Hardware & Design
When Verizon normally does a sequel to a phone they don’t do many changes to the design but for the DROID 3 they made the most design changes ever with keep the same style. The DROID 3 combines it industrial design roots with sleek rounded corners and soft corners and a professional color tone and overall look. It’s a thick device but isn’t as heavy as you would think it would be. The screen upgrades to a 4 inch qHD display that is sharp and correct with colors. It doesn’t get as bright as you would like it to but its good enough. The screen is visible outdoors in direct sunlight which has been the cast for most qHD displays I’ve review like the DROID X2.
There is a 5 row QWERTY keyboard that is solid and has a dedicated number row, decent space between keys and good feel when you click down on each key when typing. The phone comes with a HDMI port but no cable included which I will continue to say is lame until the include the adapter with it. Internally there is a 1.0 GHz processor, 16 GB of storage build in and a micro SD card slot that is empty but supports up to 32 GB of storage, 3G global roaming with preinstall SIM card, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Above the screen is a VGA front facing camera for video chat and in the rear there is a 8 megapixel camera with 1080p video capture. The camera app is update and more usable that before. They have included a panoramic shot mode to capture a wide-angle shot. The update here is nice but it is slow to switch between video and picture mode. Also there is a delay when taking a picture. You need hold the phone in place 1 –2 seconds after you hit the shutter button to get the right picture.
I wasn’t fully impressed with the still picture quality as you need perfect lighting to get a great shot outdoors or indoors, however the video quality was pretty good for a cell phone camera. Frame rate stays consistent around 30 frames per second and only drops in low lighting to around 27 or 28 FPS. The audio quality in the video is good to its clear and crisp.
Verizon and Motorola made some great improvements here while keeping the overall look and design familiar. They improved in the right places with the keyboard, screen, camera and processor. A slight disappointment they took the dedicated camera button away a trend too many phones have done. I’m impressed by the phone’s build quality and if you didn’t know better you would think it’s a 4G phone.
Software & Usability
The software is the latest version of Android which is Android 2.3.4 with Motorola’s user experience skinned on top of it. The skin formerly know as BLUR or MOTOBLUR is getting better every time I see it. The graphics animations when scrolling desktops, rotating screen and such is slick and smooth with no lag even with live wallpapers activated. For pre-installed apps you have you standard Verizon apps with a few other such as Slacker, Citrix, Blockbuster, Amazon Kindle, GoToMeeting and games such as Let’s Golf 4 and Nova HD. You can always group those apps in another section if you don’t plan on using them and don’t want to see them.
Web Browsing is good with the standard android browser on 3G speeds. Site load up as they should with simple sites loading quickly and complex sites taking a bit longer to come up. There is flash support so you get the full web experience. Pinch and zoom works but not as smooth as you would like it. There is custom Motorola widgets which you can resize do what you want and some have cool effects like the favorites widget. The Gallery doesn’t have the 3D effect that the standard android gallery does but does stream photos from Facebook and other photon accounts that you have set up in the account section.
Battery life is ok as long as you use the Battery manager software which will help extend battery life beyond a day if you are a moderate user to about 1.5 days. IF you are a heavy user you should get 1 full day and charge that night. Call quality is on par with most Verizon phones. Talking with people they couldn’t tell I was on a cell phone but when using the speakerphone they could tell and I sounded distant. The speakerphone also doesn’t get as loud as you would like it to.
Motorola is doing a good job in improving their user experience. It is more of a skin on top of the standard android interface and improves in the areas that the software lacks in without slowing down or covering up android all together. There is still room for improvement but I like where its going and I’m really interested in seeing how its going to look on the DROID Bionic when that finally makes it way to market.
I really like the DROID 3. It is the best phone in the series and one of the top 3G phones available. It would be a phone that I would have personally upgraded to myself if they had included 4G LTE in it which is just a mystery that they didn’t include it in. Verizon has put out a lot of sequels to phones lately with the DROID Incredible 2 and DROID X2 which we put those two phones against each other but if this phone was out it would be by far is the best in terms of true upgrade from its predecessors and a recommend for anyone looking for a new phone.