Motorola DROID 4 Review
Catapulting Android as we know it to the mainstream, we’re amazed to think that the original Motorola DROID launched into stardom only a mere 2 years ago. Since that time, we’ve seen two successors that maintained its landscape QWERTY form factor, but as a whole, they didn’t have the same impact found with the original starter. One of the biggest complaints about the Motorola DROID 3, which was launched a little more than 7 months ago, was the fact that it lacked 4G LTE connectivity and simply relied on last-generation 3G speeds – so yeah, it was a bummer in that aspect indeed.
Taking care of business, the Motorola DROID 4 rightfully eases the concern from last time, while employing some of the necessary iterative improvements on the hardware side to keep it in good light with the company. Some have argued that the DROID line has been on a steady decline in terms of allure and reputation, especially when the DROID 2 and 3 didn’t quite have the same profound impact like the original, but as always, we’re hopeful that the latest member of the family will bring back the spotlight to it. For starters, its $199.99 on-contract pricing surely looks mightily delicious, but it’s undoubtedly going to take more to become humbly memorable.
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall Charger
- Removal Tool
- Master Your Device Guide
- Product Safety and Warranty Information
Bearing the same tried and true landscape QWERTY form factor as its predecessors, this new model obviously features a tweaked design – though, as a whole, it’s doesn’t come off as captivating. Actually, it utilizes the same design characteristics used on recent Motorola devices, like the PHOTON 4G and DROID RAZR, with its subtle tapered edges and sturdy construction. At the same time, it features water-repellant technology that allows it to withstand a few splashes of water, but it’s not entirely waterproof.
You can compare the Motorola DROID 4 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Interestingly enough, this is the largest one in the DROID family thus far, but thankfully it retains its streamlined 0.5” profile, which is great considering it’s packing a physical keyboard. Finally, its accompanying weighty (6.31 oz/179 gr) feel provides us with a sense of durability with its overall construction. Improvements and tweaks aside though, its design is hardly one that’s going to be remembered or laureled throughout time, and in all honesty, we were hoping for something more refreshing to jump out at us.
Accidental presses aren’t an issue with the Motorola DROID 4’s capacitive Android buttons, mainly because they’re positioned far away from the bottom edge. Above the display towards the upper right corner, its front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera actually has the ability to shoot 720p videos.
power button and volume controls, since they’re rather flat to the touch and have a soft response when pressed. Knowing that this is a Webtop enabled device as well, its microUSB and microHDMI ports are found next to one another on its left edge – thus, allowing many of the existing Webtop accessories to work with it.
microUSB and microHDMI ports (left)
Power key and 3.5mm jack (top)
Volume rocker (right)
The sides of the Motorola DROID 4
We’re undeniably taken by surprise to see Motorola managing to somehow improve upon the fantastic keyboard of the DROID 3 from last year. Getting down right to it, we have to admit that we’re smitten by its functionality, ease of use, and spacious nature to make it probably the best QWERTY-based smartphone on the market. Retaining the same layout as before, with its dedicated row for numbers and navigational keys, it’s tweaked ever so slightly by its domed buttons and exceptional LED backlighting – in fact, we’re mesmerized by its glow in the dark! Furthermore, we’re treated to the same solid feeling tactile response as before, thus, all culminating together to offer the best messaging experience on any device out there right now.
Call it a bummer or whatever, but we’re saddened to find this DROID outfitted with such an inferior display. Unlike the iridescence accompanying the DROID RAZR’s Super AMOLED Advanced display, the DROID 4 is instead boasting a 4” qHD (540 x 960) TFT LCD display that’s tremendously dulled by its washed out appearance, low-contrast, and poor viewing angles. Additionally, it has this ghosting effect going on that seems to blur icons when navigating across its homescreen. Well, at least its resolution is enough to enjoy wholeheartedly thanks to its pixel density of 275 ppi, which produces sharp visuals that’s easy on the eyes. However, we’re unable to overlook the distracting overall appearance of the display, and simply, there’s no love whatsoever for this DROID.
1. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2991; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
Such a small battery for non removable and the screen display is horrible. Wait until the Droid 5 :(
26. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5793; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
I think the 2 greatest failures of the D4 are the limited battery capacity and the junk (LCD - come on, WTF) display. Camera could be better too.
Maybe the D5 fixes these fails.
53. ZombiesAlso (Posts: 8; Member since: 04 Mar 2012)
the greatest failure is denying customers custom kernel capabilities
57. Mark_Washington (Posts: 8; Member since: 05 Sep 2011)
Pros: Awesome keyboard - If you're a keyboard fan, this can't be beat.
Size - For me, it's the perfect size. I like that it's not as big as other Verizon phones, yet still has a very impressive display.
Battery life - I don't live in a 4G environment, but I have everything else constantly running - GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. Today was a fairly normal usage day for me (a little web-surfing, some texts and phone calls, streaming radio to and from work, even downloaded a couple of apps). Right now I'm sitting at 40% charge after 15h 38m 53s (per the phone) on battery power. I can't think of many reasons why I would need more.
Smart Actions App - Great app! Makes it very easy to seamlessly move from my home (wifi network) to my car (bluetooth on, Pandora opens automatically, wifi off) to the office (silent phone) without ever having to touch the phone.
Cons: Plastic construction already has some scratches from putting it into and out of my zippered pocket. They're very small (I only noticed them because I was looking very closely for "cons") and only on the plastic around the screen. The screen itself is Gorilla Glass and is not scratching at all. Not a big deal to me, but some people really want their phones to remain in pristine condition.
Bottom line, this is a great 4G LTE phone by any standard. The fact that it has that great keyboard literally puts it in a class by itself.
*Note: for best deal of the Droid 4 if you're will buy it, I suggest you have to check before you decide at -> http://androidphonesdeals.word
Hope this review helpful
2. Firedrops (Posts: 215; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)
Seems they really messed up on the screen, huh? D:
3. c.hack (Posts: 514; Member since: 09 Dec 2009)
Moto's best screens were the OG Droid and DX. Its interesting that Motorola hit a peak with their original Razr and stopped innovating. Now their Razr/Maxx/D4 marks another halt in innovation.
Bigger and heavier does not make a better phone.
4. Bigbluetundra (Posts: 45; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)
D.R.O.I.D.- Dwindling Relaunch Of Innsignificant Device
6. Allday28 (Posts: 274; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)
You realise that android wouldnt be what it is today without the Droid line right? So before you say something stupid like you just did know what you're talking about first idiot!!
13. cthunder (Posts: 104; Member since: 02 Nov 2010)
Insignificant devices? Like the above poster stated, the OG Droid startered it all. Sure the display may or may not be bad. But it's an above average device with a QWERTY KYBD and LTE. Something a lot of physical kybd users (myself included) had been waiting for.
18. Bigbluetundra (Posts: 45; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)
This incarnation of the device is hardly improved. I'm just having a little fun on a Friday with my first post, didn't realize it'd be taken so personally. Sure, the original was great. So was the first flip phone, carphone, bagphone, telegraph... Now it's just milking the franchise every few quarters and the sales are diminishing every time a new version hits. You can't honestly say this newest generation phone is still a significant device in the oversaturated VZ market. I'd think VZ would agree by way of thier instant price drop.
5. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
Epic Fail. im all for android but this is just sad
7. snowgator (Posts: 3210; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
Okay, not a worthy successor. But, if taken on it's own, the D4 is a still a better QWERTY device than anything else out there right now. Certainly a better option than Blackberries, way more powerful with a top notch keyboard than any other phone on Big Red, and what are you going to do: drop down to the Captivate Slide on AT&T and it's slower network?
I am very, very disappointed that Moto did not view the Droid line as an elite device. It deserves better. But, if you want a real keyboard, there still is no better option.
32. GeekMovement (Posts: 1501; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)
Kind of how I felt when HTC relased the HTC EVO Shift (which btw does not have a decent keyboard imo) which was kind of disappointing. Wish they viewed the EVO line as an elite device as well.
9. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2991; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
I might even go as far as to say to buy the droid 3 over this unless you must have LTE.
17. cthunder (Posts: 104; Member since: 02 Nov 2010)
Let's Droid 3 1Ghz, 512 mb vs 1.2, 1GB, a backlit keys and better overall kybd. and LTE. Yeah, those numbers make we want to get the 3 instead.
22. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2991; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
Having used the D3 the keyboard is also really good and you wont notice any difference between the two devices as far as performance. I cant get over how poor the screen quality is on this one.
24. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5598; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
the Droid 4 is actually going to be a good bit faster than the Droid 3 if the difference between the Droid Bionic and the Droid Razr is any indication. i think it has to do with tweaking Motorola may have done with the drivers for the OMAP4 in 2.3.5+ as even the benchmarks behave differently.
55. ZombiesAlso (Posts: 8; Member since: 04 Mar 2012)
And longer battery after removing all the google connectivity crap
android calendar/contacts are easily powered by a hotmail account... since microsoft licenses activesync to google
10. squeeb (Posts: 99; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)
Glad I pulled the trigger on a D3 back in December.
11. Sniggly (Posts: 7046; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Well, at least it's a lot better than the DROID 3.
12. doubleD (Posts: 78; Member since: 13 Dec 2010)
Is the screen worse than the Droid 3? Everyone on here complained about the Droid 3's display even though I didn't have a problem with it. Just trying to figure out if the complaints have merit.
14. cthunder (Posts: 104; Member since: 02 Nov 2010)
I didn't think the Droid 3's display was all that bad. It just seems everyone wants super amoled or they aren't happy with the phone.
28. blazee (Posts: 271; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)
no the screen is exactly the same as on droid 3 lol both have 4.00 inch lcd display with a resolution of 540x960 and pixel density of 275 ppi
15. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5598; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
I checked one out today and it doesn't feel as bad as you guys make it sound. it's about like the Droid 3 with a textured back. I am however disappointed about the lack of a removable battery. now really the only trade offs for the Droid 4 over the Razr are it's fantastic Keyboard and it's compact size along with a higher pixel density display.
16. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Did anyone notice that the Droid 3 is .51" and 12.9mm but the Droid 4 is .5" and 13mm
that makes no sence and needs correction phonearena
20. aztaxia12295 (Posts: 266; Member since: 22 Nov 2009)
yep, screen sucked, i saw it in the store today activating my nexus. it was very dull and dark and didnt have any pop. such another disappointment, 2, maybe 3 in a row for the droid line
23. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5598; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
maybe the brightness was turned down. bet you didn't think about that. :P
27. jellmoo (Posts: 671; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Doesn't an 8.5 seem awfully high a score for this device? It has a terrible screen, relatively weak battery life without a removable battery, lacklustre design,poor camera quality, poor video quality, only offers the user half of the advertised storage, and runs outdated firmware.
Does having a good keyboard as the only real plus warrant such a high score?
37. EarnYourLeather (Posts: 87; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)
Not at all.
Super Amoled is not a smartphone industry standard and I would hardly call the screen terrible even in comparison to that. Lackluster, sure, but there's nothing terrible about it. The battery life is average for a modern Motorola device, certainly not a Maxx (could you imagine the size of such a phone?) but not subpar. As for design, lets leave our own aesthetic opinions out of the equation when it comes to criticism- fans of the Droid series may love the design direction it's taking so who are you to call it lackluster? As for the camera, again, have you ever heard of a Verizon Motorola phone with a camera worth bragging about? The camera is on par with the contemporary market. If nothing else, it's better because the shutter is instant and the camera autofocuses, unlike previous Droid models which would focus before each shot causing a long delay. Audio is great on the videos and the videos themselves are decent.
The only valid claims you really have are no stock ICS and non removable battery, which by now are old news. The half of the advertised storage is a BIG minus though. That being said, there's nothing subpar about this phone. The specs are not spectacular but it is a very respectable and modern phone in that regard.
When it comes down to it, this phone is for a niche market. And this is the single best, and thinnest, 4G QWERTY slider in that market. Period.
So is 8.5 merited? Yeah, I think so.
38. jellmoo (Posts: 671; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
The thing is, I'm not talking about what the device actually merits. Whether your points are true or not isn't quite what I'm getting at. I am simplt basing my assessment on the content of the review itself.
In the words of the review:
Screen: "...but we’re saddened to find this DROID outfitted with such an inferior display... FT LCD display that’s tremendously dulled by its washed out appearance, low-contrast, and poor viewing angles."
Battery: "Rather, we’re brought back to the chilling reality of yet another 4G LTE smartphone with poor battery life. In fact, we’re able to get close to the 10 hour mark of normal usage before being warned about low battery. So yes, we’ll continue to dream on about battery life, but in the meantime, it’s something that requires constant charging whenever and wherever possible."
Design: "...this new model obviously features a tweaked design – though, as a whole, it’s doesn’t come off as captivating."
Camera: "Yet, its overall quality still pales in comparison to the stellar photo-centric devices on the market, but at least it’s tolerable enough to accept."
Video: "Ehh…they’re not stellar in quality, but its 1080p video recording is nonetheless better than its predecessor."
Storage: "Advertised as offering 16GB of memory, the DROID 4 instead boasts 8GB out of the box for media purposes, with another 2.36GB reserved strictly for apps – meaning, you’ll probably want to invest in adding a microSD card of some size to supplement its capacity."
Firmware: "Unfortunately, there’s nothing new whatsoever with the experience on the DROID 4, as it retains the same one as its predecessor, but even more revolting, is that it’s running on top of Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread. Yeah, we know that’s a downer considering we’re expecting nothing less than Ice Cream Sandwich at this point, but nevertheless, Motorola assures us that it’ll be upgraded sometime in Q2 2012."
Whether these points are accurate or I agree with them is not my point. My issue is based on these criteria, they rate the device at 8.5. To me it simply doesn't add up. Maybe the device does warrant an 8.5. But based off of this review, I wouldn't think so.
40. firelightx (Posts: 71; Member since: 13 Oct 2011)
Funny, I didn't even look at the number score. The paragraphs felt pretty scathing to me.
It seemed to me like the reviewer WANTED to like the phone, out of some misplaced respect for the original Droid.
Thing is... it's not the original. Motorola has consitently dropped the ball on their droid line for the past two years. Between bad launches, delayed launches, awkward phones, software glitches and bugs galore, a lack of support for a 2 month old device, and planned obsolescence within only 6 months... I honestly don't understand why anyone takes that company seriously anymore.
44. EarnYourLeather (Posts: 87; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)
jellmoo posted on 11 Feb 2012, 09:49
"Doesn't an 8.5 seem awfully high a score for this device?"
jellmoo posted on 14 Feb 2012, 09:13
"The thing is, I'm not talking about what the device actually merits."
45. jellmoo (Posts: 671; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Read the rest of my comments. The review makes negative point after negative point. Going by the guts of the review, the device has an awesome keyboard while everything else is mediocre. This device is given an 8.5. That, to me, makes no sense.
I'm not sure what isn't clear about this. The score does not reflect the comments.
The Bold 9900 falls into a similar category. A slew of mediocre points followed up by a great keyboard. It got a 7.
47. cthunder (Posts: 104; Member since: 02 Nov 2010)
Your problem is your taking his review out of context. For example, he states "we" are saddened with the display. Like all smartphone reviewers if the phone isn't super amoled it's below standards.
He next states the battery life is poor, but yeah he is able to get 10 hrs of normal usage. Well, this is from PC World - "We're still awaiting the results of our official PCWorld labs battery test, but in my informal hands-on use, I got a full day of activity out of the Droid 4 while checking my email, browsing the Web, playing a level or two on Dead Space, and fielding calls". I have read other site, blogs etc saying the same thing. The biggest complaint about the battery has been the fact it's non removeable.
Next he clearly states while the camera isn't stellar like some of the phones on the market. It's still adequate. Again he clearly states with the video, not stellar but adequate.
Next with firmware he again clearly states they were bummed because they were expecting ICS instead of 2.3.6 Gingerbread. And this is a problem with all smartphone reviewers. They expect every new phone to come out with ICS even though only the Nexus has ICS. And even though it's been said a "million times" newer and some older phones are schedule to get ICS sometime this year.
So truly his only real complaint is the non battery removal and the misleading storage. Nothing he said above about was poor, it just wasn't what he preferred. It's the reason the phone recieved 8.5 rating instead of something lower.
49. jellmoo (Posts: 671; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
If your interpretation of what was reviewed is true though, the best that can be said for all of those points is that they are "adequate".
If that is the case, how does a phone that is labelled as adequate with a great keyboard warrant an 8.5? Compare this to the review done for the RAZR MAXX, which also got an 8.5. Yet that phone is praised for it's design, gets mild praise for its screen, and big points for the battery. Does having a good keyboard make up for the difference?
An 8.5 should, and has been a great score for a device to have. Comments should reflect that though. There should be several elements on a phone that are above "adequate" for it to warrant that score.
29. ajoshi06 (Posts: 20; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)
I was expecting a better... heck a TFT or LCD screen... but they gave us a WTF screen??
33. sferris33 (Posts: 1; Member since: 13 Feb 2012)
Ok. This article seems to cover all the bases on it except what the phone quality is like on droid 4. Can someone tell me if the phone quality is like. I like the idea that it has both touch and a qwerty, but this is feature one of the most important since it is still a phone and must function like one before I buy
34. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5598; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
when it comes to calling quality Motorola sets the bar and if it's not them it's HTC.
35. airstream25 (Posts: 16; Member since: 18 Jun 2011)
Is this a world phone or not? Did not see GSM listed in the info.
36. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5598; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
it has a GSM radio so it can be a world phone like the Spectrum but for whatever reason or the other Verizon hasn't enabled them.
39. firelightx (Posts: 71; Member since: 13 Oct 2011)
See, the part I can't get over is this... in the past 2 years, Verizon and Motorola have launched 8 phones:
Droid X 2
8 of them. Massive number of phones. Number one contributor to the customer's typical "things are moving too fast, everything is obsolete within two months!' complaint. But here's the worst part.
Of those 8 phones, 7 of them have had widespread bugs and software glitches. Always software. I realize this is anecdotal, but I know at Verizon I fix far more motorola droids than any HTC, LG, and Samsung androids combined. Talking it over with my co-workers suggests the same thing.
What I'm getting at is... 87.5% of moto's launches on Verizon have had terrible, crippling software issues on a relatively large percentage of costumer's phones. Why do we keep treating them like they're a good, solid company?
43. doubleD (Posts: 78; Member since: 13 Dec 2010)
@firelightx. Don't know which of those 8 you are saying wasn't plagued by problems, but the Droid 3 was/is a great phone. Biggest complaint was that it didn't have 4G. Since it seems like all 4G phones released around that time had connectivity problems, it was actually a good thing it was left out. Only other complaint was camera quality, which is hardly a major problem, and was fixed by update anyway.
54. ZombiesAlso (Posts: 8; Member since: 04 Mar 2012)
because no one will pay for firmware maintenance
And I would not tolerate the drm bs that they would require to sell it
public beta testing is an abominable practice all the same... worse not allowing for informed consent
Rooting is joy on these phones. Verizon unofficially endorses rooting for those who are not intellectually stunted.
MORE OFFENSIVE is the flood of the ADWARE flavor of MALWARE in the google android market claiming to be free. The COST of ads is FAR TOO HIGH: privacy.
However I remain a moto fan
41. ellarsee (Posts: 3; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)
This might seem like a funny question to ask on a review of a cell phone, but you folks didn't seem to mention how it works as a phone.
Am I the only person who uses my droid to make phone calls now and then?
42. doubleD (Posts: 78; Member since: 13 Dec 2010)
It talks about call quality at the top of the last page under Performance, same place it always is. I know the review is negatively biased, but try reading the whole article..
46. ellarsee (Posts: 3; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)
Thanks. I looked through the whole article, I remember looking at performance, I also looked several times for a header that said something about call quality.
Also note comment 33, someone else who could not find any mention of call quality.
I also remember looking at the pros and cons, and call quality wasn't mentioned there.
I wonder if they edited the article after the fact to mention call quality.
48. cthunder (Posts: 104; Member since: 02 Nov 2010)
So far, from other views of the droid 4, android central, phonescoop, pcmags, cnet, etc. All rave about the call quality. Unfortunately, this reviewer left it out I am not sure why. To me it seems like he was too busy wrting about why he didn't like or felt the phone was stellar than writing about what made the phone worthy of a 8.5 rating.
50. downphoenix (Posts: 2329; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
Anyone notice a pattern with Phone Arena and OSs of phones?
Froyo comes out, a phone that comes out shortly after "how dare they not have froyo", then Gingerbread comes out "how dare they not have gingerbread", then of course ice cream sandwich "how dare they not have ics" and so on. We'll see the same when Jelly Bean comes out.
Fact of the matter is, ICS is still new and a large portion of apps dont support it yet. It makes more sense to support the currently most popular format that runs the most apps and then update to ICS when app developers more heavily support it.
51. glennman (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)
WON THE BATTLE, LOST THE WAR!
The Droid 4's keyboard while great for a landscape one, has the same issues of other landscape ones. Basically, the result is I can type so much faster on a portrait keyboard than on a landscape one. Now I'm sure that the larger keyboard IS good for people with arthritis like my dad but how big is that market? (He doesn't push data, just pulls it anyway and therefore loves his iPhone.)
So why can't MOTO and other manufacturers produce an Android phone with a PHYSICAL PORTRAIT keyboard like those on Blackberry's, old Palms, etc??? With so many landscape Android offerings, one would think that there would be a good differentiated portrait model -- NOT.
Please Reply if you'd also like a good physical portrait keyboard.
BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER!
56. snowgator (Posts: 3210; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
Portrait keyboards are my favorite form factor as well. But we are in the vast minority,glennman.
52. ellarsee (Posts: 3; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)
The big draw for me of the droid is the landscape keyboard. *That* is the selling feature, everything else is a case of making sure it has the performance I need in other areas.
58. KandM (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Dec 2012)
This is the biggest and most expensive piece of s**t I ever owned. This mother f**king device froze 4 times just today alone. I had to force close it each time. The internet gets disconnected everyday. This is just not worth having it. I feel extremely stupid buying it. I want my money back.
|Display||4.0 inches, 540 x 960 pixels (275 ppi) TFT|
TI OMAP4430, Dual core, 1200 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1024 MB RAM
|Size||5.00 x 2.65 x 0.50 inches|
(127 x 67 x 13 mm)
6.31 oz (179 g)
|Battery||1785 mAh, 12.5 hours talk time|