CES 2012: Motorola Droid 4 Hands-On Preview

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The original Motorola Droid helped make Android the success it is today. Verizon is now prepping the fourth model in this series, raising the question, can this latest version live up to its legacy? Or maybe even surpass it?

The release date and price for the Droid 4 have not yet been revealed, but I was able to run some preliminary tests on it while attending CES this week.

Motorola Droid 4 from VerizonHardware
This series offers some of the few smartphones with large physical keyboards. And the upcoming one will be among the best: no less than five rows of keys including a set dedicated to numbers. In my early testing, I found good key separation and good key shape. 

Motorola didn’t ignore the touchscreen. The Droid 4 will include 4-inch capacitive display with a qHD (960 x 540 pixels).  From what I could tell, there’s nothing particularly special about this screen, but it seems quite functional.

When the Droid 3 was introduced last year, there was grumbling among potential customers that it lacked support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. I’m happy to say that the carrier payed attention. This was one of a number of phones with this high-speed wireless data standard unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this week.

Motorola is bragging that this is going to be the slimmest smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard. That said, the keyboard adds to the bulk, and this device will be noticeably thicker than rivals that depend entirely on their display for text input. 

On the inside will be 16 GB of storage capacity, as well as a microSD memory card slot. If you get the biggest microSD card available, you could push the capacity up to nearly 48 GB. 

This Droid will have an 8MP rear-facing camera with support for 1080p HD video capture and LED flash. Some earlier models in this series did not have particularly good cameras, no matter their resolution, and only time will tell if this one can do better

Motorola Droid 4 from VerizonSoftware
The Motorola Droid 4 will run Google’s Android on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. That should give it good performance, and my preliminary testing of a unit a CES bore this up.

I’m slightly disappointed that it will ship with Android OS 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) rather than Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). An upgrade to the newer version — which debuted last month on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus — is in development, however.

Naturally, the usual array of Google and Verizon apps will be bundled with this handset.  

Preliminary Conclusion
My initial testing left me feeling quite positive about the Motorola Droid 4. If you intend to use your smartphone to enter lots of emails, Facebook posts, texts, etc., this could be the way to go.  Of course, you’ll have to accept carrying around a fairly hefty unit.

Brighthand will almost certainly be publishing a full review of this Droid when it gets close to release. 



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