Two years ago, Motorola’s original Droid rumbled its way onto the smartphone stage. Everything about the device, from its blocky form factor to the way it bellowed “DROID” when turned on, positioned it as the aggressive counterpart to the sleek, curvy iPhone.
A little less than two years later, Motorola is rolling out the Droid 3. The latest device has chucked none of the design or features that made the original so distinctive: There’s the same rectangular design and sliding QWERTY keyboard. However, the Droid 3 boasts a power upgrade with a dual-core 1GHz processor backing an Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread”) operating system. There’s also an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, and a battery rated for nine hours’ continuous talk time.
That being said, Motorola evidently didn’t see much of a point in slimming down the Droid 3, which is only slightly smaller than the original. This bucks the recent trend toward making smartphones (and tablets) as slim and light as possible.
What else lies under the hood of the Droid 3? Repair firm iFixit decided to subject the Droid 3 to one of its exhaustive teardowns, and found some additional features hiding beneath the plastic, including a SIM card that enables the device for global use (something lacking in earlier Droid versions), a speaker assembly that “uses pressure contacts to transmit data to both the speaker and antenna,” offset keys on the smartphone’s slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and a motherboard loaded up with a three-axis accelerometer and other components such as a Qualcomm MDM6600 supporting HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) speeds of up to 14.4M bps.
That SIM card is particularly significant. “A lack of SIM cards in earlier Droids severely hampered international use of Verizon’s network,” iFixit wrote in its July 18 note accompanying the teardown. “This SIM enables the Droid 3 to be used almost anywhere in the world.” That being said, an informational card included with the phone notes that roaming data charges, depending on a particular region, could be stratospheric.
“Yet even with all the techno upgrades, Motorola paid no attention to the [reparability] of the Droid 3,” the firm’s note added. “You still have to take apart the whole phone in order to access the display and glass, a procedure hampered by Torx screws and glue that are used to hold everything together.” The firm ended up giving the smartphone a score of a 6 out of 10 on the reparability front, “having been given some brownie points for an easily replaceable battery and for a straightforward (albeit time-consuming) disassembly process.”
During the teardown, iFixit also noted that, “Interestingly, a hole through the motherboard allows sound to pass through for better transmission to the outside of the phone.”