Droid Pro: Yours for $180 with Verizon Rebate

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Droid Pro, the Android 2.2 smartphone designed largely for business usage, will go on sale Nov. 18 for $179.99 after rebate and a two-year agreement with Verizon Wireless.

Verizon will take pre-sale orders starting Tuesday online and in its stores, Verizon said.

The Droid Pro smartphone is intended for business professionals

Motorola unveiled the device Oct. 5 at the CTIA show, describing the Droid Pro as an alternative to the entrenched BlackBerry devices used by workers in all types of businesses.

Droid Pro looks similar to some BlackBerry devices with its vertical design that includes a 3.1-inch touchscreen and a QWERTY physical keypad beneath. It comes with a 5-megapixel camera.

It is the only Android phone on the market with a vertical "candy bar" design with a QWERTY physical keyboard beneath a touchscreen, which analysts said will please consumers as well as business users.

Many of the Droid Pro's features are intended to satisfy IT pros at companies where they must manage sensitive data carried on employees' phones. Many IT shops rely on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is maintained inside their operations. Potentially, the Droid Pro could reduce the need for the BES, since the Droid Pro allows IT pros to remotely wipe data from the phone and from its removable MicroSD card. Motorola has promised encryption of data on the phone and on the card in the first quarter of 2011. Complex password support, which is preferred by IT shops, is also available..

The Droid Pro is pre-loaded with Quickoffice Mobile Suite and 3G mobile hotspot capabilities. Users can read and edit Microsoft Office documents with the device, but won't be able to track updates to documents. It also supports both Exchange and Gmail for business.

Verizon calls the Droid Pro a global-ready smartphone that is supported by voice service in 220 countries and data coverage in 200 countries, with more than half at 3G speeds. It runs on both CDMA and GSM networks.

Analysts said the $180 pricetag after rebate is appropriate, given other smartphones on the market are in the $150 to $200 range.

They also agreed that the Droid Pro will give BlackBerry devices some competition.

"The Droid Pro is being positioned as a productivity-oriented device and has additional software tailored for IT needs ... and gives corporate users an Android option aimed more at their needs than standard Android phones," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said the Droid Pro's features will appeal to enterprises and give IT shops the option to "establish an Android foothold without deploying totally insecure Android devices. In that sense, the Pro represents an important step for Android and particularly for Motorola, which is trying to regain market leadership supplying business devices, as well as consumer devices."

Even with its business orientation, Greengart said plenty of consumers will buy the Droid Pro just because of the Froyo (Android 2.2) operating system and its QWERTY keyboard in a vertical form factor sometimes called a "candy bar" shape. "It is the only QWERTY bar Android phone, and many find that form factor appealing," he said.

The Droid Pro includes some features that are becoming standards with smartphones, such as a 1 GHz processor and support for the Flash 10.1 media player. It has 8.2 GB of internal memory and support for a 32 GB microSD. It weighs 4.73 ounces, a little above the smartphone average of 4.1 ounces, and is 4.69 x 2.36 x .46 inches in size.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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This story, "Droid Pro: Yours for $180 with Verizon Rebate" was originally published by Computerworld.

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