Verizon Motorola Droid 4 Review

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All of you who are still holding on to your original Droid because you have yet to find a device with a good enough hardware keyboard, your wait is over. We’d like to introduce you to the Droid 4.

The Motorola Droid 4 is the latest in Verizon’s Droid family. This iteration of the popular brand includes a dual-core processor and 1080P/8MB camera, and like the Original Droid, a very usable slide-out keyboard. It’s also the thinnest Droid yet, and it packs 4G LTE. Is the Droid 4 the ultimate hardware keyboard device with Android? Read on for our full review!

BOX CONTENTS

The first thing you’ll notice is just how small the box is. Inside you’ll find the phone, a few obligatory manuals, battery cover, LTE micro SIM, wall charger, and USB cable. You’ll also find a very interesting plastic piece which you’ll use if you need to take the back cover off any time down the road (if you lose it a small paperclip will work). Conspicuously missing was a headest. Also, if you want to expand your storage you’ll have to provide your own microsd card.

HARDWARE

The Droid 4 is a hefty smartphone. Its keyboard adds a significant amount of bulk when compared to the Droid RAZR or other “slim” phones. That said, it still fits comfortably in a pocket, and worked with both “holsters” that I already have. Measuring in at 5 x 2.8 x 0.5 inches (127 x 71 x 13mm) and weighing 6.31-ounces (179g), the Droid 4 feels very “solid” in-hand. It’s a little bigger than what you may be used to, but after you’ve used it for a little bit, you won’t mind at all.

Comparing the Droid 4 to the Original Droid you can clearly see a marginal increase in all three dimensions, and the massive improvement in both screen and keyboard size.

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Inside the phone is a 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, a 4-inch qHD TFT LCD display, and 16GB storage (though not all of it is available to the user). If you need more storage you can add your own microSD card, up to 32GB.

As far as wireless technologies go, tucked neatly inside the Droid 4 are aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, mobile hotspot functionality, CDMA (800/1900 MHz), EV-DO Rev. A, and LTE.

On the left side of the phone you’ll find not only a microUSB port for charging and transferring data, there’s also an HDMI port for outputting your display to an external screen. The hardware that interests most people about this phone is undoubtedly the slide-out, side-lit keyboard. Bigger than the original Droid’s keyboard, the Droid 4’s is much more roomy and has a better key layout, which allows for much faster text input. The tactile feedback of the buttons is just right.

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SOFTWARE

The Droid 4 is powered by Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread with MotoBlur layered on top. It comes pre-packaged with Amazon Kindle, Blockbuster, GoToMeeting, Let’s Golf 2, Madden NFL 2012, MOG Music, MOTOPRINT, Netflix, NFL Mobile, Quickoffice, Slacker, Slingbox, VideoSurf, My Verizon Mobile, Verizon Video, V CAST Apps, V CAST Tones, and VZ Navigator.

SPEED

Quadrant

Total: 2362

CPU: 3079

Mem: 2776

I/O: 3253

2D: 538

3D: 2166

Smartbench 2012

Productivity: 2729

Games: 2482

LinPack Single Thread

MFLOPS: 51.877

Time: 1.62 Seconds

LinPack Multi Thread

MFLOPS: 75.976

Time: 2.22 Seconds

CAMERA

The Droid 4 has two cameras: front-facing 1.3MP/720P, and rear-facing 8MP/1080P with a single LED flash. The rear-facing camera takes decent 1080P video, but comes pre-set to shoot 720P. Pocketnow viewers were amazed at the audio quality on the video sample, some even mistaking the camera’s audio for a separately recorded voice-over. The video quality was good, especially considering the relatively low lighting in which the video was shot. A few viewers commented that they noticed some hesitation and dropped frames, and suggested the 720P default setting would likely clear up those issues.

The still camera on the Droid 4 is also very competent, though it seems to do better in brighter lighting than it does in low-light conditions and on cloudy days.

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BATTERY LIFE

The Droid 4 includes a 1,785 mAh battery. While that’s a decent size, it’s nothing terribly noteworthy. Like other phones in the Droid line up, the Droid 4’s battery is non-removable. This is a deal-breaker for many. In daily use under 3G data, the Droid 4’s battery was more than large enough to make it through the day and into the night. With 4G LTE use you should expect around 10 hours of typical use.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

The Motorola Droid 4 is available on the Verizon network for US$199.99 with a 2-year contract or US$549.99 off-contract. It’s available now through their website and at Verizion stores.

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PROS

+ Best slide-out keyboard around

+ Great call quality

+ Has a microSD card slot for expandability

CONS

– Non-removable battery

– Lower resolution display than competing phones

– Doesn’t run Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich (yet?)

– Doesn’t come with headphones or microsdcard

CONCLUSION

The Droid 4 has gotten almost everything right: it’s sized right for a phone that includes a keyboard and feels very durable, has acceptable battery life, a fast processor, and a nice display. While the Gingerbread OS is disappointing, the device still functions well and provides all the features that the typical user needs.

We rate the Motorola Droid 4 a 4/5.

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.