Android Phone Holiday Buying Guide: Verizon

With the holiday season just around the corner, the carriers are planning their annual rush of new phones. Over the next week, we’ll be  bringing you handy guides to all the new phones coming out this month on all the carriers, so it’s easy to compare and make the right decision. We’ll start with Verizon.

Phones in Verizon's Android lineup, from left: Droid 2 Global, Droid Pro, Droid X, Droid Incredible.

Verizon has a solid Android lineup already with the Droid 2, Droid X, Droid Incredible and Samsung Fascinate, and it looks like it’s only going to get better with quite a few announced and leaked handsets coming out in November.
Droid 2 Global

The Droid 2 Global has a shiny new coat of paint. Image via

The DROID 2 Global is out on November 11th, and it’s more of a tweaking of the original Droid 2 than a brand new phone. The main difference between this and the original Droid 2 is a “worldwide communication chip,” which means that this is a dual-mode GSM / CDMA device with the ability to use a SIM card. What that doesn’t mean, however, is that it will work with AT&T or T-Mobile. The GSM functionality is for using the DROID while traveling, there is little doubt this phone won’t be locked to Verizon. The new Global version of the Droid 2 also comes equipped with a much faster 1.2 GHz processor, compared to the 800 MHz processor in the original Droid 2.
The phone has other fairly standard features like a 5 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, flash 10.1 support, 8GB of internal storage, an SD card slot, 3G Mobile hotspot, and (for the first time ever) your choice of two colors – “Dark Sapphire” or “Winter White.” The paint job on this phone looks noticeably shinier than previous Droid editions, whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you.
It doesn’t look like much has changed between this phone and its older brother aside from the processor bump, but if you’re a frequent traveler it would definitely be a plus to have a dual-mode phone like this. On the other hand, its almost inevitable that we’ll see “Motoblur” and a locked bootloader on this phone, so vanilla Android fans and tinkerers beware, as Motorola loves to lock down their handsets. $200.
Droid Pro

The Droid Pro is a candybar phone with a portrait keyboard, a form factor reminiscent of a BlackBerry

Motorola is targeting a business audience with the Droid Pro, making a run at the BlackBerry crowd. The Droid Pro is a candybar-style phone with a portrait hardware keyboard, much like your average BlackBerry.
We’re looking at standard to below-average specs on this one: 1 GHz processor, 3.1-inch display (480×320 resolution) and Android 2.2.
There’s not much “new” about this phone aside from the design, but the easily accessible keyboard is a plus for business users sending a lot of e-mail. The downside to this phone, however, is the price; given that it’s not really cutting-edge or bringing anything new to the table, Verizon charging $299 for it on contract seems a bit steep — it’s going to be the the most expensive Android phone out if it indeed stays at the announced price. The Droid Pro is also set to release on Nov. 11.
HTC Merge
The HTC Merge is a Verizon phone with hardware similar to T-Mobile's G2

The HTC Merge looks like the most promising of these new handsets, being essentially Verizon’s version of the well-received T-Mobile G2. That means its a landscape-keyboard slider from HTC with a speedy 800 MHz Snapdragon processor and Android 2.2 with HTC Sense.
The keyboard on the phone looks absolutely amazing, with widely spaced, backlit keys and nice big directional buttons. The keyboard on the G2 is loved by many, and it looks like this phone’s will be no different. The Merge will also come with a standard 5 megapixel camera and 4GB of onboard storage for those of you who like to download a lot of apps.
Unfortunately, based on leaked shots of this phone it appears to be another device doomed to Verizon’s new “Bingification.” The Fascinate had this problem as well, being locked to Bing with nothing the end-user could do about it without rooting. Only time will tell if the Merge’s Bing “problem” will be as serious as the Fascinate’s, or if Verizon is simply loading the Bing software on there and then letting you choose.
Even with Bing, it looks like the Merge will be the next great Verizon Android device based on its design alone: this phone looks slick, and the keyboard looks like it will run laps around the Droid / Droid 2 keyboard without a problem. No release date for the Merge has been set, but rumors are it will be sometime before Christmas.
Bonus: Samsung Continuum
The Samsung Continuum features dual Super AMOLED screens

“Leaked” but not announced officially is the Samsung Continuum, a new Galaxy S phone that’s set to possibly replace the Fascinate. While the base specs are exactly the same as the Fascinate: 1 GHz “Hummingbird” processor, 5MP camera, Samsung’s TouchWhiz interface, Super AMOLED screen, the Continuum looks like it throws another extra display below the main screen for notifications and the like.
One of my main complaints with the Fascinate and other Galaxy S phones is the lack of a notification LED, and this device takes those complaints and turns them into something potentially awesome. While the screen looks like a great idea, it’s hard to say how battery life will be impacted due to the extra pixels.
No release date has been announced for the Continuum, it’s likely going to be a few more months before we see this hitting shelves, after all the Fascinate only came out two months ago.