Total Review About Motorola Droid 3, Mix’s Report

Monday, August 1st 2011. | Gadget News

The Motorola Droid line of phones has arguably been one of the most successful to carry Google’s Android OS. But the standard Droids are members of an increasingly rare breed phones that give users the option of a physical keyboard. While the Droid 3 packs some decent internal hardware, most of the commendations belong to its OS, Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Since Gingerbread is available on many other phones that offer a better feature package, the primary reason you’d opt for the Droid 3 is that keyboard. Unfortunately, we found it a bit of a hassle to use, and the phone’s lack of 4G and other small problems don’t help.

The Droid 3‘s body is a minor revision of the Droid 2, and the basic form factor slide the screen up to get at the physical keyboard—is the same. A sleep switch is centered at the top of the phone, as is a headphone jack. A volume rocker is on the right hand side, micro-USB and mini-HDMI ports on the left, and an 8MP camera with flash on the back is capable of taking 1080p video (we found the detail in shots to be good, but the color was lacking a bit). A front facing VGA camera sits next to a blinking indicator light on the front. The Droid 3 is noticeably heavy, even for a phone with a 4-inch screen. It weighs in at 6.49 ounces, more than both of the old Droids. Motorola refers to the Droid 3 as the thinnest phone with a physical keyboard, but because of that keyboard, it’s still fairly thick at 12.9 mm. Overall the feel of the phone is solid, if weighty.

Despite a middling allocation of RAM (512MB) the Droid 3 performs quite well with its 1GHz dual-core processor. The phone scores 62.77 MFLOPS in Linpack’s multi-thread test and 42.4 MFLOPS single-threaded. It also has an impressive Quadrant score of 2436, besting many other recent phones like the Thunderbolt or Atrix. But the Droid 3 falls just short of the Droid X2, which scores above 2,500 in Quadrant, and well short of the (still European-only) Galaxy S II, which scores well over 3,000.

In practice, the Droid 3‘s performance was smooth while running simple apps and the OS, which we grow to love more and more with each iteration thanks to its social networking, notification system, widget-able home screen, and other pieces of fine tuning. More graphically intensive apps, like the included game NOVA, produced a few hiccups.

The sliding action on the Droid 3 is disappointing and kind of a chore—there are no springs coming to your aid, at least. The screen is so hard to slide up that our grip would often slip, and sliding it back down likewise required a weirdly large amount of force. The phone did loosen up a bit as we used it, but it still lacks the snappy action of the Xperia Play or the modern Sidekick.

One of the biggest revisions on the Droid 3 is the addition of a number line to the keyboard, which fortunately doesn’t crowd the rest of the buttons. Typing on the Droid 3 was fairly quick and accurate, as each of the matte plastic backlit buttons are raised in the middle to make touch typing with your thumbs a bit easier.

The four traditional Android buttons (Home, Back, Menu, Search) are touch versions that sit underneath the qHD screen, which is a pretty thing to behold. The screen has nice colors, moderately deep blacks (when brightness is cranked down), very wide viewing angles, and is very bright, even at the lowest brightness setting.

In fact, the screen’s persistent brightness may contribute to a somewhat lackluster battery life. Even with conservative settings and a low level of activity, the remaining battery estimates seemed to be dropping quickly every time we looked at the phone. The battery is rated at 1540mAh and 550 minutes of talk time, and we managed to log about nine hours of the occasional push notification, downloading apps over WiFi, some brief gaming experimentation, Web browsing, and short calls.

The Droid 3 is far from a bad option for a sliding phone, given its performance and big beautiful screen, but the fact that the physical keyboard is hard to use in more than one way is a bit disappointing. Potential buyers should consider whether they can live with that, the phone’s mediocre battery life, and lack of access to Verizon’s rapidly spreading 4G network before laying down $199.99 for the phone with a two-year contract.

The Good:
Screen is bright and detailed even at low settings
Physical keyboard is backlit and fairly comfortable to use
Construction of phone feels solid
Internal hardware provides lots of kick to the performance

The Bad:
Heavy, not very comfortable to hold
Sliding action requires too much force

The Ugly:
No 4G means phone is ill prepared for the future, though,
If it had 4G, the battery would likely die at even more inopportune moments than it already does

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