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Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

I'm fairly certain that I don't need to tell anyone about the impact the original DROID had on Google's mobile OS. It almost single-handedly brought Android to the masses, saved Motorola from bankruptcy, and made Verizon's then-stale smartphone line-up interesting once more.

Then there was the DROID 2. While it was by no means a bad phone, it would be difficult to argue that it carried the same significance as its predecessor - not to mention its locked bootloader and the godawful addition of Ninjablur.

Well here we are, just about one year later, with yet another iteration in the DROID series: the DROID 3. And with a spec sheet that matches and exceeds that of nearly any other Android phone on the market, it looks set to be another homerun for Verizon. But specs aren't everything, and considering that the D3 has been cursed with a Pentile display and Ninjablur, it's not exactly all rainbows and butterflies. Read on for my initial impressions.

The Specs

As far as technical specifications go, the DROID 3 is inarguably well equipped:

  • 4-inch qHD (960x540) display
  • Dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor (that's even faster than a Tegra 2)
  • 512MB RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage; no included SD card
  • 1.3MP front camera; 8MP rear camera with 1080p video capture
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with Motorola and Verizon's custom overlay
  • 1500mAh battery
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • DLNA
  • CDMA + GSM radios ("global" phone)
  • 5-row slide-out QWERTY keyboard

The Unboxing

If you've seen the packaging for any of Verizon's other DROID-branded products, you already know exactly what to expect. Have a look for yourself:

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The box's contents are nothing out of the ordinary - there's a microUSB-to-USB cable, a charger, the obligatory documentation, and of course the phone itself. No headphones here, though that might not be a knock against the device considering the depressing quality of most bundled earbuds.

The Device - Initial Impressions

It's fast. That's the first thing you'll notice about the DROID 3 - though I suppose that's to be expected considering the dual-core TI OMAP 4430 CPU under its hood.

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The next thing you might notice is the quality of the display - or lack thereof. Indeed, the DROID 3's 4-inch qHD display is of the Pentile variety - and if you've read our DROID X2 review, you know we're not fans of the technology. While I didn't find it quite as irritating as my colleague Aaron Gingrich did, individual pixels are definitely more discernable here than they are on a regular smartphone display. I wouldn't call it a deal-breaker, but if a great screen is your top priority, you'd best look elsewhere.

And then there's the other elephant in the room: MOTOBLUR. You could say the skin has a bit of a bad reputation due to its past, but I'm pleased to report that the latest version of it is actually pretty decent. In fact, I found it superior to most other custom UIs - its animations and widgets aren't quite as over-the-top as those of, say, Sense UI; they're just the right size and have just the right amount of flair.

The phone is built and designed very well, as we've come to expect from Motorola. The keyboard hinge feels sturdy, and the keyboard itself is very comfortable to type on. I also like the formidable visage of the handset - it's much less complicated than that of most other smartphones, but that is in no way a bad thing. Sometimes simplicity is the best route to take.

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Keep in mind that I've only had the phone for a few hours, and as a result, I haven't yet had a chance to test out things like battery life or camera performance. That said, I'm enjoying the device a lot more than I initially thought I would, and - especially with Wirefly's $149.99 deal - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Check back in a week or so for our full review!

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • http://www.podoco.net zach

    on my way to the verizon store to play with one. I like everything about it except for the screen. and... no 4G :(

  • Ted Lovejoy

    I have a D1 so no Motoblur. But isn't it just a bunch of widgets? Can't you just trash it all and use standard android apps?

  • ocdtrekkie

    Here's my BIG peeve.

    The Extended Battery is 1900 mAH, and only costs $10 more than a replacement for the normal battery.

    It's been described by people who've bought it as "imperceptibly" bigger. It needs a new cover, but all the accessories and cases fit over it without a problem.

    If a 1900 mAH battery is only $10 more (for the consumer, it's even cheaper for Moto), and can fit in effectively the same space... Why are they gimping us with 1500 mAH batteries out of the gate?!?!?!?!

  • darat532

    The display on the DX2 was just listed as the best display of the 4.3" android phones. I own the DX2 and the DROID 3 and I have no faults with either display. The DROID 3 is a Bad Ass QWERTY packing Android phone. It is pulling a Quadrant of 2500, running 58.5 FPS on Neocore, and it is tied or better than the Samsung Galaxy S2 in the Smart Bench 2011 scores. I really feel the device is getting unfair reviews do to the display that you must be looking at under a microscope.

  • Devin

    Nope, the display sucks. No microscope needed.

  • basskidd

    The pentile screen on the Atrix was way worse than any other. Even the OG droid's screen was miles better. I ended up switching to inspire after seeing my friend's thunderbolt screen which was miles better.

  • darat532

    please read the UNBIASED review from the link below.
    http://www.infosyncworld.com/reviews/cell-phones/top-5-big-screen-phones/12154.html

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation, HTC evo 3D, LG G2X, Motorola Atrix 4g, Samsung Infuse 4G, Droid X2 and a Droid 3. I can look at the screens side by side. The only screen that stands out is the Samsung Galaxy S2. But even with the SGS2 you can tell that it is not as high definition as the Qhd screens. I would love to see a Qhd version of the Super Amoled +. I think the reason it has not been offered is that Samsung knows that the speed and benchmarks of the device will go down with a higher resolution screen.

    • jaZzyjeff

      "I have a Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation, HTC evo 3D, LG G2X, Motorola Atrix 4g, Samsung Infuse 4G, Droid X2 and a Droid 3."

      Look at this doucher lol

  • Chris

    Does this have the same feel as the keyboard on the D1? After about a year of heavy use on it the plastic on top of the keyboard beveled up and is virtually impossible to type on now. Are these more like Droid Pro buttons?

    • Joe

      The keyboard is a lot different than the D1. The keys are lifted and it has a top row for dedicated number keys. The keyboard its much of an improvement from the D1.

  • venky

    Why dont you just go for an S2? Its still far better than this droid..

  • LONG
  • Luzy

    $124 at Sam's Club....yep, just got one and now I'm learning how to use it...So far, it's been fun!