Droid 3 & Gingerbread: First Impressions

I’ve had my Motorola Droid 3 for three days now and I’m finally getting the chance to use it and set it up! Here are some of my first impressions of the phone.

Droid 3

Photo of my new Droid 3 taken with my Original Droid

Here’s why I picked the Droid 3

  • I really liked the Original Droid I’ve had for the past 2 years and wanted the latest in the Motorola Droid line
  • I wanted a phone with top-of-the-line hardware specs (speed, memory, screen) and a front-facing camera, and the Droid 3 had it all
  • It’s slightly bigger than the Droid, but not too big
  • Even though I primarily use Swype (which it comes with), I like having a hardware keyboard available when needed

Pros so far:

It’s much faster than my Droid 1, and the touch-screen is nice and responsive

It has a crisp high-quality screen with good brightness

It has Gingerbread (Android 2.3.4)

The camera is impressive, and the front-facing camera is a great bonus

It’s really a great ‘model’ Android phone – has everything you need

Cons so far:

I really don’t like the hard plastic case Verizon is offering with it. Mine is a cool dark purple color and looks fine, but it’s slippery (I always feel like I’m about to drop the phone), and it has a sharp area at the bottom where I put my pinky to balance the phone. The ridge around the screen also makes it difficult to touch the hardware buttons without touching the screen also. The Droid 3 is definitely the largest I’d go with a phone since it’s a bit bulky for my small hands, so I think I’ll skip the hard case and go with an invisible shield, then get a soft case to keep it in. (Edit: I held a friend’s phone with the same case in blue, and his didn’t have the sharp edge! So, it could be particular to the purple color, or to my specific case.)

Sharp edge on the Droid 3 hard case

There’s no dedicated camera button (I’m used to easily being able to start the camera and take a photo with one hand on the Droid).

It does have a bit of bloatware. Some of the apps it comes with can be uninstalled, but many can’t. I don’t root my phones, so I don’t have a problem with the locked bootloader, but I do wish I could uninstall apps like GoToMeeting which I don’t use.

I’m not finding the menus to be intuitive. For instance, I wanted to share a photo I took via Twidroyd. On my Droid, I could simply open the menu when viewing the photo after taking it, choose Share, then Twidroyd, and use the app. In Gingerbread’s Camera/Gallery app, the menu button brings up a menu with Edit & Delete options, Add to Album, and the choice to use the photo as your wallpaper or profile pic. There’s also a “More” menu, but I didn’t see a “Share” button. I exited the menu and accidentally touched the screen. That’s when another menu with Share and Upload buttons appeared. I don’t like how there are 2 menus you get to 2 different ways when looking a photo, that’s not intuitive. I don’t think it should have been tricky for an advanced Android use to figure out how to share a picture!

It seems like the operating system is designed to take as much advantage of ‘The Cloud’ as possible. This is a pro, but the con is that I feel like every app is prompting me to synchronize my data somewhere and connect to every Social Media site. The phone comes with some kind of ‘Media Server’ called DLNA which I haven’t taken the time to figure out yet. I’m sure it’s useful, but the fact that if I weren’t careful, my data would be synced to a bunch of different servers from the moment I set up my phone is a bit disconcerting. I like using the Cloud, but I do want to know where my data is going and why. I’m not sure if it’s the apps Verizon put on the phone or Gingerbread or what, but it doesn’t feel like the data sharing is as transparent as I’d like it to be

Summary:

It may seem like I’m listing more cons than pros, but I just wanted to explain some things I noticed that make the Droid 3 different from the Droid which concerned me. I think my gripes are more with the operating system than with the phone. Overall, I think this is a great phone and I’ll be very happy with it once I get it all set up.

I would definitely recommend the Droid 3 to anyone that wants the benefits of the Motorola Droid line as well as the latest hardware features. Just be ready to spend some time customizing the setup so you have control of what it’s doing with your information, and getting used to Gingerbread if you don’t have a device with it already!

Do you have a new phone? What are your impressions of it so far?

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7 Responses to “Droid 3 & Gingerbread: First Impressions”

  1. CraftLass says:

    Cool, as a Droid 2 Global user, I’ve been curious about the next-in-line. The lack of a camera button is definitely a disappointment, I used mine constantly. Just a note: DLNA rocks, it streams media to DLNA-compatible devices. Personally, I use it to stream music to my PS3, which is hooked into our home theater system so I can listen to my music the way music should be heard without interruptions from phone notifications as a mini-to-RCA or similar direct connection would do. I’ve also shown slide shows on my TV using it. It works flawlessly on my phone and I can’t imagine it would be any different on yours since it’s also Motorola.

    Enjoy the new phone, I’m sure you’ll get used to a lot of the changes pretty quickly!

    • Renee says:

      Very cool! I’ll definitely get DLNA set up soon. Just hadn’t had time to figure out what it was yet and it kept prompting me!

      I think using Launcher Pro again may help me adjust faster (though Gingerbread put a bunch of features in that were previously only available using LauncherPro on Froyo), and I need to get all of my folders & shortcuts set up, too. Then I’ll feel settled!

  2. Artemis says:

    Thank you for the opinions! I was wondering, with your Droid 3 case, did you (or your friend with the blue case) find it extremely difficult to slide open they keyboard? The case I purchased seemed to put so much strain on the slider that I felt like it would literally push it off the rails when opening fully. I’m wondering if that’s an issue with just my case having lips too thick on the right side – I might file them down, or replace the case with a better designed one.

    • Renee says:

      No, it wasn’t too tight to slide. I think they must have had quality control issues with these cases since everyone seems to have a different problem with it!

  3. […] was finally fed up enough with the hard case I originally purchased from Verizon (see my gripes here) and made the move to buy a full-coverage Invisible Shield and a pretty Decal Girl skin to use […]

  4. yassine says:

    Hi Renee,
    i hope you or your readers will be able to help me.
    my wife will be having bday soon and i know she will be more than happy with a smart phone so as we already use linux at home as the main operting system and i already have an android phone i would like you and your readers to inspire my choice of smartphones for here.
    As i can not really see things the way a women does :) i hope you can point out some choices!

    ps: we are based in Germany 😉

    thanks & regards
    yassine

    • Renee says:

      Hi Yassine!

      What I have heard from women in general is that we want the same power in a phone that a man does – something quick that can handle a lot of apps, but possibly with a different form-factor. If she has small hands, she might prefer a smaller phone. If she likes watching videos or playing games, she might prefer a larger screen.

      Most Android phones sold in the US these days have all of the “necessary” features, so I’d say it’s more of her personal preference. Does she want a hardware keyboard? etc.

      I think it’s great that you want her to get her an Android phone, and I think it’s best if you let her try a few out and get a feel for what she likes before making a commitment to a certain model. How it feels in your hand, how the touchscreen responds, etc. are all personal choices and there’s not one “right phone” to get.

      Good luck, and happy birthday to your wife! Point her in this direction once she gets her Droid :)

      -Renee

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