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Motorola Droid 3

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: Verizon
Manufacturer: Motorola
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What's hot: Excellent build, fast, great keyboard.

What's not: Voice quality could be better.


Reviewed August 16, 2011 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Another year, another Droid smartphone from Motorola. Sequels often become dull, but somehow we never get tired of Motorola’s high end slider Android phone. The Droid 3 on Verizon Wireless amps the specs to match today’s high end handsets: a dual core 1GHz CPU, a sharp 4” qHD 540 x 960 touch screen and both front and rear cameras. The tweaks aren’t all hidden inside; we particularly like the Droid 3’s keyboard that feels better than ever and sports a dedicated number row.

Droid 3 by Motorola

Those of you who have a Droid 2 are likely still under contract and won't be looking at this phone as your upgrade, but original Motorola Droid owners should definitely check out Droid the third.  As we’ve come to expect from the Motorola Droid, build quality is excellent with plenty of metal, a soft touch finish and a luxurious keyboard slider mechanism. The phone runs Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread with Motoblur software. Verizon and Moto throw in some business oriented software like Citrix, but there's fun stuff too like the game Nova HD (playable demo) and all the Adobe Flash you can eat. Battery life is good with the stock 1540 mAh Lithium Ion battery (a consolation for not getting 4G LTE).

Droid 3 by Motorola

The design is masculine and elegant. The phone has 4 front capacitive Android buttons that work well, a micro HDMI 1.3a port, micro USB port and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. The small power button is up top and it’s a bit hard to press. That’s good for avoiding accidental power ons, but annoying when you actually intend to turn on the phone.  Verizon says the Droid 3 is the slimmest QWERTY slider smartphone, and that thinness, combined with a metal battery cover, means that the back of the phone sometimes gets warm to the touch. Why? Metal transfers heat and the thinner the phone, the closer the motherboard is to the casing.

The 4” Gorilla Glass display sports the same resolution as the Motorola Atrix 4G and HTC Sensation 4G; qHD 540 x 960 vs. the usual 800 x 480. We appreciate the extra pixels when viewing web pages and photos, and the 240dpi pentile display is both sharp and bright. The phone has a tricolor notification LED above the display.

The Droid 3 keyboard is one of our favorites among lateral sliders. It’s roomy, tactile and the keys aren’t slippery. New for the Droid 3 is a dedicated number row that’s highlighted in light gray vs. black for the alpha keys. Alternate characters are masked in yellow vs. white for the main characters and the backlight is an even white. The keyboard slides out with a pleasing click and locks in place; it’s definitely a sturdy mechanism. Four arrow keys handle directional navigation, and there are buttons for voice command, search and “OK”. The “@” symbol and “/” don’t require secondary key presses but there’s only one shift key (on the left).


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Droid 3 by Motorola Video Review

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 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.

Battery Life

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.

Droid 3 by Motorola


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


Droid 3 by Motorola


Droid 3 by Motorola


Droid 3 by Motorola


Droid 3 by Motorola


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Display: 4" capacitive multi-touch display (240 dpi, Corning Gorilla Glass). Resolution: qHD 540 x 960, supports both portrait and landscape modes, has an ambient light sensor and proximity sensor.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1540 mAh.

Performance: 1GHz dual core Texas Instruments OMAP4430 CPU with hardware graphics acceleration. 512 megs RAM. 16 gigs internal flash storage with 1.5 gigs application storage and 11.3 gigs data storage.

Size: 4.49 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches. Weight: 5.9 ounces.

Phone: CDMA dual band digital with 3G EV-DO Rev. A. Quad band GSM with 3G HSDPA on the 850/1900/2100MHz bands. Comes with Vodafone SIM card.

Camera: Front VGA camera and rear 8 megapixel with LED flash. Can shoot 1080p video at 30 fps.

GPS: Has GPS with aGPS that works with Google Maps and Navigation and VZ Navigator.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10 included for your MP3 pleasure.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

Software: Android OS 2.3.4 Gingerbread with Motoblur software.

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot.


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