Review

Review: Droid 4, it's all about the keyboard

The Motorola Droid 4 is the successor to the Droid 3, Droid 2 and of course, the Original Droid. If you can think back to when the OG Droid launched, it was a product designed to be Verizon’s answer to the iPhone (at the time). Moving forward several years and we are now on the 4th iteration of the Droid and it continues to build upon what made the previous devices attractive; a solid full qwerty keyboard.

The specs of the device are relatively modest but there is nothing to hide here as the Droid 4 is a upper-midrange device that rings up the register at $199.99 on a two year contract. Considering that Motorola recently brought out the Droid Razr and Razr Max (reviews here and here) that took styling to a new level, it’s good to see Motorola has not forgotten its roots and has produced a device sporting a full QWERTY keyboard.

Design:

The Droid 4 has a lot to like, and some to groan about, but one thing is for certain, the device does not feel like a brick in your hand. Yes, it is noticeably thicker than some other devices but compared to previous iterations, it feels quite solid in the hand. The rounded edges help to hide its girth and the quality materials keep you interested once the device is in your grasp.  

It’s not hard to see that this device looks a lot like the Droid Razr with a slide out keyboard and considering we liked both of those iterations, we find that to be a good thing. Everything else is relatively standard affair with a volume rocker on the side, power button up top, headphone jack in the usual location; the device hits all the basic needs of a smartphone.

Keyboard:

If you are buying this device, you are buying it for the keyboard and on that front, the Droid 4 delivers. The keyboard is spacious, the buttons have the right amount of travel and are firm but not stiff. The additional spacing between the keys makes hitting the right key easy and there is enough grip on each key to keep your fingers firmly planted on keys.

The sliding mechanism was a bit sticky on our unit but we chalk that up to it being new and fully expect that over time the device will come into its own. Other than that little hiccup, there is not much to dislike about the keyboard and should please anyone who purchases this device solely for that reason; the keys are also backlit that makes it simple to use at night.

Display:

Motorola has stuck with the same display as the Razr and Razr Maxx and for that, we still desire something a bit better. For those who are not overly particular or have not gotten used to higher quality displays, you will most likely not be disturbed by the screen. For those who don’t notice the small defects such as poor off angle viewing and the slight distortion of PenTile displays, the screen is a modest inclusion on an otherwise satisfactory device.

Battery:

Let’s put it bluntly: we got spoiled by the Droid Razr Maxx 3300 mAh battery, so when we see the Droid 4 has 1785 mAh battery, our hearts are let down a bit. We know that Motorola can not cram the 3300 mAH battery in to every phone (yet) but we can still dream.

The Droid 4 comes in at the middle of the road for duration as we saw a consistent 7.5 hours with moderate use over several days time. This is the minimum of acceptable but should allow most users to go an entire day without needed to carry a charger with them but expect to plug this device in each night.

Call Quality:

The Droid 4 is very similar to call quality of that of the Droid Razr and Razr Maxx (not unexpectedly). The speakerphone was a bit tinny when turned up and offers some room for improvement but it will suffice and not impede use. All other aspects of calling were acceptable and should not present a barrier to use.

Camera:

The rear shooter performs well in natural light but does introduce a bit of noise in artificially lit conditions. The front facing camera is standard for the course as it will allow for video calling but does not lead or lag compared to others in the field.

Conclusion:

The Droid 4 is for one type of buyer and one type only, those that need a physical keyboard and if you fall in to that category, the Droid 4 is a fantastic device. If you do not need a physical keyboard there are better devices out there from Motorola including the Droid Razr Maxx. So the question comes down to if you want a keyboard? If so, then buy this device, as the keyboard is exceptional but know that the device does come up short in other areas.

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