If ever a product has summed up the progression of the Android ecosystem, it’s the Motorola Droid. The first Droid catapulted Android into the mainstream with its first 2.x release, and since then the Droid itself has seen a yearly update cadence that honestly has shown no sign of stopping. The updates thus far track the trends that we’ve seen affect the Android ecosystem as a whole - newer and better versions of Android alongside ever increasing SoC performance, display improvements, camera improvements, and refined hardware design.

I think that pretty much sums up what kind of update the Motorola Droid 3 (henceforth just Droid 3) is. It’s an iterative product launch, for sure, but that belies just how good the improvements all around really are. I noted a few of them already - the Droid 3 includes a dual core OMAP 4430 SoC, larger 4” qHD display, more internal storage, better camera, front facing camera, and most notably a much improved 5 row QWERTY keyboard.

Of course the huge question mark is what has improved connectivity-wise on the Droid 3. There’s no 4G LTE baseband, however, instead of repeating the Droid 2 and Droid 2 Global duopoly, Motorola just went ahead and made the Droid 3 global from the start. That’s right, it’s a dual-mode phone. It’s no consolation if you’re still waiting for an LTE enabled device with a physical keyboard (for that, you’ll have to wait for Samsung to release its rumored next device), but in my mind right now you can either have multi-mode global (CDMA2000 and GSM/UMTS) compatibility or multi-mode (CDMA2000 and LTE) with 4G connectivity. As of yet there’s no having it both ways.

We’ll talk more about all of that in due time, but for now let’s just go over the Droid 3’s outward physical appearance and hardware.

First off, the Droid 3 is notably larger than its predecessor. It’s 3 mm wider, 7 mm taller, but almost 1 mm thinner. Those changes in outline are both to accommodate the 4” screen (as opposed to 3.7”) and likewise the additional keyboard row. Mass is up as well, from 169 to 184 grams. I won’t bore you with all the specifications that have changed, you can just check out the table below.

Physical Comparison
  HTC Thunderbolt Motorola Droid 2 Motorola Droid X2 Motorola Droid 3
Height 122 mm (4.8") 116.3 mm (4.6") 126.5 mm (4.98") 123.3 mm (4.85")
Width 67 mm (2.63") 60.5 mm (2.4") 65.5 mm (2.58") 64.1 mm (2.52")
Depth 13.2 mm (0.52") 13.7 mm (0.54") 9.9 - 14.4 mm (0.39"-0.57") 12.9 mm (0.51")
Weight 183.3 g (6.46 oz) 169 g (5.9 oz) 148.8 g (5.25 oz) 184 g (6.49 oz)
CPU 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz Cortex-A8 OMAP 3620 1 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 Tegra 2 AP20H 1 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 OMAP 4430
GPU Adreno 205 PowerVR SGX 530 ULP GeForce PowerVR SGX 540
RAM 768 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2
NAND 4 GB NAND with 32 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled 8 GB integrated, preinstalled 8 GB microSD 8 GB NAND, 8 GB microSD class 4 preinstalled 16 GB NAND, up to 32 GB microSD
Camera 8 MP with autofocus and dual LED flash, 720p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 5 MP with dual LED flash and autofocus 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 720p30 video recording 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1080p30 video recording, VGA (0.3MP) front facing
Screen 4.3” 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 3.7" FWVGA 854 x 480 IPS-LCD 4.3" 960 x 540 RGBW LCD 4.0" 960 x 540 RGBW LCD
Battery Removable 5.18 Whr Removable 5.2 Whr Removable 5.65 Whr Removable 5.65 Whr

Subjectively however, I was shocked at just how thin the Droid 3 feels in the hand in spite of the slide-out keyboard. It seems like generally there’s a certain amount of unacceptable overhead that always comes alongside including an actual keyboard, yet the Droid 3 manages to do it without making it painfully obvious that everything was designed around it instead of with it.

The other major difference is how much different the Droid 3 feels compared to the Droid 2 - entirely as a result of the device using squared edges instead of the rounded chamfers that ringed the Droid 2. There’s been a recent slow march away from rounded industrial design to one dominated by rigid 90 degree angles, and the Droid 3 follows that trend with this move.

Hardware Overview - Nods from the Droid X
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  • burkex90 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Buyer beware!!!!
    There are only two chargers that will work properly with the Droid 3. They are as follows,
    The P617 and the P510
    The P617 should come in the box with the car dock and cable. Every end of the cable has a tag
    with a picture of what it should be plugged into. On the large USB end of the cable it shows a picture of the P617 car charger, period end of story use this charger only!
    When I ordered my car dock through Verizon $60 and change after taxes, the charger was missing. I was told to contact Motorola, they sent me a P513 charger as pictured in the article above. This charger is capable of charging the battery only, using navigation will cause the phone and battery to overheat considerably.
    The P510 will charge the battery and run the phone independently of each other, leaving you with a fully charged battery after using navigation or other apps. The same goes for the P617 which should be included with the package as it is indicated on the cord.
    The P510 information about its ability to run the phone independently while charging is available on the Motorola store website, click on the device then click more info. But you shouldn't have to do any of this if you received the P617 charger.
    The P513 car charger fried my phone.
    Please pay attention to what charger you intend on getting, the 513 ultimately cost me a $122 repair bill from Motorola.

    Good luck,
    Michael Burke
    Reply
  • rinyin - Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - link

    Droid3 still uses the QC MDM6600 GPS, and not the TI. It's the first to support GLONASS as well as GPS satellites, which is one explanation for performance gain. Reply
  • MISSY7X - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    JUST WANTED TO SAY THANK YOU FOR SUCH AN AWESOME OVERVIEW OF THE DRIOD 3 GLOBAL PHONE. I AM BEING SENT THIS MODEL BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO SEND ME 5 DROD GLOBAL 2'S ALREADY WITHIN ONE YEAR! NEVER DUE TO WATER DAMAGE OR DROPPING...INSTEAD ITS BEEN AN AWFUL OHONE FROM THE START. SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH EACH ONE VERIZONA DN ASURION HAD TO SEND ME. THEY ARE SENDING ME THE GLOBAL 3 MONDAY AND I WATCHED YOUR VIDEO AND READ YOUR SPECS AND THE IMPROVEMNTS. I APPRECIATED YOUR HONESTY AT THE END AS WELL ABOUT THE ONE THING YOU REALLY DIDNT LIKE AS WELL AS THE GALLERY CLUTTER :). ANUWAY, THANKS FOR EING SO THOROUGH AND HONEST!!! ~ MISSY ~ Reply
  • MISSY7X - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    SO SORRY FOR THE MISSPELLING OF MY COMMENT...I SHOULD HAVE PROOFED FIRST...LOL! THX AGAIN! ~MISSY ~ Reply

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