In a showdown between the most recent of Verizon’s original Droid line, the Motorola Droid 3, and the cutting-edge Motorola Droid RAZR, which one would come out on top? And for what needs? The answer may surprise you.
Very Different Demographics
The gap between the RAZR and the D3 could be summed up simply by saying this: the Droid RAZR is mostly a consumer and entertainment smartphone. The Droid 3 is a business device. Nothing about the D3 is particularly flashy — it doesn’t even support Verizon’s very high-speed 4G LTE network, which has been one of the company’s big marketing points lately.
The RAZR, on the other hand, has “flashy” as its middle name. There’s nothing wrong with that, and the RAZR certainly isn’t what you’d call a sub-standard smartphone. But it is very generic in many ways, having little to differentiate it from other designs aside from being a bit thinner. The Droid 3 meanwhile is very much customized for its task.
Features the RAZR Can’t Compete With
It’s obvious from a basic glance that the most significant design difference between these two is the Droid 3’s sliding keyboard. A full five-row keyboard, its keys are flat and basic, but they get the job done. I’ll say honestly, it’s not the most ergonomically brilliant phone that I’ve ever used, but it’s serviceable. And compared to typing on a touchscreen, it’s a pleasure.
The 4.3-inch screen found on the RAZR is better for finger typing than smaller 4-inch and below displays, but it still doesn’t match the simple usability of a physical keyboard. The Droid 3 supplies that, and moreover, it’s the only high-end device on Verizon which does. All Verizon’s other top-of-the-line devices have more or less the same basic tablet style as the Droid RAZR.
But even more important is a difference you can’t see. In addition to supporting Verizon’s CDMA-based network, the Droid 3 also features the ability to roam onto GSM-based cell phone networks — and once you get outside of the U.S. or Canada, virtually the entire world is GSM. If you take the Droid RAZR with you overseas, say to Europe or Asia, what you’ll have is not a phone but a very expensive paperweight that you can play music on.
Take the Droid 3 overseas, however, and you still have a fully functional smartphone, complete with voice, messaging, and even high-speed internet to every corner of the globe. It’ll cost you, of course, and Verizon’s international rates (through parent company Vodafone) are not what you’d call cheap, particularly for data. But if you need your phone internationally, it’s the only option.
There are some areas the Droid RAZR comes out ahead. It sports a 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540) Super AMOLED screen, while the D3 has a 4-inch, WVGA (800 x 480) one that’s a standard LCD, so the RAZR offers a biger, brighter, and high-resolution display. If you’re planning on watching movies or playing games on your smartphone, you’re better off with the RAZR, but the D3’s display is no slouch, and is fine for getting things done.
The RAZR also has a faster processor, but the diffrence is marginal: 1.2GHz dual-core vs. 1GHz dual-core. This is reflected in the Quadrent benchmark scores: the RAZR came in at 2700 while D3 has a score of 2225. Bottom line, this isn’t a diffrence you’re going to notice on a day-to-day basis.
Two Very Distinct Forms of “Cost”
Of course, each of these devices has its own set of drawbacks as well as strengths. In the case of the Droid 3, it weighs in substantially larger and heavier than the Droid RAZR — two thirds thicker, and 50% heavier. It’s a size penalty that probably doesn’t matter much to the Droid 3’s intended audience, but it’s one more factor why the D3 isn’t likely to get as much traction in broad use. Even with the recent trend towards larger (and consequently heavier) phones, the Droid 3 doesn’t offer the things that those phones have to compensate — namely, 4G and much larger batteries.
The RAZR’s cost is rather more straightforward. It comes with a whopping $300 pricetag with a new two-year contract. That’s on top of the cost of maintaining a data plan over those two years, which is required for any smartphone. In addition, it lacks a removable battery — a sacrifice made to get its super-slim shape.
And the Winner Is…
Despite it’s lack of 4G, the Motorola Droid 3 more than holds it’s own against the Motorola Droid RAZR, and surpasses it in some ways. The RAZR is a nice device with a superior screen, faster performance, and a slim design that makes it great for casual smartphone users. I doubt that the Droid 3 will find a lot of favor with those looking for something flashy. But the D3 certainly should be high on the list for business travellers and anyone planning on taking a trip overseas, as well as those who are just looking to text a little easier. Its full keyboard and GSM roaming capability are features that the RAZR simply doesn’t have, and can’t imitate, despite the advantages of 4G and and a great display.