Motorola's latest version of its classic Android device boasts a slideout keyboard for those who just can't touch-type
There are too many Android smartphones to choose from, most with meaningless differences as so well parodied on "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend. But one real choice is the Droid 4, the latest version of Motorola Mobility's flagship Android smartphone. Sure, when it comes to its operating system and software, the Droid 4 is the same as Motorola's other business-oriented Android smartphones, such as the Droid Razr Maxx. But the Droid 4 has a significant hardware differentiator: its slideout keyboard.
Ever since the iPhone first shipped in 2007, there's been a contingent of mobile users who can't handle a touch-based onscreen keyboard, and as the world began to abandon the Research in Motion BlackBerry, the absence of an iPhone with a physical keyboard has kept many old-school users from switching. The original Droid, released in late 2009, essentially launched the Android device market we have today, providing the physical keyboard coveted by many. Since then, touch-only devices have taken the lion's share of smartphone sales, and subsequent Droid keyboard models have not done much to stem the tide.
[ See all of InfoWorld's smartphone deathmatch comparisons and personalize the scores to your needs. | Compare the security and management capabilities of iOS 5, Windows Phone 7.5, Android 2 through 4, and more in InfoWorld's Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobilize newsletter. ]
The Droid 4 gives you reason to reconsider getting a keyboard-based smartphone and provides BlackBerry-using holdouts a compelling reason to drop the dying BlackBerry Bold platform and switch to a modern Android device. The reason is simple: The Droid 4's keyboard is very nicely designed. It's crisply responsive, and its keys have enough shape so that you can easily detect when your thumb has shifted to an adjacent key -- as on a traditonal computer keyboard. The imprinted letters are easy to read even if you have middle-aged eyes, and you get a straight path to keys such as numerals and Tab that are often hard to access with an onscreen keyboard. Simply put, the keyboard is excellent for two-thumb-typing.
As for the rest of the Droid 4, it's a well-built but unremarkable smartphone. The screen doesn't use the superbright AMOLED technology that's increasingly popular on smartphones, so it's been criticized by some reviewers. AMOLED can be nice, but it can also be too bright and garish; the truth is the Droid 4's screen is perfectly good for everyday use. It's as bright and nearly as crisp as the iPhone 4S's screen, for example, but bigger (4 inches versus 3.5).
|Test Center Scorecard|
|Motorola Droid 4||8||8||7||7||8||9|
Looking for the missing free copy icon? It's been replaced. There's a new direct link that works like a...
Supreme Court's decision is bad news for developers targeting the U.S. market, who will now have to...
The transition from command line to line-of-command requires a new mind-set -- and a thick skin
Microsoft’s latest OS shows polish, promise, and pain almost everywhere you look
Dealing with telcos and carriers for enterprise circuit installation is still a royal pain. Haven't we...
Did Microsoft go to school on InfoWorld's proposal for an improved version of Windows 8 as it developed...
With licensing restrictions that favor individual users and open source developers, the free-to-use...