Verizon's Droid line of smartphones are its signature, brand-name phones that run Google's open-source Android OS. It and the iPhone are getting sequelitis, it seems, as you can tell from the numbers after their names! But the iPhone hasn't had a fresh update in over a year, save for the release of a white model and for coming to Verizon's network, while the Droid 3 was just released. You can buy it online for $199, from Verizon's website, or wait until July 14th to pick up a Droid 3 in stores.
So why would you buy a Droid 3 instead of an iPhone 4?
This is the biggie, the feature a lot of folks care about that Apple hasn't seen fit to cater to. And the Droid 3 goes back to the Droid's roots, bringing back the horizontal slide-out keyboard that the first one had. Except this time, instead of making a chunky and plasticy phone Verizon says the Droid 3 is the slimmest slider phone ever, at about half an inch thick.
Bigger and better
"Better" is a subjective term, and a lot of people would rather have the iPhone's sleek, polished interface than an Android smartphone's raw power.
If it's raw power you want, though, the Droid 3 has loads of it. It has a dual-core processor, which means improved speed and gaming performance over the iPhone 4. Its camera can take higher-res pictures, and can record 1080p HD video compared to the iPhone 4's 720p. And its screen is four inches across, compared to the iPhone 4's 3.5" ... or the Droid 2's 3.7".
Stuff you probably don't care about
The Droid 3 has a few extra features the iPhone 4 lacks, which won't mean much to you unless you're one of the people who cares about them.
First, it's a world phone, which means you can make calls and use wireless Internet in more than 100 countries. Second, it has expandable memory via a MicroSD card slot, so if you want to boost its built-in 16 GB (or re-use a memory card from an earlier phone) you can. And third, it has Adobe Flash, although Flash still doesn't work well on smartphones and your mileage will vary as to how useful it is.
So what's the downside?
The biggest downside of the Droid 3 is that its release coincides with Verizon's new tiered data plans, and the disappearance of its old unlimited plan. If you're still on unlimited you can upgrade to the Droid 3 without losing that, according to Natesh Sood of android-apps.com, but if you're buying a new Verizon phone you'll have to have a bandwidth cap.
Besides that, techies might be dismayed to note that there's as of yet no announcement on when or if the Droid 3 will be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, the upcoming version of Android. It also only has 512 MB of RAM, which will slow it down when switching between apps compared to other new Android smartphones.
And, finally, it's like the Apple commercials say: It's not an iPhone. If you're attached to the Apple way of doing things, or to apps that aren't in the Android Market, Android's really no substitute. I personally like Android, though, so if you haven't tried it yet then give it a shot. You may find that you like the Droid 3.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
- Technology & Electronics
- Handheld & Connected Devices