Motorola Droid 3 Review



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The Motorola Droid 3 from Verizon Wireless is the third generation in the popular Droid series. But that isn’t its only claim to fame – it also claims to be the world’s thinnest QWERTY slider smartphone. But aside for keeping it slim, the phone packs in an excellent 4-inch qHD display, a 1GHz Dual-core processor, an 8MP camera with 1080P HD recording, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

Design & Build Quality

Measuring 64.1 x 123.3 x 12.9 mm, the Motorola Droid 3 isn’t quite the slimmest smartphone, but considering it packs in a slide-out QWERTY, it’s quite slender. Weighing 6.4 ounces, the phone also has a bit of heft. It’s actually the heaviest Droid ever. Overall, the phone feels a bit on the large size, but it’s still significantly more compact than the likes of a the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G and many other competing smartphones with slide-out QWERTY keyboards. The phone’s build quality also feels very nice and solid. It’s soft -touch rubberized back offers a good grip too, and the overall design of the device is pretty ordinary, and slightly industrial, yet refined. The device also has an HDMI Micro-connector port for hooking it up to an external TV display.

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Display

The 4-inch qHD display on the Droid 3 is made of a Gorilla Glass which sports a 960 x 540 resolution with support for up-to 16 million colors. The display is very good- it’s bright, sharp, and produces vivid colors. That said, its pixels are a bit too visible for our taste, this is even more noticeable when working on a gray or silver background. We’ve seen a similar display effect on the Google Nexus S and Motorola Atrix. The Droid 3 still overall sports very good display, but it’s not the best out there.

Keyboard

The Slide-out QWERTY on the Motorola Droid 3 doesn’t swivel or slide-down using any sort of fancy mechanism. As a matter of fact, it takes bit of an effort to push down the keyboard since the slide-out mechanism is stiff. The keyboard itself consists of a set of keys that sport a minor curve. When you slide out the keyboard, the display automatically switches to landscape mode. The keys themselves don’t have that much space in between each other, but each key is pretty big in size. Overall, the keyboard is spacious, comfortable to use and it provides good tactile feedback. The keys are able to light up in the dark too. Motorola has also thrown in a row of dedicated number keys at the top of the keyboard, this is quite unusual for a QWERTY on a smartphone and it is very welcome.

Performance

The Motorola Droid 3 performs with plenty of pep. We experienced no serious slow downs and overall, the system runs well. This is undoubtedly due to the 1GHz Dual-Core TI OMAP processor that is powering the device, as well as the fact that it’s running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The system also comes with 16GB of built-in memory. An additional 32GB can be added to it via a microSD slot.

The system earned a score of 2253 in Quadrant, which indicates that not only does it offer plenty of performance – it’s also significantly faster than many other devices out on the market right now.

Camera

This latest Droid lacks a dedicated camera button, which could be forgivable if the camera’s performance wasn’t so mediocre…. The Motorola Droid 3 packs in an 8MP camera with 8X digital Zoom, an LED Flash, and Automatic Focus. Photos tend to pick up an annoying bluish tint, even when there is plenty of sunlight around. Indoor shots are generally very grainy. too That said, images do tend to be pretty sharp. The Droid 3 can also record video at up-to 1080P at 30fps. It also sports a front-facing camera for video calls.  Videos are also pretty sharp but the camera has issues when it comes to focusing while recording video.

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User Interface and Apps

The Droid 3 offers tight social networking integration courtesy of the latest version of the Motoblur skin overlay to Android. Except that Motorola no longer wants to use the “Motoblur” name because it has gotten such bad press in the past. Anyway, that means you can connect your Facebook, Flickr, Linkedin, MySpace, Photobucket, Picasa, Twitter and YouTube accounts. The device also offers special widgets for monitoring your data usage, a Social Networking widget which lets you see updates from your friends across multiple social networks, along with a social status widget that lets you post status updates to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. The user interface also offers integration with AIM, Windows Live messenger and Yahoo messenger, without having to download a separate app. Unfortunately, the Motoblur overlay does slow down the system a bit with animations, however these animations can be turned off in the settings. That said, many people like to rag on the Motoblur user interface, but we think it’s a fine addition to Android, especially if social media integration is important to you.

Verizon has also preloaded the Droid 3 with plenty of apps including some non-standard apps like the Amazon Kindle app, Google Books, a Calculator, Citrix Receiver, CityID (automatically displays the City & State of an incoming call), DLNA, GoToMeeting, Google Latitude, Lets Golf 2, Motoprint, NFL Mobile, Nova, Quickoffice, Skype Mobile, Slacker, Task manager, V Cast Suite of bloatware apps, VZ navigator, and ZumoCast.

Web Browsing

Considering that the Droid 3 is the third generation of the Droid family, it’s a bit surprising that the phone is a 3G-only device. That said, the web browsing experience is still fast enough for most.


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The device also comes with a 3G mobile hotspot for connecting up-to 5 devices.

Battery Life

Battery is pretty average for a dual-core smartphone, you’ll get almost a day out of it with emails coming in and social networking widgets running.

Call Quality

Call quality on the Droid is ok, but not great. Callers sounded clear but we were told that we didn’t sound quite as clear on their end.

Conclusion

The new Motorola Droid 3 from Verizon Wireless is not quite a must-have upgrade over the Droid 2, but it’s definitely a welcome evolution for one of the most popular Android powered series of phones. Notably, the Droid 3 is also a Global phone which is able to switch to a GSM network when you’re overseas. This might be an important factor for some Verizon customers to take into consideration, since not all of Verizon’s phones are global ready. Verizon will even let their customers unlock the device so that they can use it with a prepaid SIM while they are abroad.

Overall, the Motorola Droid 3 is a solid phone with good performance, a very good display, a great keyboard with a dedicated number row, and a nice form-factor. It’s a shame that it’s camera doesn’t perform better, we wish it had support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network, and it’s also a bit on the heavy side, but these aren’t really deal breakers. At the end of the day, is the Motorola Droid 3 the most exciting smartphone on the block? Hardly, but it is a well rounded device and a viable option for Verizon users looking for a robust smartphone with a comfy dedicated QWERTY keyboard. The Motorola Droid 3 is available now for $199, directly from Verizon. But it’s also going for as low as $49.99 with a two year contract at Amazon.

The Good: Very good high-res display, great performance, solid build quality, comfy keyboard with a dedicated number row, and tight social networking integration.

The Bad: Not a 4G device, camera is subpar, and hefty and boxy design.