Motorola, Verizon make quick fix on Droid X display problems

Small number affected; new smartphones offered

Verizon Wireless and Motorola today said fewer than one-tenth of 1% of the new Droid X smartphones that have been sold have experienced a "flickering" or "banding" on the display, and that Motorola has resolved the problem.

With the fix added, the Droid Xs continue to ship after first going on sale last Thursday, the companies said in a short e-mailed statement. The statement refers to "a very small number" of units with the problem, a figure that a Verizon spokeswoman said amounts to "less than one tenth of one percent, but I can't share the number."

Verizon and Motorola acted quickly to address the screen display issue on the Android -based Droid X, given that reports on the problem surfaced one day after it went on sale on a Thursday, and the companies released a statement and a fix the following Tuesday.

By contrast, it was 22 days before Apple CEO Steve Jobs last week offered to provide customers with a free case for the iPhone 4 to help resolve an antenna problem that came to light after the June 24 launch of the device. The reports on the reception issue saddled Apple with immediate negative publicity .

"This is the right way to handle a problem," said analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. "Nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. People can deal with a problem if you admit you have one and go ahead and tell them you will fix it. That is called customer service."

Gold said it is "much less expensive to handle a problem in the early stages than wait until lots of units get out there with the same problem and have to take remedial action."

The companies' statement reads: "Verizon Wireless and Motorola are aware of a very small number of Droid X units that have experienced a flickering or banding display. Motorola has resolved the issue and is continuing to ship the phones. Any consumer who experiences a flickering or banding display should contact Motorola customer support center or Verizon Wireless."

Verizon is replacing defective units with a new phone, the spokeswoman said. An over-the-air patch is being sent to other Droid X customers to prevent the problem from occurring, according to various blogs.

The flickering and banding problem was not the full extent of the display problem, according to some users on blogs, including HowardForums , a well-known discussion board for mobile phones. With some units, the display went dead , they said.

HowardForums, which requires a registration to post or read comments, had more than 50 postings about Droid X screen failures as early as July 16, led by this one from someone called vernonator: "While many of you are waiting for your Droid X's to be delivered I already returned mine. I did the pre-order from Best Buy and picked it up 5 min after they opened on Thursday. That afternoon I noticed a line of dead pixels across the screen about 1/3 of the way down - they flickered in and out, but finally stayed on the rest of the evening. This afternoon the bottom 1/2 of the screen went dead...flickered a bit and just died, even when pulling the battery it only showed the bottom 1/2 of the Motorola M on the boot screen.

Took it back to Best Buy and they stated that I was the 3rd one returned today with the dead screen...OUT OF 6 THEY SOLD ON LAUNCH DAY!!!!!!"

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 .

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

This story, "Motorola, Verizon make quick fix on Droid X display problems" was originally published by Computerworld.

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