Droid Bionic deals hack away at high price

The Droid Bionic, Verizon’s new superphone, is getting lukewarm reviews. Not because of its performance — because of its price. The phone, the network’s first dual-core, LTE handset, is a whopping 299.99 with a two-year contract ... and that’s without its $299.97 lapdock accessory.

While you’re not going to get a truly wallet-friendly price for the Bionic, several retailers are stepping up and offering the phone at discounted prices.

Verizon itself is offering the phone with a $100 mail-in rebate when they purchase a lapdock and subscribe to the $50, 5 GB data plan. Amazon.com is selling the phone starting from $179.99 with a new plan, and $249.99 to upgrade. Wirefly is also selling the phone for $249.99 for new and upgrading users. And, according to a report from PhoneArena, a tipster has said Costco is planning to offer the phone and a free accessory bundle — with an extra battery, but no lapdock — for $279.99.

In his Washington Post review of the phone and its main accessory, Joshua Topolsky said that while the phone is solid, “the experience is certainly not worth the coin the company is asking and will leave most consumers disappointed.”

I’ll second that, and most of his points about the smartphone, though I’ll add that the price was not the only thing I had to criticize about the phone. I had absolutely no problems with performance; Verizon’s solid network and the phone’s souped-up guts saw to that. But a few other issues made me think twice about an unreserved recommendation.

For one, I’m not crazy about the way the phone’s designed. It has its good points: For one, it has a nice, big screen, and very good sound quality. As a multimedia device, the phone is on par with the other handsets in Verizon’s 4G lineup, though bright colors seemed to bleed a bit at times. And the Bionic is surprisingly light given its 4.3-inch screen and other powerful features. But it hits that weight in part due to a barely-there backplate that feels like it’s going to snap every time you pop open the back of the phone.

The beveled edge to the back of the smartphone does help the phone fit well in hand, but I still found it a bit too big to hold comfortably for very long (I’m 5’2”, if that gives you an idea of scale). And that gorgeous screen means that the Droid Bionic is certainly not going to be a good phone for pockets — at least until winter gets here. The phone also has the tendency to run a little hot.

I’m also not a huge fan of the Motorola overlay on Android, and the phone comes with a ton of pre-loaded software, much of which can’t be removed. There are some great widgets, including a data tracker (more on that in a second) but there are also apps like NFL Mobile, which may not be of use to everyone.

Finally, the biggest problem I think I would face with a Droid Bionic is data consumption. The phone lets you stream a lot of video and music at very high quality, but that eats up data very quickly. To use the phone to its full capabilities without shocking your wallet more than the price already does, it’s a good idea to use WiFi as often as you can.

Related stories:

More technology coverage from The Post

Motorola’s Droid Bionic proves a nice (but expensive) phone

Droid Bionic will be available Sept. 8 for $299.99

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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