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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Myrandex - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    5th row keyboard looks very nice. I did compare one in the store to my Touch Pro 2, and unfortunately I still have to side with the touch pro 2. I tried typing out a sentence and the button size of the touch pro 2 just seemed to reign supreme. It is in the right direction though!

    Jason Cook
  • Johnmcl7 - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    That sounds promising, if they're going to make a Chinese version they may produce an EU version as well given they're producing the hardware anyway.

  • aggiechase37 - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    I have the D3. Couple things:

    1. Gingerbread keyboard does NOT come preinstalled, nor does Angry Birds.
    2. I have issues with lag coming back to the homescreen. This is especially persistent with the camera app
    3. I also have issues with framerate drops swiping through homescreens and the app drawer. Minor, but noticeable. Hardly as fluid as Anandtech boasts.
    4. Something should be said about the screen being much more view-able in direct sunlight, moreso than any screen I've seen so far.
    5. Camera lowlight conditions are considerably improved over D3's predecessors.
    6. There are issues with the led flash causing a blue tint when snapping pics with NO light, like utter darkness. But seriously who does that?
    7. 3rd party launchers are not compatible with Moto's widgets.
    8. Moto's launcher eats 40mb's of RAM, seems a little excessive.
    9. Task killer included on the phone. Is Moto insane???
  • relativityboy - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    I ordered one of these the day they came available. Coming from a rooted, very customized CM7 D1 I was a little underwhelmed. While there's no question the D3 is capable of more at the limit my D1

    * felt good in the hand. I don't care for the hard edges of the D3.
    * had excellent performance (I lucked out - low voltage ChevyNo1 kernel @ 1.1Ghz). With swap and a fast SD chip I didn't have the launcher reloading all the time.
    * had very good battery life (1.5-2 days of med/lite use)
    * felt much smaller in the pocket
    * actually had better performance in tasks like scrolling the contacts list, and rendering pages in opera/stock browsers
    * The radios on the D1 have better reception. I'm not talking about bars on a screen or stats in a test bench. In my office people often complain about dropped calls, poor wifi in the bathrooms(yep), etc. I had no idea what they were talking about until I switched to the D3.
    * the touch screen seems less sensitive that on my D1.

    I'm sure some of my complaints are related to immature software, but things like radio reception shouldn't be related to that. I've had a number of kernel panics, and display resets.

    Maybe I got a bad phone, but I'm not sold on the D3.
  • relativityboy - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    Today I'm completely frustrated with this piece of bunk. Seriously. This phone is crashing, getting worse, can't get a GPS lock to save it's life.

    On the bright side, with the kinds of problems I'm having it might not all be buggy software.
  • amankumar - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    want some super cool android HD games to unleash its potential, here's the link:
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    Hey! I just wanted to comment on the last paragraph of this review. I personally had a Touch Pro 2, bought it in August 2009. It has a pretty good keyboard, when the reviewers are to be believed. And although the touchscreen was resistive and thus not as easy to navigate as modern capacitive touchscreens, I hardly ever used the keyboard. Unless you type unusually long emails or are in the business of typing up reports on your smartphone, the tradeoff you have to make for a keyboard smartphone isn't worth it in my opinion.
    My Galaxy S2 is hardly bigger (125mmx65mmx8mm) than the Droid3 and significantly lighter (117g). I probably wouldn't win a typing contest when we had to type a whole page. But SMS, comments, short email reply I'd win.
    The only thing the keyboard on my TP2 was useful for was as a gamepad for my Mega Drive emulator. I played through Soleil on it. But I have already played through Legend of Zelda and am 80% through Secret of Mana on my SNES emulator on the Galaxy S2 using the overlayer gamepad. With some USB-host gamepad support it will be even better.
    So, to summarize, I would never buy a keyboard smartphone again because the cons outweigh the pros for me. (Only the Playstation phone looked interesting....)
  • EEWdad - Sunday, August 7, 2011 - link

    It is very refreshing to see a comprehensive and unbiased review of this update to the Droid 2. Many other reviews I've seen on web have largely dismissed the Droid 3 as a worthy product -- mostly due to the absence of 4G/LTE.

    It was nice to see AnandTech's combination of device performance metrics and hand-on impressions to used to objectively assess the capabilities of the Droid 3 -- much different outcome from the other reviewer's rather subjective opinions. From what I can see from this review, I think the hardware performance, 3-D interface, keyboard, web browsing, wi-fi, video, photos, phone voice quality and noise-canceling capabilties are pretty darn impressive.

    My wife has had a Droid 2 for about a year now -- I think it's been a reasonably good smartphone. Since getting hers, I've been wanting one for myself; after reading this review, my confidence is high -- I've taken the plunge and ordered a Droid 3 for myself.

    Please, keep up the good work!
  • 2therock - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Cannot Wait For You To Get A Bionic
  • Zaniyah - Friday, August 19, 2011 - link

    I just love my Droid 3 and the navigation system on it works fantastic. The pictures are excellent. It took me a while to get use to it, but there were so many positives that outweighed the negatives. It is worth every dime I paid for it. Honestly, I love everything about my Droid 3.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now