The Droid 3 looks a good bit like its two older siblings at first glance, but is actually a good bit different hardware wise. Motorola has packed in a 4” qHD display which is quite good looking. While we wouldn’t say Moto has yet reached iPhone 4 screen clarity, the qHD display is a very nice upgrade over the previous Droid displays. Because of the larger display, the Droid 3 is relatively wide and tall. It’s a bit awkward to hold in hand because of that, but we think it’s a reasonable trade off for the larger display.
Of course the Droid 3 wouldn’t be a Droid without the full QWERTY slide out keyboard beneath the display. The first two Droids packed disastrously bad keyboards, and thankfully the Droid 3’s is a huge improvement. The keys are clicky, have pretty good spacing, and are generally nice to type on. Unfortunately we still found ourselves making an obscene number of mistakes while typing with the full size keyboard. We’ll be sticking with Moto’s quite good software keyboard.
Just like the Droid X2, the Droid 3 packs a dual core Tegra processor. Unsurprisingly, general performance is quite good. Apps load quickly, web pages render quickly, the device boots quite fast, etc. We had no issues with slowdowns on the Droid 3 like we did with the Droid X2. It seems like Moto has worked out whatever issues they were having with the X2’s shipping OS, which is a good thing.
The Droid 3 ships with Gingerbread 2.3.4. We have to applaud Moto and Verizon for finally shipping an entirely up to date Android device. Unfortunately, Moto is still sticking with their Motoblur UI overlay on the Droid 3. Thankfully, there is no MotoBlur sign in requirement on the device, so Blur is definitely more of a UI overlay than a system wide social/syncing service.
Verizon includes a good bit of crapware on the device, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Nor should it be surprising that the ability to uninstall the preloaded apps has been disabled. It doesn’t appear that any of the preloaded crap hurts battery life, which is excellent.
Overall, the shipping OS build on the Droid 3 is quite good. If you’re a fan of Android, you’ll have no issues doing what you enjoy doing. If you’re not a fan of Android, well, the Droid 3 isn’t going to change your perspective.
Battery life on the Droid 3 seems quite good. Standby discharge is as close to nothing as we’ve seen in any smartphone. We can’t imagine anyone will have an issue getting through a day with the Droid 3 using it moderately.
Call Quality / Signal / etc.
Unfortunately call quality and signal strength really suffered for us with the Droid 3, much like the Droid X2. Calls were not at all clear, often to the point that we decided to just hang up. Signal strength was equally disappointing. We hardly ever saw the Droid 3 budge off of one (of four) bars, even though other Verizon devices reported much higher signal strength in the same areas. It appears that Moto may have had a misstep with the Droid 3’s antenna placement/design.
With that said, Verizon was still rock solid as always. No calls dropped despite the low signal and poor quality, and data speeds were completely adequate.
The Droid 3 is a reasonably nice Android device, but it by no means will be a runaway success. The entire experience is rather ‘meh’, being good enough to get by without any negative remarks. So if you’re looking to upgrade your trust Droid or lackluster Droid 2, the Droid 3 wouldn’t be a bad choice. At this point you’ve probably gotten used to a mediocre physical keyboard. But otherwise, we suggest you take a look elsewhere in Verizon’s lineup, unless you’re looking for a no frills Android device on Big Red.