The DROID line has come pretty far since launching on Verizon near the end of 2009. Beginning with the iconic Motorola DROID, it has expanded to encompass devices from several manufacturers (Moto, HTC, and Samsung, at least), with unique combinations of radios and screen sizes and processors. In 2010, the DROID 2 (and its world-roaming variant, DROID 2 Global) were underwhelming followups to Motorola’s original flagship device. Now Motorola has, with no fanfare, released a third DROID that should help reclaim some respect – if they would actively promote it. Here’s my take…
New high-end Android devices are continually launching on all of the major carriers in the U.S., and it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish them. They all have pluses and minuses, but one identifying feature that the namesake Motorola DROIDs have had is a physical keyboard. The DROID 3 sports a much improved keyboard over the original, with some actual travel to the keys, abundant spacing, and a dedicated number row. Let’s just see the specs:
- Dual-core 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 processor
- 512 MB DDR2 RAM
- 16 GB internal storage, with support for 32 GB microSD card
- 4″ 960×540 qHD display
- 8 MP rear camera with 1080p video, VGA front camera
- CDMA (3G) and global GSM
- HDMI output with screen mirroring
- Android 2.3.4 with MotoBlur
The DROID 3 is fast. It benchmarks well, and everything feels very fluid. Still, 768 MB or 1 GB of RAM would have been welcomed for the long-term. Support for 4G LTE and its monstrous download speeds would have been nice, but the expense of battery life (and spotty coverage in the area I’d be using it) makes it not quite a must-have feature at this point. The hardware feels good in the hand. It’s more comfortable to hold than the original, although the back is now soft-touch plastic instead of metal. The battery door no longer slides off flippantly, so that’s an improvement.
Bloatware abounds. It’s filled with unnecessary programs and Motorola’s Motoblur skin makes unnecessary changes to the default Android experience that hold the device back a bit. They do include a few nice widgets, and some of the included apps are surprisingly decent. Still, there’s absolutely no reason you should not be able to uninstall the excess applications, or remove certain bookmarks from the web browser’s favorites. Most of the moves are just done to slap the consumer in the face, and it’s a stark change from the original DROID and its stock Android 2.0. Other gripes include slow picture taking (although image quality has been nice, and it focuses much better than my original DROID), very firm power and volume buttons, and diminished speaker quality from OG DROID.
There’s an included ZumoCast application that allows streaming of photos, documents, videos, and music from a desktop PC. Set up was painless and it works very well over WiFi, but I haven’t had much luck with videos over 3G (which would seem to be of greatest utility). It’s also nice to have an included “tasks” app and a file explorer out of the box.
The bottom line is: it will be rooted, and custom launchers can be used, and updates will be available. The software can only improve. What’s good is that the hardware is solid and it’s a very capable phone even with all the crap Motorola and Verizon have done to hold it back. Unfortunately, the upcoming DROID Bionic seems to be their main priority. If large, flat, keyboardless phones with fast data and limited longevity are what’s in vogue, I’m glad they were willing to put out this device to help me cling to the past.
I still want a custom ROM though. Some sample camera pics: