The latest in a veritable army of “Droid” branded smartphones from electronics manufacturer Motorola, the Droid 4 is a bit of an oddity compared with other new phones on the market. While otherwise similar to the recently released Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX, the Droid 4 sacrifices some of their lithe lines, trading them for an old-fashioned slide-out keyboard.
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In terms of specifications, the Droid 4 is nearly identical to the RAZR and RAZR MAXX — 1.2GHz dual core processors, 4G network capability, 8 megapixel front-facing HD camera. The only thing added is a keyboard and a somewhat befuddling tool used to remove the rear cover.
In an all-out smartphone war being waged between smartphone manufacturers, software giants such as Google and Microsoft and cellphone service providers alike, it seems as though Motorola is trying to cover every niche it can think of.
A keyboard used to be a motivating factor when I was buying a smartphone, back in the days when you had to use a stylus to type or make a call. But these days its absence is one of the last things (aside from cost) preventing people from making the jump.
People are used to Blackberries or Palms, or they find they simply can’t adapt to the pure touchscreen. Giving them a keyboard eases the leap into the world of modern smartphones, albeit with a crutch. Many, like myself, find they grow accustomed to the touch display and are able to dispense with the keyboard altogether.
While the Droid 4 shares the excellent performance of the RAZR and the RAZR MAXX, due to the keyboard, it’s quite a bit heavier. It’s also easily twice as thick as the RAZR.
I would say this is an ideal phone for business people who are frequently writing e-mails; the keyboard is actually quite good and makes excellent use of the available real estate.
One irksome issue I noticed; not only does the rear cover require an easily lost plastic tool to remove it, the battery is not removable, which begs the question of why have a removable back plate at all? Why not just have the memory card and SIM card in a side slot or under a dedicated panel? Moreover, I’ve had more than my share of batteries go bad long before the phone was due to be replaced. Taking away the ability to replace a battery has always struck me as a terrible move.
The Droid 4 from Verizon is $199.99 with a 2-year contract, and $549.99 without.
Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]