October 27th 2011 12:32 pm

final rating

reviewed on
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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Reception and call quality Better 3G reception than my previous HTC phone, seems to connect to 4G just fine as well. No complaints. great!
  • Display Not a huge screen, but a comfortable size for me, and great pixel density. Color saturation and viewing angles are fine but not exceptional. so-so
  • Battery life It's no Razr Maxx, but I don't generally have trouble getting through the day. If you use it hard all day long, you'll want a charger for your car or office. good
  • Camera I'm not a camera person, but it seems to get the job done. Not amazing in low light, but it isn't terrible either. good
  • Ease of use I haven't run into much of anything in the way of glitches, and the UI overlay doesn't cause any problem and even adds some value, in my opinion. No complaints. great!
  • Design and form factor Best physical keyboard I've ever used, which is the point of the device. Slider isn't spring loaded, but clicks into place reassuringly. Thin for a slider. great!
  • Portability (size / weight) There are thinner and lighter phones out there, but not with a keyboard like this. Fairly light for its size. good
  • Media support Plays everything I need it to, supports up to 64GB microSDs, so you can store a ton of media on board if you want. great!
  • Durability Gorilla glass, solidly built. Sealed case with rubberized back feels like it should help the phone hold up better to drops. great!
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) The Android ecosystem is perfect for me. Obviously if you prefer iOS, this isn't going to be your ideal phone. Tons of accessories like the netbook you great!
Detailed review
I love this phone. It's the best there is at what it does, which is give you a physical keyboard.

If you don't need or want a physical keyboard, don't buy this phone, because the keyboard inherently adds bulk. I'd recommend a Razr Maxx, with the massive battery life. Or possibly a Rezound or Galaxy Nexus, with a 720p screen.

For me, though, I use the keyboard like crazy. I take notes in Evernote. I send emails and texts. I post comments on web pages. I even do light coding. For example, AIDE lets you build Android apps and then install and run them right on your phone. And SL4A lets you use languages like Python for scripting. Jota is a pretty solid text editor, though there are a number of other options.

Since I do use the keyboard, so much, this phone is perfect. Basically, the Droid 4 feels like a computer that fits in my pocket so that I can take it absolutely everywhere. Even if you don't mind typing on a touch screen, the fact that the keyboard is physical means that it doesn't block half your screen -- you get all 960x540 pixels for whatever you're working on.

The dual core OMAP processor seems fast to me. It gets through compiles pretty well, can handle quite a few tabs in the Dolphin HD browser, and has done fine with every game I've thrown at it.

The screen is just so so. The pixel density is high enough that I would never have realize that it's a Pentile screen if I hadn't known, but if I look really closely at it, I can kind of tell. The color saturation isn't washed out, but it isn't one of those screens with the amazing saturation that makes things look like they come from a magical land. The viewing angles aren't bad, but it isn't one of those screens that looks perfect even when you look at it almost from the side of the phone. If you play games that involve tilting the screen all over the place, you may notice the viewing angles, but otherwise I haven't had a problem with it. It's a 4" screen, so if you have your heart set on a 4.3" or one of those even bigger screens they have now, it may be a little small. But I found 4" fine, and wouldn't want to hold a much bigger phone in my hand.

The battery life gets me by, but I wish I could have bought this with a Razr Maxx sized battery. When I use my phone a lot, I plug it into a car charger or a charger at work to keep it running. Overall, it gets pretty good battery life. Just not exceptional battery life, like I wish it had.

It comes with a bunch of random software installed, but you can hide things you don't use in the launch screen, so it doesn't really bother me much. It has 16GB of space (8 GB of it as an "sdcard" partition), so the crapware isn't as big a deal as it would be if the phone were cramped for every megabyte.