Bionic's 'coming soon' release date sparks Android fan zeal

After missing original June date, Verizon says Motorola-built dual core, LTE Droid Bionic is still 'on track [to ship] this summer'

Summer smartphone releases have become as commonplace as new summer movies. But the movie industry does a much better job of scheduling and keeping a definitive release date.

Motorola Droid Bionic
Motorola Mobility's new Droid Bionic smartphone as shown in January.

Case in point: the Motorola Droid Bionic was announced in January by Motorola with Verizon saying it would be available by the end of June.

The Droid Bionic device remains unavailable in July, and according to evidence unearthed by Android Central it likely won't appear until Aug. 4. The news site posted an unidentified screen shot that referred (correctly) to July 14 as the store appearance of the Droid 3 and then listed Aug. 4 as the start of Droid Bionic sales.

Meanwhile, an unreleased advertising flyer from retailer Best Buy, which surfaced on the This is My Next tech news site, stated that the Droid Bionic is "coming soon." The flyer described the device as an "all-powerful, unstoppable machine" with a "superfast dual core processor" with dual camera video chat capabilities. The flyer also said the device can pull files wirelessly from desktop systems, and can be used as a TV remote control.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said the Droid Bionic would run the 1 GHz dual core Nvidia 2 processor. On April 19, Motorola announced that it was taking time for a hardware and software redesign and that the Droid Bionic would launch "in the summer."

The Best Buy ad also confirmed that Bionic will run over Verizon's fast 4G LTE network, along with Android smartphones like the HTC ThunderBolt. The This Is My Next site noted that the Droid Bionic would be the first dual core phone to run on Verizon's LTE, making it worth the wait for some users.

Bionic will reportedly run Android 2.3.

The Best Buy ad shows some slight hardware changes compared to what was shown in January, according to Computerworld blogger JR Raphael. Raphael expects a 4.5-in. display, slightly larger than the 4.3-in. screen shown in January. The new device also has a less rounded design than was shown at the conference, Raphael said.

The mystery surrounding a release date may have helped hype the Bionic, though it's somewhat clear that Motorola and Verizon slowed the release process just as much to make sure that the phone and its distributors are ready to go on day one.

Google boasts that more than 300 phone models built by several manufacturers run the Android OS. That said, the Droid Bionic does seem to have more devoted fans than many of the others even before its release. A small Droid Bionic Forum of users has already been created, and a recent a poll of its members found that 73% most like Bionic Droid's CPU and speed.

Motorola looked to appease the most impatient of Droid Bionic fans on June 23 by tweeting: "hang tight, Droid Bionic is coming and slated for summer release." PC Magazine reported that Motorola's message came after one Droid Bionic fan threatened via Twitter to buy a Samsung Droid Charge unless Motorola would disclose an approximate availability date.

Motorola did not respond Thursday to questions about a Droid Bionic release date.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said via email, "We don't have an availability date but are on track for this summer." She said ads like the leaked Best Buy ad are not yet available to the public.

Unlike summer movies, most smartphone customers can only afford to pay for one new phone, so Droid Bionic's release date has become increasingly critical. And for many Android fans, the Bionic is becoming this summer's smartphone blockbuster.

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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