Is this the best Droid on Verizon Wireless yet? Read our full review of Motorola's Droid 3 to find out.
It's hard to believe that Motorola is on its third Droid, and the Droid 3 (specs) is the most equipped QWERTY slider to date. Much of the technology found in the company's entertainment-friendly Droid X2 can be found in this phone too, including a qHD display with HDMI Mirror Mode, dual-core processor, and Android 2.3. For us, the advanced user interface was one of its highlights, and the slide-out QWERTY keyboard was expanded to include a numerical panel for faster text input. There were so many things we could do with the smartphone in so little time, but we can safely say that it was not a letdown, and certainly a worthy successor to the Droid 2. However, we did encounter a few minor bumps in the road, so let's dive into the full review to find out what put a stress on our struts.
The Droid 3 is still not a looker, and it's certainly not pocket-friendly, but those are prime characteristics of a Droid in the first place. The phone is almost twice as thick as an iPhone 4 and a good 3/8-inch taller. Aesthetically, the display half and QWERTY keyboard half appear as though they are simply resting on top of each other, as the overall design neglects to consider continuity. On the bright side, Motorola fortified the QWERTY with a 5th row of numerical keys, which truly came in handy and minimized our usage of the ALT button.
The phone received a screen upgrade, flaunting a 4-inch 960 x 540-pixel qHD display, which trounced last year's 3.7-inch FWVGA screen. Just like the Droid X2, the Droid 3 offered one of the premiere screens we've had the pleasure of testing this year, and its 16 million colors made gaming and movie watching a rather brilliant experience. Touch sensitivity was spot on, and we love Motorola's hyperactive haptic feedback vibrations throughout the user interface. For cameras, the phone has a front-facing VGA camera and 8-megapixel main shooter with 1080p video recording and LED flash.
Aside from the classic Android Menu, Home, Back, and Search haptic feedback controls on the bottoms of the screen, the phone had minimal external controls, save the HDMI terminal for Mirror Mode. Here, we could connect it to an HD monitor via HDMI and view all action on the big screen, which was optimal for gaming and videos. The phone featured a 1540mAh battery pack and shipped without a MicroSD card. However, it came with 16GB of internal storage, which was about the standard.
Software and Interface
One of the areas the phone excelled in was its software, though its hardware allowed us to fly through tasks. We're talking about a 1GHz dual-core OMAP processor with 1GB of RAM. Yes, it was a jet engine that handled DLNA/UPnP, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, and 3D motion gaming with its accelerometer. The phone also gave us Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS with Motorola's own custom user interface, and we give them props for not infecting the Droid 3 with the RAM-sucking MOTOBLUR.
While HTC Sense is more of a beautiful interface to look at, the Droid 3's interface was spruced up in a more minimalist fashion. Scrolling from application page to application page or Home screen to Home screen gave us that roulette effect of HTC Sense, though the widget selection was a bit more robust. There was also more versatility in our Applications menu with the ability to view All, Recent, Downloaded, or Verizon Wireless applications. An Android Market shortcut also accompanied the Applications menu, and a function similar to HTC's Leap allowed us to hit the Home key while on the Home page to minimize all pages down to a swanky spread of all 5 in order to jump quickly to our destination. Although HTC Sense 3.0 on the EVO 3D and Sensation 4G wins for the ultimate UI, the Motorola Droid 3 and Droid X2 follow closely behind.
Gaming, movies, music, you name it€”the smartphone was more than capable of bringing the multimedia to the table. The phone's updated YouTube widget worked flawlessly and the phone came preloaded with NFL Mobile, Nova, Slakcer Radio, Skype, Let's Golf 2, Citrix, City ID, Kindle, Blockbuster, and Verizon's V CAST suite. Unfortunately, Let's Golf 2 and Nova were trial versions, but the Android Market provided more than enough action for one phone to handle. For documents, we were given Quickoffice, and our overall Internet experience was identical to that of the Droid X2. However, the the phone crashed twice while playing Big Time Gangsta and we had to remove the battery in order to reboot. A few other programs had to be Force Closed as well, so certain applications will not play nicely with this phone.
Call Quality/Battery Life
Call quality on the Droid 3 via Verizon's 3G network was great. There really wasn't anything to complain about, as all calls came in loud and clear without a hitch.
Battery life was another story, however, and it wasn't as forgiving as the Droid X2. For standby time, the phone lasted about a day and a half, though with heavier usage, it failed to make it through the day.
Motorola retooled the camera this year, boosting the sensor to an 8-megapixel shooter with 1080p HD video recording. Snappy Auto Focus was also thrown into the mix, though the camera lacked touch focus and the video light could not be toggled during recording. The best change Motorola made to the Droid 3's camera was its interface, offering a highly intuitive refreshing to the stale interface of yore.
It feels odd reporting this, but this was the first Droid we tested with a decent camera. Bright light shots at close range were great and the camera's low light sensitivity was actually not too shabby. We only wish the camera offered more definition and less noise, but this is not a perfect world (check out photo and video samples). HD videos looked even better than the stills, and it's usually the other way around. Finally, Motorola has taken a step in the right direction regarding the Droid's camera, though it could not match the likes of the myTouch 4G Slide when it came to still images.
The latest Droid is a formidable force. It's the fastest, most capable Droid to date with HDMI mirror mode and a 5th row of numerical keys on the expansive slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The screen gets a steroid injection, boosting it to a 4-inch qHD display, and the camera has been vastly improved. For the Super Roadwarrior, the phone is a top choice.
Not to mention the phone's Android 2.3 OS and non-MOTOBLUR UI and stellar call quality. Battery life and processor stability were our prime concerns, as the Motorola Droid 3 had trouble remaining stable with certain applications and could not last a full day without a charge. But for the most part, its pros outweighed its cons, and for that, the phone resides amongst the top 3G slider phones on the market.