We first heard tell of the superphone at CES 2011, where Motorola came out with a cavalcade of powerful Google's Android devices that included the Motorola Atrix 4G, the Motorola Xoom, and, of course, the Motorola Droid Bionic.
With its dual-core processor, 4G LTE speeds, HD video recording, HDMI port, and a luscious 4.3" qHD display, the Droid Bionic was a pioneering handset in many ways.
Since its announcement, however, many other dual-core phones have arrived ahead of it, such as the Motorola's own Droid X2.
The Droid Bionic began to lose its luster, while consumers grew even more impatient for this phone to finally arrive. Many begun to question whether we would ever see the Droid Bionic that had suffered delay after delay.
Nine months later, Motorola is finally ready to give birth.
And we have to admit:
It was worth the wait.
The Droid Bionic that you can find in stores is remarkably different from the one we saw in January.
The hardware is slimmer, sleeker, and definitely more polished.
Indeed, Motorola claims that the Droid Bionic is its thinnest 4G LTE device yet.
Also, while there are many dual-core smartphones and 4G LTE handsets on the market, the Droid Bionic is the first to be both.
And we're glad that Motorola wisely ships the phone with Google's Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread instead of just Android 2.2 Froyo.
We've seen its features before on other handsets like the Atrix, but we are still impressed by its multimedia capabilities, enterprise-friendly applications, and the powerful Webtop application that helps turn it from a phone into a portable PC with the aid of accessories like a laptop dock.
We were reluctant to embrace this overhyped handset, but in the end, we have to say we're very pleased with its power, speed, and style.
We have to admit that the Motorola Droid Bionic's final design was a huge surprise to us.
The Droid Bionic we saw at CES 2011 was wide, bulky, and thick.
Indeed, the original January prototype was probably more similar to the Photon 4G.
Measuring 12.7cm long by 6.7cm wide by 1cm thick, the actual Droid Bionic isn't exactly a tiny handset, either, but it's certainly much slimmer.
Not only is it thinner, the final iteration of the Motorola Droid Bionic is also much more attractive.
The glass on the display goes from edge to edge with a slight curve at the sides that results in a smooth and sleek appearance.
The metallic housing and understated chin add to the phone's polished look.
The back is clad in a soft-touch finish with beveled edges.
Fans of the Droid series of handsets will recognize the Droid's familiar bump at the top, which adds a touch more bulk, but not much.
Indeed, we actually like it, as it provides a little more grip when holding the phone.
The Droid Bionic weighs in at 160 grams, which we think is decent considering its size.
The 4.3" qHD display on the Droid Bionic is similar to the one we saw on the Motorola Droid 3.
It's crisp, clear, and colorful.
We enjoyed the vibrant graphics and sharp 960x540-pixel resolution.
It doesn't pack as much pixel punch as a Super AMOLED display, but we still liked it.
The Droid Bionic uses Corning Gorilla glass, which boasts a dual-layer antireflective coating.
While it did appear a little washed-out under bright sunlight, we were still able to see what was on the screen.
What truly impressed us was how smooth and fast the navigation was.
Thanks to the Droid Bionic's 1GHz dual-core processor, screens and pages just flew by as we scrolled and swiped around.
We were a little bit surprised that Motorola opted for a TI processor instead of something from Nvidia, but we still thought it was fast.
It definitely felt faster than phones with just a single-core processor.
Certain applications like the camera and the browser did take just a touch longer to launch, but it wasn't a huge difference.
Multitasking was easy and quick as well.
The User Interface (UI) on the Motorola Droid Bionic is very similar to what's on the Droid 3.
Both have a scaled-down version of Motoblur; you get the social-networking widgets and connected gallery, without the required log-in and setup.
The main menu is the same, with side-to-side navigation instead of the vertical default.
Beneath the display are the four Android shortcuts for the menu, home, back, and search functions.
On the right is a volume rocker; the Micro-USB port and Micro-HDMI port sit on the left spine.
On the top are a 3.5mm headset jack and screen lock/power key.
A front-facing VGA camera is above the display, as is a tiny notification LED.
On the back is the camera with a single LED flash.
This is a departure from the original Droid Bionic seen at CES 2011, which had a dual Xenon flash.
The Motorola Droid Bionic packages with an AC adapter, a USB cable, and reference material.
You can purchase several different accessories to take advantage of the Droid Bionic's Webtop application:
A laptop dock, the HD Station, or a Webtop adapter.
The laptop dock is the most complete package, as it combines a screen and keyboard, along with a couple of USB ports.
The HD Station lets you charge the handset and it, too, has a couple of USB ports and Bluetooth capabilities so you can use a mouse and keyboard, but you have to provide them yourself.
The Webtop adapter can only be used with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
With the HD Station and the Webtop adapter, you have to provide your own display.
Other optional accessories include a car dock and a normal charging dock.
All of these accessories are only for the Droid Bionic and cannot be used with other phones.
Clearly the most compelling reason to get a Motorola Droid Bionic is that it combines two speedy technologies in one handset:
A dual-core processor plus 4G LTE.
As we mentioned earlier, navigation certainly felt much snappier than on single-core handsets.
The phone's 1GB of RAM helped boost performance, too.
But it was the Web browser where the 4G LTE speed boost was evident.
Motorola packed the browser with HTML5 support and full Adobe Flash support.
With most handsets, this can result in slow page loading on Flash-heavy Web sites, but not so with the Droid Bionic!
We loaded up a heavy page in an average of 13 seconds, with all the Flash and Java ads as well.
We were actually able to play Flash videos directly in the browser, with absolutely zero buffering time. We also managed to scroll through Web pages and switch between different tabs without any lag or hesitation. In short, the marriage between the dual-core processor and 4G LTE is a very good one indeed.
Other connectivity options include WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth.
You can also use the Droid Bionic as a mobile hot spot for up to five devices with the activation of a Mobile Broadband plan.
Other features include a speakerphone, speed dial, voice commands, conference calling, Skype Mobile, and text and multimedia messaging.
The Motorola Droid Bionic takes great pictures.
The Motorola Droid Bionic has an 8-megapixel camera with a single LED flash.
We have to admit we're a little disappointed that it's not a dual LED flash, or the dual Xenon flash that we saw at CES.
We're also not pleased with a slight shutter lag - if we moved even a little bit, the image would appear a touch blurry.
Still, the results impressed us:
Photo quality was pretty good. Images looked tack-sharp, and colors were accurate.
The Droid Bionic is also the first 4G LTE handset to have 1080p video-recording capabilities, which results in crystal-clear videos that can play back on high-definition TV screens.
This is made even easier because the Droid Bionic has an HDMI mirroring mode, so you can view your phone's contents on the TV.
The phone also has DLNA support so you can stream your content to DLNA-compatible devices.
The smartphone has 16GB of internal memory and ships with a 16GB microSD card (may vary in some markets), though it's capable of accepting 32GB cards.
As we mentioned, the Droid Bionic ships with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, which means it gets benefits like a great multitouch virtual keyboard.
If you would rather use Swype, it comes with that, too.
Of course, you still get access to all of Google's mobile services like Gmail, Google Maps Navigation, YouTube, Google Talk, Books, Places, Latitude, and Google Search with voice.
The Droid Bionic is also compatible with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync so you can sync corporate Email, tasks, and calendars.
Other software and apps preloaded on the Motorola Droid Bionic include the Quickoffice Suite, the Amazon Kindle app for Android, Slacker, Blockbuster, and VideoSurf.
Motorola also added its own ZumoCast app, which lets you remotely access your documents and media files as long as you have the companion app installed on either your Mac or PC.
Motorola also preinstalled Motoprint for printing via WiFi-enabled printers.
One of the more powerful features of the phone is the Webtop application, which is similar to the one on the Atrix 4G.
Simply dock the Droid Bionic in one of the three accessories mentioned earlier (laptop dock, HD Station, or Webtop adapter), and you can access the Webtop platform.
The interface is similar to that of a Netbook, and it has several Webtop-only applications like Firefox.
You can also use the Webtop platform for creating and editing office documents, which is a great feature for business users.
Indeed, Motorola claims the Droid Bionic is "business-ready," with features like resizable and scrollable Email, calendar syncing, and advanced security policies that enable you to encrypt both the device and the SD card.
It has remote wipe capabilities for the device and the SD card as well.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; LTE B13 700) Motorola Droid Bionic in San Francisco, California, using US mobile operator Verizon Wireless.
Call quality was decent, but it had a few flaws.
On our end, we experienced solid call quality, with good volume and natural-sounding voices.
We heard very little background noise.
Quality was slightly more mixed on the other end.
While callers could certainly hear us loud and clear, there was a tiny bit of distortion that prevented the call from sounding perfect.
Callers also heard the occasional crackle, and voice quality was a little robotic.
Speakerphone calls were all right, though callers said the echo effect was more pronounced.
As we mentioned earlier, the 4G LTE speeds were very impressive.
We ran Ookla's Speedtest.net app a few times and had an average of 10.18Mbps down and 4.62Mbps up.
The full Cnet Web page loaded in around 13 seconds, while the mobile page loaded in just 4 seconds.
We also watched Flash cartoons with very little loading time.
We also tried playing a few Flash games, but it was a little difficult to zoom in and navigate because most Flash content isn't designed for the touch screen.
The Motorola Droid Bionic ships with a 1,730mAH lithium ion battery that promises battery life of 10.8 hours of talk time and 10.4 days of standby time.
In our tests, the Droid Bionic delivered an average of 7 hours and 55 minutes talk time over 4G.
When we turned LTE off to go 3G only, we managed to squeeze out a very impressive 10 hours and 21 minutes talk time.
Anecdotally, the Droid Bionic performed well in day-to-day usage.
From a fully charged phone at the start of the day, we surfed the Web, navigated with Maps, watched a few Flash video clips, checked Email, and used it as we would normally.
By the end of the day, we had only used about 15 to 20% of the battery. We did this with the 4G LTE speeds enabled.
We have to admit that we didn't want to like the Motorola Droid Bionic.
After so many months of waiting, we were prepared to be disappointed.
After all, when the Droid Bionic was first announced, dual-core phones were rare and 4G LTE phones were nonexistent, and the market has changed considerably since then.
Yet, we found a lot to love about the Motorola Droid Bionic.
Its new sleek hardware is really quite attractive, and it's miles better than the original edition we saw at CES in January.
Its feature set is admirable, too, with great multimedia capabilities and enterprise-friendly features.
Performance is where this phone shines, with speedy navigation and zippy browsing.
We also like its Webtop application, though we don't like the fact that you have to spend a lot for the required accessories.
The Motorola Droid Bionic has a nice slim and sleek design, with a 4.3" qHD display and the double whammy of a dual-core processor and 4G LTE support.
Multimedia features are plentiful, and business users will be pleased with its enterprise abilities like the Webtop application and solid security.
We were also pleased with its long battery life.
The Motorola Droid Bionic is saddled with Motorola's custom User Interface, which might not be for everyone.
The camera has a slight shutter lag, the display is not as sharp as we would like, and it's also quite expensive.
The Webtop accessories aren't cheap.
The bottom line:
The Motorola Droid Bionic is everything you want from a high-end smartphone.
It's sleek, fast, and powerful, with features that will please both consumers and business users--if you're willing to pay the high price.