The left side of the Charge is home to the microUSB port and volume buttons, which are adorned with a small chrome ridge. The volume buttons on the Charge are precise and clicky, no complaints there. Having the USB port located here remains something of a point of contention for many people, though I’m starting to warm up to it. 

The right side packs the Charge’s HDMI port which is underneath an attached plastic cover. Get a thumb inside there and the cover pries off and swivels around exposing the HDMI type-D port. Just north of that is the power button, which like the volume buttons is the right balance between clicky and resistive enough to not lend itself to errant presses, and is easily locatable thanks to its raised shape. I’m impressed with all the buttons on the Charge - a small thing that definitely makes a difference for actual in-hand impressions in the long run. 

Up at the very top of the Charge is an offset headphone jack, microphone for noise cancellation in calls, and a "Digital by Qualcomm" sticker. As we'll discuss later however, there's no Qualcomm parts inside, but if you license CDMA2000 you still need this sticker on the handset. 

Where the Charge falls apart in the physical department is the back cover. This is something we’ve harped endlessly on about with the Galaxy S series, with the Fascinate, with the Nexus S, and in essentially the entire new Samsung Android lineup other than the Charge, it’s fixed. On the Galaxy S 2, the back is now textured instead of one featureless slick plastic face like it is with the original Galaxy S and now the Charge. 

As a result, the Charge picks up scratches on the back disappointingly quickly, just like its predecessors. The plastic that Samsung used for this generation seems especially prone to picking up what are called “sleeks” - fine scratches that are only visible from light incident at an angle.

It’s just frustrating because otherwise the Charge has an excellently balanced in-hand feel thanks to its ergonomic lip on the back, and overall impressive build construction. Though the entire exterior of the Charge is plastic, the internal frame is metal, and that rigidity certainly shows through. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 HTC Thunderbolt LG Revolution Samsung Droid Charge
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 122 mm (4.8") 129.8 mm (5.11") 129.9 mm (5.11")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 67 mm (2.63") 66.9 mm (2.63") 67.5 mm (2.65")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 13.2 mm (0.52") 13.6 mm (0.54") 11.90-14.96 mm (0.47"-0.59")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 183.3 g (6.46 oz) 172 g (6.08 oz) 143 g (5.04 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz Hummingbird S5PC110
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 Adreno 205 Adreno 205 PowerVR SGX 540
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 768 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 4 GB NAND with 32 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled 4GB NAND with 16 GB microSD preinstalled 2 GB NAND + 32 GB microSD preinstalled
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8 MP with autofocus and dual LED flash, 720p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 5 MP with AF and LED flash, 720P video capture, 1.3 MP front facing 8 MP with AF and LED flash, 720p30 video capture, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.3” 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 800 x 480 SAMOLED+
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Removable 5.18 Whr Removable 5.6 Whr Removable 5.92 Whr

Probably the most poignant comparison for the Charge however isn’t Galaxy S, it’s the HTC Thunderbolt and LG Revolution. Compared to the Thunderbolt, the Charge is a fair amount taller - nearly 8 mm in fact. However, the Charge is 1.3mm thinner and around 30 grams lighter. The LG Revolution has roughly the same outline as the Charge and is 0.4 mm thicker than the Thunderbolt. Thickness and overall mass are prime considerations for smartphone shoppers, and I think in this category the Charge’s thinner overall profile makes it more attractive than the other phones purely from a physical perspective. 

Update: My thickness numbers in the table for the Charge were previously incorrect, and have been corrected now. Thanks everyone.

Introduction and Physical Impressions Software: Android 2.2.1 and TouchWiz
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  • name99 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    This is a silly statement. The problem is not specifically with CDMA, it is with Verizon, or if you prefer, with IS-95.

    CDMA as an underlying technology has won, no-one is arguing about this anymore. Every future cellular standard (even the GSM ones) utilizes CDMA as part of the suite of technologies that it uses.

    You are correct about this particular problem with the Verizon system (along with various other dumb problems, eg issues in consolidating long SMS messages, or use of unicode in SMS), but are mistaken in what you blame for the problem.
  • tdenton1138 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Got a Charge after having an 1.1Ghz (OC'd) OG Droid on CM 7.0.3 and WOW what an upgrade. Of course, you'd think it would be but its amazing the difference.

    There are two custom roms out, a few kernels, voodoo lagfix and cwm recovery works, except for nandroid (at the moment).

    Weird the review said the T-Bolt gets better battery life... Everyone over at XDA and AC complains about the T-Bolt battery and those that have switched to a Charge have seen a marked improvement in battery life. Don't know what to make of that, but I get 17+ hours of normal use, so I don't complain.

    We've now got 3 Charges in the family and we all love them. Would I have rather waited for the SGS2? Not after using the Charge. It was more than enough of an upgrade for me right now. Dual core will be helpful sometime (Honeycomb? Ice Cream?), but I can do everything I need with zero lag (and I mean zero), so its no big deal for me today.
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Any advice on custom ROMs for the Droid Charge? The Google seems to come up with disparate results, and few reviews. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
  • Omega215D - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I get around that many hours of usage from my STOCK Thunderbolt. I just don't push e-mail or Facebook notifications as that will kill any phone (like my Storm 2). I find that my Thunderbolt gives me similar battery life that I was seeing under my Droid 1 but on LTE with the Thunderbolt.
  • tdenton1138 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    @ GrizzledYoungMan: I'm currently running Altered Beast v5 (its a themed rom) with gummyCHARGED 1.7.5 kernel, voodoo lagfix enabled. There's also a gummyROM that's more AOSP than Altered Beast. To each their own.

    @Omega215D: Not having a T-Bolt, I can only relay the comments I see on the Charge boards at XDA and AC. If you get great battery life, then great! FWIW, I also got great battery life "STOCK", but wanted to de-bloat and get rid of most of the poop brown that Samsung seems to like.
  • dudefrommars - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    The physical buttons are great. I wish my other phones had those.

    I had this phone for 3 days and returned it.
    The voice quality had more pops and cutoffs than my nexus one on t-mobile.
    Small difference in voice quality, but I found it really annoying.

    The touchwiz ui is awful.
    The browser lacks the +- on screen buttons that zoom in and re-format web pages to screen width. With touchwiz, you can zoom in, but end up scrolling left and right - I HATE that.

    The disabled tethering was the final straw.
    I only use mobile data with my laptop a few times per year, so paying fees for all those months with no usage is not acceptable.

    On the plus side, verizon was very good about the return.
    $35 restock, and they pro-rated the usage to the days I had the phone.
  • Omega215D - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I felt the same way when I contemplated about returning my Thunderbolt for the Droid Charge. The screen on the Charge is great and the battery life seemed to be better (looking at the battery meter on an unplugged Charge and its usage) and for some reason didn't feel as slippery as many reviewers noted.

    Playing with the phone for an hour or so and it was a bit of a pain. The lag and lack of web reformatting got to me. Plus there isn't any LED notification light.

    With 2.3 supposedly on the way I have no real reason not to like my Thunderbolt but Sense UI is great to use without being on 2.3.
  • sitharien - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    You seem to be way more thorough in your phone reviews. Please review the EVO 3D, for Sprint. The last guy just seemed to speed past everything. With Android devices, battery tests really matter, but the guy that reviewed the EVO 3D barely spent a paragraph on it. He seemed biased against the either the phone or the carrier from the outset. Maybe the 3D moniker ruffled his feathers....
  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    What are you talking about, Anandtech hasn't reviewed the EVO 3D yet, they ran a hands-on performance preview but that was it. I think they're gonna be doing the Sensation and Droid X2 first, but I hope they tackle the EVO 3D after that...

    Other reviews on the web are so contradictory it's not even funny, and no one seems to be able to run a proper battery test. Honestly, all the news blogs reviews are mediocre at best, it's pretty dad when a CNet review actually gives more detail than almost anything else (Laptopmag's was pretty thorough too, still nowhere near AT standards tho).

    I'm actually holding off on upgrading while waiting for the AT EVO 3D review, even tho my EVO 4G has been suffering from sporadic reboots lately (they seen to be heat related). If the Photon wasn't on the horizon I might've taken the plunge knowing I have 30 days tho.
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I think you're alluding to our hands-on piece with the EVO 3D from a meeting with HTC at Qualcomm Uplinq. We're absolutely going to review the EVO 3D, actually that's scheduled now. Anand is going to do that review however since there is no WiMAX in my state sadly. I've got the HTC Sensation, however.


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