The Motorola Droid 3 is the third in a notable series of keyboarded Android devices, headed by the grandfather of it all: The OG Droid. The Droid 3 almost has a miniature legacy to live up to, and with the Droid 2 on it’s way out, Motorola looks to target the keyboard lovers once again with this beast of a device.
The Basics: The Droid 3 sports a 4” qHD Pentile display, which means it crams more than half a million pixels into a 960×540 screen. The qHD display on the Droid X2 had it’s own share of issues, but overall we appreciated the resolution and the extra space it provided. The Droid 3 display is a bit of an improvement over the DX2’s, however issues still exist with certain colors and occasional ghosting when playing high-motion games. Other than that, the screen is very responsive and is made of a high-quality, durable glass typical of Motorola build.
The Droid 3 has two cameras – a much-improved 8-megapixel shooter on the back capable of 1080p video capture, and a VGA resolution front-facing sensor for video chatting it up. The 1080p video was a bit mixed, but certainly didn’t leave us feeling dissapointed. There were some autofocus issues when moving towards close objects and some lack of detail – Overall, though, it’s a major improvement in both resolution and quality over the Droid 2. The front-facing camera is decent – It seems like more of an added convenience than a necessity, but we can certainly appreciate that it is included. You can view a 1080p HD clip uploaded directly from the Droid 3 to YouTube embedded below the video review!
The most important feature of the Droid 3 is, without a doubt, its keyboard. The massive 5-row keyboard is a huge imporvement over that of its predecessor. The original Droid got complaits for the keys not having enough travel. The Droid 2 got more complaints for not having enough feedback. The Droid 3 keyboard is… Dare I say it? It’s actually flawless. There’s a perfect amount of travel and a clicky sensation at each button press. The keys are large and well laid out, including a dedicated number row. It’s hard to describe how good this keyboard is until you go to your local retailer and feel it with your own fingers – which is exactly what I recommend.
Build quality on the Droid 3 is second to none. This falls in with my statement in the video review – I may not like Motorola software, but I love Motorola hardware. The slide-out keyboard mechanism is sturdy and precise. The massive slab of glass on the front is virtually unbreakable, and the back cover is made of a solid metal clamp. The soft-touch finish gives the phone a nice feel to hold and it doesn’t get very hot while browsing or gaming. Moto even manages to pack in an impressive spec line in a frame thinner than the original Droid. The speaker is loud and crisp, and voice quality delivered through the microphone was excellent. This phone gets a perfect 10/10 for build quality and is hands down one of the best build phones I have ever used.
Software: This is where it gets dicey. We know that the Droid 3 is powerful [1GHz dual core processor, 512MB of RAM] but how well does it run through everyday tasks? How is the new Blur? How enjoyable is the user experience?
It’s a mixed bag. While the newest version of Blur on this device is an improvement over that found on the Droid 2 and Droid X2, there’s still just the slightest feeling ofdelay in some parts of the phone. The camera app, for exapmle, takes around 5 seconds to open. The browser would occasionally hang for a bit before becoming responsive. There’s a split-second delay between tapping the app drawer button and the opening of the drawer itself. Little things like this are part of why I’m not a fan of Motorola software, even through all its imporvements over the previous version.
The power of this hardare gets through the majority of applications pretty easily. Flipping through the 3D homescreens is a breeze and actually feels pretty snappy for a Blur device [can we still cal it Blur?]. Call quality was very impressive and web browsing felt pretty fast.
Here’s something to think about: There’s a difference between fast and quick. Certain devices [especially those running Vanilla Android] feel really quick, snappy and responsive. Others feel very powerful, though they don’t have the same responsiveness as phones running different software. The Droid 3 is one of those fast phones. While scrolling through a web page might not be smooth as silk, it will get you to the next page very very fast. Loading times are minimized and graphics performance is strong, but it still doesn’t feel snappy.
Oh, and there’s the bloatware. Tons of it. Unfortunately, Verizon and Motorola still feel the need to load up their Android phones with carrier software and other crap like CityID, NFL Mobile, MOTOPrint, and other software that cannot be uninstalled. You do get some useful stuff though, like SwypeNot a big deal if you don’t mind, but it’s something worth mentioning.
Bottom line is: This is a decent phone. Sure, it may not have 4G; Sure, it’s running “Blur”; Sure, it has some unnecessary software preinstalled. But this is a well-build QWERTY slider with a solid 1-day battery life a powerful processor and a likeable keyboard. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this phone, which can’t be said for all it’s competition. Great work, Motorola – keep it up.
PS – Screen rotation animations are a nice touch!
Check out the full video review:
Here’s our 1080p video sample: