I’ve spent the last week using the Motorola Droid 3 ($199.99 on contract from Verizon Wireless). I can easily avow that the handset is the best of the Droids yet-that is better than its two predecessors, the original Motorola Droid and Droid 2.
The Droid 3 has a crisp 4-inch, qHD (quarter-high-definition) display running at 960 by 540 resolution and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core chip. The chip facilitated application data well for a 3G smartphone trying to live on Verizon’s increasingly 4G-centered network.
The device is half an inch thick, 2.52 inches wide and 4.8 inches long. The phone has a soft, black-matte finish that feels cozy in the hand, so long as one can get over the extra weight of the keyboard and the fact that that QWERTY slider feels like another piece of equipment on the phone.
While the larger screen (the first two Droids had 3.7-inch touch-screens) is welcome, the Droid 3 is as heavy as they come at 6.5 ounces, more than a half ounce heavier than either of its cousins.
That’s due to the larger battery (1,540 mAh compared with the Droid 2’s 1,400-mAh power supply), larger touch-screen and QWERTY slider, which adds a fifth row of keys dedicated to numbers only.
This keyboard is as great as physical smartphone keyboards come, featuring soft, perfectly raised and spaced keys for fast, accurate typing. The Droid 3’s QWERTY slider alone may endear the phone to many messaging-heavy folks in the consumer and enterprise sectors.
This phone also runs Android 2.3 “Gingerbread,” which is my personal favorite Android build so far for the aesthetic appeal, particularly the improved soft keyboard, which employs wider keys.
Phone calls across Connecticut and to family in rural West Virginia were satisfactory, but applications and messaging still rule the roost with the Droid 3. Facebook and Twitter for Android, YouTube, and the new Google+ mobile application with Huddle group messaging all worked as well as I expected.
The Droid 3 has something of a split personality, too, in that it’s as much for consumer media as it is for work. What do I mean by that?
This handset offers “mirror mode,” allowing users to flash photos, videos and more on a TV screen via an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output cable. Unfortunately, that is not included with the phone, though you can buy one from Motorola for $39.99. Still, it’s a nice multimedia portability touch.
Droid 3 Makes for a Fine Android Slide Phone
Also, while the previous Droids used 5-megapixel cameras, the Droid 3 sports a fine 8MP shutter, and lets users set up the phone to automatically tag photos. There is also a mini front-facing shutter for video chat, though it’s nothing to boast about.
Video playback is in 1080p HD. This looked great porting YouTube videos or personally shot movies on the larger TV screen at home. The Droid 3 has 512GB of RAM, which is on the light side, but boasts 16GB of on-board storage, expandable to as much as 32GB of external storage.
On the flipside, Motorola wants users to use the Droid 3 as an enterprise phone. How do I know that? It’s global-ready, letting users access voice and data plans from over 200 countries.
For IT administrators, the Droid 3 offers device and SD card encryption, complex password support, and remote data wipe of both the device and SD card.
More to the corporate point, this device comes preloaded with the Citrix GoToMeeting Web-conferencing application and Citrix Receiver, the desktop virtualization application. Update: These apps are available in the Android Market.
GoToMeeting worked fine; just click a link in an email or launch the application from the icon and enter the meeting number to hear your fellow collaborators and view meeting content.
From the tutorial and set-up steps alone, it’s clear to me Receiver tries to fit so much on a small screen that it’s got to be extremely hard to really enjoy accessing business applications from such a small display.
Droid 3’s battery lasted me for a full day of texting, Web browsing, emailing and video watching. If pressed, I’ll still take an HTC ThunderBolt, or the newish Samsung Droid Charge over the flagship Droid smartphones. It’s not a question of functionality so much as form.
I’m comfortable with the big, soft keys in my now Gingerbread-based Droid X and by the virtual keyboards on the large displays of the aforementioned devices I’ve reviewed.
I can recommend the Droid 3 to any shopper seeking an Android phone with a big, full QWERTY keyboard that runs media and enterprise applications with ease.
If a consumer’s prerequisite is for a smartphone with only a big touch-screen for input, this phone is not for them. Feel free to compare the Droid 2 and Droid 3 here.