Calling and Data
Data speeds and reception are above average on Verizon’s 3G network. We regularly got over 1 meg down and 800k up according to the Speedtest.net app, vs. 550k down on other Verizon 3G EV-DO Rev. A smartphones. Our peak download reached 1.8Mbps down and 905kbps up. Nice. The Droid 3, like the Droid 2 Global, is a world phone: it has a Vodafone SIM card that allows you to use the phone’s GSM radio to make calls and access 3G data overseas in countries where GSM service is available. The phone is locked to Vodafone, and that means no using it with other SIM cards unless you get it unlocked. The phone is quad band GSM and it has 3G HSPDA on the 850/1900 and 2100MHz bands, and that means it technically would work on AT&T but Verizon phones typically block US GSM carriers.
Call quality on the other hand was disappointing. Motorola’s high end phones generally have both excellent reception and voice quality. Our Droid 3’s incoming voice sounded a bit indistinct so we had to listen closely to understand every word. Our call recipients said we sounded digitized and not terribly clear. The speakerphone is loud and clear, though clarity suffers a bit if call quality is less than stellar.
The Motorola Droid 3 has a dual core TI OMAP4430 CPU running at 1GHz. That’s the same CPU used in the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, and it’s no slouch. The phone feels responsive despite the added demands of Motoblur UI enhancements. Screens draw quickly, 3D games play fluidly and Adobe Flash 10.3 works well. The phone scores an impressive 2477 in the Quadrant benchmark, putting it on par with the fastest Android dual core smartphones.
The phone has 512 megs of RAM (that’s not a lot) and 16 gigs of internal storage with 1.5 gigs of application storage and 11.3 gigs of data storage free for your use. There’s a microSD card slot under the battery cover (no need to pull the battery), but no card is included.
Android OS 2.3.4 Gingerbread is on board, and that’s currently the most recent version of Google’s phone operating system. This version supports video calling in Google Talk, but alas, the Droid 3 doesn’t support it (perhaps it will come in the future?). The Droid 3 runs Motoblur software, a combination of UI enhancements and social network integration. You need not create a Motoblur account to use the phone, and the UI enhancements aren’t the over-the-top sort we saw in early Android Motoblur phones. There are a variety of Motorola widgets that you can choose to use or disable. These widgets include wireless controls, an analog clock, calendar, bookmarks, Citrix favorites, Sticky notes, traffic, weather and social networking. . Motorola’s My Accounts app integrates Backup Assistant, Google, MS Exchange sync, email, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, MySpace, Photobucket, Picasa, Twitter, Visual Voice Mail, Yahoo mail and YouTube accounts. We’re neutral on the this version of Motoroblur: it doesn’t wow us nor does it annoy us.
The Droid 3's 1540 mAh Lithium Ion battery easily powered us through a day of moderate use that included push email with 2 accounts, sporadic web surfing throughout the day, 30 minutes of voice calls, playing a few YouTube videos and taking photos and video.
Imaging hasn’t been strong in Motorola phones, but the 8 megapixel camera in the Droid 3 takes some sharp shots, particularly outdoors and in good lighting. Photos have decent light balance, good colors and are sharp but not pixelated. There’s some noise, even in well-lit outdoor shots, but nothing beyond what we see in most 5 to 8 megapixel camera phones. The Droid 3 can also shoot 1080p video with two channels of audio, and the Moto took better video than my 8MP HTC Sensation 4G, though the Sensation takes better photos. The Droid 3's camera application has settings for quality, flash control, panorama mode and more.
The Droid 3 is a solid evolution of one of Motorola's most successful smartphone lines. It's faster, has a higher resolution display and the camera is surprisingly decent. If you've got the original Droid and have enjoyed that phone, we heartily suggest you check out the Droid 3: it's much faster and the display is definitely improved. If you're looking for a high end QWERTY smartphone on Verizon Wireless, the Droid 3 should be on your list.
Price: $199 with a 2 year contract
Websites: www.motorola.com, www.verizonwireless.com