Motorola Droid 4 impressions: Finally, a 4G LTE phone with a decent keyboard

Motorola Droid 4 - CES 2012

With a Google merger on the horizon, Motorola is playing it cool at CES this year. The Droid 4 is the only truly new product announced and it has been so heavily leaked that we thought it was going to launch on Verizon in December.

After some brief hands-on, I can easily say that the Droid 4 is the phone that the Droid 3 should have been. This is the phone that owners of the original Droid have been hoping for all year (I know you’re contracts are about to renew, or already have). It has a thinner profile than the Droid 3, a dual-core processor, LTE connectivity, and what might be the best slide-out QWERTY keyboard I’ve ever used.

The keyboard

The market is moving away from QWERTY keyboards. Few smartphones have them anymore. Instead, we routinely sacrifice 2/3-3/4 of our screen real estate to onscreen keyboards. Many people are okay with this, but I suspect there is still an audience for a phone with a fast slide-out keyboard. The Droid 4 appears to be this phone.

Motorola Droid 4 - backlit keyboard

The original Droid’s keyboard was bad, but Motorola has improved the design quite a bit in the last few years. Like the Droid 3 (review), the Droid 4 has a comfortable 5-row keyboard, complete with a number row up top, which eliminates the need to hold Alt and then press a button to write an address or anything with numbers.

Subtle improvements have been made to the design. Though it’s been a while since I used a Droid 3, the keys on the 4 seem to have a more comfortable snap to them. In addition, each key appears to be made from a higher quality plastic and now has its own backlight, meaning the keyboard lights up in a more consistent fashion. I found the keyboard to be the most intuitive and pleasant QWERTY slide-outs in recent memory.

LTE and accessories

Aside from its excellent keyboard, the Droid 4 doesn’t skimp on mandatory specs either. The phone runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, has 16GB of internal storage (with Micro SD card slot), a 4-inch 940×540 pixel display (not AMOLED), 1GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera, and a 1.3MP front camera. Motorola claims that the 1785mAh battery has a talk time of about 12.5 hours before needing a recharge, though the standby time is lower than some competing devices, which often sport 2-3 weeks of battery life, if left on standby.

Unlike the Droid Razr, the Droid 4 is also compatible with most of Motorola’s accessories, which you can view below. 

Motorola Droid 4 accessories

And there’s also Motorola’s Webtop. The Lapdock 500 is also compatible with the Droid 4 (and every other Moto phone). 

Motorola Lapdock 500 Pro

Honestly though, the Droid 3 had all of these things. The only thing it lacked was 4G LTE. Luckily, Motorola has finally come around. The Droid 4 will have full 4G LTE connectivity. Combined with a thinner profile and updated design, the new Droid is finally a phone that doesn’t require keyboard lovers to make big sacrifices on connection speed or processing power. Motorola even claims that an Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) update is on the way sometime in the next few months.

We don’t yet know the price or release date of the Droid 4, but Motorola says it will be released “in the coming weeks” on Verizon. We look forward to reviewing it.  


Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Deals

The Super NES Classic is the perfect holiday gift for Nintendo lovers

Whether you're a long-time Nintendo fan looking to relive the 16-bit glory days or just doing some holiday shopping, the SNES Classic -- now in stock at multiple retailers for $80 -- might just be the perfect Christmas gift for gamers of…
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Deals

19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.
Mobile

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.
Wearables

The best Wear OS watches

There are a ton of different Wear OS watches out there, but which one's right for you? No matter what you're looking for from a smartwatch, here are the best Wear OS watches out there.