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printed October 25, 2014
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Review: Samsung Droid Charge

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

The Charge's 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display is one of the best in the business. It is blindingly bright, vivid in color, and rich in detail. It offers the same 480 x 800 pixels that many other Android devices do, though with the larger physical size, the pixel density is somewhat reduced. I could only tell when putting side-by-side with a device that has a display with a higher pixel count. It's a shame Samsung couldn't up the Charge's display to qHD (540 x 960), but you're still going to love the Charge's display as-is. Outdoors it worked well enough. It wasn't perfect, expesially if you want to tell the time, but the camera worked OK outdoors.

Signal

The Charge did well with Verizon's 3G network where I live in NJ (just out of LTE range!) It connected quickly and remained steadfastly on Verizon's EVDO network in 3G regions. I never saw the Charge dip to 1XRTT data. During my testing period, the Charge never dropped a call. Data sessions in 3G regions were often quick and rarely did I see any significant slow downs.

As for 4G, we tested the Charge at Newark Airport in NJ, and Orlando, Florida. In both areas, the Charge found 4G easily and connected to the LTE network. Its grip on LTE wasn't exactly iron-clad. It would connect to 4G and then after a while drop to 3G. Once it dropped to 3G, there was no easy way back up to 4G without a reboot. That's a bummer. Once it lost 4G, it stayed off 4G, even when other devices in the same area could see the 4G network. This is a significant issue, and we aren't the only ones who noticed it. Hopefully his is something that can be resolved with a future software upate.

Sound

Old school science fiction fans will remember the way Cylons spoke on the original Battlestar Galactica. (For you young'uns, Google it.) They had a tinny, talking-through-a-fan sound to them. That's exactly how phone calls sounded through the Charge. There was a distinct robotic effect applied to callers' voices that made me wonder if I was speaking to the High Command or my friends. I also noticed distortion and choppiness during voice calls. It's not a total deal-breaker, but it is highly annoying. I didn't get used to during my review period, but you might be able to ignore it after a while.

Aside from poor call quality, the Charge was capable of producing loud ringtones (be sure to check out the default ringtone before changing it), and earpiece volume was also loud. The speakerphone was loud, but noisy, and the vibrate alert was solid.

Battery

As with the HTC Thunderbolt, the Charge worked just fine in 3G-only areas. It easily lasted a full day under Verizon's 3G network. During a single day, I used it for email, calls, surfing, Twittering, and streaming music from Amazon's Cloud Player. There was still plenty of juice left when I called it a night.

As for 4G, though we tested in an area covered by LTE, it wasn't for a period long enough to have a major impact on battery life. We will continue to use it in Florida this week and report a more thorough answer later.

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