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Mobile Review: Motorola Droid 4
By: wubayou
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    The Motorola Droid 4 for Verizon Wireless is an Android-based smartphone that packs plenty of functionality into its rather massive frame. Of course, that frame may be a deal-breaker for some, but smartphone shoppers in the market for a solid, dependable phone with a full set of features should find the Droid 4 to be right up their alley. The Motorola Droid 4 is available for $199.99 with a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless.

    As mentioned in the intro and probably obvious by the phoneís name, the Droid 4 is an Android-based phone.  Unfortunately, it comes running Gingerbread 2.3.5 and not Ice Cream Sandwich.  This is a bit of a letdown, but Motorola tries to compensate by dressing up the phone with a user interface of its own.  The UI offers some social media integration, which is a must these days, as well as five customizable home screens and a feature which lets you observe them simultaneously with an overhead view.  So, while you donít get any spiffy UI improvements due to the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich, Motorolaís additions attempt to make up for the loss, plus you get a variety of Google-based features due to the phoneís Android status.  Among them are access to the massive Android Marketís catalog of apps, several integrated apps from Google such as Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Books, Google Maps, YouTube, and more.

    Speaking of apps, beyond the Google selection, the Droid 4 also comes with some pre-installed titles that are worth mentioning.  The Mobile Hotspot app allows you to convert the Droid into a mobile hotspot that allows other Wi-Fi devices to gain internet connectivity thanks to Verizonís 4G LTE connection.  The MotoCast app enables sharing of files and documents between the Droid 4 and computers.  Want to use the Droid 4 to watch television?  The Slingbox will allow you to stream content to do just that.  These are just some examples of highly functional apps that come standard on the Droid 4.  Keep in mind, however, that additional subscriptions or equipment is necessary in some instances.  Still, the built-in functionality is there, so itís your choice whether or not you want to leverage it.

    The Droid 4 comes with all the basic phone features you would expect, so letís jump right into the highlights.  You get voice commands, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0.  The phonebook will accommodate as many contacts as will fit into the phoneís internal memory, so your options are virtually endless.  Contacts can also be added with ease thanks to integration with services such as Exchange, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  For messaging, thereís standard text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, and email with support for POP3 and IMAP accounts.  The Droid 4 operates best with Verizonís 4G LTE network, but integrated Wi-Fi is onboard as a backup.  Browsing the Web can be had via a Webkit 5 HTML browser.  Last, but not least, is an 8-megapixel camera that snaps quality photos and even records in HD. 

    As is the case with almost any electronic device, the Motorola Droid 4ís design has its good and bad spots.  While the smartphone is certainly multifunctional, the tradeoff that comes in the form of extra bulkiness could turn off some potential buyers.  That becomes even truer when you consider the premium being placed on portability and sleek, thin designs nowadays. 

    The Droid 4 measures in at 5 inches tall by 2.65 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 6.3 ounces.  These numbers dwarf some of the thinner smartphones out there, but the Droid 4 will still fit snugly in your pockets.  The phoneís appearance is modern and professional, as its black color scheme highlighted by curved metallic edges gives off the aura of a device that means business.  Added ruggedness comes from Corning Gorilla Glass, a repellent coating that helps protect the Droid 4ís interior and exterior components from nasty scratches and even liquid.

    The front panel of the Droid 4 is dominated by a 4-inch qHD display with 940 x 540 resolution.  The display offers nice color and sharp graphics, but those who have experienced AMOLED displays may find it to be a bit underwhelming.  Still, it should suffice for most users looking to browse the web, watch videos, and the like.  The display comes with touch-screen functionality for quick messaging and easy navigation of the user interface.  The virtual keyboard is spacious thanks to the 4-inch display size, and users can enjoy Swype texting for rapid inputting.  Beneath the display are four buttons that represent the Menu, Home, Back, and Search functions.

    Sliding the Droid 4 open reveals a full physical keyboard, which is easily the smartphoneís design highlight.  Itís spacious enough for those with larger fingers, and the responsiveness of the keys is hard to beat.  The inclusion of a physical keyboard in addition to its virtual counterpart makes the Droid 4 an ideal choice for messaging fans.  Added keyboard bonuses include backlighting for typing in dark environments and a directional pad for easy navigation.

    Itís not surprising that the Motorola Droid 4 impresses in the realm of performance.  The 1.2GHz dual-core processor offers sufficient power for multitasking.  Combine that with Verizonís 4G LTE speed for Web browsing, downloads, and the like, and you have yourself a smartphone that will power your productivity and keep you entertained at the same time.  The 16GB of internal memory should be enough for most users, but you can supplement it with 32GB microSD cards.  Battery life is solid as well, with the Droid 4 offering a rated talk time of 12.5 hours and a standby time of 8.5 days.  Although the Droid 4 can be used for a wide variety of tasks, itís first and foremost a phone, so you are probably wondering about its call quality.  Clarity and volume is superb, and even calls using the speakerphone are accomplished without excessive interference.

    The Motorola Droid 4 is not for everyone, as its size deviates from the whole ďthin is inĒ fad.  Still, itís a durable, solid performing smartphone with a design that is perfect for those who participate in frequent messaging.  The lack of Ice Cream Sandwich is disappointing, but the Droid 4ís benefits help overcome the omission.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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