Verizon's Droid X launch: 3 big surprises

Verizon Droid X Launch

After weeks of rumors and anticipation, Verizon's next-generation Droid phone is finally here. Well, almost.

Verizon officially unveiled the Motorola Droid X at a media event in New York on Wednesday. The phone will be available starting July 15 for $200 with a two-year contract.

Most of the specs are exactly what we'd anticipated: The Droid X has a 4.3-inch screen and a 1GHz processor. It comes with 8GB of on-board memory and a 16GB microSD card (upgradeable to 32GB). It has an 8-megapixel camera with 720p HD video-capture and an HDMI-out port. And it has the ability to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot, if you want to pay an extra $20 a month (of course, you can still technically achieve single-device Android tethering for free, if you know how).

Droid X specifics aside, though, Verizon's event held a few noteworthy surprises about Android on a broader level. Here are three new things we learned.

1. Android 2.2 is coming -- but it'll be later this summer.

Verizon's Droid X launch provided us with new clues about the timing of Google's new Android release, Android 2.2, aka Froyo. The Droid X itself is shipping with Android 2.1, but the phone will receive the Android 2.2 upgrade in the "latter half of the summer." Execs also revealed that the original Motorola Droid would receive the update around the same "late summer" date.

(Android Power is giving away a free Motorola Droid from Verizon this week, by the way. You have until Monday night to enter to win.)

UPDATE: Some Nexus One users started receiving Android 2.2 on their devices on Wednesday, June 23, though it's not yet clear if a widespread rollout has actually begun. The Droid and Droid X still appear to be in line for that "late summer" date.

You can check the status of your phone at Android Power's Android 2.2 upgrade list; I'll continue updating that page as any new device-specific info rolls in.

2. Android use is exploding even more than we realized.

We've been talking for some time about Android's growth and its impressive strides within the mobile market. Now, we're getting a better grasp on just how many Android devices are actually out in the wild, and it's no small number.

Google's Andy Rubin revealed that 160,000 Android devices are now being activated every day. Talk about growth: Just last month, at Google's I/O conference, the company's per-day activations were at 100,000. When you consider that the first Android device launched less than two years ago, the leap is even more mind-boggling.

If that same pace were to continue -- and, in all likelihood, it's only going to pick up once the Droid X is released -- we'd be looking at more than a million new Android devices being activated every week. That'd come out to nearly 60 million new Android devices powering up every year.

For some perspective, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, Steve Jobs said his company was about to surpass 100 million iOS-based devices sold worldwide. That includes iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. And that's after three years.

3. Only one new Droid is entering the world (at least, for now).

In addition to the Droid X, Verizon was widely expected to announce a second new Droid phone, the Motorola Droid 2, at this week's event. The Droid 2 was rumored to be more of a direct follow-up to the original Moto Droid, with a smaller screen, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and a look and feel far more similar to Motorola's previous Droid model.

Verizon's focus, however, remained solely on the Droid X; the Droid 2 was not so much as mentioned. So what's that mean? It's anyone's guess, really: The phone could be on-tap for a release later this year. It could have been scrapped altogether. Or it could have been an internal test model that was never intended for the public eye. Verizon and Motorola aren't saying, and until anything official is announced -- if anything official is announced -- we'll have no way of knowing for sure.

Not to worry, though: More unofficial leaks and rumors about the Droid 2 are bound to hit the blogosphere any day now, probably sooner than later.

Author JR Raphael writes the new Android Power blog at Computerworld. You can find him on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

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