Droid 4: A smartphone for keyboard purists

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).

12577283758703.png
12577283759792.png
12388657029575.png
12577283757701.png
12374166041236.png
12815539365084.png
12355113543399.png
Test Center Scorecard
 
 20%20%15%20%15%10% 
Motorola Droid 4887789

7.8

Good

1 2 Page
Mobile Security Insider: iOS vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone
Recommended
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies