The original Motorola Droid has been an icon in the Android realm ever since it launched back in 2009. Through a clever advertising campaign, the device helped recruit tons of new smartphone enthusiasts and some even give it credit for the initial boom in Android popularity. Nearly two years later, the Droid brand is still going strong with the third installment, the Motorola Droid 3 from Verizon Wireless.
Like its predecessors, the Droid 3 offers a slide-out QWERTY keyboard to accommodate heavy texters and business users alike. The Android Gingerbread-powered smartphone also features a 4-inch qHD display, 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP4430 dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash (capable of 1080p HD video capture), and front-facing VGA camera. Unfortunately, it lacks 4G LTE connectivity at a time when users really seem to be craving blazing-fast data speeds. Whether or not that missing component is enough to dismiss the more impressive features is up to you, of course. Read on for our full review of the Verizon Motorola Droid 3.
The Droid 3 has a set of four capacitive touch-sensitive buttons for the following functions: Menu, Home, Back and Search. This angle also reveals a microphone, Verizon branding, and the uniquely designed “chin” for the bottom of the device.
The right side simply has the up/down volume rocker, which gives a decent amount of feedback when pressed. It’s too bad Motorola didn’t include a hardware camera shutter key with all the open room available.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is definitely one of the best features of the Droid 3. We would even go as far as to say it’s one of the best, if not the best, keyboards on any smartphone. Notice there are now five rows of keys present. The dedicated number row is super convenient and comes in handy quite a bit. As far as “clickiness” is concerned, the keys seem to offer the perfect amount of feedback for a slider.
The soft touch battery cover feels a little misplaced compared to the other parts of the device, though it feels quite nice when handled. You also get a glimpse of the external speaker, another microphone and the 8 megapixel camera from this viewpoint. The cover is littered with logos/branding.
Opening up the battery cover reveals that the Droid 3 is, in fact, a global device. You can see the SIM card along with a microSD card slot. Unfortunately, the handset does not come preloaded with a memory card, though it has 16GB of internal storage. The battery is of 1540mAh capacity.
Quadrant Standard: 2,537
Quadrant Advanced: 2,679
CF-Bench: Native – 9,549 Java – 1,881 Overall – 4,948
Smartbench 2011: Productivity Index – 2,377 Games Index – 2,464
Fps2d: capped at 60fps
Multitouch Test: 4 simultaneous touch-points
We were pleased with call quality and didn’t notice any issues with reception in our area. Calls always went through and we were told by multiple callers that we sounded loud and clear. Likewise, we were able to hear callers without problems.
On average, we were able to get a solid day of moderate use out of a single charge with the Droid 3 and its 1540mAh battery. Heavy users will naturally need an extra charge or two to get through the day. Overall, battery performance can be categorized as average for a smartphone of this caliber.
The Motorola Droid 3 is available now through all Verizon Wireless channels (telesales, retail stores or online) for $199.99 with a new or renewing two year agreement. You can also purchase the handset off-contract for a reasonable $459.99. Check out Verizon’s website for more information or to order online.
If you’re in dire need of an Android smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard, the Droid 3 is probably the one to get. It’s an improvement over the previous Droid handsets, as it features twice the power with the dual-core processor, more memory with 16GB of internal storage, a higher resolution qHD display, a better camera, and the slide-out keyboard has been perfected by balancing the button-feedback and adding an extra row.
Unfortunately, if the presence of a physical keyboard is not a priority for you, then some of the disappointments might force you to reconsider the purchase. Two issues pop up when running down the spec sheet. First, the device only runs on Big Red’s 3G network and does not include support for 4G LTE. This could be a deal-breaker for those of you in markets where LTE is actually offered. Next, we’re not sure why Motorola/Verizon didn’t bump the program memory up from 512MB, especially when competing devices released earlier come with a full gig. If these two problems do not present major issues for you, then we’re pretty confident in saying you’ll love the Droid 3 and its beautiful keyboard.
- 1GHz TI OMAP4430 dual-core processor performs well
- Capable of playing graphically intensive games
- Bright 4-inch qHD display
- Best in class 5-row QWERTY keyboard
- Thinnest smartphone slider on the market (12.9mm)
- Solid build quality
- Full 1080p video recording capability
- Loud speaker
- Good call quality
- Blur UI now offers more useful features and eye-candy
- Some bloatware is removable
- Battery life is not terrible – always a plus for smartphones
- HDMI-out mirroring
- Runs Android Gingerbread out of the box
- Just 512MB of RAM (should be 1GB)
- Although thin for a slider, still bulky for some
- Camera is quite sensitive to movement
- Blue hue appears on some indoor photos (with flash)
- Lacks 4G LTE support
- Blur UI considered too overbearing for some
- Keyboard is not spring-loaded, could be an issue for some
Rating: 4 out of 5.