WiFi Hotspot

Like most all other Android phones, the Droid 3 supports creation of a mobile WiFi hotspot, and does so through some custom Motorola software rather than the stock android host AP tool. The Droid 3 allows a maximum of 5 simultaneous users on its WiFi hotspot, and unlike the X2, I was able to test this out and run our hotspot battery life test and also stress test a bit. The configuration tool thankfully allows specification of which channel to use (something most others don’t) alongside the typical WPA2 PSK/open configuration and of course SSID. The software also gives control over individual connected devices, showing a list and also providing a notification when devices attach and detach.

 

I encountered no bugginess at all with the Droid 3’s mobile AP when using it at cafes or when out and about. It’s effectively the same software used across the entire Motorola Droid lineup with the latest respective updates.

Speakerphone Quality

Next up is speakerphone, which is important of course not only for voice calling but also playing back music and using Google navigation. I talked about the car dock already, and the real assumption is that you use the car dock in conjunction with either A2DP to a bluetooth head unit, or use a supplied 3.5mm audio cable that jacks into your car’s aux jack, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Sadly, my car lacks both bluetooth and an aux jack, and has no tape deck or easy other means of getting audio in, so having a loud speakerphone for route guidance is very important.

The Droid 3’s speakerphone is on the back and changed considerably from the previous generation Droid and Droid 2 which previously stuck it under a grille next to the battery. Instead, the Droid 3 has a small, long port with a raised top lip to prevent the port from laying completely coplanar with a table and directing no audio out. Next to it, centered, is a microphone which aids in noise cancellation and also stereo audio capture.

Speakerphone Volume

We measure speakerphone volume by placing a call to the test ASOS locally and using a digital decibel meter placed 6” above the device with its display face-up and on maximum volume. By the charts, the Droid 3 honestly isn’t as loud as its predecessors. Subjectively, I agree with the results - it isn’t as loud as I wish it could be while using Google navigation, but there’s no distortion on the speaker at least.

Call Quality and Noise Rejection

Last but not least in this section is actual call quality, which we’ve done a bit more analysis on with the Droid 3 than normal. I think we’re starting to settle on a call testing suite that’s representative, though some non-subjective tests are still being derived.

The first thing we’ve done is place calls to the local ASOS number and record them with the Droid 3 on three different voice coders. By default, virtually all CDMA2000 1x voice devices use EVRC, however there’s another EVRC-B voice coder which adds a quarter rate, and the highest quality 13k voice coder which is sort of a legacy standard that sounds better but uses more bandwidth. I’ve tested the same number with all three and tossed them up on soundcloud. This is of course a recording taken by running line-out from the Droid 3 to line-in and recording.

Motorola Droid 3 - EVRC Verizon Wireless by AnandTech Motorola Droid 3 EVRC-B Verizon Wireless by AnandTech Motorola Droid 3 - 13k Verizon Wireless by AnandTech

The Droid 3 subjectively sounds excellent in call tests, definitely better than the average CDMA2000 phone. In addition, I decided to test another thing - ambient noise cancellation on the Droid 3 when in a noisy environment. I noted earlier that the device has three microphones, one at the very top, one on the back, and one on the front at the lip of the device.

To test this, I called a couple of parties in a loud environment playing back music and increased volume, asking them if they could hear the background noise. Only at the highest settings did they report hearing any background noise at all. I went on to then test by recording the call and likewise playing back loud music. I compared to the iPhone 4 and made two recordings where background music (which included vocalizations in addition to instrumentals). Only at the highest (almost painful) volume levels is background noise audible to the receiving party, as illustrated in the recordings I’ve uploaded and provided below. The Droid 3 arguably performs better than the iPhone 4 at noise rejection which is quite a landmark considering its longstanding reputation as having excellent noise rejection.

Motorola Droid 3 to AT&T iPhone 4 by AnandTech AT&T iPhone 4 to Motorola Droid 3 by AnandTech

The Droid 3 has excellent ambient noise cancellation during calls, again thanks to the two extra microphones which are no doubt used for processing. I’m not sure what IP is beyond the Droid 3’s noise rejection hardware, but clearly it does a good job.

Cellular and WiFi Connectivity, GPS OMAP 4430 and Performance Analysis
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  • EndlessChris - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Great review as always. Looks like this will be my new phone :) Reply
  • RaistlinZ - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Sharp lookin' phone. I like. Reply
  • vol7ron - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    I like this too, larger screen, nice looking keyboard, great looking device. It seems to have it all.

    One thing, does it really have a 0.3MP front-facing camera? I would suspect 1.3MP would be more realistic, especially since there are probably economies of scale for that technology right now.

    Thx,
    vol7ron
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, August 05, 2011 - link

    Vol7ron,

    It definitely does have a 0.3 MP (VGA) front facing camera. http://developer.motorola.com/products/droid-3-xt8...

    I'd like to see 1.3 MP sensors on the front for sure, but at this point it doesn't make sense until both the per-pixel quality is the same (same size pixels) and there are apps that can actually do some HD teleconferencing (like if Skype had support). We're almost there though.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Myrandex - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    It would be for me if it wasn't for this bastardization that Verizon did:

    The obvious next part of the story is that WCDMA HSPA+ 14.4 Mbps connectivity. Unfortunately, Verizon has locked the retail Droid 3 out of seeing USA-based GSM/WCDMA networks with an MCC (Mobile Country Code) lock.

    Why can't Verizon just allow the hardware to perform at its fullest rather than finding some way to lock it down? They have always been terrible about locking their phones in some way.

    Jason Cook
    Reply
  • themossie - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Tried the Droid 3 in store the day it came out, mixed feelings about the screen.
    Found it very usable for applications, not usable for serious reading (news, ebooks, etc). First time I've suffered eyestrain from an LCD screen with decent brightness and contrast. Droid 1 works great for this use case.

    Brian, Anand and the rest of the AnandTech team - any opinions on this? Anyone else?
    Reply
  • themossie - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Also, thanks for the great review - business as usual at Anandtech! Reply
  • steven75 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Indeed. Can't believe he tried to equate this pentile display with less resolution in a larger screen size (significantly worse PPI) with the retina display. They aren't even close. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    I'll trust the guy who looks at hundreds of phones per year over the hyperbolic masses who troll the internet.

    I'll also trust my own eyes and science, which prove you wrong.
    Reply
  • Finraziel - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Well, I'll also trust my own eyes, and the picture right above where Brian says he doesn't mind pentile too much really makes the droid3's screen look like crap compared to the lower resolution droid2 right next to it. My experience with other pentile screens also suggests there's absolutely no point in increasing the resolution only by using a trick like this, you end up with noticably lower effective resolution. I'd prefer an actually sharp screen over impressive specifications.
    I really hope when the 720p screen phones come out in the next half year or so they wont be using cheap tricks like this.
    Reply

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