The Droid 3 also takes an incredible number of design nods from the Droid X2 (and its physically identical cousin, the Droid X). In fact, I’d almost consider the Droid 3 more of a Droid X2 with keyboard than an in-place update of the Droid 2. Almost every single side has some language from the X2’s design vocabulary.

Top: Droid 3, Bottom: Droid 2

Starting up at the very top is an incredibly similar power and lock button, which juts out squarely from the center. This is just like the Droid X2 button, and a huge departure from the Droid 2’s rounded, off-center design. The headphone jack is on the far side and hangs over the edge slightly. There’s also a small gap for prying the battery cover off the Droid 3, which also does double duty as a port for one of the Droid 3’s three microphones. The power button is easy to locate thanks to it jutting out by almost one mm, and has a communicative click. I always did find that the Droid 2’s rounded button made the device seem sleek, but made powering the thing on sometimes a challenge unless you always put your finger on the button immediately.

The part of the Droid 3 that I find most similar to the X2 is the left side, which includes a microUSB and microHDMI (type D) port on the bottom quarter. In-between the two is a small circle that looks like it was intended to accommodate a charging LED (which the Droid and Droid 2 both placed next to the microUSB port), instead it serves no such purpose and seems to be an afterthought. I should note that the Droid 3 box doesn’t include a microHDMI to HDMI cable, so you’ll wind up having to order one if you want to try HDMI mirroring, which the Droid 3 does support.

The bottom of the Droid 3 still includes the lip motif that the original Droid started, however the bottom part of the lip is no longer incorporated into top display piece which slides. Dead center and right where the display piece ends is the main microphone for voice. This bottom lip is coated with a glossy chrome material that shows fingerprints, as is the entire display lip. The gap between the display and bottom slider portion is just shy of a fingernail, and thankfully there’s very little flex with the device closed. We’ll go into more detail about the slider in a second.

The back of the Droid 3 is no longer a single metal piece, instead it’s one large snap-on plastic part. Getting the battery door off is almost as harrowing on the Droid 3 as it is on the Nokia N900 - jam a thumb in, then pry the entire affair off. No matter how many times I do this, it’s an unnerving experience.

Behind that door is the Motorola’s 5.7 Whr battery, which is larger in terms of capacity and different in size compared to the Droid 2 battery. It’s a different model number entirely, so you’re unfortunately out of luck if you’re a previous generation Droid owner with a small collection of batteries.

Next to it is the SIM card slot, which of course comes prepopulated a Verizon/Vodafone SIM you’ll need to activate if you want to roam abroad. The other option is of course to call, ask politely for (or buy) an unlock, but more on that later. Adjacent to the SIM slot is the microSD card slot, which comes without any preinstalled card. That’s right, there’s no microSD card provided with the Droid 3, instead I guess the logic is that 16 GB of internal storage supplants the need for potentially slower SD card based storage. You can always add one of your own, however. There are also four gold pogo pins also on the back of the device which make contact with the Droid 3’s optional inductive charging battery cover.

Below that is the speakerphone port, which has a slightly raised top side to prevent it from laying completely coplanar and being muffled by a table. There’s a nice mesh grille preventing grime from getting inside too far in the speakerphone port. Dead center is another microphone for noise cancellation and for use with some fancy DSP when recording video.

On the far right side is another interesting change, gone is the dual-detent camera button completely, just like the Droid X2. It’s a change I think will initially confuse existing Droid users, especially because of how notable the camera button was in previously differentiating the device. At the very top is the volume rocker, which is one solid piece of plastic that pivots. It’s nice and clicky, thankfully. There’s also a small gap up near the volume buttons which a corresponding bulge on the display slider mates into.

This is what keeps the Droid 3’s slider mechanism so firm when the phone is closed and in portrait mode. It doesn’t oreo effect at all or have much play at all. When being slid out, the same applies until the bottom part extends beyond the bulge.

Introduction and Hardware QWERTY Keyboard Explored
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  • Lucian Armasu - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    I completely agree with you on this. Either raise the resolution for a normal LCD/AMOLED screen (RGB) or don't raise it at all if you're going to use Pentile. It makes the display worse overall.

    It's like you're trying to increase sharpness of the display by increasing resolution by 30%, and then you use Pentile which *drops* sharpness by 60%. The end result is negative on the sharpness of the display.
  • YoPete525 - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Have you guys actually looked at the Droid 3 in person? Most elements on the screen still appear sharper than say on the Incredible 2, which has a relatively comparable 4-inch screen with the 800x480 resolution. You also have to realize that a higher resolution means more viewable content, such as more settings options on the same screen, or more emails in the same view. The increased detail is very noticeable on, for example, home screen icons, looking at the Droid 3 and then a phone with the traditional 800x480 makes icons on the smaller resolution screen appear comically large.

    Solid colors, especially the green (which is in the battery icon), do look fuzzy, as well as a combination of lines on certain backgrounds, and colored text. But at least give the screen a chance in person before you write it off. In terms of overall screen sharpness, you're right in that the RGBW Pentile matrix isn't ideal, but it isn't as bad as you make it out to be.
  • snowblind64 - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Let's not forget there are benefits to a RGBW pentile screen. Battery drain is consistently well under 10% on my Droid 3 thanks to that extra white sub-pixel.
  • themossie - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    For some, it really is that bad.

    I used it in person, spent a couple off hours in the shop playing with it. Compared to the Droid 1, on the Droid 3 I have to read text at a greater font display size / zoom level (the characters have to be bigger on screen) and as a result can fit less content on the screen than on the Droid 1.

    Best comparison I can make: it feels like you are running an LCD screen at a very uncomplimentary non-native resolution. Try running a 1080p screen at 900p, it's painful to most any power user - you can still read and do work, but everything is fuzzy and hurts the eyes. Some people aren't bothered by this, others get headaches.

    For UI elements, the screen is acceptable; for reading this becomes a problem.

    I'm glad (and jealous) the Droid 3 screen works for you :-) I want a new slider that beats my OG Droid!
  • RavnosCC - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    Agreed! I played w/the phone side by side with my D1 on all my favorite sites, reading the same content... trying to find a comparable zoom level on the D3 that didn't make the text look horrible was near impossible on most of the sites I frequent. I think Moto needs to seriously rethink the idea that increasing specs while effectively lowering quality will become the future :( The trade-offs aren't worth it, imho.
  • relativityboy - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    As a posessor of the D3 I can say my D1's screen looks much better.
  • Brian Klug - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    So you have to keep in mind that the photo actually is a 100% crop that I supplied to just show the differences in the subpixel matrix between RGBW and RGB.

    I've been pretty critical of PenTile RGBG in the past, and admittedly RGBW still isn't as desirable as straight up RGB, but it definitely is a way to emulate higher equivalent resolution. The other RGBW advantage is of course the reduction in power (just keep the W subpixel in the on position when displaying white) and thus requiring a less powerful backlight.

    Again, I'd definitely prefer a true qHD 960x540 display like what HTC has on the Sensation/EVO 3D, but this isn't too bad compared to how RGBG looked on the previous generation of AMOLED displays, if nothing else because the vast majority of webpages render with sharp black edges properly.

  • Lucian Armasu - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    It's because of the Pentile Matrix. It makes the screen fuzzier. I wish manufacturers would stop using it. It's not a trade-off I'm willing to make over whatever benefits Pentile brings.
  • hwarrior - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Too bad Droid 3 is Verizon linked.
  • jjj - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Motorola will be using 2 LTE chips in it's 5 LTE devices planned to be released this year (Xoom, Bionic,1 more phone and 2 more tablets).One of the chips is developed by Motorola and the other one ... no clue really but Motorola might not want to kill battery life by using Qualcomm so maybe ST-E or Icera.

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