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.  


Computing

Microsoft’s Presidents Day Sale cuts price of some Surface laptops by up to $200

It is a great time to save on Windows 10 laptops. Microsoft's retail store is running a sale on some of the best tablets and laptops, cutting pricing by up to $200 on the Surface Laptop 2 and more.
Computing

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Computing

Best Buy’s latest sale takes up to $300 off the best Chromebooks

Looking to purchase a new Chromebook? You're in for some luck. Best Buy's latest sale is taking up to $300 off some of the best premium Chromebooks, including the HP Chromebook x2.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

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!
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Mobile

The best Honor View 20 cases to keep your midrange beauty intact

With power to rival flagships, great looks, and a stunning camera, the Honor View 20 is an excellent phone -- but it still needs protection from hazards. Here are some of the best Honor View 20 cases.
Mobile

Samsung's Unpacked draws near. Here's what we know about the Galaxy S10 so far

It won't be long now. With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.