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Motorola Droid 4

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: Verizon
Manufacturer: Motorola
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What's hot: Superb QWERTY keyboard, solid build, excellent voice quality and LTE 4G.

What's not: Flimsy back battery door, display isn't as impressive as the rest of the phone.


Reviewed February 10, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Motorola Droid 4 is Verizon's latest QWERTY Android slider. We've always had a soft spot for the Droid line with its good performance, impressive build and good QWERTY keyboard. The fourth Droid has the best keyboard yet, and it's our favorite keyboard among all smartphones. It's roomy, tactile and has superb backlighting. It's a texter's dream. The keyboard has a 5 row layout with a dedicated number row, arrow quadrant and a generously large space bar. The only thing missing are dedicated Android shortcut keys.

Motorola Droid 4

The phone is no slouch in other areas, and it has the same specs as other recent Motorola high end Android phones on Verizon Wireless. You get a 1.2GHz dual core TI processor with a gig of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage. There's a front video chat camera and a rear 8 megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video. The phone has WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a GPS that works with Google Maps and VZ Navigator, and a special treat: 4G LTE. While the Droid 3 was a world phone with 3G, this is the first QWERTY Moto Droid with LTE 4G, and it's hard not to love Verizon's 4G speeds.

Motorola Droid 4

The display is less enticing: it's a 4" qHD 960 x 540 pixel LCD of just average quality but above average brightness. If you've seen the Droid Bionic's display, you've all but seen the Droid 4's, which is simply a brighter version. It's reasonably sharp and clear but it has just average color saturation and contrast. It's viewable outdoors thanks to the super bright panel. We can understand why Moto didn't go with 720p (1280 x 720) resolution given the small (by today's big phone standards) display and more affordable $199 with contract price point.

Motorola Droid 4

Above: the Motorola Droid 4 and Droid RAZR MAXX.

Software and OS

The Droid 4 runs Android OS 2.3.6 Gingerbread, and Verizon promises an upgrade to OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That leaves the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as your only choice if you're dying to have ICS now. It comes with the usual Motorola software like MotoPrint, MotoActive, MotoCast and social networking software that integrates with Gallery. Business apps include GoToMeeting and the full version of QuickOffice (read, write and edit MS Office docs). Verizon's usual boatload of bundled software is here too: their data counter widget, VZ Navigator, Verizon Video (a pay-for streaming video service), V Cast Tones, VideoSurf, Slacker, Slingbox, MOG Music, Let's Golf 2, Madden NFL 12 (demo), Blockbuster and Amazon Kindle. Honestly, we wouldn't mind if Verizon cut back on the number of apps, since one can download the non-Verizon apps from the Market for free. The phone has the full suite of Google Android apps including the Google Search widget.

Motorola Droid 4






Motorola Droid 4 Video Review

Design and Ergonomics

The sliding keyboard necessitates a thicker design, and the Droid 4 is nearly twice as thick as the keyboard-less Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX. At a half inch, it's still slim for a QWERTY slider, and its dimensions are more manageable since it has a 4" display (height and width are less than the Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX). The 6.3 ounce Droid 4 has similar lines to the RAZR family, but somehow still manages to look a little dull.

The slider is stiff in a reassuring way, but the battery door is flimsy plastic, unlike the higher end metal and soft touch materials used on older Droid smartphones. Since the microSD card slot is located under the battery door, you'll probably have to fiddle with that delicate door frequently, and one of our cover's tabs already broke off. I honestly can't believe Moto put that nasty back on this otherwise extremely well made phone.

It's not easy to avoid removing that back: we often resorted to a card reader for microSD card file transfer because the phone works with MotoCast software rather than mounting as a mass storage device. MotoCast has some cool features like remote access to your Windows or Mac OS computer's files over the network (USB works too), but you must install the software on each computer you want to use with the Droid 4. And the software down-converts higher quality video before transferring it to the phone, which isn't desirable given the Droid 4's ability to play 1080p content via HDMI.

The headphone jack is up top when held in portrait mode with the keyboard closed, but that translates to the lower left corner when held in landscape mode to watch video or use the keyboard. Your hand and the headphone cord will likely fight. The power button is up top and there are mics at the top and bottom. The micro USB and Micro HDMI ports are on the left side and the small volume controls are on the right. The Droid 4 works with Motorola's latest Lapdock models, the 10.1" $249 Lapdock 100 and the 14" $349 Lapdock 500 Pro. These turn the phone into a notebook of sorts. The Lapdock is a notebook shell with a display, keyboard, trackpad, stereo speakers, SD card slot, Ethernet port, VGA port and USB ports. The phone provides the brains.

Phone and Data

Like most Motorola smartphones on Verizon, the Droid 4 has excellent incoming and outgoing voice quality. Voice is clear, easy to understand and noise reduction works well to reduce background noise without distorting voice. The earpiece volume is average and the speakerphone is good but not awe-inspiring like the original Droid.

The phone has EV-DO Rev. A 3G and 4G LTE. It comes with the usual Mobile Hotspot feature so you can use the phone as a wireless high speed modem for a tablet, notebook or other WiFi device in need of an Internet connection. On our first day with the Droid 4, data speeds on Verizon's large 4G LTE network were lower than expected and were slower than the other Verizon phones on our desk, despite a stable signal. The next day things looked better, and we saw 10Mbps down and 3Mbps up with a 2 bar signal and 15Mbps down/5Mbps up with a 4 bar signal.

We didn't experience 3G-4G waffling where the phone bounces between the two networks when the 4G signal is poor, and the Droid 4 pulls in a stronger LTE signal than our Droid RAZR MAXX running on the same chipset. In fact, it's on par with the generally better Qualcomm chipset based Android LTE phones on Verizon, the HTC Rezound and LG Spectrum.

Performance and Multimedia

The Droid 4 is a capable performer thanks to its 1.2GHz dual core TI OMAP CPU. That's fairly state of the art (we've yet to see a shipping quad core Android smartphone), and it's the same CPU used in the Droid RAZR phones and the Galaxy Nexus. The phone feels responsive and apps run fluidly. 3D games play smoothly, as does locally stored 1080p MPEG4 content and streaming video (watch our video review to see these in action). Motorola doesn't mess much with the Android UI, so there's no heavy software overlay to slow things down. The Droid 4 does well on benchmarks, and we found it every bit as fast as other recent higher end Verizon Wireless Android smartphones.


Quadrant: 2884
AnTuTu: 6100
Sunspider: 2185
Nenamark2: 28.1 fps

The Droid 4 has a gig of RAM like all Lapdock-compatible Moto phones and 16 gigs of internal storage that's divided between application storage (2.7 gigs) and file storage (almost 8 gigs). There's a microSD card slot under the battery door, but no card is included.

Battery Life

Verizon and Motorola claim an impressive 12.5 hours of 3G talk time, and we managed 11 hours. The beefy 1785 mAh battery has excellent stamina on Verizon's 3G network, and decent battery life on 4G. It lasted 6.1 hours on LTE, which isn't bad at all among Verizon's 4G phones, though not impressive compared to 3G runtimes. It won't outlast the mighty Droid RAZR MAXX with its immense 3,300 mAh battery, but the RAZR phones lack that lovely hardware keyboard. Oddly, you can look at the battery underneath the back door, but it's labelled as not user accessible. A not very sticky label covers it, and we peeled it back to see what looks like a fairly standard Lithium Ion battery with a computer-guts style connector rather than the usual phone battery connector.


If you're in need of a high quality QWERTY Android smartphone, the fourth, but probably not final entry in the Droid line is a strong choice. The Droid 4 is a solid evolution of the original Droid line, with LTE 4G, a fast dual core modern CPU, excellent voice quality and the best keyboard in the business. It's not super-stylin', but it's reasonably slim at 0.5" and has excellent build quality other than the cheesy battery door that's already falling apart on our unit. Reception is stable and beats the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX, while staying on par with the HTC Rezound and LG Spectrum.

Price: $199 with 2 year contract, $549 without contract.



Motorola Droid 4

The Droid 4 and Droid RAZR MAXX.


Motorola Droid 4


Motorola Droid 4


Motorola Droid 4


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Display: 4" capacitive LCD. Resolution: qHD 960 x 540, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer, has an ambient light sensor and proximity sensor.

Battery: 1875 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 12.5 hours.

Performance: 1.2GHz TI OMAP dual core CPU with 1 gig of RAM and graphics acceleration. 16 gigs internal storage.

Size: 5.0 x 2.8 x 0.5 inches. Weight: 6.31 ounces.

Phone: CDMA dual band digital with EV-DO Rev. A 3G and 4G LTE.

Camera: 1.3MP front video chat camera and 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash. Can shoot 1080p video.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Android OS 2.3.6 Gingerbread, upgradeable to Android OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot, no card included.


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