Review: Motorola Droid 4 for Verizon Wireless
The Motorola Droid 4 is a sideways slider. That means it’s somewhat thick and bulky -- though it's still thinner than some monoblock phones are. The good news is, Motorola has given it a lot of visual appeal by bringing its current design language to the Droid 4, giving it a much more modern look than previous Droids.
Anyone who's laid eyes on the RAZR, RAZR MAXX, or Xyboard tablets will immediately see the family resemblance. The Droid 4 has a clean look, with side surfaces that angle towards the top/bottom edges. The materials feel decent, but not top-of-the-line. The glass and plastics of the top half of the phone, for example, feel great. The rubber-y battery cover and soft-touch side surfaces don't feel as classy by comparison. Build quality is decent, but there is a bit too much space/air between the two halves of the phone. Held sideways up to my eyes like a pair of binoculars, I could read the text on my computer screen from several feet away through the phone. That's a huge gap.
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The Droid 4 is shorter and narrower than the RAZR MAXX, and thanks to steeply angled side surfaces, it has a relatively small footprint when resting in your hand. It is comfortable in the palm, despite the overall size and heft. There is a subtle bump encircling the display on the front surface. This lets the Droid 4 rest safely on a flat surface while protecting the display. The Droid 4 will slip into most pockets no problem, but it will be hard to ignore when moving about thanks to its weight.
The front surface of the Droid 4 looks almost identical to the RAZR and RAZR MAXX. There is plenty of bezel around the display, and the standard Android controls take form in four capacitive buttons placed along the bottom of the display. All four buttons react quickly to input and have a really nice haptic response.
As with many of Motorola's smartphones, the Droid 4 has a docking set-up on the left edge. The mircoUSB port and microHDMI port are side-by-side, allowing the Droid 4 to lock itself into various accessories. There is no hatch covering these ports, and that’s fine by me.
The volume toggle is found on the right edge of the Droid 4. It's small, but fairly easy to use. It's travel and feedback is much better than that of the RAZR and RAZR MAXX volume toggles. The power/lock button is on the top of the phone. It has a nice shape and contour, but I found travel and feedback to be a bit mushy. The 3.5mm headset jack is next to it.
The slider mechanism for the Droid 4 is not spring-assisted, which means you have to do all the work yourself. I found it hard to open by pressing my thumbs along the edges. The Droid 4 was prone to jumping out of my grasp that way. Instead, the best way is to put your thumbs on the display and push up. Not ideal, but it’d the safer way to open the device.
For the keyboard user, there's a lot to like about the Droid 4's keyboard. It 100% different from the keyboards of previous Droids. The keys are well defined, have amazing travel and feedback, and work very well. The keyboard also has a really neat back-light that makes the keys pop when used in the dark. The backlight provides a great outline for each individual key. There's no doubt this is the best keyboard I've used on any Motorola device. It simply feels great. It offers five full rows -- including a dedicated row for numbers. The bottom row is reserved for controls, such as the shift, symbol, and space buttons, as well as directionals for on-screen editing. I would have liked to see dedicated "www" or "@" or ".com" keys somewhere, but they are absent.
The battery cover will probably infuriate you. It's nearly impossible to pry off. You have to press down own the outer edges of the cover firmly and then slide it downward. Only then might you actually expose a big enough gap at the edge to dig in a fingernail. (To wit, Motorola actually includes a tool in the retail box to help people remove the battery cover!) Both the SIM card and microSD card can be accessed without removing the battery itself.
Despite the few issues I picked on, the Droid 4 is no doubt the best version of the Droid yet when it comes to the hardware.