Keypads and Controls

The overall design is a good one. Like the iPhone and other touch smartphones, it is a rectangular brick whose face is a large touch screen, as shown in Figure 3. The phone is constructed with a mix of plastic and metal that has a very solid look and feel. The Droid is slim and attractive.

Motorola Droid Cell Phone ReviewFigure 3: The Droid.

Most of the front of the phone is taken up by a bright 3.7-inch, 854-by-480 LCD capacitive touch screen. The screen is clear and text looks especially crisp.

Under the Droid screen, there are four touch keys that can be seen in Figure 3. These are actually a part of the screen, but they are on a black background and are marked with white icons which light up when the phone is on. These four keys are: the Back Key, the Menu Key, the Home Key, and the Search Key. They are always available. They do not change when the screen changes.

Although all of these four keys are useful, we would have like to see a dedicated phone key. Or better yet, a customizable key that could be used for the phone, multimedia, camera, or whatever you use the most on the phone.

As also seen in Figure 3, there is a small recessed ledge under these four keys. In the middle of this ledge is the opening for the microphone, just to the left of the Verizon logo.

At 4.56 by 2.36 by .54 inches (11.58 x 6.0 x 1.37 cm), the Droid is similar in size to the iPhone. Figure 4 shows the Droid next to the iPhone. Although the Droid screen is slightly larger in height, it is slightly smaller in width (when viewed vertically). So the actual screen real estate is about the same. When viewing web pages on the Droid horizontally, however, more can fit on the screen.

Although the Droid weighs only 5.96 oz. (169 g), if you are used to an iPhone, it will seem a bit heftier.

Motorola Droid Cell Phone ReviewFigure 4: The iPhone (left) and the Droid (right).

The Droid also has a slide-out keypad hidden in its simple brick-like shell (as shown in Figure 5). When you turn the Droid to the horizontal position to use the keyboard, the screen automatically adjusts the orientation.

Motorola Droid Cell Phone ReviewFigure 5: The Droid keyboard.

Although the Droid keyboard is nicely marked, the keys are a bit too flat and a bit too tight. Our real problem with the Droid keyboard, however, was the scroll pad, which can be seen to the left of the keypad in Figure 5. This is a typical scroll pad with a gold-colored select key in the middle. Our problem was that its location made it difficult for us to thumb-type with both hands while holding the cell phone steady. This keypad layout forces your right hand into a bit of an awkward position. Although we were able to get somewhat used to this layout, we never came to love it.

The keyboard was mediocre at best. However, the Droid also has a touch keypad that is available in either orientation. Figure 6 shows the Droid on-screen keypad in the vertical position. The touch keypads and the touch screen were very responsive.

Motorola Droid Cell Phone ReviewFigure 6: The Droid on-screen keypad.


Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up’s Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.