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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  • Brian Klug - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Anand is still working on it, he's been super busy but hopefully it's next in his pipeline. ;)

  • vision33r - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Using a gimmick technology to upsize the resolution cheaply. Having used the Atrix for almost 6 months I am sick of looking at it. Luckily it was for work.

    Looking at Pentile LCD for a long time is almost like watching a 3D movie without the glasses on. Your vision starts to strain and you will see the colors around the font.

  • kesh27 - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Seems like a lot of negativity toward the type of display. I have a D2G I like a lot and will likely upgrade to this or something very close months down the road. Sweet the D3 doesn't require a fork and incorporates global use (minus the US carrier lockout).

    Perhaps a little more subjective review of the new display, such as fatigue or annoyance after watching 30m of video or continuous use of a variety of apps? Maybe a small panel review of something similar to balance opinion?

    As to hackability, I bought a G1 when they first came out and had it strung out on Cyanogen as far as hardware could take it, only because OTA updates weren't every coming from T-Mo. Finally got a global phone with specs I wanted for future travel. Have honestly had no need to do any hacking other than a root for Titanium Backup (freezing bloatware), ok maybe occasional wifi tether too. If you want a phone to hack, get a hackable phone. I like this line because it runs everything I want very well, and keyboards rule.
  • synaesthetic - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Man, screw you Moto. Bunch of effin' liars.

    UNLOCK IT NAO. And the one on the Droid X2 also!
  • Undersea - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    Might be silly to some but coming from blackberry which I could sort email to droid 1 which I couldn't, I hope to heck you can sort outlook email
  • hillsurfer - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    We just upgraded my wife's line to the Droid 3, and the fact that it isn't LTE is one reason we chose it. We still have the unlimited 3G data plan, which we'd have to give up if we switched to LTE, which isn't available in this area anyway, and won't be for some time.

    Just wanted to point out that some "improvements" come with a price. Luckily, Motorola and Verizon Wireless didn't include LTE as an improvement. I suspect we won't have that choice much longer.
  • funoptics - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    Great review, AnandTech! It could be top notch, however, if you included the only thing that seemed to be missing: a discussion of the performance and capabilities of the motion sensors. Some smart phones have gyros, the Droid 3 does not. For users of smartphones working with augmented reality applications, this is very important.
  • photoguru - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    One thing that most people have overlooked is the fact that they put a 16GB card hardwired in it and also gave us a card slot for a second card! I loaded mine up with 48GB of class 10 storage goodness :)
  • nitink - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    this phone have a great potential unleach its power get full hd games with sd card
  • araczynski - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    I had the first droid for about a year when it first came out, found the keyboard sliding mechanism to be a joke. poorly engineered, namely due to easily trapping dust/fine particles of sand (or gold;)), and the rail mechanism just wearing away at the back surface, making it look cheap and abused after only a few uses.

    would never use another phone that uses the same engineering, which this seems to be just like.

    i like my droid x at the moment, much nicer screen, and i'll take the onscreen keyboard over worthless sliding any day.

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