UPDATE: This preliminary review was written after just a day or so with this device. An in-depth version based on extensive testing is now available:
The Motorola Droid 3 is Verizon’s newest flagship in its Droid line, replacing the Droid 2 and Droid 2 Global. With a suggested retail price of $200 with two-year contract, it has a high-end pricetag, and some high-end features.
After spending a couple days with it, I’m prepared to give some first impressions on it. A full review will be published after I’ve had more time to test out all its capabilities.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Droid 3 is a touch larger in its footprint than the Droid 2 is, but only by a tenth of an inch in width and a third of an inch in length. It’s also a tiny bit thinner than its predecessor, but not so much that you’d be likely to notice.
The size increase is mostly to accomodate a larger screen. This model has a 4-inch, 960 x 540 resolution screen, upgraded from the 3.7-inch 854 x 480 (WVGA) display in the D2 and D2G, as well as the original Droid.
This is one of a number of specs upgrades for the D3, including doubling the internal memory from 8GB to 16GB, switching to a dual-core processor, adding HDMI, adding worldphone capabilities, and expanding the battery. Alone, none of these is particularly striking, but all together they add up to quite a bit of change from the old D2.
One change you won’t find, though, is support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. While a couple of Verizon’s other Android phones support the new higher speeds, the Droid 3 doesn’t. Without 4G, you’ll get only the “regular” 3G speeds averaging around 1 megabit. This is somewhat of a mixed bag–right now, LTE smartphones suffer from relatively poor battery life, which will probably get better as the LTE hardware inside them gets improved. But by the time a two-year contract is up, the Droid 3 is likely to be looking pretty dated.
Upon getting into the box, maybe the most surprising thing to me about exploring this smartphone hands-on is its slider. Most devices like this are spring-loaded these days, so you just give the screen a push and it pops open. Not so with the Droid 3–it’s completely manual, sliding up only on firm pressure. This takes some getting used to, and has a distinctly old-school feel about it.
Overall I’ve been less than impressed so far with the D3’s ergonomics–the ridge extending from the “bottom” of the device while closed isn’t placed for the most comfortable grip while holding the device two-handed. Nevertheless, it may grow on me. We’ll find out for sure in the full review, coming soon, which will feature full feature and spec rundowns, benchmarks, pros and cons, and and my final conclusion on Verizon’s new flagship Droid.