DROID 3 Review: It’s The Best DROID To Date – Pentile And No 4G Be Damned | Wifi Walker, J B Chaparal Properties

DROID 3 Review: It’s The Best DROID To Date – Pentile And No 4G Be Damned

The strange DROID blew everybody away. It saved Motorola from roughly certain bankruptcy, breathed new life into Verizon’s smartphone catalog, and done Android a fascinating mobile handling complement rather than a inexpensive choice to iOS. In short, it ushered in a new age of Android devices.

A lot had altered by a time a successor, a DROID 2, launched. The latest Android handsets had incomparable displays, softened designs, and (perhaps many importantly) reduction cart tradition UIs. While a D2 wasn’t a bad phone, it didn’t mount a possibility – frankly, Motorola had brought a blade to a gunfight.

And now, in Jul of 2011, nonetheless another sea of change has strike a Android realm. Dual-core CPUs are quick apropos list stakes; all 4 inhabitant carriers lay explain to some arrange of “4G” network; and a iPad, nonetheless still distant some-more whole than any Honeycomb tablet, now has some critical Android competition. In a midst of all of this comes a DROID 3, a latest iteration in Motorola and Verizon’s QWERTY-filled DROID saga. But is it any good, or is it usually a dual-core “filler” to waves business over until a launch of a DROID Bionic? I’ve been evaluating a device for usually about a week now, and now it’s time to put rubber to highway and find out usually how overwhelming (or awful) it unequivocally is.

At a Glance

The DROID 3 competence not have 4G capabilities, nonetheless that doesn’t meant a rest of a spec piece is lackluster:

  • 4-inch qHD (960×540) Pentile arrangement
  • Five-row earthy QWERTY keyboard
  • Global radio (GSM and CDMA)
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP4430 processor
  • PowerVR SGX540 GPU
  • 512MB RAM / 16GB ROM
  • NO enclosed SD label
  • 1540mAh battery
  • 8MP behind camera w/ 1080p video / VGA front-facing camera
  • Android 2.3 with MOTOBLUR (OK, “Motorola Applications layer”)
  • microUSB pier
  • microHDMI pier
  • Dimensions: 4.90″ x 2.50″ x 0.50″
  • Weight: 169g (6oz)

The Bad

  • MOTOBLUR – OK, good technically a name for a tradition UI on a DROID 3 is “Motorola Applications layer,” nonetheless we didn’t really expect us to contend that any and each time we impute to it, did you? Anyway, in provoke of a few beguiling additions (see a final bullet on a good list), Motorola’s tradition UI still brings some-more bad than good – we’re not immeasurable fans of a blue coloring via a OS, and Motorola needs to residence definitely a few bugs before we’d cruise regulating a skin on a daily basis. Plus, it’s still blank a “turn it off” option.
  • Crapware, crapware, and some-more crapware – Verizon has historically been one of a misfortune offenders where bloatware is concerned, and a DROID 3 is no exception.
  • Pentile arrangement – they contend beauty is in a eye of a beholder, and that positively binds loyal with Pentile. Some, such as a possess Aaron Gingrich, can’t mount a arrangement technology, while others, including most of a commenters on a DROID X2 review, don’t mind it during all. No matter that side you’re on, however, we contingency acknowledge that particular pixels are many some-more discernable on a Pentile shade than they are on a unchanging mobile display.
  • No camera symbol – we usually discuss this given both of a preceding DROIDs had one, so people upgrading from those inclination will have to get used to dire a on-screen camera icon.
  • No LTE – it’d be easy to blow off this censure by observant something like, “Well Verizon doesn’t have 4G use in my area anyway.” But saying as Big Red is conducting an incredibly assertive expansion of a strong LTE network, a DROID 3’s miss of a 4G radio is unequivocally something to keep in mind.
  • Verizon’s information skeleton for new customers/lines are intensely pricey – use starts during $30/month for usually 2GB of data.
  • Locked bootloader is locked.

In a sentence: The DROID 3 is an glorious choice for QWERTY lovers and revisit travelers, nonetheless a Pentile arrangement and miss of an LTE radio keep us from recommending it to those who wish or need a truly future-proof handset.

You should buy it if: You positively must have a earthy keyboard, wish a top-of-the-line Verizon smartphone and don’t caring about LTE, or simply can’t wait for a DROID Bionic or Galaxy S II.

Hardware

Design, Build Quality, and Physical Keyboard

The DROID phones have turn famous for their flat, robotic, and squared-off aesthetics. As should be expected, a D3 continues that trend – and we like it.

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What’s more, a DROID 3 is a thinnest QWERTY smartphone on a marketplace – in fact, it’s usually a smidgen thicker than my (admittedly definitely chunky) EVO 3D.

That’s not to contend Motorola has done any sacrifices to keep a DROID 3 slim; definitely a discordant – in fact, we wouldn’t demur to contend that a earthy keyboard is a best I’ve used on any Android phone. Not usually is it immeasurable adequate to accommodate a fifth quarrel for numbers (hence a “five-row QWERTY keyboard” marketing), nonetheless a keys are immeasurable and low adequate to make typing easy and comfortable. Simply put, all of a aspects volume to an unequaled typing experience.

The resource that is used to slip adult a DROID 3’s shade and exhibit a keyboard is, by all appearances, of a same primer accumulation that we saw on a DROID 2 and even on a OG DROID. That means that, distinct many earthy keyboards, it isn’t spring-loaded, jumping adult during a initial spirit of a touch; instead, you’ll have to pull it adult and slip it down with your possess dual thumbs. It’s not tough during all, and we indeed found it definitely beguiling to use, as it gives we definitely a bit some-more control over a rate during that a keyboard is uncovered.

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If there’s a singular thing we dislike about a keyboard, it’s a fact that it ends in a china bar that protrudes from a bottom of a phone. Of course, we’ve been saying identical pattern elements on DROID phones given a heady days of 2009, and while it’s frequency a deal-breaker, it’s unequivocally not something I’d select to hook on to a phone if we were a conduct of Motorola’s pattern department. Sure, it’s where a microphone resides, nonetheless I’m sincerely certain it could be relocated, thereby shortening a handset’s footprint and improving a looks.

That said, many of a other aspects of a phone’s pattern left me honestly impressed. The front of a handset, for example, is purify and simple, with usually a china earpiece, a white Android buttons (menu, home, back, and search), and a Motorola trademark to disquiet a relaxed black glass.

I can’t confirm possibly a DROID 3’s backside is light black or dim blue, nonetheless whichever tone it is, we like it. It fits in unequivocally simply with a styling Verizon and Moto were going for, and a round Motorola trademark and china camera pod punctuate it unequivocally well. The sides, that are home to many of a phone’s ports and buttons (microUSB, volume rocker, headphone jack, etc.), are a identical story.

More good news: a phone feels good in a hand. At 169 grams, it’s not accurately as light as a feather, nonetheless that usually adds to a substantial, roughly robotic ergonomics. So far, so good.

Display (Yes, Pentile)

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Can we count a pixels? Also, to quote a good David Ruddock, “Hey, we got immature in my yellow! Hey, we got yellow in my green!”

If there’s one thing that can hurt an differently glorious handset, it’s a low-quality display. After all, a arrangement is your portal to a on-screen content; nonetheless it, a phone would be zero – regardless of how good or bad a other specs competence be.

Therefore, a DROID 3’s advertised qHD (960×540) fortitude is, on paper, another measure for a device. But there’s a (humongous) caveat: that qHD fortitude is achieved usually by a use of Pentile.

What is Pentile? You can examination all about it on Wikipedia, Anandtech, and a smorgasbord of other online sources – nonetheless in short, it’s a form of subpixel blueprint that improves battery life and, in many cases, costs reduction than a customary display. Sound good? Here’s a catch: Pentile creates grid lines and pixels some-more manifest and has less-than-stellar tone facsimile (it isn’t easy to heed between splendid yellows and greens, for instance). It’s even worse when sum with a customary LCD screen, as AMOLED and other arrangement technologies are softened matched to costume a shortcomings by providing softened tone facsimile and higher observation angles.

And yet, we didn’t find it all that bothersome. we feel it’s protected to contend that Pentile is some-more vitriolic to some people than it is to others, and while we was unequivocally means to collect adult on it, it didn’t provoke me scarcely as many as it did my co-worker Aaron Gingrich.

Really, a best recommendation we can give we here is to revisit a Verizon sell store, play with a DROID 3 for a while, and see if content and cinema on it demeanour frail to your eyes. If so, Pentile substantially isn’t something to worry about – generally given a shade can be unequivocally splendid and has no issues with contrast. If not, well, maybe a DROID 3 isn’t for you.      

Camera

We had high hopes for a DROID 3 here – after all, Motorola has a good story with camera phones, and with 1080p video recording, things positively looked promising. And surprise: it delivered! Have a demeanour during some stills, followed by a video sample:

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Software

Ah, MOTOBLUR (or Motorola Applications Layer, for those who cite central branding). Long have we lamented your bugginess, your transcribe options, and even your ugly-as-dirt standing bar. Well, it appears your creators have finally seen a light (or during slightest a spark of it), for a chronicle of MOTOBLUR on a DROID 3 is a immeasurable alleviation over past versions of a skin.

For one thing, it outperforms roughly any other Android overlay. This may, of course, be due to a modernized dual-core CPU underneath a hood, nonetheless I’d like to consider that Motorola has been tough during work optimizing MOTOBLUR for a best opening probable (or during slightest endurable performance). Not once was we forced to wait for a phone to bucket a homescreen – a common emanate with past versions of Motorola’s skin. Nor did we knowledge any arrange of loiter when swiping between homescreens or relocating an idol around. we did notice a unequivocally slight check in waking a phone adult after it had been defunct for some time, nonetheless for a many part, opening is zero to worry about (besides, this is a program section; you’ll examination some-more about opening in a following section).

I will say, however, that Motorola hasn’t definitely nailed scrolling nonetheless – browsing by lists wasn’t scarcely as well-spoken on a DROID 3 as it was on my EVO 3D. It wasn’t unbearable, nonetheless we did confront a occasional stutter.

As for MOTOBLUR’s features, there are, sadly, usually a few useful additions. My favorite by distant was a softened “Recent Apps” menu that pops adult when we long-press a home button. On batch Android or flattering many any other skin, a list contains a measly 6 apps and occupies usually a core partial of a screen. On a DROID 3, however, pronounced list takes adult a whole display, thereby creation room for a full page of apps (16 in total). Better yet, if we would cite to see all of a applications commissioned on your phone rather than usually those you’ve non-stop recently, there is a symbol in a tip left dilemma that lets we toggle between a modes (there are indeed 4 of them: “All apps,” “Recent,” “Downloaded,” and “Verizon Wireless”).

I also enjoyed Motorola’s widget/app idol management, that has remained unaltered given a launch of a strange DROID X. In box we aren’t informed with it, it allows we to drag a widget or app idol onto another object on your homescreen, in a routine “bumping” a latter item(s) to another space. This creates room for a app icon/widget you’re moving. Trust me, it’s a lot easier and some-more useful than it sounds.

The rest of Motorola’s additions aren’t as fascinating – they’re mostly visible enhancements like animations or changes to several icons’ colors. Naturally, possibly we like them or dislike them will be a matter of personal preference, nonetheless I’d be lingering not to note that a shade of blue selected for a standing bar seems a bit out of place and can spasmodic get on one’s (OK, my) nerves.

One intensity downside to MOTOBLUR is a app drawer – rather than concede users to simply corkscrew by a straight list, a skin army them to appropriate sideways, usually as we competence on iOS or Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. Some people cite this layout, nonetheless if we (like me) cite a some-more classical app drawer, we can usually implement a tradition launcher to pill that issue.

Another downside to a DROID 3’s program is of march a pre-installed crapware. This isn’t MOTOBLUR’s error per se; it is many expected an outcome of Verizon’s change on a device. Regardless, a fact of a matter is that a DROID 3 comes with over 15 bloatware apps – and nonetheless some, like Citrix Receiver and GoToMeeting, could infer to be useful for business folk, a immeasurable infancy of them will be definitely invalid to 99% of us. And nonetheless nothing of them can be uninstalled. Ugh.

Performance, Call Quality, and Battery Life

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As settled progressing in a review, a DROID 3 is a racehorse. Apps fly open, games play unequivocally uniformly (though Angry Birds occasionally exhibited lagginess for some peculiar reason), and a phone as a whole is a pleasure to use. There is that aforementioned lockscreen bug, nonetheless I’m prone to trust that’s a program emanate rather than a accountability of a hardware.

This glorious opening was, curiously, not reflected by a customary array of benchmarking apps: Quadrant and Linpack gave scores of 2272 and 52.154 MFOPS, respectively. It is critical to note, however, that they do not take a processor’s second core into account. But SmartBech 2011 and CF-Bench were designed to consider dual-core CPUs, and a DROID 3 didn’t accurately perform unusually in those, possibly (1825 from SmartBench and 5378 from CF-Bench, interjection for asking).

Call quality and dungeon accepting were outstanding, as we’ve come to design from Verizon. However, information speeds were rather lacking in comparison to other carriers’ 3G networks, even if pronounced speeds were some-more unchanging than those of a competition. And unfortunately, it doesn’t demeanour like they’re going to get faster anytime soon, as a DROID 3 is not a member of Verizon’s 4G LTE army. Nonetheless, Big Red will happily assign D3 users a same monthly use price that it charges a 4G business ($30 for 2GB of data, $50 for 5GB, $80 for 10GB, and $10/GB for overages). Definitely something to keep in mind, generally if you’re on a budget.

One associated subject is a phone’s tellurian radio, that means that we can use it while overseas. Coincidentally, I’ll be vacationing in Europe shortly, and interjection to a kind souls during Verizon PR, I’ll be means to take a DROID 3 with me to exam out pronounced tellurian capabilities. we will refurbish a examination with a formula once we return.

Update: Everything worked fine, nonetheless a speeds were reduction than fascinating to contend a slightest (to be fair, this was expected a outcome of a bad Vodafone coverage in my area).

Battery life is simply softened than that of any non-Motorola device in new memory. It still isn’t definitely ideal, nonetheless it is positively excusable – with assuage use (a integrate phone calls and content messages, some gaming here and there, a bit of web-browsing, and consistent email-checking) a DROID 3 was means to make it by an whole day. Better yet, a battery still had some extract left – a idol in a standing bar was orange. Not too shabby, nonetheless we feel that a phone like, say, a iPhone 4 could exist it any day.

Conclusion

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Is a DROID 3 a same game-changer a grandfather was? Hardly – nonetheless it is a initial Android phone to container a TI OMAP4430 CPU, it isn’t accurately a foregoer for a new category of Android devices. But during a finish of a day, that doesn’t unequivocally matter – on a possess merits, a DROID 3 is an glorious handset and facilities one of a best earthy keyboards we’ve ever seen. And we can’t go wrong with Verizon’s network, even if it competence cost we a few additional Benjamins in a prolonged run. So if we don’t need LTE (or don’t have coverage) and are contingent on earthy QWERTYs, this is a DROID for you.



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