Eris.  Increasing the size of the screen to that of the Droid, with a corresponding decrease in the size of the bezel, would likely make the phone look much more appealing, especially sitting on the display at Best Buy or the Verizon store next to the Droid and the Eris (and likely some other upcoming Verizon-bound Android devices like the rumored HTC Incredible), or on the boardroom table, which is increasingly important to users.  Devour's lock button is on the upper left-hand corner of the device, like Droid's, but it is recessed too far into the housing.  As a result, it often took several attempts to turn the screen off.  Even when I was successful on my first attempt, I would have to watch to make sure the screen actually turned off, wasting several seconds.  While this doesn't sound like a big deal, it quickly became very annoying.

Having used Droid, Droid Eris, and now Devour, I would easily recommend the Droid and the Droid Eris over the Devour, not just for the reasons I outlined above, but for reasons outlined in Aaron's first impressions review and full review, as well as Noah's first impressions review.  Think I'm wrong or I missed something useful to this discussion? Let me know in the comments.

Products mentioned