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Motorola Droid 3 Review

droid 3



I have been waiting for the day when a decent keyboard equipped Android phone would be released. In my perspective there have either been satisfactory keyboards released on terrible Android devices or good Android phones released with crappy keyboards. Well it seems that Motorola has finally found a way to merge good keyboard with good phone in the Verizon Wireless Droid 3 and may I say, “me likey.”  If I were to personally have Verizon Wireless for my main carrier then this Android device would definitely be one of my first choices for to purchase, even with the lack of the envious 4G LTE network.

Network/Software:

Motorola has done plenty of right things with the Droid 3, so I might as well start off with my only real gripe so far and that is the lack of 4G. This device has almost everything checked off on the list of what smartphones have today except for the newest in 4G LTE technology. Given that this device is on the Verizon Wireless network I am unable to hate that exclusion totally. Moving on to the good stuff, and there is plenty of it on this device. The Droid 3 runs Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) right out of the box without the overbearing MotoBlur experience that many people have disliked and come to expect on Motorola Android phones for some time now. The Android experience and menu systems are pretty much identical to what I mentioned in my review of the Droid X2.  The difference is in the hardware and we will get to that soon enough. The Droid 3 is not only a device with CDMA bands, but it is also a World Phone that has GSM bands and can be used overseas. We have started to notice that several post-iPhone 4 Verizon Wireless smartphones without 4G have been GSM enabled for overseas usage. This almost seems to be a consolation for no 4G inclusion on those respective devices. Whatever the reason, I would say it was a big win to business users who travel overseas and want a better selection of World Phones besides just Blackberry devices.



Body/Hardware:

Motorola has included a nice arsenal of hardware features on this Droid 3 and I am not quite sure where to begin. Why not start off at the brains of the device, which happens to have 2 with a Dual-Core 1GHz Processor which powers this beast of a device. I would like to note that while the device has many demanding features the dual-core processor on the Droid 3 still feels sluggish compared to what you would experience on an Android device, such as the Nexus and Nexus S devices, running stock Vanilla Android Gingerbread without any manufacturer User Interface (UI) on top. But the Droid 3 still holds up very nicely in comparison to other similarly specked devices. The next thing that we have not seen on other Motorola Android devices on Verizon Wireless is the lack of a front-facing camera which has been rectified with the Droid 3. In fact not only do we have a VGA front-facing camera, but the Droid 3 has a 8-Megapixel camera with LED flash bumped up from the 5-Megapixel on the previous Droids 1 & 2. The Droid 3 can also record 1080p HD video and that has been increased from the 720p HD capture rate that has been the limit on almost all smartphones to date. I do want to note that the autofocus on this device seemed to go bonkers when I was in little to non-lit areas. It could not steady the autofocus until after several attempts.



The previous Droids 1 & 2 had 3.7-inch displays with resolutions of 480 x 854, but that is no match to the Droid 3 which sports a beautiful 4-inch qHD (960 x 540) display. That display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass and identical to the quality we find on the Droid X2. The 4-inch display is probably my favorite idea size for a smartphone, especially if it is accompanied by a full Qwerty keyboard. Oh and what a keyboard we have on the Droid 3. The Droid 1 & 2 both did not have a dedicated numerical line of buttons, but on the Droid 3 we have a full 5-row Qwerty keyboard with the first top line consisting of dedicate keys for numbers. This was something that was not present on the previous predecessor models and caused quite a bit of angst for avid “texters” everywhere. In addition to that the keys on the Droid 3 have even more space between them compared to the Droid 2 and that allows our fingers more breathing room as we are typing. There is also a nice feel to the click of the buttons as they are not flat and yet not to bubbled either so that they provide a great experience which is fair to say is unmatched on any Motorola Droid device so far. I have always been a fan of qwerty keyboard smartphones. Back in the days of Windows Mobile, before the iPhone, all my smartphones had both keyboards and touch screens. It was only after the iPhone and high adoption of Android did we such a proliferation of touchscreen only smartphones to the point of the scarcity of keyboards on smartphones. When manufacturers would come out with keyboards on Android devices, those phones would almost always be low to mid range smartphones which were not the powerhouse phones I tend to prefer for my personal use. The Droid 3 seems to answer that need, or at best 90% of it, but the lack of 4G is what may prove to be fatal to the wide spread adoption rate of this device among tech enthusiasts.



The Droid 3 is a bit heavier than its predecessor models weighing in at 6.49 ounces where the Droid 1 & 2 were both below 6.1 ounces in wait. So you can expect a more heavy build package, but the device remains to be one of the thinnest Android Qwerty devices I have seen. The lack of a spring loaded keyboard contributes to that thin design, so there is still a bit of push required when sliding the keyboard out as apposed to spring loaded keyboards on other devices that shoot right out at the slightest push. The device measures at 64.1 x 123.3 x 12.9 mm (HxWxD) in size. The right spine of the device has a very slim and changed volume rocker, while the power/lock button and 3.5mm headset jack are located on the top of the device. There is still that bit of protruding edge on the bottom of the Droid 3, a Droid staple seen on all the predecessor models, which is why the keyboard is so spacious.



When it comes to the memory of the device, alas, there is no Micro-SD card included with the device. But there is a healthy 16GB of internal memory located on the Droid 3 that should be more than enough to hold plenty of media and applications for most right out of the box. You will just have to shell out some more money at your local or online electronic retailer if you want a Micro-SD card for memory.
The battery life, at 1540 mAh, provides an adequate amount of power for this device so far, but I do believe something more powerful would have been warranted especially given the back-lit keyboard on this device. Motorola times it at 550 minutes of talk-time and 300 hours of standby.

Conclusion:

The Motorola Droid 3 is available for $199.99 with a 2-YR new contract and for once in some time I believe that the price is worth it for all this device has to offer in the specs department as well as the enjoyment I have had in it use. Especially with that nearly perfect keyboard, which I have to say I am truly thrilled with so far. If you want a powerful Android smartphone with good video capture, good processor performance, and you happen to be a heavy text enthusiast then this phone is really going to impress you. Business users will love it because it combines overseas capabilities while still retaining qwerty keyboard usage for those long emails and/or reports. Besides the lack of 4G, this device is a powerhouse of a phone and should be on the list of potential smartphone choices for new and existing Verizon Wireless customers when they do their shopping for there next new smarphone.

Learn more the author of this post:

Solomon Massele
Solomon is our Senior Managing Editor here at TekGoblin and he is also a columnist for Best Buy Mobile Magazine. He has been a technology enthusiast for years and currently contributes to companies such as TekGoblin, Best Buy Mobile Magazine, and others in the past such as SPJ Reviews. You can keep up with his updates on Twitter at @iceman7679 and his visual tech related reviews on YouTube at www.youtube.com/iceman7679. He loves everything tech, and talking about it!
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