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HTC Droid Eris Review

on November 16, 2009 6:52 am

ErisThe Droid Eris is the first Android phone with the Sense UI I have been able to play with. I was suspicious about the add-on (see previous post) but was pleasantly surprised.

What’s in the box:

  • Phone
  • USB Cable
  • Power Adapter

unbox

I love the fact that the prongs in the power adapter fold into the unit. This is a really good design, and it is a shame the Droid did not do the same. Obviously not a make or break feature, but well thought out.

Connections

HTC loves their oddly shaped mini-USB port. Luckily a normal cable will fit, though the HTC cable won’t fit into a standard mini-USB port. It also comes with a headphone jack. Again, I am happy to see this becoming the norm.

Styling

To be fair, I am an HTC fan. I remember the jealousy I experienced when a colleague first showed off his HTC Touch phone. The styling on this phone is reminiscent of that. It feels solid, and had the rubberized finish of other HTC phones. I was never crazy about the G1’s design, but this is a step up.

Here is a stack with the G1 at the base, and the Droid and Eris on top.

CompareThree

It may not seem that slimmer in this picture, but it is. Add into it the soft curves and the Eris feels a lot smaller than the droid.

Controls

I like the inclusion of the Call and End Call buttons on the phone. I never was a huge fan of the trackball on my G1, but the one on the Eris seems to work better to me.

I really miss a dedicated camera button. This is the first Android phone I have used without one. When you launch the camera, pushing the trackball serves as the shutter. Not as smooth as the shutter button on my G1 and he Droid, and you lose the functionality of a long press on the shutter to open the camera in the first place.

Phone Quality

I sometimes forget these are phones, with all the bells and whistles. Both this Droid Eris, and the Droid phone haa great call quality. I would give the edge to the Motorola Droid, but not by much.

Operating System

The Eris ships with Android 1.5, but adds the Sense UI. I really like the Sense UI, and consider this close to a wash versus Android 2.0. I am also sure they are working to update the Sense UI for Android 2.0. As I mentioned in the previous post, this is the cost of the custom UIs, you are probably going to see a slight delay on the latest and greatest OS.

Speed

The Eris has the same processor speed as the G1, but with more memory and the UI, it feels noticeably faster than my G1.

Keyboard

This phone does not come with a physical keyboard. I expected this to be a big deal, I have grown to like the keyboard on my G1, and never enjoyed using the virtual keyboard on my wife’s iPod Touch. I was wrong. This keyboard is intelligently designed, and a joy to use. The key is to use a light touch. The screen is very responsive, and the harder you press the wider your contact is. Here is a comparison:

Droid Eris:

kbSuggest

Droid:

kbDroidSuggest

I really like the fact that the Eris keyboard has a button to close it (the bottom-left) and the quick access to settings (the gear icon next to it).

Conclusions

I highly recommend you look at the other postings in this series, but I really liked this phone. It is not an easy call between it and the Droid. I still feel comfortable with my comparison of the Droid Eris vs. Droid. Depending on your preferences, one of these two phones may be a clear winner. I still keep going back and forth, but my deep set geek traits leans slightly to the Motorola Droid. But last week it was to the Eris, so who knows what tomorrow will bring.

 

Product Information

Price:$99 with 2-year contract
Pros:
  • Small size
  • Solid build
  • Physical call buttons
  • 5 MP phone
  • 3.5mm stereo plug
  • Better Virtual Keyboard
  • Mini-USB connector
  • Supports Multi-Touch pinch and spread
Cons:
  • No keyboard
  • Android 1.5
  • No Dedicated Camera button

Comments

  1. 1
    snarky-in-the-morning says:

    The button to close the keyboard is on your “other right” (aka left). ;)

  2. 2

    Thanks, I should sign my post don’t-proof-at-night, lol

  3. 3
    Tony Karp says:

    I have the Eris and it’s terrific. But there are several problems.

    1. No voice dialing with a Bluetooth headset. (Same for Droid.)

    2. In the Android Market, the Eris can get the free version of a number of programs, but not the paid version. Other Hero phones can see both versions. (This has nothing to do with the version of Android in the Eris.)

  4. 4
    Don says:

    compare the ability of both the Droid and Eris to access and sync MS Exchange service for emails. thanks

  5. 5
    Justin Smestad says:

    I am very surprised you left out the battery life statistics of the Eris. With only 3.5 hours of talk time, that is definitely a con.

  6. 6
    Lisa says:

    Does anyone know if you can download java software on the droid htc? if so how.

  7. 7
    vzwsalesgirl32 says:

    I got my Eris one week ago today and it has not been out of my hands since! The keyboard is incredibly intuitive, I discovered that you can sync with Outlook, and it gets better voice signal than my blackberry- which is huge for me. I am disappointed with the battery life, but getting a car charger solved that. Overall I love the phone! Can’t wait to learn more!

  8. 8

    @Don:
    Don’t know what to add on the MS Exchange front. Both support accessing wirelessy over 3G to ActiveSync for Mail, Calendar and Contacts. Their are android apps that let you access tasks and notes, and the Eris comes with software to sync with Outlook on your desktop (but if you have access to an Exchange server you would not do that).

    @Justin
    I have resigned myself to battery life of app phones being no longer than a day. Seems the Eris is on par with my G1, the Droid has better battery life, but still would not reply on it lasting 2 days.

  9. 9
    Ryan says:

    FIY as far as the camera on the Eris….you can touch the screen (short press) where you want the camera to focus. Then either press the track ball for shutter release or you can long press anywhere on the screen to take a pic. With a feature like that how can you complain about not having a dedicated shutter release button.

  10. 10

    @Ryan
    Nice catch on the camera, I missed that feature. However, never underestimate my ability to complain. :-)

    I still like a dedicated shutter button as an easier way to launch the camera, and an easier way to take most pictures. The selective focus is great though, thanks for the tip.

  11. 11
    jaam says:

    The Eris is running with the HTC keyboard, while the Droid has the standard Android keyboard.

    You can install the HTC keyboard – though it does occupy 4.5MB (makes it a tight fit on a non-rooted G1 but should be fine on other phones).

    There are quite a few places you can download the app from (haven’t seen it on the market) – but you will need to look around.

  12. 12
    Mark says:

    @Bryan
    Not sure if someone already mentioned it clearly or not. I know you already mentioned the Eris having a “close keyboard” key in the bottom left (which is nice btw), but the Droid closes the keyboard by hitting the “back” button on the lower left of the main screen.
    I was a little confused originally on how to close the screen keyboard after typing something but finally found this out.

  13. 13

    @Mark
    I think that is application dependent. I do not see the back button you refer to, though I do see Done and Revert buttons just above the keyboard in contact edit mode.

  14. 14
    Bryan says:

    Big problem on my HTC Eris regarding Ringdroid!!!

    I have clipped a couple songs and saved them as alarms and they don’t work at all! After this, now none of my alarm sounds work (native defaults and ringdroid songs). The ringtone and notification saved songs work and they are great, but now my alarm function does not work. Do your use Ringdroid? Do you have this problem? Would you be willing to investigate??? I have tried a lot of workarounds and have been emailing back and forth with “The Ringdroid Team” leader. Please help!

  15. 15

    @Bryan
    Unfortunately I have had to return the Eris (a tearful re-boxing). I do use Ringdroid, but did not test it with the Eris. I am sorry I cannot be of more help.

  16. 16
    Sam says:

    @Bryan Sherma
    Why did you have to return the Eris? I am looking at the Eris vs. BB Storm 2 and am leaning towards the Eris, so I want to know :)

  17. 17

    @Sam

    I tried to make it clear in the reviews, Verizon loaned me the Droid and the Eris for review, so they weren’t mine.

    I am on T-Mo and face a stiff termination fee to ditch my G1 and go with Verizon… still considering.

  18. 18
    Anthony Crawford says:

    Thanks for the review, I picked up the Eris and love it. My friends and co-workers all love it.

  19. 19
    steven says:

    RE: Exchange/ActiveSync/Outlook Desktop Sync

    I know this isn’t really a forum, and I might need to go elsewhere, but…

    I currently sync my phone and both Outlook at work and at home with my Exchange account at work.

    At work, I connect Outlook directly with the Exchange server.
    At home, I do not (I do not want to connect directly with my home computer, and prefer just using the web portal to access my e-mail there, yet I like having my calendar and contacts synced between home, work and phone….easier life without having to manage two calendars, etc).

    I sync my phone with both my work computer and my home computer (which accomplishes syncing my calendar and contacts between all 4 places (1. Exchange, 2. work computer, 3. home computer & 4. phone).

    As far as you know, will I still be able to do this with the Droid or Eris?

  20. 20
    Lisa says:

    I just got the Droid Eris – my first smart phone! However, I am a little upset to discover it doesn’t link with Entourage. Are they going to fix that so Mac users don’t miss out on the fun?

  21. 21
    steven says:

    I put this question on the forum now…
    http://androidforums.com/android-applications/29709-exchange-activesync-plus-outlook-desktop-sync.html

    No response there yet either. haha! :)
    Sorry, didn’t mean to junk up your comments section.

  22. 22

    @steven

    For the record, providing helpful links in comments is NEVER junking it up… :-)

    @Lisa

    There are some third-party apps available for syncing. One promising one (that I have not actaully tried yet) is:

    http://www.markspace.com/products/android/missing-sync-android.html

    Missing Sync has been around for a while, and has a good reputation. I have never needed there applications, but have friends (and NOT tech-savvy ones) that have used their apps and really liked them.

    There is also more discussion of outlook and exchange in my Droid review:

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/2009/11/08/the-motorola-droid-on-verizon-review/

    Scroll down to Exchange support and Outlook <> Exchange headings.

    hth

  23. 23
    bryan says:

    prepping for phone upgrade 1/10/10. Def looking at the Eris. This may be basic, but can sync with google calendar and what not right? Also, have seen an iphone cover with a flashlight/ camera flash that would be great to see for the eris since it doesn’t have a flash. Anyone seen one?

  24. 24
    CJ says:

    I also don’t like the lack of a dedicated shutter button. In fact, until reading these comments today, we hadn’t figured out how to actually activate the shutter on the Eris. First time I’ve ever had a problem figuring that out after dozens of phones and digital cameras I’ve owned.

  25. 25
    MartyD says:

    I started out with a Palm Tungsten E2, really liked the way it organized everything, so I then went with a Palm Centro in order to add the phone to the great organization. The Centro is a love/hate relationship, I love what it can do for me, am very proficient with the small querty keypad, hate the lags, the auto reboot 2-3 times per day when I try and do too much. I really hate it when I am in the middle of typing an e-mail and my phone rings. I completely lose the e-mail and have to start all over again when I disconnect from the phone call. I looked at the Palm Pre last summer, but really did not want to go to Verizon although, I could save about $50 per month, but was not sure about the coverage as I have 4 phones on my plan. I also looked at the Mot Droid and did not like the key pad at all. I like the looks feel of the Eris better than the Droid, but now am really torn between the Eris and the Palm Pre. Everything I read gets more and more confusing. I use my Centro calender a lot and basically use it as my planner. I have a GMAIL account and understand the calendar will sync with Google. I want video, although in the one and a half years I have had the Centro, I have never used video. I really like the feel of the Cento buttons. Help me with a decision whether to stay with Palm or go Android. Thanks

  26. 26
    MartyD says:

    In my last post, should have said ‘did not want to go to Sprint’ as I am currently with Verizon.

  27. 27
    Nathaniel says:

    i need serious help plz, i am a huge gamer and my friend wants me to try and get runescape on my droid eris, but damn it wont let me f’n download the java that i need to install please if any1 can help i really would appreciate it plz. =(

  28. 28
    Jason says:

    Currently viewing this from my Eris lol. I think it’s totally worth it, especially coming from an EnV2 that shut off on me while texting. I love the touch sensitivity versus that of the iPhone. Tons of free apps, easy interface, and not a lot of lag. Battery life is a bit short, but that’s expected. I also loved the little intro tutorial that HTC added. If you’re considering the Eris, go for it. You won’t regret the purchase.

  29. 29
    coolfx35 says:

    In case you have not seen this…….HTC Droid Eris on Android 2.1 Video

    http://www.droid-eris.com/updates-and-cupcakes/2-1-video/

  30. 30
    Alicia says:

    I just got my Droid Eris about 2 days ago, and I absolutely hate the battery life.
    It dies about 2 times throughout the day, and I don’t know why.
    I only charge it when it’s dead, and it still dies. I can wake up and it’s fully charged, then 10 mins later, part of the battery is already gone..
    any suggestions on what I should do?

  31. 31

    @Alicia

    That does not seem normal. You may want to check to see what is running in the background. Look for the free application “Advanced Task Killer” (there is a free and pay version). Run it to see if their are applications running. I have found that Google’s Scoreboard application and some Twitter applications can really impact battery life since the access data a lot. Still, even with that, twice a day seems pretty extreme, may want to call support.

  32. 32
    What a piece of trash says:

    This is a terrible, terrible phone. The battery life sucks, first of all. It can’t last a day with out being charged, even with a minuscule number of phone calls. That’s compared to my EnV, which has lasted a month without charging. Clicking the exact thing on the phone you want is extremely hard, and it freezes and lags quite often. It gives me a terrible time unlocking it for calls, so I miss the all the time. Also, it crashed today. I lost all my pictures, ringtones, and contacts. What a piece of junk!

  33. 33
    lynn says:

    For those who might have missed this info:) There’s a phone # listed on the paper-work sent with the Droid Eris ( quick-start guide etc ), where u call for the FREE Eris manual. I believe it’s 214 pages long! :) Very polished looking. and a nice size, of about 5×5, for easy handling. And saves a ton of ink and/or your time, printing entire manual. Or picking & choosing pages to print out

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