Motorola Droid 3 vs. Motorola Droid 4

When Motorola and Verizon announced the new Motorola Droid 4 at CES 2012, it was a mere 7 months after the companies launched the Motorola Droid 3 which arrived during the summer of 2011. And while we still have no idea when the Droid 4 will be hitting shelves, we do know that the Droid 3 just got a $50 price drop that sort of-kind of brings it back into relevance.

Before you buy though, stop, because we want to touch on both devices in order to not only give you a better feeling for them both but to make sure that you’re not going to regret your purchase days or weeks after making it.

That price for the Droid 3 might sound appealing but there are reasons why you might want to avoid it. And there are also a few reasons why you may just want to make a purchase right now.

Droid

Here goes.

Hardware

To the untrained eye, these phones will look exactly the same. But these are two very different devices.

The Droid 4 rocks a 1.2GHz dual-core processor which is a little bit of a speed increase over the 1GHz processor that the Droid 3 employs. The Droid 4 also has 1GB of RAM while the Droid 3 has 512MB. If you don’t think this increase will be noticeable in your daily usage, you’re crazy.

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Droid 3

The Droid 3.

When I was using the Droid 3, I found it to be sluggish at times whether it was when I was navigating the home screen or browsing the web. Overall, it was snappy but there were just times when it skipped a bit.

The Droid 4 will likely have no such problems because of the RAM and processor speed increases.

Goodbye headaches.

Verizon’s Droid 4 also sports a 1.3MP front-facing camera which is a bit of a jump from the 3′s VGA front-facing camera.

Motorola also changed up one of the Droid’s biggest features: The physical keyboard. The Droid 4 sports some new, useful keys and it has a much nicer feel than the Droid 3′s keyboard. In fact,  I would argue that the Droid 4′s keyboard might be the best physical keyboard ever made.

Apologies to all of you Crackberries out there.

And for all of you out there who use Bluetooth, the Droid 4 will be coming with Bluetooth 4.0 right out of the gates. That and it will become a world phone later on this year. Needless to say, the Droid 4 blows the Droid 3 out of the water in the hardware department. Just like a good successor should.

Winner: Droid 4

Connectivity

One of the main features of the Motorola Droid 4 is its 4G LTE connectivity. This means that you’ll be browsing the web and downloading and streaming content at speeds 10 times faster than 3G.

A huge difference to be sure.

The Droid 3? It’s a plain old 3G phone.

Right now, a lot of places don’t have 4G LTE coverage. But keep this in mind. Verizon’s plan is to finish rolling out its 4G LTE network by the end of 2013. So, chances are, if you don’t have 4G LTE right now, you’ll have it within the next two years.

When I buy a smartphone, I like to buy it with the future in mind.

LTE is the future.

Winner: Droid 4

Droid 4Software

While the Droid 4 might trump the Droid 3 in the hardware department, it doesn’t do the same when it comes to software. That’s because both of them are going to be running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Motorola’s MotoBlur user interface over the top.

Kind of sad to see a former flagship device relegated to older software.

This means that owners of both devices are going to be waiting for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, software which will be coming out of the Droid 4 later this year. Moto has not yet given any concrete details for the Droid 3 but we’ll assume that it will be getting updated.

No clear edge here as it’s plausible that the Droid 3 update could come before the Droid 4′s.

Winner: Tie

Pricing

As I just said, the Droid 3′s price got dropped down today and it now stands at a mere $49. That price comes with a new two-year contract. This comes after Verizon had already cut it down to $100 with a new contract. That price is probably pretty tempting for those of you that are still without 4G LTE service.

The Droid 4 currently is without an official price tag but all signs point to a price tag of $250 when it arrives on Verizon’s next-generation LTE network. That’s $50 below Big Red’s usual asking price for a high-end 4G LTE smartphone.

So, the extra money you’re spending on the Droid 4 is for two things. The specs and the 4G LTE data speeds. If you don’t need either of those, or if you’re buying for someone in your family that just wants a cheap, solid Droid device, the Droid 3 offer might just be worth it.

If you’re in any other situation, you’ll want to shell out the $250, which isn’t so bad for a phone of the Droid 4′s caliber.

Winner: Droid 4

Release Date

The Droid 3 came out back in July of 2011 which means that it’s getting older. And old Android phones run the risk of not getting major Android updates. It’s sad, but it’s true.

On the other hand, the Droid 4 isn’t even out yet but with the $49 deal for the Droid 3 ending in February, it’s possible that we might see it launch next month. With its features and 4G LTE connectivity, this is a device that Verizon will certainly look after for quite some time.

When buying a phone, you’ll generally want to go with the newest edition of the device. It’s the safer play.

Winner: Droid 4

Verdict

You probably aren’t shocked to learn that the Droid 4 edged out the Droid 3 in the battle of the latest QWERTY Droids. It’s the newer device, it has 4G LTE data speeds, it has beefier specifications on board.

But I also recommend, before you buy either device, to consider your situation.

$250 is a lot of money and 4G LTE and high-end specs aren’t always necessary. Especially if you’re buying this phone for your child or a first-time smartphone user. If that’s the case, you may want to take a long hard look at the Droid 3.

But in the long-run, you’d probably be wise to at least for the Droid 4 to come out before you make your choice. It’ll likely be the one you want to go with.

  

Comments

  1. Bryan says

    A point can certainly be made in terms of the Droid 4′s increase to 1GB of RAM, but other much critical concessions exist that were not mentioned in your comparison. Understandably, such differences always have a great deal to with consumer needs — That said, it should be noted that while Droid 3 has only 512MB of RAM, it equally contains the same excellent performing dual-core processor, Android Gingerbread OS, 1080p HD Camera, and application capabilities, among other things. Perhaps the significant difference is the fact that Droid 3 has a SIM card for Global network use and perhaps more importantly, the ability to replace the battery with a spare or replacement. The Droid 4 on the other hand, has no SIM Card (therefore no international capability) and a permanent non-replaceable battery.

    While I don’t speak for every mobile consumer, Global use and the ability to carry an extra battery is critical for my needs. The industry has come a long way with improving mobile battery technology, but not to the extent that it’s perfect enough to avoid any potential need of replacement. Simply put, if the Droid 4 battery fails, the phone itself is useless, done. How many consumers are willing to take that chance?

    In the end, the Droid 3 is a much better option for many. It’s too bad the Droid 4 was launched with such restrictions — If consumers do their research, they’ll find the Droid 3 offers better flexibility with their device, which outweighs the Droid 4′s supposed “waterproofing” permanent encasement, that prevented the inclusion of a SIM Card and replaceable battery.

    Winner: Droid 3

    • Bryan says

      i have owned the droid 3 for over a year now and i have never had a worse piece of hardware in my life!!!

  2. Roman says

    I have the Droid 3 for one year and a half and having the global capability I was able to use it during my last year’s trip to Argentina. Another helpful feature at lieast for me is the fact that has a very friendly keyboard at leasd for myself since I have terrible time typing on a flat screen. I wish Motorola could update the software on Droid 3 and keep this moder on the market for customers like me needing a global phone with keiboard.

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