The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

Summary: Motorola's Droid 3 is a phone buoyed by its keyboard but dragged down by its weight. But will consumers mind?

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TOPICS: Mobility
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The Droid 3 is the third iteration is a series of beloved Android phones. While the first iteration of the phone was pivotal and revolutionary, the rest of the industry has since caught up, leaving Motorola to differentiate its prized Android line in whatever way it can. [Gallery: Droid 3 in photos]

The Droid 3: built like a brick

A confession: Less than two hours after unboxing the Droid 3 review unit sent to me by Motorola, I dropped it. It landed dead on its face, and you know what? It was perfectly fine.

But perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. The Droid 3 is a dense, 180g beast, 11 grams heavier than the Droid 2 and original Droid. In fact, the device's weight is probably the first thing you'll notice about it. And you probably won't like it. While the device does feel particularly sturdy and well-made, the Droid 3 remains forever noticeable in the pocket, a solid and dense lump compared to comparatively lighter phones like the Nexus S (129g). What that means is that, while the Droid 3 is portable, there are time where it feels significantly less so.

What works: the keyboard

But maybe you'll forgive Motorola's indulgence. After all, the Droid 3 brings to the table what very few smartphones do nowadays: a full, backlit QWERTY keyboard. At five rows, the Droid 3's keyboard is, in a word, generous. With a number row, expansive space bar, and even a tab key, its keyboard is responsive and well-made. In fact, the Droid 3's keyboard is so good that it made me question at times our seemingly unstoppable march towards touchscreen-based input. If there is any reason to invest in a Droid 3, this is it.

Topic: Mobility

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22 comments
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  • The Droid 3: built like a brick, looks like a brick, smells like a brick.

    Must be a brick...<br>

    Don't they know they are supposed to make them thinner and lighter... LOL
    <br>Dayummmmm.. That thing is UGLY!!!!
    i8thecat3
    • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

      @i8thecat3
      It's all I can do not to say "That's what your mom said the first time she saw you..." .....Oops, sorry =P

      (Now go back to worshipping your Apple shrine, shill)
      NetAdmin1178
      • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

        @NetAdmin1178 LMAO Great reply !
        Nadaphanboi
    • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

      @i8thecat3

      That thing could still stand to be at least 1 cm thicker and 120 grams heavier.

      I'm sick and tired of phones that need to be charged twice every day. My Touch HD doesn't even allow me five hours of actual usage. Bigger batteries, that's the way this minituarization should manifest itself, not weaker phones you can't actually use.

      Here's an idea for a compromise, make the battery compartment stackable. Let me connect as many layers of batteries onto my phone as I want. Sure there are some issues with balancing the battery cells, but that can definitely be worked around.
      Onaka
    • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

      @i8thecat3 I love mine and i think its PURDY.. :)
      MallusLittera
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    I don't care if it's allegedly ugly and I would love a usable keyboard for a change. I am a fairly large and tall individual and will be able to tote this bad puppy around no problemo.
    drh1141
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    How does it compare to a BB Torch? In our enterprise, there's no way we'd go to a smart phone without a good keyboard.

    As well, since this is about real productivity and usefulness of a device, we couldn't care less if it's ugly or not.
    s_southern
    • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

      @s_southern
      The keyboard is immensely usable for human size fingers. The BB not.

      Ugly? 95% of what you see is the screen. Is a large screen ugly. Think not. Maybe just great to have so much display space.

      I don't notice the extra weight. It feels good and solid (stable) in the hand
      dcoptimist
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    That's what passes for a review? That barely qualifies as a hands on. More of a brief glimpse if anything.

    For some reference, it is smaller in every dimension than the Samsung Epic which is a win right there.
    Epic: 124.8 x 64.6 x 14.2mm (155g)
    Droid 3: 124 x 64 x 13mm (184g)

    Almost 30g heavier can be a tough nut to swallow. That' heavier than the Evo (170g), the company's own Atrix (135g), Droid X2 (155g) and Droid 2 predecessor (169g).

    Have to wonder why the Epic can come in almost 30g lighter and larger dimensions. Can't imagine it's just the metal casing compared to plastic. And considering they get the Atrix down to 135g, you'd think they could've done something to shave some weight off of the droid 3. Though in all fairness, the HTC Arrive (HTC's only quality slider) is weighing in at just over 184g and Moto is giving you the better processor, larger screen and a slimmer casing as well. Just seems like they could've done something to get it close to the weight of the Droid 2.

    If I switch to Tmob though, picking up the canadian version will be very likely since the 4g slide just doesn't compare.
    crogs
    • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

      @crogs
      I agree. That was weak.
      Bulky
      Ugly
      Great keyboard
      What more do you need to know?
      leo@...
      • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

        @leo@... <br>I don't know if I'd call it bulky. How thin can you make a 4" slider with 5 row keyboard. I have no issues with my Epic when it comes to size. Found it easier to carry than the Evo, but it's also lighter and rounder at the edges and corners. <br><br>@ppllc below.... Weight does matter at a certain point. There is a breaking point where it's just too intrusive in the pocket. Considering the weight of the Epic and Droid 2, I can't see how the 3 couldn't have maintained the same weight as its predecessor with another year of design under the belt.

        Do like the hardware keyboard love going on. Some people just don't understand how productive one can be with a solid 5 row keyboard. I use my Epic for just about everything I can do on my Transformer or laptop outside of editing photos, video and such. 4 row keyboards just stink from a productivity point of view. Portrait keyboards are the only ones that should require a fn press for a number.
        crogs
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    I love my Droid 2 but I love the Droid 3 more! I'm all about the keyboard, plus the extra core will be nice. Who cares what it weighs, Motorola builds these phone to withstand a drop unlike others. Quality product!
    ppllc
  • My wife loves hers.

    My wife has had the Droid 3 for a few weeks now. The keyboard was why she chose it. First "smart" phone she has owned. She will not even look at a phone without a keyboard.
    haysja@...
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    My major reason for purchasing the LG Ally a year ago was its keyboard. Despite its many shortcomings, the usability of a full hardware keyboard is of paramount importance to me. I have found virtual keyboards to be difficult to use at best. In addition, none includes a row of number keys on the main keyboard. I work in a very technical field and find the lack of easy access to numbers a serious hindrance.

    Realize that some of us use our phones for serious work. Slightly greater size and weight are a small price to pay to be able to do that work more efficiently.

    When my term with the Ally is up, I will be giving the Droid 3 serious consideration.
    joelovett
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    Being the proud owner of a Milestone (the GSM brother of the Droid) I can tell you that the keyboard is one of the things I really ADORE of these cell phones. This model has a 100% working touch keyboard, but the physical keyboard included in the Droid series is not only big enough to be comfortable, but also placed in a layout very alike a PC, so users instantly adapt and react to it like if they were typing in a PC.
    TheITStranger
  • I LOVE MY DROID 3

    I couldn't fathom a device without a hardware keyboard.. The onscreen just lacks the tactile part of it. I'm not a limp-wristed pansy so the heavier phone doesn't bother me. It feels sturdy and I'm happy with it. I'll consider an iPhone as soon as they come out with a model with a keyboard. (Summer in Phoenix, no sign of cooling let alone freezing over)
    NotMSUser
  • Extended Battery Available

    This phone also has an extended life battery available (1930 mAh vs. the stock 1500 mAh). At around $50 bucks it is a significant fraction of the cost of the phone, but a nice upgrade.
    crapwonk
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    I got the original Droid on launch day, then upgraded to the Droid 2 Global when I needed to start travelling overseas. I have tried to use phones without a hardware/physical keyboard, but I just can't be as productive. I cant see the whole screen when typing either, that is a big deal for me. On a touch screen phone, the touch keyboard fills the screen when typing, I don't like that.
    I was really dissapointed that the Droid 3 was not 4G & is not lapdock compatible. That would be my ideal phone. So looks like I will be sticking with my Droid2 Global until the Droid 4, which will hopefully be 4G at least.

    As far as the weight goes, I like the fact that I know this phone is built like a tank! It can take a beating. After over a year of hard constant use & sliding the phone open dozens of times per day, it still feels rock solid. I frequently forget it is in my back pocket & sit on it too. This thing is tough. I don't want an all plastic feather weight phone, I would destroy it. I don't want to have to worry about babying it.
    tgschmidt
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    And I thought my RAZRs were heavy at 97g! Do you guys with smartphones get reinforced pockets?
    LeMike
  • RE: The Droid 3: big and bulky, but with a great keyboard [Review]

    Ordered my droid3 yesterday to replace palm pre.......the keyboard on the droid3 is the best I ever used....wow....will learn to live with the weight but everything else makes the competition look bad......no more palm and hp has destroyed a loyal palm base forever....shame on them
    Hvarsov