The original DROID will always be an icon when it comes to Android phones because so many earlier adopters of Android owned one. For me, it was the phone that brought me to Android, and I never looked back. The main feature of the DROID series has always been the slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which was either loved or hated in the original. With each version, Motorola improved it. With the DROID 2, it was better keys, and with the DROID 3, we were blessed with 5 rows. Now the DROID 4 has laser cut edge lit keys that make it the best keyboard on a phone to date. 2 1/2 years later, the keyboard is still the main focal point, but what about the rest of the phone? This is my full review, but you can also check out my initial hands on video as well.
With the DROID 4, Motorola brought in the styling of the DROID RAZR which is the new theme for Moto devices. After the thinness of the DROID RAZR, I was hoping that the DROID 4 would come in a lot thinner. I know it’s not easy to do with a QWERTY slider, but if anyone could do it Motorola could. To their credit Motorola has improved in this department since the original Droid, which was 14mm thick. The DROID 4 is 12.7mm thick, but there isn’t an improvement from the DROID 3. Again, in their defense they did put a bigger battery in the DROID 4 so it’s understandable. As far as weight goes, the DROID 4 is a little heavier probably because of the addition of LTE and the bigger battery. It’s 180 grams as opposed to 169 grams for the DROID 3.
Typically Motorola hardware feels solid, and the DROID 4 is no exception. It’s not as elegant as the DROID RAZR with the Kevlar coating, but its probably less slippery which is a good thing. The DROID 4 really outshines when you open the slider. The keyboard is sexy and gorgeous. The edge lighting is so beautiful, you almost hate typing in a bright room. The buttons are just the right size with the right amount of distance between the keys. It’s an absolute pleasure to type on.
Other than the keyboard the other major enhancements with the DROID 4, over the DROID 3, is a better processor (1.2 GHz dual-core vs 1.0 GHz dual-core), more memory (1GB of RAM vs 512MB), and the addition of 4G LTE compatibility. The rest of the specs include a 4-inch qHD (960 x 540) display, 8MP rear camera (with 1080p video recording), 1.3MP front camera, 16GB internal memory (8GB reserved for OS and apps), microSD slot for up to 32GB of additional storage, micro HDMI, micro USB, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, and Android 2.3.6.
The DROID 3 had a 1540mAh battery whereas the DROID 4 has 1785mAh. The reason for the larger battery is to help combat the major battery drain issues with 4G LTE. Yes, 1785mAh is close to today’s standards, but unfortunately if you want superior battery life, you won’t find it on this phone or any other LTE phone except the DROID RAZR MAXX, which features a 3300mAh battery. If you’re a light user, you should get 10 hours of usage while connected to LTE. I also ran continuous video to see how long it would last (again connected to LTE), and I was able to get 5 hours. That’s not bad when you look at most other LTE phones. It really comes down to how much you value the battery vs the keyboard. If it’s the keyboard, then this is your phone. If it’s the battery, then your choice is the DROID RAZR MAXX.
Performance is solid. The 1.2 GHz dual-core is as smooth as the DROID RAZR and RAZR MAXX. The AnTuTu benchmark came in at 6030, which is right on par with the 6006 score the DROID RAZR MAXX had. These scores are inline with the Samsung Galaxy S II as well. Overall the DROID 4 is snappy and I can’t see anyone complaining about it.
The display is probably the biggest negative of the DROID 4. For whatever reason, Motorola decided not to go with the same Super AMOLED display found on the DROID RAZR and RAZR MAXX. This one is similar to the penTile display on the Bionic and Atrix 2. The colors are just awful when you compare it to most other devices. I suspect Motorola did this to keep the price at $199, but right now the RAZR is at $199, so it doesn’t make sense. I get to look a lot of phones so it’s hard to put myself in the typical consumer’s shoes, but I suspect the average person wouldn’t find too much fault with it as long as they don’t look at any of their friend’s phones. Again, if the keyboard is really important, and you aren’t hardcore when it comes to displays, you will be alright.
The DROID 4 has Android 2.3.6, and probably won’t see Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich until sometime in quarter 2. I’ve already said it in my previous reviews that I think Motorola has really stepped it up with their UI. It isn’t as “in your face” like it used to be, and they’ve added in some really nice and useful applications like MotoCast and Smart Actions. For more about these, see my review on the DROID RAZR.
As far as bloatware, you can expect these apps: Amazon Kindle, Blockbuster, Go To Meeting, Let’s Golf 2, Madden NFL 12, MOG Music, My Verizon, Netflix, NFL Mobile, Quickoffice, Shazam, Slacker, Slingbox, Smart Actions, Social Location, V CAST Tones, Verizon Video, VideoSurf, and VZ Navigator. As to Motorola applications, I already mentioned MotoCast and Smart Actions, but you will also find MOTOACTV and MOTOPRINT.
As far as removing or uninstalling any of these apps, you will be able to remove Blockbuster, Go To Meeting, Let’s Golf 2, Madden 12, and Shazam. You can’t remove, but you can hide Amazon Kindle, MOG Music, MOTOACTV, MOTOPRINT, My Verizon, Netflix, NFL Mobile, Quickoffice, Slacker, Slingbox, Smart Actions, Social Location, V Cast Tones, Verizon Video, VideoSurf, and VZ Navigator.
Motorola has never wowed anyone with their cameras, and that trend continues with the DROID 4. For quick and simple photos, it will get the job done, but don’t leave your point and shoot at home. Here are some sample photos (the last one was dimly lit and required flash):
The DROID 4 is a solid phone with the one negative standout being the display. Since the original DROID, I haven’t owned another QWERTY style phone, but I missed those days. For me, the display size and thinness is more important now. Those that still want a QWERTY, this is the phone to have. If you’re a Verizon customer and don’t feel like the keyboard is a necessity, then you would probably be better off with the DROID RAZR MAXX or Galaxy Nexus. The DROID RAZR MAXX will give you unbelievable battery life and the Galaxy Nexus will give you the latest and greatest Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich.