Review: Motorola Droid 4 on Verizon (Verdict: nice keyboard)

Summary:If you're a QWERTY keyboard zealot and have a need for (LTE) speed, then the Droid 4 is worth a look. However its thickness may be a turn off for the skinny jeans set.

Motorola Droid 4 Review - Jason O'Grady

Although I'm primarily an iPhone 4 user I dabble in 'droids. I also like to carry an Android device (or two) just to keep tabs on what's happening on the other side of the fence. This review isn't intended to be comprehensive but rather a peek at an Android phone from the perspective on an iPhone user.

Today I'll take a brief look at the Motorola Droid 4 running on Verizon Wireless here in the U.S.

Specifications are:

  • Processor: Dual-core 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 16GB internal RAM,  microSD slot (up to 32GB)
  • Display: 4.0-inch (540×960)
  • Cameras: 1.3MP front, 8MP rear, 720p HD video capture
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G LTE
  • Battery: 1785 mAh
  • OS: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • Dimensions: 4.98 x 2.75 x 0.50 inches, 6.31 ounces

Some have referred to the Droid 4 as a RAZR with a keyboard and that that isn't too far off the mark. It trades the sleek and svelte lines of the Droid RAZR for a very functional, slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Keyboards come at a price though, and that price is its 12.7mm thickness. While it's a hair thinner than the 12.9mm Droid 3, it's almost 80 percent thicker than the non-keyboarded Droid RAZR (7.1mm). By comparison, the larger battery Droid RAZR MAXX is 9mm thick and the iPhone 4S 9.3mm, so you've really got to want the physical keyboard to justify to added heft.

The keyboard is really the story of the Droid 4. It's excellent and easily the best of the previous keyboarded devices that I've used. By a long shot. The keyboard on the Droid 4 will be of interest to users that can't buy an iPhone because of its onscreen keyboard. (I'm faster on the iPhone keyboard, but that's strictly because I've become accustomed to it from extended use). If you're a Blackberry refugee or otherwise prefer a physical keyboard (I'm talking to you, SMS junkies) the Droid 4 would probably make an excellent choice.

ZDNET's own James Hendrick called it the best keyboard on any phone, and I concur. The keys are slightly raised, brightly backlit and have a satisfying click to them. Because of its landscape layout the D4 keyboard is extra spacious, which makes it good for fat-fingered users. It has a fifth row for numbers (which now host most of the symbols as well) and dedicated caps lock key which is nice, but it lacks a dedicated "@" key (you need to press Shift-2) which stinks if you tap out a lot of emails or tweets.

The biggest upside on the Droid 4 is its 4G/LTE radio. Sure, it'll gas the battery in a few hours if you push it, but you can turn it off when it's not needed. I'm a big proponent of 4G for sheer speed and this is another huge benefit over the offerings from our friends in Cupertino. Granted you've got to work or play in a city with 4G/LTE coverage, but the network is getting bigger all the time. I prefer Verizon Wireless to AT&T because it works best in my neck of the woods, but that's a regional preference and your mileage may vary.

The bottom line is that if you're a keyboard zealot and have a need for (LTE) speed, then the Droid 4 is worth a look.

If you want to take a deeper dive I recommend:

The Droid 4 is available from Verizon for $199 with a 2-year contract, full retail is $549 and it runs on the 4G LTE network.

QWERTY junkies, what do you think of the Droid 4?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Verizon

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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