Smartphones

Jason Hiner's 10 best Android smartphones

9. Motorola Droid 3

The original Motorola Droid was the device that really launched the Android smartphone revolution (the earlier Android devices were unimpressive and failed to attract the public). The third generation Moto Droid is on this list because it's the best Android device with a hardware keyboard. Most Android buyers -- even BlackBerry converts -- are moving away from hardware keyboards to full touch screens, but since there are still some die-hards out there, I wanted to put at least one hardware keyboard device on the list. Other than the keyboard, the Droid 3 hardware doesn't have anything special and it lacks Verizon's 4G LTE, so keep that in mind before opting for it solely based on the keyboard.

If you don't like slide shows, you can also view this as a list in the companion blog post.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

24 comments
bobmatch
bobmatch

I bought a T-mobile 4G sidekick about 3 or 4 months ago mostly because of its keyboard. At first I was very disappointed seeing that it lockup sometimes 2 or 3 times a day and required a reboot to get going. I was missing important phone calls from clients and family because of this ???feature???. I was at the end of my patience seeing whenever I went to a T-mobile store, talk to a rep over the phone, or sent a inquirers online, I would only get ???Oh all smart phones lock up from time to time??? Bull$#it! My old Windows 5 phone while it did lock up, it did maybe once or twice a year, not a day! BUT over the Thanksgiving weekend my phone received a T-mobile update, and I???ve been steadily receiving updates for installed apps. Now over the week or so the phone has been rock solid! I don???t know if the new phones on the shelves have this update, but don???t give up your old phone unless it does. By the way, what's up with the "4G"? I've yet to find somewhere that has it!

cpcca
cpcca

++ to real QWERTY keyboards. Anything else just feels like a toy to me. Given that, the HTC EVO Shift 4G (Credo calls it the Detail) is the best out there. The only thing it doesn't have is a forward facing camera and I can live without that. 800Mhz processor, 4G, beautiful display and a REAL keyboard! Blows the Motorola Droid 3 away! Here is a comparison to iPhone4:.http://www.webtechpoint.com/htc-evo-shift-4g-vs-apple-iphone-4-smartphone-shootout/ Oh and with Credo being a Progressive company, I don't have to worry that my $$ is being used to support wackos like Michele Bachman or Rick Perry!!

ramnet
ramnet like.author.displayName 1 Like

Made the mistake of buying my first Andoid Touch Phone (Samsung GIO) - found it to be appallingly difficult to use - not one feature being intuitive to me at least , the so called touch screen keyboard an even bigger joke than the little Nokia keyboards on their older E series phones. Staggered to find buttons where you grasp the phone turning the screen off , unable to readily make or close phone calls - the sort of main purpose of a mobile phone I would have thought , my generation values the organiser capabilities much higher than Facebook , YouTube and all that other social media nonsense. Now before you all go off into a manic rage (you can if you really want to I don't give a toss - just don't hurt anyone else) phone companies seem to think the ONLY people who want or need phones are under 30 year olds . Maybe they should think a bit more about the over 50 year old market where it is largely untapped and hey guess what we don't have much debt and are cashed up a lot more - but we apply dollars to the things we need as distinct to what a telco or phone developer thinks we should have. Big .. big difference. Ken

t.rohner
t.rohner like.author.displayName 1 Like

Although in know Motorola, it's almost nonexistent in the phone market here. (They used to make semiconductors, when i was younger. 68'000 was quit a blast and powered early Macs) But really, there is no HTC in you list. I got me a Galaxy S2, but i disliked the UI so much, i brought it back the next day. Now i have a HTC Sensation. I didn't have to root it, because the Sense UI is almost perfect, as it is. It keeps my poor Iphone-friends drooling in a typical conversation like this: I want your ringtone. Ok, so open your Bluetooth server. What? Ok, what about Wlan? Yes, but only Itunes... Are you crazy, you can't share your content? FTP? What's that? Forget it!

HipposRule
HipposRule

Interesting the number of Motorolas. Only 2 exist in th UK, one runs eclair and one froyo, so not exactly cutting edge!

jimbritttn
jimbritttn

I HATE touchescreens; give me a real keyboard any day!

jimbritttn
jimbritttn

"Hotspots" are USELESS when you only have 2 GB per month; it's a JOKE and a trick to make you spend a lot of extra money each month.

1611kjb
1611kjb like.author.displayName 1 Like

I get so sick of reviewers dissing QWERTY. People don't "choose" not to have QWERTY, it isn't offered. Given a choice, people pick QWERTY, but it is seldom an option on equivalent phones. Manufacturers always put more features on non-QWERTY phones, so people pick those. Releasing the Droid 3 with 3G is a perfect example. Give the Droid 3 4G and it would be in the top 3 of every user. Actually, the Droid Pro is the best 3G phone available - except for the menu keys that actuate the touch screen on every use. It was the perfect size, weight, shape, etc. The QWERTY keyboard is a better keyboard, but as the reviewer said, it seems to be just the wrong size and the edges are just a little too sharp and so it is not a please to hold, but it's a great phone. I dumped my Droid Pro for the Droid 3 for this feature. 4G networks are getting all the hype, but they are largely over-rated. I tether my 3G, watch TV episodes and movies all without hardly a hiccup. The two advantages for a 4G are HD video and video calling like TANGO and SKYPE. Since that is less than 10% of the use, most people wouldn't know if they had 3G or 4G. On a tether, my 3G phone is still faster than a Hughes.net sattellite uplink (and I had one of those for 5 years, so I know whereof I speak). The Droid 3 is great. Whatever QWERTY comes out for 4G is what I will buy when I change phones. I would just like these reviewers to stop dissing the QWERTY as a manufacturer might just listen. A QWERTY types faster, more accurate, requires less concentration (for those who text while moving) and are the only option available for the visually impaired.

emile319
emile319

i have first droid now 2 years at verizon time for?? why not the 4s iphone?? i like the abilitiy to plug in bed side radio and supposedy excellent camera any negatives?? thanks for you help i am on the "fence"

rhonin
rhonin like.author.displayName 1 Like

Always always always, determine your requirements (needs), then shop! My needs: 4G and 4" or greater screen, great camera The iphone4S has neither - it is 3.5" and 3G - it has a great camera. The GalaxyS2 has 4G, 4.3" screen, the camera is better than the 4S for stills but not as good for video. I bought he Galaxy S2. Determine your requirements (needs) then decide. You will enjoy your choice for much longer.

DJMorais
DJMorais

I just picked up the Samsung Stratosphere. Absolutely love it! So far the OS is rock solid, and I love the full keyboard. These weenie touch screen keyboards have always been a problem for me (sausage fingers!) so this was a big deal. It does not have the dual-core proc, which bothered me a little, but the thing is very fast and will have enough horsepower for my type of use. The screen resolution is outstanding and produces sharp, rich colors. And the price point was reasonable. All in all a very well-rounded device.

lovingNJ
lovingNJ like.author.displayName 1 Like

I love the big screen!

rhonin
rhonin

A coworker has it, luvs it but is now drooling over the Samsung Note. :O

jwaschke
jwaschke like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

I have to disagree Jason, Samsung phones are TRASH. They are slow and laggy compared to Motorola and HTC phones, the Tbolt had it's issues at launch and once the last patch came out it has been rock solid and quick! Gingerbread updates fixed the battery issue and the phone is smoking fast on LTE - I get almost 10mb down and 5mb up in Bellevue,Wa. I would remove all the Samsung phones you have up there and replace them with HTC phones; I agree that Motorola makes some really nice phones but nothing compares the Sense UI interface. I L O V E that I can see my activesyc at work and FORCE a sync from the accounts menu - which has helped troubleshoot issues in the past for clients when they do have issues with Exchange. NO other phone has that option!!! This piece really felt like you are pimping Samsung and Motorola phones.

chrisco1967
chrisco1967

I have to agree with the poster. I have had nothing but buggy crappy phones with SAMSUNG. That being said I have also had two HTC Android phones the HERO and EVO 3D. My Samsung Android the 1st generation Galaxy S on Sprint was one of the worst cell phone experiences I have ever had. Constantly force closing , Samsung bloatware doing a constant battle against the Android stuff. I had to hard reset the thing no less than 5 times before finally getting rid of it. When Google sent out the Froyo update it really screwed it up bad, even though my wife's HTC EVO got the same exact update at the time and was fine with it. Before that I had the SAmsung Instinct, the first touchscreen phone from Samsung, which Sprint eventually had to replace for me twice due to similar issues. After all of this I was still considering trading in my HTC EVO 3D for the new Galaxy S II Touch because I hear it is a phenomenal piece of hardware. After playing with it at the Sprint store I might have to agree. My EVO 3D is now almost as buggy and quirky as that Original Galaxy crap phone. I have another line on T-mobile so if I can score the NEXXUS PRIME through them I am going to drop Sprint. Has Samsung turned a corner because Google has partnered with them and shaped up the newer Android devices ? God I hope so because they have been utter Shite in the past.

JCitizen
JCitizen

bare none. And I've lived around, so I figure I'll avoid them like the plague. I wouldn't necessarily hold a device responsible for Sprint's short comings, but you wrote a good post none-the-less; thanks!

rhonin
rhonin like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Not sure what you were comparing. With the iPhone4S disappointment I went looking at all the android on AT&T to get what I wanted. HTC - solid build, tad heavy but they felt slow compared to LG and Samsung. LG - good solid build, liked the 3D Samsung - light but lots of plastic - found the S2 to be the speediest of the bunch At the end I went with the Galaxy S2 - fastest lightest and surprisingly sturdy. In performance and overall feel (speed) it was superior to HTC and LG. I have had it a month now and am really enjoying it. My opinion, your perceptions may vary.

draco vulgaris
draco vulgaris

A new phone can mean new features that you really want. It's probably also bundled with features you will never use. If it's really new it doesn't have much of a track record yet! Do you want to put up your money for "bragging rights"? Some do! Some want a device that does what they want and does not have features that they will never use. Think before you leap!

Hazydave
Hazydave

There is probably no feature in a smartphone I'll never use. The problem is finding one with all the features I currently use AND all the new stuff I know I want. Maybe it's easier being an iPhone fan -- Apple answers all these questions for you. They know better. Naa!

abisong
abisong like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

iPhone does not have a built in hotspot but Android does. iPad does not have a built in hotspot but Android does. Android have 3D but iPhone does not.

tinyang
tinyang like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I'm holding out for a 4g phone from Verizon that has both a qwerty keyboard and a dual core cpu. I still have the original droid going on 3 yrs. :) It still works fine although does it a bit slowly. But I figure if I'm going to spend a few hundred $ on my next phone, even with a 2 yr contract, I would rather do it for a phone that has everything I want and not compromise.

Hazydave
Hazydave

The O.G. Droid shipped in early November of 2009, so I guess I just entered what could be my third year, if I hold on long enough. My Droid's touchscreen died in October -- there was always a touch detected, and apparently Motorola didn't think of a need to offer a calibration function. But I was able to obtain another, free, from a iPhone 4 convert. Enough to keep me hanging on a little longer... but I see a Galaxy Nexus as a very real possibility, even without the HW keyboard or SD slot. Having recently seen the screens on the Droid RAZR and the Galaxy SII, I'm not sure I can go back to LCD. Ever. The great thing about Android is that you aren't going to have to wait another year to see if there's an upgrade you like... there's a new cool Android device every week. Droid 4 has already shown up in Verizon's computer systems... might be something like Droid 3 + RAZR = Droid 4. So... hmm... maybe I will wait on that Nexus after all. Definitely want to hold the thing before I commit two years to it.

wes
wes

not such a good combination. I use my phone as my alarm clock, and plug it into the charger when I go to bed. Android helpfully turns the screen on an hour later, to tell me it's fully charged, and leaves it on all night long. Now if you run one of the flashlight apps that displays an all-white screen, you can see where the clock digits are being burned into the bottom of the screen. And that's just the beginning of the huge number of really stupid mis-features that is Android. There isn't a day go by that I don't want to smash my Galaxy S.

patti.pender
patti.pender like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

That's odd! My Androids, and I'm on my third, have not had that issue, on Eclaire, Froyo or Gingerbread. Really. And I also use my phone as an alarm clock. I plug it into the charger when I go to bed and nothing happens until the alarm goes off except that my phone gets charged. The display doesn't turn on unless I get a call. Your issue is the way you have set the settings for power options. Make sure the phone is NOT set to allow the backlight to stay lit if the phone is on the charger and it will go out in the time you have set even if it comes on when the phone is fully charged.