General Question

futurelaker88's avatar

Can someone quickly explain to me exactly whats up with these "droid" phones?

Asked by futurelaker88 (1600points) June 16th, 2010

im really good with technology and whats going on, so dont bother trying to explain it SUPER simply. But i have had my iphone since 2007 and up until now the competition was few. But im hearing about these droid phones constantly and have looked them up online and some of them really seem to outshine the iphone. even the 4! my question is…i know “Android 2.1” is the latest version of GOOGLE’s mobile OS, but is “droid” short for android? or is droid a type of phone that RUNS android? im seeing all these other phones now…HTC, EVO, Xtreme, Incredible, etc. are these droid phones? or do these phones rund android but are made by all different companies. Then I’m hearing about phones running android, AND other OS’s at the same time? HTC apparently has an OS that runs WITH android? am i crazy or is this all correct? Thanks! Also, which “Droid/HTC phone is the BEST at the moment? Incredible? Evo? Xtreme (coming later this month)?

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28 Answers

Nullo's avatar

They’re not the ones that you’re looking for. :D

Droid is short for “android,” yes, and it refers to the phones’ operating system. It has, however, come to be the unofficial term for the phones that run it.

I don’t have a need for a smartphone and so don’t really keep up on the minutiae.

chels's avatar

FYI, the droid is an Android phone by Motorola. Be careful when you use “droid” and “Android” because some people might think you’re talking about that specific phone.

For the record, the Nexus One is probably the best Android phone.

robmandu's avatar

Sorry, @Nullo, but “Droid” is not simply short for “Android”.

The first Droid phone was built by Motorola… but the trademark term Droid™ is actually owned by Verizon… and they can apply it to any device they want.

I would say it’s a safe bet that any Droid-branded phone is running Google’s Android mobile OS.

For example, the second Droid-branded phone, the Droid Incredible, is actually built by HTC.

stevenb's avatar

I actually read that Verizon had to pay George Lucas for the use of the name “Droid”, because he owns the rights to it from Star Wars. Goofy but interesting. He gets to make more money for doing nothing.

envidula61's avatar

What’s up is that it’s an open-source OS, so anyone can make apps.

I’ve had mine a few weeks, and am enjoying it. I have never had an iPhone to compare it to, but it looks like iPhone is better at things like changing orientation.

I don’t know what the iPhone does, but I use mine as a navigator (with voice instructions, and I can tell it with my voice where I want to go), an audio recorder with pretty good sound quality, a camera and video, a shopping list, email, a browser, google talk (haven’t tried that yet), a music player and, oh yeah, a phone. There are lots of apps to download, but I haven’t really gone shopping much.

kenmc's avatar

Well, like others said, The Droid is a phone made by Motorola (I have one) and also a nickname for the Android OS. I’ll (try to) break from reiterating anything else.

The thing about other OS’s running with Android: Android is a very flexible OS. Some of the companies that make the phone have come up with variations on the Android OS, like Motorola’s Motoblur, which focuses more on the social networking aspects of the platform.

Basically, think of Android as the Linux of phones.

envidula61's avatar

Oh. I have MyTouch. HTC built it.

MissAusten's avatar

All I know is, when my current cell phone dies I’m getting a Droid. I’d love an iPhone, but being stuck with AT&T ruins it for me. Around here at least, they are known to have poor coverage.

futurelaker88's avatar

so is HTC a phone company, name of a phone series, or OS?

jaytkay's avatar

HTC makes phones, a competitor to Motorola, Nokia, etc

J0E's avatar

It’s a series of Verizon phones. First was the Moto Droid, then the Droid Eris, Droid Incredible, and soon the Droid 2, and Droid X will be released. They all run Android.

The Evo is an Android phone, but not a Droid because it is not in Verizon’s series of Droid phones. You can compare it to T-Mobile’s series of MyTouch phones.

The most recent version of Android is actually 2.2 (a.k.a. Froyo).

The best Droid phone is the HTC Incredible (that is until the Droid 2 and Droid X are released soon). The best Android phone is probably the Evo, Nexus One, or one of Verizon’s new Droids.

Makes perfect sense, right?

Nullo's avatar

@robmandu You and I are right in different contexts.

jerv's avatar

Siply put, a Droid phone is any smartphone running the Android OS. below are a few differences between Droids and iPhones.

The Android OS is an open source OS that can legally run on any hardware capable of running it.
The iPhone OS is only legally allowed to be run on the iPhone. If you manage to make hardware capable of running the iPhone OS then Apple will sue you for so many forms of patent infringement that you will bleed out the eyeballs, and if you actually do it then Steve Jobs will personally feast upon your entrails.

Droid phones are available on all networks.
The iPhone is only available on a network that was never built to handle the amount of communications traffic that 20th-century America has. And since this is the 21st century, that is unacceptable.

@robmandu Are we talking literal or colloquial usage of the word “droid” here? I mean, all cellophane tape is Scotch™ tape, and all photcopiers are Xerox™ machines.

robmandu's avatar

@Nullo and @jerv,

Verizon’s web site will tell you:

DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies. Used under license.

Indeed, if you type “” into your web browser, you’ll get redirected to

So, legally speaking for trademark purposes about smart phones, DROID™ is only used in reference to specific Android OS-based phones on Verizon’s network. Those phones can be built by Motorola, HTC, whoever. It’s up to Verizon which gets the DROID™ brand.

Now, Motorola, HTC, whoever can also sell their Android OS-based phones to other wireless providers, like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. While those phones might be physical twins to those on Verizon’s network, they will not be marketed with the DROID™ brand. An example of this is Verizon’s Droid Eris which is built by HTC and also available as the Hero on T-Mobile’s network.

It is either ignorant or lazy to use “droid” as shorthand to refer to any phone that happens to run the Android OS because that’s mixing and matching disparate terms.

envidula61's avatar

Too bad for Verizon and Lucasfilm. The cat is out of the bag. The people will speak as they wish, regardless of trademarks. A Droid is any smartphone running the Android OS. And that’s not ignorant or lazy. That’s common sense.

@robmandu do you work for Verizon or Lucasfilm?

robmandu's avatar

@envidula61, no, not even close.

But I do work with a number of trademarked and registered trademarked products. When communicating officially about those, we must follow strict rules in our language. Else we risk losing the trademark (and branding) we’ve worked so hard to establish.

The words you use to communicate do matter if you wish to convey your meaning with fullest possible understanding.

J0E's avatar

grrr this is why I hate verizon for naming the droid phones so stupid.


envidula61's avatar

@robmandu Sure they matter, but for different reasons for different “people.” Human beings like to use language that communicates efficiently. Corporations (which are also people) like to limit the use of words to money-making purposes. @J0E can yell his support for Verizon as loud as he wants; the people (human) will use words as they see fit.

I’m sorry, @J0E. You’ll have about as much effect on language use as grammarians do; only less, since corporatese is not taught in elementary schools. No, I take that back. Corporations teach language in commercials. They are probably more effective in their lessons than teachers are. Still, the people, themselves, are the final arbiters.

J0E's avatar

@envidula61 I’m not entirely sure what your stand on this topic is, or what you are refuting. There is actually nothing to debate here, it’s all facts. “Droid” is a brand name given to a line of Verizon phones running the Android OS. That’s it, there is nothing to debate about that.

I will provide a series of examples to make this very clear to you.

1. The Nexus One is not a “Droid” because it is not on Verizon, and subsequently not in their “Droid” lineup. However, it does run Android.
2. The HTC Incredible is a “Droid” because it is on Verizon, an therefore in the “Droid” line of phones.

See, this is exactly why I wish Verizon would have named these phones differently, it creates way too much confusion.

@futurelaker88 Sorry about the argument, the answer to your question can be found in this and my previous posts.

envidula61's avatar

@J0E I’m saying that no one cares what Verizon did. People will use the term as they see fit. If someone calls The Nexus One a “Droid,” then that’s what it is to that person and it would take a lot of corporate shilling to change that. Corporations do not get to rule the world entirely, and they also don’t get to tell people how to use language. I’m suggesting that the cat is out of the bag, and no matter what Verizon wants, most people will refer to any smartphone using the Android OS as a “Droid.” They may license the word, but they can’t (so far) license people’s minds, despite the many science fiction stories written about that.

robmandu's avatar

I’m going to refer to @envidula61 as Negligent Nelly from now on.

And no one cares if @envidu—I mean, Negligent Nelly doesn’t like it!

Also, except for this thread, I have never yet heard of anyone refer collectively to the entire family of Android-based devices as “droid”.

Furthermore, the entire point of the querent’s question here was to get some understanding about the complicated sub-market of Droid™ phones. Purposely mixing up terminology doesn’t help anyone. Nor does obfuscating labels serve to protect whatever freedom you think corporations are trying to wrest away.

envidula61's avatar

Mandy, it only works if enough people do it.

jerv's avatar

@robmandu “Also, except for this thread, I have never yet heard of anyone refer collectively to the entire family of Android-based devices as “droid”.”
Maybe it hasn’t trickled down South yet then, I don’t know. What I do know is that that is how it is.
“It is either ignorant or lazy to use “droid” as shorthand to refer to any phone that happens to run the Android OS because that’s mixing and matching disparate terms.”
Welcome to America! In case you haven;t noticed, our country plays fast and loose when it comes to English. The sooner you accept that, the lower your blood pressure will be. I don’t like it either, but it is what it is.
And there really want’ any confusion here until you muddied the waters. Trust me, I often have to fight the urge to get others to speak “properly” myself,

The point of the question was to understand the market of droid phones, and the question put droid in quotes; no capitalization or™, which many took to mean the colloquial usage and not the precise, trademarked, under-license-from-Lucas, Verizon-exclusive term that you are championing.

So let us move the discussion of linguistics to another place and discuss the damn phones!

robmandu's avatar

Huh… I don’t understand how providing clear descriptions of terminology is “muddying the waters”.

I can only educate here, not enforce.

@jerv, et al, do and say what you will.

envidula61's avatar

When two people are trying to educate each other—does anyone actually learn anything?

robmandu's avatar

Yes. It’s called collaboration.

jerv's avatar

@envidula61 No. That is why I often find myself giving up on educating people who are too busy talking to ever listen. I admit to having a bit of an ego and being stubborn as hell, but at least I make an attempt to see where the other person is coming from.
When someone refuses to admit that there are other ways of doing things that are not 100% wrong (as seems to be the case with at least one person here) then it is impossible to educate that particular person.
Then again, I am known to have a masochistic streak and a little too much free time, so I sometimes try to see if I can instill a little sense into them anyway, even if it’s only enough sense to get them so say something to the effect of, “I see where you are coming from but I still disagree.”.

@robmandu It’s called “speaking a different language”. Sure, you use the same words, but that is where the similarity ends. Is a boot something you put on your foot or something at the rear of a car?
If you do not understand how such a discrepancy in terminology can muddy the waters then I have to question whether or not you are fluent is a totally different dialect of English from what I learned growing up in the Northeastern corner of the US. Hell, for a moment I started to wonder if you are even fluent in English at all, but I am willing to entertain the notion that you have been following a different set of rules for so long that you forget that there even are other dialects, colloquialisms, or anything else outside of the “trademark legalese” that earns you a paycheck.

Given how long we’ve been making fun of the UK and Australians for their “mangling” of the English language, I don’t see you and I ever coming to any sort of consensus or collaboration on the matter. I am too realistic and you are too literal for there to ever be a middle ground between us.

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