Have you ever had that one mobile device that you want to like, but there's one flaw that keeps you from it? The HTC Droid Eris (known as the HTC Hero on the Sprint side) is that device for me. It offers some of my favorite things about Android: HTC's popular Sense UI, a 5.0-megapixel camera that works well, phenomenal Gmail integration, and more. Despite these positive features, the one issue that gets to me is an ever-so-slight lag on the device. What's more, the odd thing about it is the lack of consistency. In other words, something that could be lag-free at one point would suffer from lag the next time it was opened. For example, I send a lot of e-mails as a result of my job. When testing the Droid Eris, there were times where I noticed lag when typing e-mails. Other times, it's perfectly fine. You see it all around the device, and because of the inconsistency, it gets frustrating.
But let's get onto the good points of the device. At $99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, the device is a direct competitor to the entry-level iPhone 3G. If you were to ask me "Aaron, what makes this device better than the iPhone?," my answer would immediately be "Sense UI and the ability to multitask." Simply put, HTC's Sense UI is what makes this phone a fantastic device. Instead of the stock Android interface, HTC has taken it to a new level. Sense UI features the ability to customize up to seven tabs with icons, widgets, and the like. The Droid Eris offers Android v1.5 out of the box, though HTC has promised an update to Android 2.0 early next year.
The Droid Eris ships with an AC adapter, a USB cable, an 8GB microSD card, and instruction manuals. The only frustration came in the location of the microSD card slot - it was a bit irritating to remove the battery cover each time I wanted to access it. The device sports a 3.2-inch HVGA display, and comes in at 4.45 inches tall by 2.19 inches wide by 0.51 inch thick. Weighing 4.23 ounces, the Droid is thin and light enough to keep in the pocket.
I continue to be quite impressed with the overall connectivity of the device. My industry uses Google products and services for a vast majority of our business needs. Gmail, Google Voice, Google Talk, and more work perfectly on the Droid Eris. Should you use another provider besides Gmail, the Droid Eris provides a general "Mail" program that will work with POP, IMAP, and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts. The only frustration in Android v1.5 is the inability to have more than one Gmail account active in the native "Gmail" application. I have five Gmail-based accounts, and I had to place four of them in the general mail application.
The 5.0-megapixel camera was impressive. With the appropriate amount of light, pictures looked nice, and I was equally pleased with the video camcorder. To my knowledge, the phone will only snap pictures by pressing the trackball, so be sure to hold the device as steady as possible (something I had to learn the hard way). In regards to editing, Droid Eris offers a brightness meter, four white-balance settings, four image resolution sizes, a self-timer, spot metering, three color effects, a digital zoom, autofocus, and four ISO settings.
I'm still testing call quality and battery life, but I've been relatively impressed thus far. Call quality has been fantastic, with no dropped calls. I've never been incredibly pleased with battery life on Android devices, though the Droid Eris' is up there. I've been able to make it just over a day with moderate use (text messaging, calling, web browsing, and downloading from the Android Market). I'll report back with full findings.
It's a device I absolutely love, and minus the slight (and I mean slight) issue with lag, it's a phone I would carry on a regular basis. It's perfect for the person who wants the Android experience, but doesn't want to spring $200 for the Motorola DROID. Sense UI, a 5.0-megapixel camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a reasonable price point makes this a device worth checking out.
Check out Noah's first impressions of the device here, and stay tuned for my review!