Motorola Droid 3 review
The Motorola Droid 3 is the successor to the Droid 2, which was the successor to the original Droid itself. There have been other Droids that have come and gone through my hands for reviewal, but this is the first one to come from the original series.
I like to think of Motorola as really throwing Android into the spotlight, especially with the original Droid on Verizon and the ads that came with it. In my mind, that original Droid was the first true competitor to the iPhone, and it has become so apparent that other companies think the same thing.
This is why the Droid 3 is a big deal. The Droid 2 didn't fare so well, and was an utter disappointment when compared to the original, so the Droid 3 had better be good to help make up for that Motorola mess-up. But did it? At $199.99 for a two-year contract, and only with Verizon's 3G behind it, it had better be.
The Droid 3 comes with some pretty impressive specs. Although lacking Verizon's LTE 4G, it does come with a dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz, coupled with 512MB of RAM. Those two components drive a 4-inch display with a resolution of 540 x 960. On the back, there's an 8MP shooter, capable of also shooting full 1080p video. Too bad there's only 16GB of internal storage included, because that video will be taking quite a bit up. You can expand it up to 48GB, though, with the included microSD slot.
Design and Quality
I've stated before that I think Motorola's Droid series is incredibly well-designed, and is so clean. That's very apparent all over the Droid 3, starting at the top of the front. All that is there is some snazzy Motorola branding, an earpiece, and the front-facing 0.3MP VGA camera.
On the bottom of the front, you'll find the standard four Android buttons in typical Motorola fasion, and some Verizon branding on the completely unnecessary bottom lip. It might look cool, but in my opinion, it hinders typing and some other tasks.
Looking towards the right side of the device, there is only one simple volume rocker. I'm not the biggest fan of this volume rocker, though; it's really firm. Really, the same thing goes for all the exterior buttons; even the power button is firm, and hard to quickly press if you have to check whatever you just received.
On the left, you'll find the microUSB port, as well as your miniHDMI port. You've also got a lanyard slot on this side of the device, to the right of the miniHDMI port. I've yet to see someone actually use a lanyard to carry their $200 smartphone, but I guess it's nice to have if you're a risk-taker.
Motorola kept the back really clean. All you will find here is a speaker grille on the bottom, the Motorola 'M' in the middle, and your 8MP shooter on top. Oh, and there isn't any shiny plastic backing here. It's a nice, soft-touch plastic material which stays much cleaner than reflective plastic and also gives you better grip while you hold the device.
I'm going to take a minute here and praise the use of soft-touch backing and its design. I liked the back of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play's looks, but it was reflective, and those good looks go away quite quickly because of that. Here, there are no fingerprints to worry about, and you also don't have to worry about scratching the living heck out of the back, either.
The biggest thing about the Droid 3 is the five-row, slideout QWERTY it includes. It's made out of soft-touch plastic, which is pretty typical of a smartphone slideout keyboard. The keys are big enough for my sausage-like fingers to press down one at a time, and I can type pretty accurately and quickly.
Opening the keyboard, like with many other slideout Androids, results in switching from portrait to landscape orientation. It does so quickly, and never locks up while doing it. You can also use the arrow keys that you just slid out to navigate around Android, and typing always brings up a search in whatever app you're in, and if you're on the homescreen, it'll bring up a Google search. (No Bing here.)
Lately, Motorola has been using a display resolution called qHD. qHD measures 540 x 960. If you know your resolutions and can do some simple division, you'll find that this is one quarter of the full 1080p resolution, and three quarters of 720p resolution.
In my testing of both the Droid X2 and the Droid 3, I've found that it's the sharpest display used in smartphones. It might not be as high a resolution as Apple's Retina Display, but you have to remember that Motorola's phones are much taller than the iPhone 4, and in turn, narrower. This makes up for the lower resolution, and I think qHD beats out the Retina Display any day of the week. Colors pop, too, and everything is very high-quality.
The screen also exhibits i ncredible touch accuracy. It never missed a tap, for better or worse. But usually, it's for the better, and I'm really glad it's so good. I've used a lot of phones that are definitely the other way around.
The Droid 3 also achieves terrific battery life. Typically, I could have a full charge in the morning and do regular email, web browsing, texting, and talking throughout the day, and still come home with three quarters of my battery remaining. However, this stellar battery life comes at a cost: it charges slower than any other phone I've used.
This doesn't affect me much at all, since I have plenty of other phones to use if I don't have enough time to charge one of them thoroughly. But if you only had a Droid 3 and limited time to charge it, you might run into an issue down the road. For the most part, though, I think most users won't have a problem. The battery life is really terrific, and if you find yourself using more battery than you're comfortable with, simply plug it into the wall charger and night and go out the door in the morning.
Because of the dual-core processor, every task that you can possibly do in Android is very quick. From opening emails to playing games, the dual-core processor shines through it all and doesn't even break a sweat. The best thing about this great performance is that it's very efficient, and doesn't waste your battery life.
The Motorola Droid 3 is the best Android device on the market today. It's got the performance to match the other big boys, but it's also got the battery to back it up. An 8MP shooter isn't any joke, either. And having a screen that's better than Apple's already-fantastic Retina Display is kind of like Motorola bragging about being able to offer that all under $200 on a two-year contract. And that's why it's the best phone on the planet, too.